Cyber Security Month - Protect Your Personal Data

The integration of smartphones in both our personal and professional lives has created vulnerabilities, seeing us walking around with our most sensitive information literally in the palm of our hands. This has created a black market for data thieves eager to steal passwords, card numbers and other personal data, so what can you do to protect yours?

1. Adopt a passphrase – it’s an obvious one, but you need to up your password game. People are getting better at this, with sites and systems requiring passwords to include a combination of letters, number and symbols. A passphrase is the next level. A complex 7-10 word phrase including spaces, which is near impossible for hackers to breach. The best passphrases are unique to you and easy for only you to remember.

2. Keep your software up to date – yes, we know, operating system updates pose an inconvenience, but hitting that ‘remind me tomorrow’ button could lead to you missing out on valuable security enhancements. The longer a version exists, the longer cyber criminals have to identify and exploit weaknesses. With regular updates, you can minimise your exposure to security threats.

3. Audit your digital footprint – though it may seem harmless, your outdated personal information – like expired credit cards, old email addresses and unused social media accounts – can make you an easy target for data thieves. The easiest way to audit your digital footprint is to enter your name in a search engine and delete any old accounts you find.

4. Enable two factor authentication – two factor authentication requires a username and password plus another type of verification in order to access private information. Examples include pin numbers, SMS codes and fingerprint scans. Two factor authentication greatly reduces the chance of a personal data breach. If you haven’t already, you should be taking advantage of this extra layer of protection.

5. Download selectively – android users, pay specific attention. Many android phones allow for open source application downloads, which can leave your data vulnerable. Open source software saves companies time and money but doesn’t always prioritise user security.

6. Back up your data – you should always back up your personal data to the cloud or an external hard drive to ensure easy data recovery in the event of your device being lost, stolen or compromised. It’s a good idea to set a reminder in your calendar to back your devices weekly.

For information on protecting data in your business, Download our Cyber Security Checklist for SME’s

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