Have you heard of “cloud computing?” This is a phrase that describes the concept of lots of computers connected through a real-time network. It gives you the ability to run a program or application on many computers at the same time. It often provides storage space for data that can be accessed, with appropriate passwords, from several locations, keeping business co-workers or family members connected without having to share the same computer.
We all have important documents that we need for identification, like drivers licenses, social security cards, insurance, medical records, and property deeds as well as bank records. Many of these are in paper form. If a disaster occurs that destroys these documents, how do we prove who we are and what we owned?
Enter the cloud. There are a number of services available like Google Drive, Dropbox, and others that offer internet storage space. The beauty of using the cloud is not having to put the same information on a variety of computers. It can be stored on one that is accessible to many.
Let’s use Goggle Drive as an example. Many people already have Google email accounts. The drive can be associated with your email account as a access point. What can you store there? Anything from images of documents, word files, music and family videos and photographs. For emergency preparedness purposes, you can store the following items in digital format:
- Drivers Licenses
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Marriage Certificates
- Health Insurance Cards
- Car Loan Contract
- Insurance Contracts
- Recent Bank, Loan, and Credit Card statements
- Mortgage Agreement
- Property Deed
- Life Insurance Policies
Only you and any people you choose to share access with can get to this information. When you set up this information in the cloud, it is a good idea to keep documents organized in folders. Give at least one other person access to the password.
Billie Nicholson 2014
More information on getting Tech Ready
The Stop.Think.Connect Campaign is a national public awareness effort to guide the nation to a higher level of Internet safety by challenging the American public to be more vigilant about practicing safer online habits. The following tips for safe internet activity are provided by StaySafeOnline.org
Keep a Clean Machine.
- Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
- Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
- Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web‐enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
- Plug & scan: “USBs” and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
Protect Your Personal Information.
- Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you to verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
- Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
- Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
- Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.
- Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit how and with whom you share information
Connect with Care.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cyber-criminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Get savvy about Wi‐Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
- Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.
Be Web Wise.
- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online. Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
- Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
- Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
Be a Good Online Citizen.
- Safer for me more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
- Post only about others as you have them post about you.
- Help the authorities fight cybercrime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to http://www.ic3.gov (Internet Crime Complaint Center).