Protect Your Data From Prying Eyes

Today morning I came across a thread on a forum where someone was able to access classified data on a PC. The guy who’s data was accessed was freaked out. Totally! It was more so his fault because he failed to take some basic and I mean really basic steps to make sure anyone & everyone does not have access to that data. Here are some tips to make sure people with even basic computing skills don’t get access to your data in your absence. What all should you take care of:

  • Disable Recent Docs & Jump Lists (Windows 7)
  • Disable Search indexing for particular folders (Vista only)
  • Folder Access
  • Parental Control
  • Disable Media Player History
  • Clear Browser Content

Most important for Windows users – Use NTFS file system, if you are on Vista then you are on NTFS, if you are using XP make sure the data you want protect is on a NTFS partition.

1. Disable Recent Docs and Jump Lists (Windows 7) in the Start Menu, to do this:

  1. Control Panel -> Taskbar & Start Menu
  2. Choose the Start Menu Tab from top & then un-check the ‘Display list of  Recent files’
  3. Screen shot:
Hide Recent Docs

2. Disable Folder Indexing (Vista):

Go to any folders properties by right clicking, in the opened window, click on Advanced & uncheck the “Index this folder for fast searching” option. Screen shot:

3. Create Separate Accounts:

  • Enable Parental Control.
  • Deny Access.

This is a very basic step & I suggest everyone should do it, other than data protection it has other benefits too. Anyway, create separate Guest accounts or accounts with Standard (non-Administrator) rights. Give yourself the Administrator privileges and set a password for your account.

  • Parental Control:

The beauty of Vista is that it will allow you to set Parental Control over a certain account. So simply set Parental Controls for the new Standard (non-Administrator) account you created. Screen shot:

Parental Controls
  • Deny Access:

Now navigate to the folder you want to deny access to and right click on it. Then:

Properties -> Security -> Advanced -> Edit ->  Add -> Enter the name to restrict -> Check Names -> Select -> OK -> Check ‘Deny’ on Full Control -> OK -> OK-> OK -> OK

Now when you right click to see the properties of this folder, go to Security you will see the name you recently denied access will be shown. When you click on the name you will find it has been denied complete access to this folder. Screen shot:

Denied Access

Now that these steps are taken, we shall go beyond this, let us Hide this folder. There are 2 levels of hiding a folder:

  1. Normal hide.
  2. System folder hide.

Normally people set the simple Hide attribute to the folder, but we shall make this is a System Folder to give it that extra bit of security as the prying usually don’t enable ‘Show System Folders’ option, they will only enable the ‘Show Hidden Files’ options and think they will now know all. To do this:

  1. Rename the folder/file to without any spaces and NOT more than 255 characters
  2. Start -> Run -> cmd -> Navigate to 1 directory above the folder you want to hide then sue the following command:
    • attrib +s +h <folder name>
  3. Now, go to Folder Options and select the ‘Hide Protected Operating System Files’, it is selected by default.

Wanna go more g33ky?

Let’s just create a new partition and hide the entire partition from My Computer. Boom! No one other than you will even know that there exists a partition! Pretty simple to do this, you will need a 3rd party tool, there are Registry ways of doing this, but let’s keep it simple.

Create a new partition. Then, Start -> Run -> regedit -> Navigate to:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Policies\Explorer

In the right pane of Explorer, right click on a empty area and click New -> DWORD (32-bit) Value and type NoDrives and press Enter.

  1. Right click on NoDrives and click Modify.
  2. Type in the Value Data below in boldyou want to set as restricted and click OK.

A=1, B=2, C=4, D=8, E=16, F=32, G=64, H=128, I=256, J=512, K=1024, L=2048, M=4096, N=8192, O=16384, P=32768, Q=65536, R=131072, S=262144, T=524288, U=1048576, V=2097152, W=4194304, X=8388608, Y=16777216, Z=33554432,  All drives=67108863

Courtesy: Vistax64 Forums

For XP users, you can download a software called Tweak UI and hide partitions using this tool.

That’s with regards to the drive. If you have set all this, you’re NOT done.

4. Media Player:

There are a few more things that need to be done. You will need to hide the history of Media players & Internet Browsers too. For Windows Media Player you will need to un-check 2 things:

  1. History:
    • Options -> Privacy. Screen shot:
      WMP History
  2. Add to Library.
    • Options -> Player. Scree shot:
    • WMP Library

5. Internet Browsers:

  1. Clear your history regularly. If you are suing Firefox then you have the option to delete everything once you close the browser.
  2. Also, disable auto-complete feature.

This should save your arse on more than 1 occassion. Peace out homies!