Daily reports of hackers gaining access to the networks and files of some of the world’s most powerful organizations are posted next to the real-life stories of an average person who’s had their identity stolen – and the begrudging journey of sorting that out.
Most of these attacks have one thing in common: they occur due to shared, sensitive information, almost always over the internet. But unless you’re fully prepared to live off-the-grid, avoiding the internet is becoming a nearly impossible with every aspect of your work, social, personal and financial life revolving around the world wide web.
So, how do you keep your personal information personal? It’s not always easy, but it’s possible.
Handle (all online transactions) with care
Probably the easiest way to have your personal information stolen on the internet is having your credit card information swiped up on an insecure site. That’s not to say never to buy online though – just to know what to look for. Secure sights have SSL, which is easily identified if there is an “s” after the “http” in the address bar. Additionally, many browsers will show you a lock icon when the site is secure.
Entering credit card information – or any personal information – on an insecure site is grounds for trouble. This holiday season make sure the site you’re ordering your holiday gifts from is secured, so do you don’t end up paying for someone else’s.
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One of the simplest ways a hacker can gain access to your personal information is by you using a simple password. While most people do realize that “password” isn’t a secure phrase anymore, and even that “password123” might not cut it, many still use phrases that can easily be cracked or hacked.
Avoid easy-to-guess dates, and mix up casing and numerical usage. The more unique and harder to guess you make your secure phrase, the more unlikely someone is going to be able to crack it and get into all your stuff. Think of your password as the lock on the proverbial door of your information.
So you’ve decided to upgrade computers and it’s time to get rid of the old system. You have two options – dump it or sell it. Either way, you might be giving away sensitive information.
If you’re not smart about how you wipe your old tech before you drop it, you could end up with a backdoor into your system out in the world. Make sure hard drives are properly wiped clean, with any potentially sensitive information successfully removed before you say goodbye to your old PC, laptop, tablet or phone.
Additionally, if you upgrade any devices, be sure that they’re all up-to-date with the latest security measures the rest of your systems have. One insecure computer can be the doorway a hacker needs to get into your system – and then you have a whole new problem to worry about than learning how to use your new device.
Keep the good stuff out back
This goes along with getting rid of your old tech – don’t store sensitive information on the device to begin with.
Hackers can get into your system through your network, which means anything stored on that system and network may become fair game. What can’t they hack into? The usb or external drives you have unplugged, locked away in your desk or safe.
If information is truly, absolutely sensitive, don’t have it on your system to begin with. If it’s locked away, a dedicated hacked will have to add safe cracking to their set of skills in order to get your information.
Call in the big guns
Do you have more questions and concerns about keeping your personal information personal? Maybe it’s time to consult a cybersecurity professional.
When you work with an IT consultant like NENS, you can rest assured that your information will be safe regardless of what new gadget you buy or throw away. Professional IT consultants know the proper steps to take and measures to put in place to keep your personal information safe and secure so you can keep your mind on other things.
If security is a big issue for you or your business, call an IT outsourcing like NENS to take care of the backend of keeping your data safe.