Some information is just too important not to keep safe by any means at your disposal. Identity and IP theft, bogus loans, and credit scores that take decades to set right are just a few of the chilling things the right info in the wrong hands can accomplish. Don't know how to protect yours? Here are six tips to help you out.
1. Encrypt It
The best way to make sure no one finds out about the contents of a file is to make it unrecognizable. Encryption does just that. It scrambles text, images, or any other data type you want to protect and locks it with a digital key. Anyone without said key can't interpret the contents even if they manage to steal a device you use to store the files.
Encryption is an excellent safeguard from ransomware attacks. It's also effective at preventing nosy siblings or roommates from going through your digital stuff.
2. Back It Up
A single copy of info you can't afford to lose might as well not exist. Someone might steal the laptop it's on, or a pipe might burst and fry your PC. Predicting events like these is impossible. Keeping backups is the only solution to turning this potential tragedy into a minor inconvenience.
It's best to have at least three copies of your info --- one you regularly handle and build upon, and two up-to-date duplicates. Keep one of these away from the others. Cloud storage is a popular option that also offers encryption, making the info doubly secure.
3. Take Stock of Your Passwords
You can get hardly anything done online without an account. Many of the dozens you use all the time ask for sensitive information, and all need a password. These can either be effective, or you can type in "1234" and have password protection that's the digital equivalent of wet cardboard.
Meanwhile, passkeys are emerging as a robust alternative to traditional passwords. They use public key cryptography to create a unique key pair for each website and device, significantly enhancing security. This approach, devoid of common password vulnerabilities, simplifies authentication to just your device and a biometric or PIN.
Thankfully, the integration of passkeys and password managers on all your devices alleviates the burden of remembering complex passwords. These tools adeptly handle the tedium of storing, generating, and updating both traditional passwords and passkeys, ensuring a smoother and more secure online experience.
4. Practice Safe Communication
It's important always to be aware of your audience and means of communication when discussing sensitive info. For example, you wouldn't want to talk about intellectual property or other company secrets to someone who isn't a colleague. Moreover, you'd want to use the company's secure communication service when doing so.
It's similar to personal info. One can't compromise what's not there, so think before sharing. Most of us are sensible enough not to share core information like names and addresses with internet strangers. However, you might not realize how much contextual information you give without even thinking about it. Things like your favorite activities or fast food places may already be enough to go on.
5. Connect Online Safely
Not all internet connections are equally secure. Public Wi-Fi is the worst offender since it's easy to monitor. Worse yet, someone can set a fake one up in hopes of getting victims to reveal their PINs and passwords.
A VPN is an excellent cybersecurity upgrade, especially if you want to continue using public Wi-Fi with no worry. Public Wi-Fi can be really dangerous, as hackers often use it as a medium to distribute malware. They can inject malware into software updates, and infect your device if you download the updates.
Virtual private networks encrypt your entire connection, so the information you access or exchange remains safe and private whether you're doing so through a browser or app.
6. Don't Let the Scammers Fool You
Cyber crooks like nothing more than conning people into giving them money or account access. They're crafty and will try to rope you in with everything from genuine-looking phishing emails to romance scams on social media. Learn how to recognize and keep up with the bologna, and you'll have no trouble down the line.