Ensuring your data is safe doesn’t have to be costly or strenuous for that matter. Here are some great tips for keeping your data safe in the online world we live in.
We are used to being bombarded with security breaches and complex malware in the news and all around us on a daily basis, so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by it all! But there is no need to be. Sure, our world is becoming more digital by the minute, but there are simple ways to keep on top of your security even with the constant increase in hacking attack modes we see every day.
You can manage this easily by taking a straightforward, uncomplicated approach to safe guard your data. By becoming cyber secure this doesn’t mean high expenses and lots of man hours. As a matter of fact, these cyber security steps can be done quite easily.
1. Updating Software
No software is perfect, hence why it needs to evolve. This is why developers continuously update their software and distribute them out to their users. These roll outs may be anything from resolving bugs or fixing vulnerabilities. Most people do not update their software for multiple reasons such as; you might forget, you don’t want to save and shut down your app or device and you might be worried that the new update may change what you were used to. While this is understandable, rest assured that the pros outweigh the cons here. Getting hacked will serve as much more of an annoyance if you choose to ignore vital updates. Cyber criminals are well of aware of these scenarios and set out to take advantage of them. So, don’t feed into their plot.
How? Make sure all your apps, devices and important browser plug-ins like Java or Flash are up to date with the newest version. Most devices and apps have a setting that automatically updates software as they are released, which you should consider turning on if you find yourself forgetting to update.
2. Create Super Strong Passwords
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that basic passwords like ‘Password1’ or ‘12345678’ are still among the most commonly used passwords in the world, even today. You wouldn’t put a plaster on a broken arm to keep it secure, so why would you guard your important data with a highly hackable password?
When it comes to creating a password, please consider the amount of highly sensitive data you store on your online accounts, such as personal and banking information that could leave your accounts extremely vulnerable.
Here’s a quick way to create a highly secure password that’s easy to remember. You want to make sure your password is long, not full words that are easy to hack and has special characters in it like numbers and symbols. For example, say you type in a long password that’s easy for you to remember based on your favourite colour, food, part of your body and favourite thing to go like ‘orangechipseyesrunning’. You might think you have it nailed and it’s a good start, but you need to add numbers and special characters too. So simply, replaces the ‘e’s with the number 3 and the ‘a’ with the @ symbol. For example, ‘or@ng3chips3y3srunning’. Now, you have created a strong password that is not easy to hack but easy to remember. Try it out.
3. Read emails cautiously
Some cyber security experts say that malware is actually not as popular a method of infection as it once was before. If anything, cyber criminals these days are more likely to depend on social engineering. For example, they’ll try to trick you into granting them access. One of the most common ways to catch people out these days is with phishing scams via email. You must be very careful whenever you are prompted to share your personal details or download pdf’s, voice recordings, images or files. If it seems dodgy, go with your gut and delete it.
If you get an email that claims to be from your bank, one of your service providers or your employer, ask yourself if the request they’re making is something your bank, service provider or employer would likely send via email? Check the email address, is it the bank’s official email, or is it a list of numbers or letters that make no sense? The text of an email can be a signal too. If the tone is questionable or a little off, delete the message. When in doubt, reach out and ask the organisation if they emailed you. They will be able to tell you straight away if its spam.
4. Screen protector
Why not consider getting a privacy screen protector? There not expensive and will cover you from people seeing your screen from certain angles, giving you some extra privacy.
5. Ask if you’ve been ‘pwned’
Have I Been Pwned is a great online tool that allows you to input your email and analyse available information about data breaches to see whether your accounts have been affected in way, shape or form and. If so, what exactly has been affected?
It’s an incredibly simple way to figure out how exposed your data has been so far. If you have been caught up in a breach, changing your password and not using the password for anything else, should resolved the issue. The ‘Have I Been Pwned’ website will even send email alerts from time to time to let users know when breaches have occurred, meaning that you can stay informed and act quickly when a leak happens.
6. Put the right tools in place
Purchasing a good firewall and antivirus software is essential to have these days and more people do but there are a couple of other things you can do to ensure you can be extra secure with your data. You can consider setting up a fingerprint reader as a sign in option where you have to press your finger to confirm the sign in. You could also consider two-factor authentication key which seems to be becoming more popular in 2019.
7. Re-think your data generosity
Everyone should take a closer look at the kind of information companies request from you. When signing up to a service, the entry forms may ask for a variety of information, but that doesn’t mean you should provide everything they’re asking for. When in doubt, only give the information you need to give, otherwise leave the field blank.
Many people nowadays seem to think they have a great awareness about their financial information by not necessarily being as protective as they should be with their phone number. Yet if a potential hacker has your phone number, they can use a technique called ‘SIM hacking’ to steal your mobile number and then either hold that number at ransom or use it to get into your PayPal account, bank account or more. This is just one example but an important example of how data you may think is pretty safe can be used against you in a manipulative way should it fall into the wrong hands, so think twice before giving it away.