It’s seems like there’s a recent news story about cybercrime coming out on a weekly, if not daily basis. There have been many horror stories in the last few years alone of identity and data theft, or even of losing access to various online accounts altogether — the loss of which, can be devastating, both personally and professionally. While there is no one surefire way of completely removing the risk of cyberattack, there are many practical steps one can take to help safeguard their most private of information. This blog post will take a look at a few of the easiest and most important ways to secure your data from would-be attackers.
Keep sensitive info in an encrypted disk image file
Any data that is not encrypted is easily subject to retrieval from those with access. Whether it is an important business project, a collection of your passwords, private photos, or any sensitive data, having it out in the open (even on seemingly secure services such as Google Drive or Dropbox) will make it all the more easier for someone to access, should they obtain your login credentials.
To prevent this from happening, consider keeping your sensitive data in an encrypted disk image file. A password-protected disk image file applies 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption to the file, making it fairly protected, even amongst those with access to brute-force hacking tools. An encrypted disk image can easily be done natively on OS X for free, or with the use of BitLocker on Windows.
Use 2-Factor Authentication Whenever Possible
There have been numerous recent stories of major security breaches, on sites such as LinkedIn, Ebay and others. If you are using the same password on multiple sites (as many people) are, this all the more opens you up to the possibility of someone gaining access to more important accounts, such as your Gmail or banking accounts.
Utilizing 2-Factor Authentication whenever possible will go a long way in mitigating this. With 2-Factor Authentication, you will need to utilize a second device (typically a smartphone) to confirm login whenever logging in from a new device for the first time. Many online services utilize this authentication, such as Google, Dropbox, Facebook and Twitter, so consider adding this additional level of security.
Diversify your passwords / Utilize a password manager
Related to the point above, it is extremely important to not use the same password for every single account. Doing so makes you vulnerable to someone gaining access to everything, all from obtaining a single password.
While it can be difficult to remember dozens of different passwords (probably the main reason why many people have bad password habits), an easy solution to this is to utilize a password manager, such as LastPass or 1Password.
Turn off your computer when not in use
While it may seem like a long shot, leaving your computer on when not in use, and especially connected to the internet, can potentially open you up to illicit attacks.
This is all the more true when using an open WiFi network. In such a situation, make sure to shut down your computer when not in use, or at the very least, turn off your WiFI connection.
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