The holiday season has come and gone. Consumers have started 2019 with new tech, making it a great time to secure your digital devices. Technology is like a briefcase with all your most personal papers you wouldn’t want to lose. However, research shows that security is not top of mind for most consumers. There were over 600 million data breaches in 2018 alone, with hackers attacking a computer every 39 seconds. It’s important for consumers to take precautions in order to keep their data safe. While total and comprehensive security will never exist, we’ve outlined seven steps below for you to secure your data.
1. Keep software up to date
You know that pesky pop up message telling you to update your software? It’s tempting to choose the “remind me later” option but keeping your software up to date is critical to security. It’s harder for hackers to get into your devices if your software has the latest upgrades for the operating systems installed. Select auto-update on both your mobile devices and computers whenever possible. For software that doesn’t update automatically, make it a habit to regularly check for and apply available updates.
2. Use AntiVirus Software
Using specific software programs to protect your data will keep your device and data much more secure. Software programs can scan malicious websites and detect malware. Two well-known AntiVirus software brands are McAfee and Norton. With a quick search online, there are many other options available for purchase. If/when you decide to shop around, review how the software will help with the specific devices you use, then choose a plan that is best for your needs.
3. Be Cautious
Before browsing or clicking a link to a website, be cautious and inspect the link. If you received an unsolicited email that is supposedly from the bank asking you to verify your information, you could be a target of a phishing attack, even if the link in the email looks legitimate. Always go to your bank’s website by entering their web address. About 92% of malware is delivered by email. Web addresses should start with “https” to ensure there is a secure connection between your computer and the site. Websites that only have “http” in the address are not encrypted and therefore your personal information could be intercepted. Also, beware of public or non-secured Wi-Fi hotspots. Some public Wi-Fi hotspots can put your information at risk of being exposed to malware that is on someone else’s device, which in turn can infect yours. This is an example of when having AntiVirus software and/or up-to-date malware protection comes in useful.
4. Create Strong Passwords
Creating strong passwords may seem like a daunting task. However, using an identical password across all your accounts is unsafe. Similarly, several passwords that are short simple words or include numbers related to your life are too easy to guess. Key aspects to a strong password are length (the longer the better), a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, no ties to your personal information, and no dictionary words. There are many apps to store your passwords securely. Don’t write them down but do use a password manager as an additional online security tool. Also, common elements among your passwords paired with specific site indicators can help you remember your passwords. For example, Pwrd4Acct-FB uses “FB” for Facebook and can switch to something like $$ for your bank account.
5. Back Up Your Data
You can back up your data using cloud storage services such as iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox. Cloud storage offers end-to-end encryption of your data keeping it safe, along with free storage space, and additional space for a low fee. Other ways to back up your data include downloading your files onto an external hard drive or putting it on a USB flash drive. You may want to use a cloud service and a secondary back up method for ultimate safety. This way if one fails, you’ll still have a backup.
6. Check Privacy Settings
Choosing to share the least amount of data will help protect your information. Most apps offer privacy settings for users making it possible to choose what information and how much is being shared. Staysafeonline.org is an educational site with a mission to empower users at home, work, and school, to keep their sensitive information safe and secure online. Check out their extensive list of links to update your privacy settings on popular devices and online services.
7. Delete Old Accounts
In today’s world, social networks as well as other online services come and go every day. If you are no longer using an account, it should be deleted. A network can have a wealth of your personal information and if the service disappears, they can take your information with them and sell it as an asset.
At Sunnking we take data security very seriously and so should you. The consequences associated with your data being stolen are detrimental. By following these tips, you can ramp up data security for yourself, and avoid the serious and unfortunate outcomes of a data breach. If you have any additional comments or questions, call us at 585-637-2282.