Protecting Your Sensitive Information

The encryption solutions mentioned in this article deal exclusively with files and folders, not disks. For more information on whole disk encryption please contact ITS Information Security.
File/folder encryption solutions handle copies of encrypted files differently. There are cases where one could unintentionally decrypt files when they are e-mailed, backed up, copied to another disk, or opened in applications. Work with your IT support and Information Security to understand how your chosen encryption solution will behave before deploying it.

If your computer were stolen or compromised what sensitive information would the thief find? It is important that you take steps to protect your computer files from unauthorized access in order to prevent identity theft, financial account takeover, fraud, and unauthorized information alteration.

If you are a University employee, you are personally responsible for guarding any sensitive or confidential university information. Theft of student, medical, or account records, as well as your own personal social security number, credit card information, and passwords must be protected. Any combination of general information such as a name, date of birth, address, or driver’s license number can also be used to steal someone’s identity and must be treated securely.

This requires an effort on your part to secure any sensitive information you may have access to. The following are general safety procedures, as well as operating system-specific techniques. Anyone can benefit from taking these steps to safeguard their computers.

Tips for Securing Your Information

Download and install Microsoft Antivirus Products for Windows systems or Clam-X Antivirus Software for personally owned Macs. Both are available free through the UNC Shareware Distribution to students, faculty members, and staff. Linux and Netware users can obtain a copy on CD. For more information regarding the license and software acquisition, refer to the UNC Software Acquisition site.

Be aware of how you distribute your private data. Do not post sensitive material – including your email address – in webpages and message boards, or send personal information in emails. Be alert for phishing – no legitimate company will request private information through email. Do not click on a link in a message requesting this information or copy/paste the url into your browser. If you are worried that your account may somehow be compromised, open a new browser window and go to the company’s website or call a phone number you know to be valid.

Only give your email address to trusted sources. Never open an attachment unless you know the person who sent it and know they meant to send it to you.

Check your bank and credit card statements soon after receiving them to check that all charges are legitimate. If not, contact the agency immediately to address the problem. If you have not received your statement on time, also contact your agency to check that it has not be stolen.


Additional Help


If you have any further questions or concerns regarding how to safeguard information please contact the Security office through 962-HELP or by sending an email to