Global internet usage is at an all-time high, and with that comes risk. Each year, attempts to steal online data are becoming more sophisticated. Cyber security techniques that were adequate just a few years ago now aren’t enough. While online security breaches still happen and can sometimes be unavoidable, you can take actionable steps to protect yourself and your online data for the year 2019 and beyond.
Ways to Protect Online Data in 2019
1. Use Strong Passwords
We’re sure you’ve heard it before but we’ll say it again—when creating passwords, choose something difficult to guess. Never use something associated with yourself like the name of your child or spouse. That also goes for phone numbers, addresses, or other identifying numbers or letters. When allowed, use a combination of lower and upper case letters along with numbers and symbols for maximum protection. And if you do have to change your password frequently, be sure not to follow similar patterns, like changing your password from #freedom58 to #Freedom59. Hackers use algorithms to guess your patterns, and they can crack them in mere seconds.
2. Avoid Public Wi-Fi or Get a VPN
Public wi-fi can be convenient, but not just for coffeehouse enthusiasts. Public hotspots are also perfect targets for hackers. Nicholas Kinports, the CEO of LonelyBrand, recommends browsing exclusively on your cellular carrier network or using a VPN like Invizibox or BitDefender while on public wi-fi. Don’t have a VPN? Don’t risk it.
3. Opt Out of Data Collection
One of the easiest and yet less talked about ways to protect your online data is to opt out of data collection. Some sites require cookies to view content. These cookies store information on your computer about which sites you visit and more. To mitigate the risk of dishonest people acquiring information about you and your browsing habits, limit enabled cookies to the websites that require them.
4. Optimize Your Privacy Settings
Social Media use is at an all time high, and with it, the potential for exploitation by unscrupulous actors. Third party companies take advantage of loose privacy settings on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to gather your personal data, things like your social media activity, behavior, likes, personality, and other characteristics. Go to the configuration sections on Facebook and select who can see your personal information. Then, indicate who can see your likes, comments on posts, and photos. And all those fun little quizzes that ask for access to your profile? Yeah, skip them. The fewer companies that have access to your data the better. Want to take it further? Go to the Digital Advertising Alliance website to opt out of giants, like Google and Facebook, listing you as a recipient of personalized advertising.
Don’t forget your other your IoT devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. These devices don’t just record every question or command you give them. They also reveal information about your security system and other dangerously revealing patterns. Go to the history in your Amazon Alexa app and delete all recordings.
5. Avoid Unsecure Sites
Only use sites that use HTTPS rather than HTTP in the URL field. This is particularly important when you receive or send important e-mails or complete financial transactions. When a site is encrypted, like ones that handle credit card information, there should be a lock symbol at the bottom left of your browser window or, more commonly, the right side of the address bar. This indicates nobody else can see your sensitive or identifying information such as your credit card number, phone numbers, address, and name.
6. Close Unused Accounts
It’s easy to loose track of old accounts, but they too can be a liability. E-mail accounts may have personal information, such as healthcare forms, bank statements, or information related to investment accounts. If there’s ever a data breach, your accounts could be at risk. Protecting your personal information is well worth the time to identify these old accounts and close them.
7. Install a High-Quality Anti-Virus Program
And lastly, to protect your computer from phishing scams, viruses, and spyware, invest in high-quality security software such as AVG Internet Security, Norton Antivirus, Ad-Aware Pro Security, or McAfee Virus Protection. Be sure to keep your software up to date and run frequent scans.
Contact Us Today
For more information on how to protect online data in the Las Vegas and Tri-cities areas, including the cities of Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco, and call us at (702)827-3700 or contact us for a free tech assessment.