Encrypting/safeguarding your USB drives and removable media

USB flash and hard drives and removable media make it easy to carry data around – almost too easy. You can buy 16 GB drives for about $20 these days, and larger ones for not much more.

But with this convenience comes risk. If these items are lost or stolen, someone can have access to your data. Fortunately, some drives offer built-in encryption and free tools like TrueCrypt and Microsoft’s BitLocker To Go can safeguard your data and ensure that no one besides you can read your files. The encryption means that you need to enter a password before you open any of the files on the drive, otherwise all the data is just gibberish.

BitLocker To Go was introduced in Vista, but many users found it too difficult to setup and administer. It is much improved in Windows 7 and in Windows 8. Once you insert your USB drive in your computer, you right-click on the drive and start the BitLocker preparation process. You are asked for a password or a smartcard to protect the drive and where you want to store the recovery key information. It is simple and it just takes a few minutes to perform the encryption, depending on the size of the drive itself.

Note that if you want to read any of the files on your encrypted drive with older versions of Windows such as XP, you can’t.

You should see screens similar to ones the below when you want to decrypt the files on the drive.

Encrypting and Safeguarding USBs

Once you set up BitLocker To Go on a drive and a specific computer, you can set things so that it automatically decrypts the drive when it is inserted on that computer, which is a nice touch and makes things very easy to manage.

If you are responsible for your organization’s IT infrastructure and want to enable BitLocker across all the PCs in your company, you might want to review the group policies that are part of Windows here.

If you don’t use Windows, or if you want something more powerful and flexible, then TrueCrypt.org has free open source tools for Mac, Windows, and Linux machines. One of the features that I like is the ability to recover a forgotten password, which is probably the biggest fear in using any of these products. The Windows 7 BitLocker has this recovery feature too. Another feature is that you can encrypt a portion of your hard drive, where BitLocker needs to encrypt the entire drive.

If you want something more powerful than simple password protection, you can link the encryption technology to the Trusted Computing Module chip, (see this video here on TPM) or make use of the built-in fingerprint reader; both are part of most modern Windows laptops.

 

MozyHome Online Backup

 

Super Bowl Blackouts and Online Backup

 If you were one of the millions of people who tuned into the Super Bowl last night, you saw a great football game, 55 commercials, Beyoncé’s half time show and, most unexpectedly, a 34 minute delay due to a loss of power at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisana.

The Superdome had been selected as the site for the 2013 Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLVII) in 2009. Preparations for this game have been in the works for years. The Superdome is also the regular season home to the NFL’s New Orleans’ Saints, and is no stranger to hosting impressive sporting events, having play host to boxing matches, basketball games, soccer games, gymnastics meets and countless other gatherings.

Super Bowl XLVII

The power outage (currently being blamed on an ‘abnormality’ in the Superdome power system) became one of the main talking points of this version of the Super Bowl a hotly contested 34-31 win for the Baltimore Ravens over the San Francisco 49ers.

Even with all of the preparation that went into hosting the biggest football game of the year, something went wrong. This is a good reminder that something can go wrong at any time, and usually when you least expect it. The only way to prepare for something like this is to make sure that the things are the most important or irreplaceable are protected.

Whether it’s a house fire or a a flooding river, we’ll all likely experience our own “power outages” – make the right choice and make sure that your data is safe and protected, backed up online.

Image Credit: 2013 Super Bowl XLVII / RMTip21 / CC BY 2.0

The world didn’t end – the New Year begins…now what??

If you subscribed to the idea that December 21st was the end of the world, as opposed to the end of the cyclical Mayan calendar – what did you do when you woke up on the 22nd? Hopefully you didn’t blow your entire life savings during a weekend trip to Vegas or quit your job or say something really nasty to that wench in the apartment down the hall. The world didn’t end….so, what now? What’s your Plan B? Is having a Plan B pessimistic? Do you really need a Plan B?

What is your plan B?Maybe I can blame it on my Type A personality but I like knowing all the details about (fill in the blank) so I can formulate a sustainable Plan B. I remember once, as a little girl, I had received the prettiest baby doll – she has large blue eyes, auburn curls and the sweetest dimples in her cheeks. She had a soft, pale lavender onesie with a matching binky. And as all little girls that play Mommy to their dolls, I wanted to give her a bath and wrap her in a blanket so I could feed her a “bottle.” As I started to get the bath water ready, I was hit with the realization that I had never given this particular baby doll a bath and I might ruin her. So the first thing I did was come up with a Plan B of what I would tell my mother if by chance I did ruin the doll – do I blame it on the dog or do I come clean? But all’s well that ends well and it turned out that I didn’t have to resort to my Plan B since my pretty baby doll had her first bath of many and she survived.

