Although I just got done talking about protecting your data via encrypting your hard drive there is a much better means of protecting data that I didn’t cover, not having it:
As both data storage and data processing becomes cheaper, more and more data is collected and stored. An unanticipated effect of this is that more and more data can be stolen and used. As the article says, data minimization is the most effective security tool against this sort of thing.
This advice applies to anything. If there is an absence of something it can’t be taken. If you don’t actually have incriminating data on your computer then it can’t be used against you. If you don’t have a television to steal then a crook can’t take your television. Unfortunately this isn’t very practical and the real problem is one of personal information that is stored by third parties.
Like it or not third parties store a lot of information about you. Even if you’ve never purchased anything online the government likely has countless documents relating to you and your identity. If you use a credit or debit card there is a record of every purchase you make, where you made it, what day you made it one, how much it cost, etc. Most people have cellular phones these days which means a third party, the cellular provider, has your personal information, a history of calls you’ve made or received, your location, etc. Even automobiles are starting to store more and more information about drivers.
I would love to see a world where the amount of data stored by third parties was kept at an absolute bear minimum. Sadly I don’t foresee such a world as personal data is valuable and thus people want to have it.