16 Crucial Strategies to Protecting Your Online Data
Protecting your online data is important business, it's useful to know the best techniques, practices and strategies you should put in place in order to keep that data safe.
1. Use a Password Manager
Password Managers should be considered an essential tool in protecting your online data.
They are easy to use, fairly simple to implement and you will only ever need to remember a single strong unique password to use the password manager. By using a password manager, you are helping to protect your data and making it less vulnerable online.
Learn more about password managers and some of the best ones available here.
2. Don’t Complete Your Social Media Profile
Every social media profile holds a large amount of personal data. This information which may seem harmless to you – the name of your dog, where you grew up, the name of your high school. But in the wrong hand’s hackers can guess passwords and security answers just from what you shared on social media.
Always be wary about what information you choose to share on your social media profiles.
3. Review Your Security and Privacy Settings Often
Its always a good idea to review your security and privacy on social media sites often. Most social networks allow you to choose who can see what content you share. To ensure your personal data doesn’t end up in the wrong place it is always a good idea to choose the security option with the highest level of privacy or you can opt for customising your privacy settings and choose exactly can see what.
But, choose wisely.
4. Be Wary When Using Free Public WiFi Networks
Using public WiFi networks can leave you wide open to ‘eavesdropping’ on your online activity which gives access to a huge array of data. So always ensure that when you are using public WiFi networks you do not visit sites which could give someone access to your most private data such as your bank account or make any online transactions.
5. Learn to Recognise Phishing Emails
Phishing emails are becoming more and more advanced. Scam emails are now almost indistinguishable from legitimate emails from reputable businesses. Learning how to recognise a phishing email will most certainly help to keep your data safe.
Learn How to Spot a Phishing Email here.
6. Avoid Downloading from Untrustworthy Sources
If you are going to download any kind of file off the internet always make sure that you only open files and click on links which are from a genuine, safe reputable source. Never click on a link when you don’t know where it has come from or where it is sending you to. Make sure that any websites are secure and legitimate and any files are also genuine.
Never click a link or download a file you are not expecting.
7. If You Think You Have Been Subject to a Data Breach – Change Your Password Immediately!
If you think or you know that account you have has had a data breach do not hesitate and change your password immediately. If you change your passwords as soon as you find out about a data breach you are at less of a risk of the breach affecting you (depending on the data that has been leaked).
Check if you email address has been compromised in a data breach at:
8. Lie When Answering Security Questions
Security questions and their answers generally consist of your most personal information. However, they are no longer the best questions to be asking in order to protect accounts or verify a person’s identity. The answers to these security questions can be verily easily accessed and there for the taking. One way to avoid this to not answer security questions truthfully.
If the answers to your security questions are an outright lie or the answer doesn’t even match the question, it is gong to be significantly harder to be guessed.
9. Back Up Your Data to an Encrypted Cloud Service
If you choose to back up your data using a cloud service, be wary about the cloud service you choose to use. Ensure that when storing data using a cloud service, you choose a service that encrypts the data that you are storing. This ensures an extra layer of security for your data allowing it to be stored safely and securely.
10. Where Possible, Use Two-Factor Authentication
11. Always Keep Apps and Software Updated
Keeping your software up to date ensures that any issues with security are dealt with promptly. If you do not keep programmes and systems up to date it poses a significant risk to security.
12. Close Unused Accounts
Over time there have probably been hundreds of online accounts that you have created for one reason or another. But how many of these accounts do you still regularly access?
If any of the sites you hold an unused account for were to be victim of a data breach, chances are you wouldn’t even be aware of it, which then leads to a whole ream of information being readily available for the taking, such as; email addresses, passwords, addresses, dates of birth, bank details etc.
Stay safe and invest some time into deleting and deactivating accounts you no longer use.
13. Make Use of Biometric Security Where Possible
Your fingerprint is 100% unique and it can’t be guessed or forged, this makes them the best kind of password. More and more services are now offering fingerprint unlocking in addition to a strong password, protecting your data using two methods and a biometric screen.
14. Use More Than One Email Account or Even Disposable Email Addresses
It’s good practice to use at least 2 email addresses for all of your day to day accounts. It may even be in your favour to be using more than two, especially if you have multiple projects going on. If you need more persuading here are – 6 reasons you should be using multiple email addresses.
If managing more than two email accounts doesn’t sound like your cup of tea then you could benefit from the use of a disposable email address. A disposable email address is an email address which is temporary and expires after a certain length of time, they can be useful if you only need to use it once or for accounts you will deactivate.
Here are some trusted disposable email address creation sites you could use;
15. Don't Reuse the Same Password for Everything
Reusing passwords is never a good idea – It is still one of the top methods used by cyber criminals when attempting to take over accounts and unfortunately most of the time they succeed due to account holders reusing the same passwords for their online accounts.
Always choose different passwords for your accounts, especially if those accounts link in some way. Choose passwords that you find are easy to remember but hard to guess.
16. Learn to Create, Use and Make Use of Strong and Unique Passwords
What makes a good password is one of the most useful things you can know when it comes to protecting your data. Strong and secure passwords should not use easily guessed words or simple numerical sequences such as ‘123456’. Always avoid using personal information too, this includes the names of loved ones, pets, dates of birth etc. It is recommended to use a non-dictionary word or a mix of non-sequential numbers, uppercase letters, lowercase letters and symbols.
To make it easier there are some strong password generators available to use:
Whether it is using a password manager or multiple email addresses, implementing just a few of these strategies will help to keep your online data safe from those trying to steal it.