Everyday, more of the tasks we take care of find their way into online mediums, and while it does make things a bit more convenient, it does have the side effect of putting more information out there for others to intercept. Data Breaches and data scams occur more often these days, with no indication that is going to change any time soon. With all this happening, what we need is to take some steps to protect ourselves online.
We may not have the resources that big corporations have to fight cybercrime, but there are options. Sometimes all it takes is common sense to keep protected, but having education to back that up is the best. Offline protection is important as well, destroying old devices is what you need, but online protection is a bit more involved. We’ll look at 6 ways you can increase your data protection online.
6 Data Protection Tips
Update Your Operating System
No one likes having to update their OS, how annoying it is to turn off the computer, only to be faced with a massive update. While this may be the case, keeping things updated is a necessity. The updates come out for a number of reasons, one of which is they contain updates for any security issues that have been discovered. By falling behind on updates you are leaving your system vulnerable to possible attack. There is a reason updates are set to happen automatically, it keeps you from falling behind on those all important security updates.
Secure Your WI-Fi, Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Most people will have their wi-fi password protected, which is good. Hopefully your password isn’t obvious, put some thought and care into it. Also don’t name your wi-fi something that people can identify as being yours. What’s an even better idea then simply naming it something that isn’t traced back to you, is setting up your routers to not broadcast the network name. This is known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID).
Public wi-fi is one of those wonderful things that we have now, it can be pretty hard to find a place that doesn’t offer it any more. As helpful as it is, it isn’t risk free, and many people don’t realize this. Public wi-fi are far more vulnerable then private secured wi-fi, and with the amount of data going back and worth, it’s a buffet for cyber criminals. Avoid doing anything private on public wi-fi, don’t do your banking, make big purchases, etc. Save those types of things for when you know you’re on a secure network.
Delete Suspicious Emails
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, and they still use it because people still fall for it. You get an email from your “bank” that requires you to immediately respond with some important details. And now you just willingly handed your details to the scammers. Don’t even open emails from senders you don’t recognize, or that seem suspicious in any way, just delete them. Be extremely suspicious of any emails with attached files, these will leave something nasty behind on your machine.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
An additional layer of security beyond your normal password, two-factor authentication is being used more and more. How it typically works is simple: when attempting to login to an account, after the password, you will be prompted to provide a unique PIN, or answer some security questions. The answer to the question is whatever you set it up as, the PIN is generated for you when logging in and is only valid for a few moments. PINs are typically texted to a phone number you provide, provided by an app you can download, or generated through a small device you carry around. The PIN is entered, and then you can login, but if the PIN isn’t used within the time limit, it is invalidated and login is prevented.
Vary Your Logins
It’s easy for us to settle into the habit of using one or two passwords for multiple accounts. This is really not a good thing, if your password gets cracked all your accounts are vulnerable. Your best bet is to use different usernames and passwords for every account you have. Can that be hard to keep track of? Yes, of course, but it’s worth doing to maintain your security, as the pains of identity theft are infinitely harder.
Avoid Downloading Files From Strange Places
There are plenty of sites out there that want you to download files from them, not all of which have honest intentions. Just like with files attached to suspect emails, downloads from strange sites can have nasty repercussions for you. Sometimes they trick you by having a link that looks like it will go to another page, but really is a download for a file. Before clicking, hover over the link for a moment and check the bottom of your browser to see the full hyperlink text. Anything ending in a file type is going to be a download, if it looks weird to you and you aren’t sure about it, just don’t click.
Getting You Started
These have just been a few tips to keep your data safe online, there are far more things you should be doing as well. It’s important to remain vigilant for your own safety, take some extra time with these things. You will be happy you did at the end of the day.