Yesterday, was so to speak, the unveiling of my new Four-eyed Notebook to my friends and fellow student volunteers at school. I used it to take down notes during day one of our planning workshop for the SERVE Volunteers and while I was doing so, I cannot help but get some eerie and uncomfortable feeling whenever one of them goes round my back and takes a peek at my screen.
I’m no snob but this is my very first time to own and use a laptop in public so typing away and doing work on a computer outside the sanctity of my bedroom is a new experience for me. Somehow, it felt like I was using a public bathroom whose walls are made of clear glass, all the world could see what I was doing. Being mobile has its trade-offs, privacy being one of them.
Besides that, I have a strong feeling that this laptop of mine would be one of the regulars at the SERVE volunteers’ office, my fellow volunteers borrowing it to do their schoolwork and myself volunteering this notebook for official activities if the need arises. Of course I’ll share this to anyone who really needs it, but I can’t help but be worried that every time I do let others use my laptop, my personal files containing private and sensitive information would be open for unwanted and unintended exposure.
I want to add a layer of privacy on my laptop not only to protect my sensitive personal files but also to lower the risk of exposing my notebook to viruses, worms, trojans and other badware that is so abundant in campus thanks to hundreds of infected pen drives my fellow students have.
Thankfully, Tina of makeuseof.com has written a very good post about adding some layer of privacy that would do both: provide privacy for my files and keep nosy and uninvited folks from using my laptop. One of her advice that I really followed is cleaning up my desktop, getting rid of any icons I don’t really use. She wrote:
You wouldn’t believe how many people are stunned by an empty desktop. They’ll rather leave it alone than mess with the start button or some funny looking menus.
So now my desktop is almost empty with a single column of shortcut icons I use regularly. But I plan to move them to the Quick Launch menu to really achieve that “No desktop icons” look. Tina also suggests other tricks like changing the user interface into something not everyone is accustomed to like using transformation packs to use Ubuntu Linux or Mac OS X’s UI since these are not so familiar to most users. Other tricks are to change the icons into something of your own choice to the extreme solution of using apps that lock out everyone else except you who knows the password. So these tips have made my laptop less inviting to uninvited guests next is to protect my actual private and sensitive files.
This time, thanks to every-reliable GTD gurus at Lifehacker who has a nice guide on the best free ways to protect your private files. I opted for the simple yet effective My Lockbox which is a free a security software enabling you to password protect any folder on your computer.
The protected folder (lockbox) is hidden from any user and application of your system, including Administrator and System itself. It is impossible to access the lockbox not only from the local computer, but also from the net.
The program is extremely easy to use. You can set the lockbox location and the password during the setup procedure. After the setup is done, lockbox will be hidden and locked until you enter the valid password.
My Lockbox Control Panel allows you easily change basic lockbox parameters: lockbox location, protection status, password.
Downloaded and have it already installed in my notebook and right now, I feel much comfortable and secure once I go back to day 2 of our planning workshop in a few hours’ time.