How many of you out there have personal information on your computer about you or your family? How many more of you keep all your financial information on your machine? I got a feeling a lot of you answered yes to both of those. The problem with leaving stuff like this on your machine is its wide open for a “hacker” to come along and grab all that information off your computer and most of the time you wont even know its happening.

Some of the trojans today if they get loose on your machine your going be in for some problems. Some of the things a trojan can do are the following..

#1 Monitor every single key you type on your keyboard aka a Keyboard Logger..
#2 Monitor a Microphone if you have one connected.
#3 Monitor a WebCam if you got one connected.
#4 Have full access to any of your drives.

In case your missing something here once a trojan gets on your computer it basicly calls home to the hacker who infected you. When it does that it can send the above things from your machine to his/her machine and then you got some problems.

The two on the list you really got to worry about if you have personal information on your machine is the keyboard logger and the one where they have total access to your drives. These two things are really dangerous. The Key Logger is bad if you use credit cards and or type in passwords to other software or accounts you may have. The drive access means they can lift any files off your machine whether they are media files as in movies or your financial records for the last 10 years.

This is why i tell new computer users who i build systems for to never ever at any cost keep personal information on your machine at all and thats why i tell them this. If they never keep personal information on their systems to begin with then the “Hackers” wont be finding to much worth while if they should gain access.

If you are one of these people that has no choice in keeping personal information on your machine and you have it connected to the Internet then the only thing i can suggest is for you to use some sort of Encryption. A good program i have used over the years to keep track of my forum passwords is one called Axcrypt this program is free and is open source witch is a good thing. The reason why its good is people can see the code and see there are no back doors in it. A back door is basicly a way for someone to override the default password and see your encrypted stuff. Axcrypt has no back doors and never will have. If you want to make sure it don't you can goto and download the source and check it out and compile it your self.

The reason i like the fact it is open source is because other security experts can look at the code and if there is something wrong with the encryption routine report that back to the main author of the program. This program has been around for a years now and i have never seen a bad thing said about it and i did research it before i used it.

One thing about any encryption software is its only as strong as your password. If for example your password was the letter A a brute force attack would crack that password in no time at all. So basicly the longer the password and the more varied it is for example upper and lower case along with some numbers the harder it is to break. Try and make sure the passwords are 12 characters or more. Do not use birthdays and stuff like that try and make the password totally random.

Keep in mind though if you loose the password or forget it you are screwed you will not be unlocking your files. Axcrypt uses 128 bit AES encryption and it would take many years to crack on a home PC. The only problem i see with this program or any encryption program is key loggers a device that can pickup all your keyboard strokes. If one of those was active on your system then the password for the files would be known to the attacker as well. This is why when you install a program like Axcrypt you want to be fairly sure your machine is clean and no keyboard loggers are in place.

Even doing things like using encryption don't guarantee you will be safe. As i said at the start of this article the best way to stay safe is never use your personal information on your machine at all. Thats a big pain in the ass when you want to do shopping on line but its the way you got to be if you want to keep all your information 100% personal...

Encryption can still be use full even if your machine is never connected to the Internet. You may want to keep your kids out of your personal stuff. You may even want to keep your local tech guy out of your business when he is fixing your machine.

If you want to use another encryption program besides Axcrypt there is always PGP thats another really good one but you may have to pay for that. I do know there are free versions of it on the Internet but you got to search for them.