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8 Tips To Avoid A Data Security Breach


data security breach

Yesterday was the 11th annual Data Privacy Day. It is held annually on January 28 as a centered approach towards respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust. It's a global effort to raise and promote awareness around protecting one’s data and privacy.

We get it. You’re not a techie. You are not an information security professional. You just want to connect to the internet, search for information on Google, shop on Amazon, bank electronically, and post some pictures on Instagram. That’s fair. Unfortunately, it does require a consistent effort from you all year to keep privacy and data protection on your radar and stay vigilant. With this in mind, we have put together these 8 tips to help you keep your data safe and away from the reach of attackers.

McAfee surveyed 6,400 people globally to learn more about how they handle and protect personal information. There are some silver linings in the survey, such as nearly 80 percent of those surveyed have talked with their kids about online safety, but there were also some serious issues revealed. So here are eight top tips that you can do to help manage your data privacy all year round.

locked mobile

Tip #1: LOCK YOUR DEVICES

With mobile devices becoming an integral part of our everyday lives, they store massive amounts of data about us, our friends and family members. More importantly, being smaller and compact, they are more vulnerable to theft. So, it is only logical to protect these devices with a PIN, fingerprint or a password. We do not recommend the Pattern Lock because they are easily noticeable and less secure. Also, it is wise to keep the Automatic Lock feature ON at all times.

Tip #2: ENCRYPTED DATA IS SAFE DATA

It is unsafe to store login ID and passwords, banking details, social security number, and other such sensitive information on your mobile device or computer. But, if you can’t help it, ensure that the data is encrypted. When you encrypt information, it gets converted into an unreadable form, and can only be read by you. So, even if a situation arises wherein your data falls into the wrong hands, you can rest assured that it won’t get misused.

52 % of the McAfee surveyed people aren’t sure how to secure connected devices and apps. It’s tough to secure your data and privacy if you don’t even know how to check to see if they’re secure. It’s not just a computer you have to worry about anymore, either. Smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, virtual assistant devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, connected thermostats and doorbells, robot vacuums and more are all connected to each other and to the internet. They may not all contain personal information or sensitive data, but they all provide attackers with a means of gaining access to your network—and to the other devices connected to it.

login

Tip #3: CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD & DO NOT GO SOFT ON THEM

More than 40% of those surveyed don’t immediately change default passwords. This is a no-brainer. If your device can connect to the network, there’s a very high probability that it can also be logged into. That means it has a username and password—one that is set by default by the vendor and can be easily found and exploited by attackers. The first thing you should do with every device is log into the user interface and change the default password. If possible, change the default username as well. It’s one more thing an attacker would have to learn or guess to gain access.

These are 4 rules of thumb to build a strong and unique password:

  1. Use a mix of uppercase and lower letters

  2. Use special characters

  3. Use numbers

  4. Use at least 8 characters

Also, here’s a fun way to create a password that is strong that you can easily remember:

  • First, think of a phrase or the title of your favorite book or movie; say, “The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo”.

  • Now, take the first letter of every word in the title – this will give you tgwtdt.

  • Capitalize a letter, add some numbers, and special characters – and you will have the ultimate password Tgwtdt#$8945B.

We tested the strength of this password, and it seems that a hacker will take about 273 years to crack it. Find it out yourself – https://www-ssl.intel.com/content/www/us/en/forms/passwordwin.html

Tip #4: NEVER SHOP OR BANK ON UNSECURED WIFI NETWORKS

Only 37% use credit monitoring services. At the rate that data breaches occur, it seems like pretty much everyone should have free credit monitoring for life at this point. Banking or shopping online using unsecured Wi-Fi networks can let attackers steal your personal and financial information. While using any such network, ensure it is accessible only with a login ID and password.

One thing that you may not have thought of, though, is to do credit monitoring for your children. We know. They don’t even have a bank account, or credit cards. They don’t have anything to monitor. That is why they make excellent targets for identity theft—attackers know that it’s highly unlikely anyone is even paying attention. If an attacker compromises personal information of a child, they can use it for identity theft and credit fraud without being detected—possibly for years, until the child grows up and tries to get a car loan or a credit card.

Do not take the phishing bait

Tip #5: DO NOT TAKE THE PHISHING BAIT!

One of the greatest threats to your data and privacy is phishing. Phishing is defined as an attempt to trick you into providing your personal or financial details so that the attacker can commit illegal acts using your name. Any unknown or unexpected communication (email, call, SMS, etc.) that carries a sense of urgency and requires you to provide your personal information should be treated as a phishing attack. Always ignore such communications and report them to the right authority.

Tip #6: BACK UP, BACK-UP, BACK-UP.... oh did we mention BACK UP!

Take a back up of all your important data stored on your computer and mobile device. You can either take the backup over Cloud or an external hard drive. Taking regular data backups can save you from the aftermath of a virus attack or system crash – especially a ransomware infection. Ransomware is a malware that hijacks your data and demands money (ransom) to release it.

Apps

Tip #7. BE MINDFUL OF THE APPS YOU INSTALL ON YOUR DEVICES

Before installing any mobile app, review its permissions carefully. Many a time, you may come across an app that asks for permissions that are not actually required for it to function on your device. For instance, if a simple Flash Light app is asking your permission to access your device’s Internet, contact details, photos, etc., then chances are it is a malicious or a potentially dangerous app. So, stay cautious against such threats.

Tip #8. GET A RELIABLE ANTI-VIRUS THAT OFFERS LAYERS OF PROTECTION

While you follow all the steps mentioned above, also consider getting a trusted antivirus solution. The software that you choose must offer multiple layers of security that can block ransomware, fake, infected and phishing websites, emails designed for phishing attacks, malicious downloads, and unauthorized data storage devices.

Data Privacy is something you should actually be aware of and working on all year. Worrying about your data and privacy once a year when Data Privacy Day rolls around is like doing push-ups once a year on the day of your annual physical, or busting your butt at work once a year on the day of your annual performance review. Remember, your data is you. If it gets stolen, you get stolen. Stay safe!

Content references:

www.staysafeonline.org‎

www.its.ms.gov

www.privacyassociation.org

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