Trend Micro Consumer Newsletter | Security Tips, Tricks, and Updates February 2009      

Information Security Starts With Empty Pockets

While data thieves often use the Internet to access people's personal information, either by sending out phishing emails, hacking into Web sites, or putting spyware on personal computers, there's one very easy way for information to fall into the wrong hands: through a lost thumb drive.

Thumb drives, or USB sticks, are very handy, portable storage devices that have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Unfortunately, their very portability makes them incredibly vulnerable to data theft or loss. Many people fail to password-protect their thumb drives, so that if they misplace the drive, whoever finds it can easily access whatever data is stored on it.

A new survey out of the UK revealed that 9,000 thumb drives turned up at dry cleaners' establishments last year. That's a huge amount of potentially vital information that people misplaced through carelessness. Fortunately, the devices turned up at a dry cleaner instead of in the hands of identity thieves. But it's a reminder that, no matter how carefully you shield your computer from spyware, viruses, and hackers, a little common sense is absolutely vital if you want to protect your data. So be wise, be careful, and empty your pockets before you take your trousers to the dry cleaner.

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