That’s a mighty good question since many of us are in tax mode trying to beat the October 15, 2010 deadline for taxes, buying a house in this awesome market, or refinancing at these insane rates. How careful is your trusted advisor with your SSN’s, bank account numbers, investment account numbers, etc? Probably careful to the extent of their knowledge. First let me mention that I wouldn’t trade my bookeeper, CPA, realtor, financial adviser or loan person for anybody. Great people just like us. And like us they need education! Ok people let’s learn a few things.
1. Anytime you email your SSN, Bank Statement, 1040, or Schedule C to anyone with a gmail, hotmail, or cox address you are just asking for it. Why? This mail sits in their mailbox unencrypted with nothing but a password protecting the mailbox. Compromise the mailbox and you’re a casualty. Any good virus will do.
2. Encrypt your sensitive documents please folks. How? Use 256bit AES encryption and a strong password. Use a zip tool (archiver) to do it. My favorite is 7zip. It’s fast and powerful and takes 5 minutes to get quick with. Ready? Let’s encrypt a file!
3. Download 7zip here. http://www.7-zip.org/ Just grab the 32 bit for Windows unless you have a 64 bit machine. How would you know? Check here http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/32-bit-and-64-bit-Windows-frequently-asked-questions if you are uncertain.
6. Firstly change the Archive format to Zip (becaue everyone and their grandma uses that) then change the encryption method to the robust AES-256, thirdly enter your password. Then click OK. The rest of the options can be left as default. Make sure your password is easy to remember and strong. Stong means letter, numbers, and a ! or other symbol that share the number keys on your keyboard.
7. Your file is now encrypted. Now let’s try to open it.
8. Now right-click your zip file you just created and click on 7Zip > Extract all. Enter your password and it creates a folder of your documents unencrypted.
9. When dealing with your Realtor, CPA, or Loan Officer from now on send them your encrypted data by sending them the entire zip file. That’s some safe stuff your emailing. Any hacker will spend 30 seconds and realize he can’t get it and move on to the next target.
10. If your trusted advisor can’t open your file they will get a “compression not compatible” error message. This means they need some education so forward them a link to my blog.
Know Thy Computer Stuff. It will save your bacon.
Chuck Vedrene – CEO VITServices
619 886 1826