August 07, 2012, 1:33 PM — Could you avoid an epic hack against your personal data and online accounts similar to the recent attack against former Gizmodo writer Mat Honan? Hackers bent on breaking into Honans Twitter account wreaked havoc on the technology writers personal computing devices and online accounts. The bad guys remotely wiped his iPad, iPhone, and Mac, and deleted his Google Account. The attack cost Honan most of his personal data (he didnt backup the information) including family photos that may be unrecoverable.
The attack was partially because of poor security policies at Amazon and Apple, according to Honans account in Wired. Hackers were able to fool customer service representatives at Amazon and Apple to reset Honans passwords and take over those accounts.
Its a devastating story and one that could happen to anybody with sensitive data stored online. Honan was not targeted because of a story he wrote or because of his views about technology. Instead, one hacker told Honan after the fact, he was targeted simply because the bad guys liked his Twitter username and wanted to use it.
Heres what you can do to help minimize the risk of something similar happening to you.
Backup, Backup, Backup
The most basic thing you can do to avoid losing precious data such as photos, videos, word processing documents and other files is to backup your data. But its not enough to just stash everything in an external hard drive that sits on your desk at home. You should have one local backup at your location, as well as an off-site backup on a different storage medium for added security. For most people, this means using a cloud-based service such as Carbonite or SpiderOak. If those services are too expensive for you, free options such as Dropbox and SkyDrive may also work depending on how much storage space you need and the level of security you require for your data. The bottom line is you need two backups: one at home and one somewhere else.
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