It 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.
For more additional information on how to protect your business data be sure to visit Network Assured.
1. 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 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Be cautious when using public WIFI networks
Commonly overlooked, users who connect to public WIFI often are at higher risk than users on private networks. The reason, the public WIFI networks are susceptible to tampering. Moreover, tampering of networks is a different way for hackers to gain access to user personal information when accessing the unsecured network. To combat the risk, users opting into Public Wifi securitize browser and device settings, remain alert of suspicious web pages and limit online activity.
6. Secure your home WIFI network with a firewall
With a firewall, users better secure home WIFI networks from data hackers. Specifically, the encryption and denial of service protection technologies consistent within firewall systems identify, report, and blocks malicious activity. Also, users better secure home WIFI networks when choosing firewall devices that support VPN’s. web filtering, and anti-virus software.
7. Use a secure VPN service
When opting into a VPN service, users better protect personal and private data from potential data hackers. With a VPN, the technologies encrypt internet traffic, provide online anonymity, prevent ISP Bandwidth throttling, and reduce Ad tracking. Also, VPNs support users with security across various platforms, devices, and web browsers. Overall, integrating a VPN for both mobile and desktop platforms ensures that online activity is more secure.
8. Avoid phishing scams
Unfortunately, scammers use various methods to obtain private user information. One method is phishing, which is when scammers send an email, call, or text to individuals for malicious reasons. One phishing technique is “spear phishing,” which is when scammers target specific individuals with valuable information, more vulnerability, or excess amounts of capital. Second, “clone phishing,” occurs when a scammer replicates trusted websites to obtain user information. Third, “Pop-up Phishing” is a technique for attracting online users to offer personal information through online web browser ads. Lastly, “vishing” and “Smishing” use voice call recordings and SMS to persuade users to offer information.
To avoid phishing scams, users often apply spam filters to emails, modify online browser settings, and checking the authentication of links before making purchases. As a note, more secure links typically include an “s” at the end of an HTTP link address. This is commonlay referred to as an SSL certificate. Lastly, users carefully inspect the email addresses, web-links, and scammers’ information before engaging in online activities.
9. Use cloud services that are trusted & secure
To build a more secure network, using cloud services protects individuals from data theft, risk, and storage. For example, Sync.com is a cloud service with end-to-end encryption privacy standards. Also, the system provides easier and safer storing, sharing, and accessing of files than alternative systems. Another example is Tresroit, an enterprise-level data security cloud service. The software makes sharing, collaborating, and storing of files easily and secure. Another cloud service is NordLocker, which includes encryption automation technologies for better file security and data backup. As a plus, the technology supports various files for more compatible cloud file security and privacy.
10. Backup your data regularly
Regularly, users backup data as an additional security measure. Commonly, users enable backup and cloud systems to automatically store important downloads, desktop documents, and media files. When users backup data regularly, these systems allow users to quickly restore lost, stolen, or corrupt files during operation. Furthermore, regular backups enable users to erase servers if data files claim to be compromised by data hackers. If you’ve decided to back up your data by moving it to the cloud such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box, you can review and compare the promising features and red flags of each one of them here.
11. Install malware protection for your mobile device
For mobile devices, using malware protection systems protect users from potential data threats. In addition to data security, mobile malware security software limits third-party tracking and report malicious and suspicious activity. Also, installing malware protection for mobile devices acts as an additional layer of security against data hackers. Depending on the user, malware software is modifiable in terms of settings.
For iPhone and iOS, Avast Security and Privacy is an anti-virus app that protects mobile users from instances of data theft. While iOS systems include malware protection technology, the additional support serves as another barrier against data risks. For mobile Android users, systems like Bitdefender and Kaspersky offer all-in-one security and cloud support services. Both include anti-virus, anti-theft, and malware diagnostics for mobile devices.
12. Delete old files from the cloud
While documents upload to the cloud, users maintain storage management systems by removing excess files. In particular, excess files such as outdated documents, unused files, and large media graphics removed from the cloud systems better protect private information. Also, maintaining files, updating information, and compressing documents allow cloud technologies to perform and manage files better.
13. Enable touch ID on Apple devices
On Apple devices, users utilize various recognition API for better data security. Particularly, these API systems assist users with accessing mobile devices, mobile apps, and confirming purchases and downloads. By enabling Touch ID, users deny access to others who attempt to steal physical mobile devices. Also, users receive alerts and notifications when outside activity occurs without touch-ID authentication. In combination with face-ID and 2-factor authentication, the touch-ID assists users with protecting mobile devices and the data stored within the systems.
14. Use your face as a secure password
For security purposes, facial recognition technology acts as an effective barrier against data threats. Similar to 2nd-factor authentication, API recognition software relies on precise measurements and a user camera to allow user access. Often, scammers will try to use a photo or image of a user to gain access to private information however, these systems require more user interaction. Above all, facial recognition is more secure than key-pad combinations if scammers locate user passwords.
15. Lock your mobile & tablet device
As a safeguard, users with lock screens on mobile devices better secure personal data. Once applied, the lock screen secures hackers from obtaining information during in-person theft. In other instances, users with lock screens require the passcodes to obtain more sensitive user information. Additionally, lock screens offer users additional security API features such as facial recognition and 2nd-factor authentication.
16. Disable Bluetooth when not in use
When not in use, users disable Bluetooth settings on devices. When Bluetooth is on, the internet connection and network function performance increase while searching for better and alternative networks. For connectivity, users rely on Bluetooth technologies however, more network searches risk potential data threats for users.
17. Regularly update your operating system
Easy to initiate, keeping devices and software up-to-date ensures fewer data threats to users. Within each update, users gain an advantage over potential hackers due to the revisions and encryptions applied with the latest updates. Without the update, hackers locate snippets of coding with poor programming or lack of administrator support. For users using outdated software, the result is more risk towards less secure user systems and technologies.
18. Automate your software updates
In addition to OS updates, software updates also better secure user private data from data hackers. Most of the time, hackers breach operating systems through the breach of outdated and unmonitored software on mobile devices. In other words, software integrated onto operating systems require system and user information to support user systems. As a downside, when software becomes outdated, the information becomes available from external parties. For this reason, automating software updates is important to secure and privatize private data.
19. Review your device & browser privacy settings
Along with updating software, updating device browser and privacy settings limit data hackers from accessing specific user information. For example, configuring online browser settings ensure that fraudulent ads, webpages, and emails obtain certain restrictions for user protection. In regards to device privacy settings, users enable different privacy settings such as user permissions, passwords, fire vaults, firewalls, and app privacy. When modified to meet user needs, security settings allow more functional devices without additional risk.
20. Delete redundant data
For both enterprises and tech users, deleting redundant data better protects users from potential data risks. To define, data redundancy is when data exists in multiple locations. Typically, data redundancies incur problems such as data inconsistencies. For this reason, users who centralize data, delete redundant data, and organize data into relevant files better secure and protect private data.
Angelo has been involved in the creative IT world for over 20 years. He built his first website back in 1998 using Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop. He expanded his knowledge and expertise by learning a wider range of programming skills, such as HTML/CSS, Flash ActionScript and XML.
Angelo completed formal training with the CIW (Certified Internet Webmasters) program in Sydney Australia, learning the core fundamentals of computer networking and how it relates to the infrastructure of the world wide web.
Apart from running Sunlight Media, Angelo enjoys writing informative content related to web & app development, digital marketing and other tech related topics.