How To Protect Your Personal Data Online?
Author: Lucie Kossut
In today’s world, cybersecurity and data protection are topics nearly as important as health, finance, or law. We do not have to look far to find an example — the recent FBI v Apple encryption dispute showed the serious impact security features in day-to-day technology may pose on various aspects of not only the society as a whole, but also single individuals or entities. Especially in the time of a global pandemic, when business, education, personal meetings, and even religious gatherings have moved online, it is crucial to learn about ways to protect yourself and your data in the digital world.
Anti-malware protection, or anti-virus, is one of the first and most essential steps in creating a secure environment for your computer and other digital devices, such as mobile phones, iPods, or tablets. These security softwares protect against many types of intrusions and infections that can compromise the user’s files, passwords, or other credentials. Anti-malware keeps devices secure by detecting vulnerabilities and installing patches that will make it impossible to exploit the vulnerabilities.
Stay Away From Phishing Emails.
Phishing is one of the most popular methods that cybercriminals use to expose one’s computer to a virus or spyware. It occurs when the targeted user opens an email that contains files, links, or downloads sent by strangers. These attachments could capture and expose sensitive user data, such as passwords or other important information stored on the computer.
Use Strong Passwords.
There are numerous ways in which cybercriminals can retrieve one’s password. It can be done through a brute-force attack, social engineering, or malware. Although in some cases the attacker will find a way to bypass the password no matter how strong it is, having a long and complex set of alphanumeric characters can decrease the chances of the password being cracked within the first few tries. Pursuing this thought further, also make sure that you change your passwords often and do not resume them for multiple accounts. The general rule of thumb is to change your passwords every 90 days. If this task becomes burdensome, you may consider using a password managing program.
Do Not Overshare On Social Media.
Posting too much personal information on social media sites can result in numerous threats in today’s world of cybercrime. For example, if you share too much about yourself, you may provide sufficient information required for stealing your identity. Avoid posting your full legal name (instead, use a nickname or just your first name) and never share your social security number, home or work address, phone number, or financial information on websites where such details are accessible by the general public.
Wipe Your Device Before Disposing of It
Nowadays, mobile devices and computer users update to newly-released devices at a quicker rate than in the past. Consumers want the best quality products that will be able to handle many important tasks that are executed on them multiple times per day. Phones and computers are used not only to browse the web, send messages and read emails, but also to join conferences, client meetings, lectures, and even doctor visits. On top of these activities, we also use computers and phones to store sensitive personal data that we would not want others to have access to. To ensure that data is safe prior to disposing of a computer or a mobile device, make sure you wipe it according to the manufacturer or cellular service provider instructions.
To summarize, the technological revolution that led to the expansion of cyberspace created a new outlet for criminals to exploit people, businesses, and other entities. Consequently, it is important to become familiar with and implement the several, known methods of protecting personal data online. Having a strong password, not sharing too much information on social media, and using anti-virus software are just a few examples of how users can decrease the chances of being exploited by cybercriminals.