Your Information Assets

02.06.2016 |

Episode #2 of the course Cyber security basics by FutureLearn


Gone are the days of noting appointments in a Filofax, buying music on tape or CD, and getting photos developed at your local photography shop. Nowadays we store much of our lives on computers. But have you ever stopped to think what information you hold online?

Performing an audit of your online assets can be a useful first step to making yourself digitally secure. You could do this either as a practical task and start a spreadsheet, or simply make a mental note of what assets you currently store digitally. First, note the different types of information you store online and where you store them. Are they on your computer, mobile device, on a separate hard drive, in a file hosting service such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or saved elsewhere in the cloud? Next, label each item or set of items according to a traffic light system: green indicates information you don’t consider particularly confidential, yellow is information that contains private details but you don’t think of it as especially sensitive, and red is for information that is highly sensitive—things you definitely wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands.

Music and audio files

Launched in 2001, Apple’s iTunes music library was a game-changer and led to many a CD shelf gathering dust. Lots of us have ditched our CD collection and transferred old music to digital files to save space and now only buy music online. In addition to music files, note how many other audio files you store online, such as podcasts and audiobooks.


The days of finding space for photo albums are long gone with the advent of digital photography. Note where and how many photographs you now store in online libraries or digital devices, such as mobile phones or digital cameras. On top of considering what would happen if you suddenly lost access to these files, consider how confidential the material is should your photos be accessed by someone else.


While DVD players are still in use, lots of people download video files from the internet. Note how many video files you have online (don’t forget any personal videos you’ve recorded) and consider how confidential or important the material is. You might, for example, store the video of your wedding day online. Is that the only file, or do you have a back-up?

Work documents

With remote work becoming popular, more of us are storing work files on work laptops or home PCs. Look through any files and consider the confidentiality of the content—what could happen if they were intercepted or corrupted by a third party?

Personal information

Think about any documents you store online or on your computer that contain personal information. Do you keep personal details such as your insurance or security number, passport details, or past address information online? What about bank account details or password information for any online accounts you have?


Recommended free course

Introduction to Cyber Security


Recommended book

“Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War” by Fred Kaplan


Share with friends