Now that I have kids of my own, especially as a working mom, I think about “If this plan doesn’t work, then what can I do so I’m not up the river without a paddle?” I have certainly imparted some of this behavior to my 5-year-old. I came to this realization as I watched him get ready to build a snowman in our backyard a couple weeks ago. I watched as he assembled all the tools he needed in one spot then started another menagerie of tools in another spot. He then began to build the snowman, step-by-step, taking meticulous care of positing and packing the snow so the resulting snowman was quite impressive, given his skill level. As he was sipping his hot chocolate a little later, I asked why he had created the two separate piles of tools. He looked at me, with his rosy cheeks, and said “I wanted to make sure that if my snowman fell over on this pile of tools, my other pile would be just fine and I could finish my awesome ninja snowman.” – is he a chip off the ol’ block or what??!!

So moral of the story is – have a Plan B! Plan Bs extend to every possible part of our lives – from building snowmen to backing up data. Plan Bs are for those that are prepared – even if nothing were to ever go wrong *fingers crossed*.

 
Shash Cates is the Creative Project Manager on the Mozy Marketing team.

50 Things We Don’t Do Anymore Due to Technology

A study conducted by Mozy last year found that technology is replacing many of the tasks that have been mainstays in our lives for years. When you consider the telecom industry, for example, when was the last time you looked something up in a phone book? Or used a phone book? Sure, they have 50 listings for party clowns for your 8-year-old’s birthday party, but isn’t it just faster to search online? Have you or your children ever called to hear “At the sound of the tone, the time will be 4:13 PM”? Technology is making life easier, faster, more accurate, and more personal. Take a stroll down memory lane with us and review 50 of the things we don’t do (or maybe have never done) thanks to technology.

50 Things We Don't Do Anymore Due to Technology

Mozy Stash - Free

Mozy’s Dave Robinson Honored As Rising Executive

Dave Robinson, MozyDave Robinson, Mozy’s VP of Global Marketing, has been honored as one of the 40 Under 40 by Utah Business Magazine. This award honors the top 40 executives under the age of 40 in the state of Utah. More information (and voting for the magazine cover) can be found at 40 Under 40 on Facebook.

Dave was hired in 2006 as Mozy’s first marketing employee. Over the past seven years, Dave has grown Mozy’s marketing operations, which now spread across North America, Europe and China. Dave’s team is responsible for marketing MozyHome, MozyPro, MozyEnterprise, and Mozy’s newest feature, Mozy Stash.

Prior to Mozy, Robinson worked for several other Utah companies, including the Publicis agency in Salt Lake City, Webmiles, and Ancestry.com, helping grow its email marketing business significantly over a three-year period.

Mozy is grateful to have such a marketing expert leading the charge to spread the Mozy awesomeness. Dave’s leadership and experience are critical in a fast growing technology industry like online backup. Thanks, Dave!

If you’d like to see Dave on the cover of Utah Business Magazine, you can vote for him here! Voting runs from now through January 22, and you can vote once daily.

Mozy, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012

Did you know that Mozy is fully compatible with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012?

Windows 8

Since their releases in autumn 2012, Mozy has worked seamlessly with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.  Using backup client versions 2.16 and up, you can combine the advantages of the new Windows OS features with the peace-of-mind that comes with Mozy backup, including:

  • Access to any file anywhere at any time through Mozy web, mobile, and tablet apps
  • Confidence that your files are safe with Mozy’s 2xProtect complete backup strategy
  • Premium security, optionally coupled with Windows BitLocker or EFS encryption

Download the newest Mozy client today for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 compatibility and all the newest Mozy features and enhancements.

Jamie Morningstar is a Mozy Product Manager.

Mozy Blog Recap – 2012

2012 was a big year for the Mozy blog. Changes to the back end were made allowing for more reliability and flexibility.

The blog also had a facelift (the old look had been around for 3 years and while it had served well, it was time for a chance), and we also hit milestones for visits and pageviews.

We also added a new commenting system, Disqus to allow for easier commenting and replies.

