Security is one of the biggest concerns for people, and that’s no modern invention. Of course, what it means to be secure, whether that’s within business or on a personal level, has changed massively from its previous definitions. The advent of technology completed transform the realm of home and business security, and it continues to change the realm of security on an ever-evolving basis. It can be quite overwhelming to figure out how one should be keeping themselves secure in a digital sense within the modern world.
Of course, it needn’t give you such a headache. Security is and never has been something which can be completely guaranteed, but there is and always have been an answer to protecting oneself more effectively against threats from malicious and enterprising individuals who might seek to exploit our vulnerabilities. Whilst criminal activity such as this is not a new concept, the means through which hackers and scammers might try to access our data are evolving and transforming on a near-exponential basis, so here are some solutions to taking back control over your digital and online information.
We all like to think we’ve mastered the art of creating a secure password, but so many people’s accounts are hacked on major websites every day. The first step is to create a password which uses a completely random and impossible-to-guess combination of numbers and letters. Of course, the reason most people are deterred from doing this is the fear of forgetting their own complex, meaningless password, so you might want to get a little creative and use a made-up word which perhaps has significance to you or your child, but which no hacker could possibly ever know because it’s… well, made up.
Still, there is always the chance of an account being hacked through keylogging or other advanced methods, so you should take extra precautions to protect your accounts. Many people use complex and creative passwords, but mess up by using that same password on every single account they use online. If you have an account with some minor website that has very poor security protocols to protect its users’ information, then hackers could take that password and, through a process of trial and error, test it out on every major social network or banking website they can imagine. If you use that same password elsewhere, then suddenly the hacker doesn’t just have access to your account on that minor, unimportant website but websites which contain vital and sensitive financial information. This is why it’s so important that you use different passwords on different websites, even if it’s hard to remember them all. You could create links of association, based perhaps on a single letter from the name of the website in question.
Access important information from home
We all have a tendency to romanticise the internet and see it as some otherworldly entity based in the cloud. Of course, despite the impressiveness of wireless connectivity, the internet is based in physical locations, and all information is accessible by anyone from anywhere. It is a risky move, then, to access your important banking or perhaps work-based information from public Wi-Fi points because these are public areas of access.
You have no way of deliberating whether or not that access point is secure, and you probably wouldn’t know until important information had been stolen from you and it was too late. As convenient and wonderful as the internet may be, remember that public Wi-Fi is public and not always as secure as local restaurants or businesses may lead you to believe, so trust your encrypted connection at home when it comes to accessing important, personal details in terms of finance or data through the internet. You should ensure you’re using a Virtual Private Network (or a VPN, as it’s better known) at home, if you aren’t already. Otherwise, you’ll be facing the same vulnerability issues as many public Wi-Fi connections face on a daily basis at the hand of rookie businesses.
Protecting your business data
The security of a business is an entirely different ballpark. The data you hold, as an employer, might contain information about employees, customers and any financial information which is incredibly sensitive. There’s an even bigger pressure on the modern company to safeguard its technological devices and protecting its information from online attacks. Your business might consider it outsourcing because sometimes vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your security procedures go unmissed by workers within the company.
By the time you’ve realised that your business data has been attacked, it’s too late. It’s better to ensure that you’re constantly reviewing the security and safety practices your company employs within its digital space in order to ensure data is kept under lock and key. Of course, even if you’re not a technology firm and the digital aspect of your business eludes you, there are ways to prevent database breaches, and it involves careful and frequent monitoring of all activity within your system. Backing up information is important too, but implementing preventative procedures, such as secure access points for your IT staff, should be a priority.
Don’t click that link
It used to be obvious to notice scams and lies on the internet, but, as with all crimes, the scammers get smarter through trial and error. You’d think that people would fall prey to fewer instances of theft and viruses, but the fact is that that the online trickery has only become more cunning and deceptive. Emails are designed to look like official requests for passwords or financial information from people’s banks or Amazon accounts, but there are always giveaways in these instances.
For example, companies will never request that you submit or change your private and sensitive information through email. That’s a general rule of thumb. If any company does request that of you, you might want to reflect on whether you’re entrusting your information with a secure business at all. To be safe, just avoid clicking any links if you don’t trust the email sender. Phishing emails often offer dead giveaways in the form of grammatical mistakes, blatantly fake email addresses and a lack of any official content to suggest they are the company in question. A quick Google search will show you how an official email from the business in hand should look, but submitting a customer query to the company is a good way to be sure.
Check your bank account
Now check it again. You should be checking your online accounts frequently for signs of fraudulent activity because even the most safety-conscious individual can fall victim to theft or some other form of cybercrime. The safest way to protect your data and finances is to act quickly if any questionable activity arises; you’re more likely to resolve the situation if you act as and when it happens. The perpetrators might be more easily caught this way, for that matter.
Backup your information
At the end of the day, digital information is fragile. No matter how safe you are, theft happens. Even when theft doesn’t happen, a moment of carelessness can put years of work down the drain. Storing our precious information digitally is a practical and efficient solution to looking after our data, photos, music and all other things we hold dear, but it can also be a highly unsecure way of doing so if we’re not careful and vigilant about our security. A simple backup could safeguard your information forever. The beauty of creating a document on your computer rather than handwriting that information is that it’s so much easier to edit that information and safeguard it through creating multiple copies across multiple channels. Your safest bet for important documents and data is to create one online copy, one local copy on your computer and one copy on a pen drive. You have an answer for every eventuality.