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January 13, 2013

Test your identity security

NORMAN — Whether you do online banking and shopping or not, it’s good to know what sort of personal, private information actually resides in your computer. The longer we use our computers, the greater the odds things are there we are unaware of, or have simply forgotten.

Your private computer and Internet-related information (bank account, credit card, Social Security numbers, names, addresses, etc.) exists in two types, depending on what is happening at the time. Computer IT wonks refer to these two types as “data at rest” and “data in motion.”

“Data at rest” is data that is not actively participating in any activity; it simply exists, “at rest” in your computer, on a hard drive, flash drive, DVD, or some other form of data storage. It is “resting,” i.e., it is not busy doing anything or moving around.

“Data in motion,” on the other hand, is data that is moving from one place to another. An example of data in motion is when you check your email; data (your username and password) is moving from your computer to the email server computers of whoever is your email provider, requesting that they send you your email. Even if you don’t see the data moving, because your email program or browser automatically sends your password behind the scenes, the data is still in motion.

The point of this long-winded “data-at-rest, data-in-motion” explanation is that private, personal data at rest that accidentally turns into data in motion can be very dangerous data, and it happens all the time. Internet security pros spend a lot of time and effort protecting data in motion, but a security and privacy company named Velosecure says they have a better way: clean up your computer first, getting rid of confidential data at rest that you may not even know exists.

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