A crucial first step towards protecting your data is to ensure that data is always encrypted at rest. Hard drives can be physically removed from a laptop or desktop and cloned in their entirety, by someone temporarily commandeering a laptop that has been left unattended in a hotel room, or an old laptop whose storage drive have not been properly scrubbed of data prior to being sold.
With the right forensic analysis tools, a cloned hard drive can yield a treasure trove of data, including passwords, browser history, downloaded email messages, chat logs and even old documents that may have been previously deleted.
It is therefore critical that full disk encryption technology is enabled so that all data on storage drives are scrambled. Windows users can use Microsoft’s BitLocker, which available free on the Pro version of Windows 8, or the Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows 7. Mac users can enable FileVault, which comes as part of the OS X operating system.