The Mozy Blog

We’ve compiled the top 10 posts from last year below. For the 3rd year in a row, our Petabyte infographic was the top piece of content, accounting for almost 25% of our page views. Stay tuned for a refresh coming soon!

The Top 10 Most Popular Posts on the Mozy Blog in 2012:
  1. How Much is a Petabyte? (infographic)
  2. Mozy Enhances Stash with Major Update To Web Access
  3. Mustaches – Who Made them Famous and Who Followed (infographic)
  4. All in the Family – Who Stores What? (Infographic)
  5. Mozy Stash Video Contest Winners
  6. Physical Storage vs. Digital Storage (Infographic)
  7. Stash – A New Era for Online Backup
  8. Backing Up Hundreds of Gigabytes With Mozy
  9. How to Use Cloud Backup to Customize Your Android Phone
  10. Cloud Roundup and Links of Interest – May 31

Take a look and let us know what you think – we hope you enjoy them!

Non-Profits Making Transition to Cloud

There are approximately 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the United States, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS). Some of the key components of running a successful non-profit are being able to maintain accurate records, staying on top of the most up-to-date software, and keeping in touch with people within your network, said April Greene, editor for Idealist.org, a non-profit hub that helps to connect people, ideas and resources.

Non-profits making a move to the cloud

With the growing amount of files, photos, and other documents that need to be kept safe, many non-profit organizations are starting to jump aboard cloud technology, Greene said.

In its 2012 State of the NonProfit Cloud Report, NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) reported that 91 percent of 780 non-profits they surveyed were using some type of cloud-based software.

“Non profits are attracted to cloud because it’s cheaper than buying software,” Greene explained. “Plus it offers a whole lot more. A lot of non-profit organization have people working remotely and it makes their lives much easier,” said said, explaining that one of Idealist.org’s managers lives in San Francisco and because of cloud he can access important documents and data in a matter of seconds. “You don’t have to send attachments anymore,” she said. “Everything is central.”

One non-profit using cloud to its advantage is Legacy Counseling in Dallas, Texas, an organization that has 20 years of providing quality mental healthcare, substance abuse treatment, and special care housing services for people challenged with HIV and AIDS. Executive Director Melissa Grove said she found out just how valuable cloud storage was when her computer crashed earlier this year and everything on it was lost. But thankfully she had recently signed up cloud storage and was able to get everything back right away.

“Cloud probably saved me from having to redo about 500 or 600 hours of work,” she said. “We aren’t big enough for an IT staff, and technology keeps changing. Cloud is a wonderful solution and it’s very simple to use.”

Grove said that she signed up for cloud storage about a year ago and it has made her job–and her life–so much easier. “I was able to get rid of all the hard drives and I stopped storing things at home for safety. We now have thousands of photos from events, grant documents, a donor list, and other files right at our fingertips. They are safe and easily accessible for all of our employees.”

 

Free MozyHome Online Backup

 

Online Work is Driving Jobs: Skilled Professionals Leveraging Connectivity

If your work is focused on the games people play, the way they protect their information, or how to sell them the things they want to buy, then a new report says there’s good employment news on the horizon.

Online Work is Driving JobsWhile several states’ unemployment rates dipped below 7%, the national unemployment hovered at close to 8% at the the start of November 2012. But a recent report by Elance —  a company working to connect freelance talent with employers online — indicates that independent skilled professionals are making headway by working for themselves.

The focus, the study shows, is in the gaming, security, and sales/management sectors. Let’s look at what the numbers can tell us.

Sectors in Play: Gaming, Security, Marketing

Who’s reaping rewards from online employment, according to Elance?

— Game-makers for one, and professionals with the skills to implement the gamification that has swept through online consumer-facing online platforms. Game developers have seen an 88% increase in demand for their skills since 2011. Programmers: 76%.

— Protecting valuable information has become a critical concern. News stories continue to impress upon companies and consumers how much there is to lose to hackers and black-hat online operatives. Demand for security engineers increased 448% this year, and analysts have seen a 326% jump in their work opportunities. Managing security for a company’s web operations? Professionals with that skillset experienced an 87% jump in demand during the past 12 months.

— And then, somebody’s got to sell all these ideas and end results. Social-media marketers saw a 157% increase in demand for their talents. Lead generation ticked upward some 136% since 2011. And that’s out in front of demand for IT, a typical front-runner in these kind of metrics.

