Technology is a wonderful thing. It allows us to dream up the impossible for the good of the world. From Internet-connected TVs to our Wi-Fi enabled laptop, we humans have progressed to an “always on” society. With the average American having a digital shadow of 4 GB. your data is at stake whenever you are connected. Companies analyze billions of social media posts for insights into public opinion, creating large databases to house all this information in. All this information is at risk to be hacked. An example of this is, due to a computer bug, Facebook allowed unauthorized people to access the phone numbers and email addresses of 6 million users and nonusers between 2012 and 2013.
This begs the question what can you do to keep your data safe? Here are five tips that you can do right now to protect your personal data.
Cybersecurity Tip #5: Spot Phishing
No…not the American rock band Phish. Phishing is a type of attack that uses email or malicious websites by clicking on a link to collect personal and financial information or infect your machine with malware and viruses.
Protecting yourself is very easy, just be aware. Always be careful when clicking on attachments or links in an email. If it’s unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it. Double check the URL of the website the link takes you to. Hackers will often take advantage of spelling and other mistakes to direct you to a malicious domain. OpenDNS has a great quiz to test your knowledge of phony websites.
Cybersecurity Tip #4: App Permissions
There are apps for everything, from gaming to meditation. When installing, they need your permission to access your information for you to use them correctly. That is where you need to watch out. A great example of this is the Meitu app. This beauty app that spread across social media back in 2017 allowed you to create beautiful pictures from a single selfie.
Security experts have warned that Meitu collected a vast amount of data from your phone – including your location, your phone number, and your phone’s IMEI number – and sent it back to China. In many other cases, other apps were known to access your camera, microphone, and even contacts for programs that did not need these features to run. The next time you install an app, ask yourself “does it need this to run”?
Cybersecurity Tip #3: Remember your Anti-virus
Anti-virus software is essential to defending your computer from a number of potentially deadly viruses. These viruses can hold hostage your computer or simply take all the data out of it. There are numerous ways in which your device can become infected if you don’t try to stop them. As the old saying goes, “Hackers only have to be right 1% of the time”.
That’s why it’s so important to not only install anti-virus but also check to make sure the software is updating. Make sure to set it for an automatic update, otherwise make a note to check weekly. You won’t want to fall behind the curve and let yourself become endangered to the next major virus.
Cybersecurity Tip #2: Backup
This is one of the simplest tips I can give you: ABBU. What is ABBU? Always Be Backing Up! As simple as it is, scores of people do not do this. Everyone had the problem of the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (In Mac speak, Grey Screen of Death). You lost it all but if you would have backed it up it would have been okay.
Like with the last tip, hackers can install Ransomware into your computer. Rendering it useless to you. Sometimes the only way to fix it is wipe it all. That is why you need to back it up on a external hard drive or to the cloud. Extra tip: Use your security software to scan USBs and other external devices. They can be also infected by viruses and malware.
Cybersecurity Tip #1: Create Strong Passwords
You have heard this over and over again, change your passwords. Well, you will hear it again. So many people do not do this and when the latest hack report airs on the local news about personal data being compromised…well good luck. People of creatures of habit, they want things not to change including their passwords.
Now it is commonly becoming the case that websites are asking for stronger, more obscure passwords. This often involves adding numerical characters or a capitalized letter. Lifehacker offers some tips to craft the perfect password. There are also password manager sites such as Password Vault, Lastpass, and Dashlane. These create and store passwords for you and some remind you when you need to change them. Also, turn on multi-factor authentication if offered.
So, what have we learned? These are five tips that can protect your personal information. From Nigerian email scams to online shopping, it all takes place on the internet. Today everything can be hacked. No one knows when you will be hacked but everyone agrees that you can do something to protect yourself.