Explaining the Increase, Measuring the Results

The report, issued on Nov. 14, indicates that even in economically hard-hit areas the numbers are hopeful for these skilled professional workers.

For example, in Carson City, Nevada, unemployment numbers are staggering. U.S. professionals in the area have suffered under 11.6% unemployment during the recession. In Port Saint Lucie, Florida as well, 11.4% unemployment has been the reality.

Online jobs are one answer to the scenario, according to the study.

— In Carson City online-work earnings have grown by 784% in 2012 over 2011, thanks to online work.

— In Port Saint Lucie, the report shows 168% growth.

“Demand for sales and marketing talent has actually been surging for the last several months,” says Rich Pearson, chief marketing officer at Elance. ”We believe that it’s a direct result of increased competition for attention online and in mobile.

“The rationale for the growth in game developers and security experts is a little less clear,” he continued. “We believe the latter is driven by an acceleration in businesses using cloud services who want to make sure they are doing so safely.”

 

MozyPro Online Backup for Business

 

When you know better, you do better… don’t you?

As I was preparing to write this blog post, I kept reminding myself that the content that I present not only has to be relevant but like all good lessons – should provide some type of “now you know” element. I refer to the latter because I’m a firm believer in the notion of when you know better, you do better. So, here it goes…

Cloud Computing SecurityI’ve worked in the software industry for a few years and as such the terms back up, data security, encryption and the cloud are ingrained in my vocabulary. Having said that, I do realize that not everyone has a frame of reference to these terms. However, regardless of where on the “tech savvy” spectrum you fall, it would be devastating to permanently lose family pictures or business critical files. I think that most of us function on the notion that bad things happen to other people.

How do you re-build your life when you have lost everything? Admittedly, I have no reference to Katrina or Sandy-level devastation but I have been forced to evacuate my home, a couple of times.

The first time was as a child growing up in Ethiopia, Africa – a continent where civil unrest and military coupes are all too commonplace. When the rebel militia overtook the capital city, all foreign citizens were forced to flee so we would not get caught up in the fighting, looting and pillaging. I remember so vividly, watching a barrage of planes from other countries landing on the airstrip, loading their citizens, re-fueling and taking off. I remember holding my baby doll under one arm while my other arm was locked in my mother’s grip and we ran through the airport and out to the airstrip to make sure we got to our plane in time. It was definitely a character-defining moment knowing that bad things don’t happen to only “them” but can happen to everyone – especially when you least expect it. Thinking about it events now, as a parent, I can only imagine the terror that my parent felt about not only our lives but also having to leave everything except what we could fit into one suitcase. We had to leave all our pictures and other files. We did end going back once the government had stabilized and our home had not been touched and we were able to keep all our pictures – but what if we hadn’t?

What would you take if you had to evacuate your home?

The second evacuation took place this past summer during the height of fire season. The fire by our house had been started by some reckless kids while they were target practicing. Dry scrubs, temps in the upper 90s and thoughtless actions started a fire that quickly got out of hand and spread faster than could be contained. By the time I left work and got to the police barricades, I was told that I had 15 minutes to get what I needed before the police would come looking for me. So I sped home, grabbed my dogs, cat, a box of important documents (passports, birth certificates, etc), clean clothes for one day, our external drive and headed to the designated Command Center. As an adult and a parent – this evacuation forced me to re-evaluate my preparedness level.

While in panic mode, you are faced with having to choose which items are your most prized possessions. Do you grab family pictures off the walls or a box of picture albums? How about all your “life” documents – social security cards, passports, insurance documents, etc.? If you store those critical documents in a safe – is the safe portable?

Speaking from experience, here is my advice on how to safeguard critical documents and files:

Scan, scan…and scan again
Scan documents or pictures to the hard drive of your computer. Scan your social security card, passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, and insurance certificates…I would even scan a copy of your dog’s rabies certificate! If you think you’ll need to re-build your life, then scan it. So if you ever needed to grab just one thing, you could grab your laptop or computer.

Plan B to your Plan B
Although incorporating an external drive into your overall back up plan is a good start – things can happen to your external drive. Your external drive could melt in a fire or have severe water damage or you could lose it …. then what? So my suggestion is storing all those critical files to a back up solution provider. For a very reasonable price, you can back up files directly from your computer or from your external drive – either way, you will have secured a long-term viable option to backing up family pictures, critical life documents and business-critical documents.

Bottom image: Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Shash Cates is the Creative Project Manager on the Mozy Marketing team.