You’d likely agree with me that your computer, operating system, and applications are not as important as the data you and your company store (or use) on all these. Data – storing and processing – is the essence of having a computer anyways.
So it’s safe to say the data you and your company have is one of your most valuable possessions. Like every other valuable, it has to be protected against loss or theft, or unauthorized access. One of the most common ways tha company data is lost is through human error, so we wanted to look at the ways that you can protect your data and your company's data.
Below are 17 ways you can protect your valuable data from getting into the wrong hands:
1. Store away
All physical documents carrying your personal details or sensitive information should be kept away safely. There’s no protection as strong as you personally keeping stuff the old-fashioned way, and not having to rely on technology or other people.
2. Always encrypt data
Develop the habit of encrypting your data when storing or transferring. This way, in the event of it being stolen, such data will be useless, or at least, much harder to use.
3. Avoid using sensitive information on public computers or Wi-Fi
Information accessed or transferred on public computers or Wi-Fi can be easily accessed by third parties. Save the sensitive info for your private computer or simply encrypt them – which isn’t 100% safe.
4. Don’t open emails from people you don’t know
This might be hard, especially when you do business with your email. But whenever you can, avoid opening emails from unidentified people.
With emails, it’s easy to receive bad links that’ll put malwares on your PC and access your private information. Simply trash suspicious email and report as spam.
5. Never forget to sign out
Especially on public computers or systems you don’t own, ensure you sign out from any online program you signed into. Don’t just shut down the browser, but ensure you click on the “sign out” icon or text before exiting.
You don’t want someone else accessing your personal accounts after you’re long gone.
6. Do sensitive transactions only on secure websites
No financial transactions should be done on a website that’s not secure. You can identify secure websites with 'https://' at the beginning of their URLs – instead of just 'http://'.
7. Enable remote location and device-wiping on mobile
There are apps that can track your mobile gadgets and tell you exactly where they are, in case they get stolen. Most of these apps can also remotely wipe sensitive data off such gadget.
Your phone might get into the wrong hands, but you’d know your data is safe.
8. Get a good antivirus or malware protection software
This is big on the list of identity theft protection services, and for a good reason. Even when you’re already attacked by data thieves digitally, one of the most important solutions is installing a great antivirus or malware protection software on your PC. Why don’t you make this a precautionary measure instead of waiting to be first attacked?
Just ensure your malware protection tool updates in real time and gives detailed reports on the potential malicious program quarantined.
9. Use strong passwords
Using your name or other easy passwords like 'dadada' is pretty lame. They’ll easily get cracked by hackers. The ideal strong password is 8 characters or more in length, contains both uppercase and lowercase letters, has at least one numeric character and one punctuation sign.
10. Wipe devices before discarding
You’re no longer in need of that device? Wipe it off before you give it out or throw it away. Or simply restore it back to factory settings. That device must have accumulated your personal data over time, and you can’t afford to get it into the wrong hands.
11. Get rid of old data you no longer need
Don’t keep data you don’t need again when you can easily delete or destroy them. At least this will prevent you from forgetting it somewhere someone else could locate them.
12. Shred or destroy old documents with sensitive information
Don’t just carelessly dispose of documents with sensitive information, like receipts, bills, bank statements that show your personal details and other sensitive information.
You should instead shred or destroy such documents to avoid them getting into the hands of thieves. This is by far the simplest way to prevent identity theft.
13. Restrict sensitive/personal info to familiar websites
The same way you won’t give a stranger your personal and other sensitive details, don’t put your sensitive details on sites you aren’t familiar with. They just might be set up for the major purpose of harvesting people’s sensitive data.
14. Don’t download from sites you don’t trust
Follow your gut: if you don’t fully trust a site, don’t download any file from it. If possubke, don’t even use the site at all.
15. Don’t save passwords in your browser
It definitely makes life easier when you don’t have to retype your passwords every time you use your browser, but it’s also very risky. Hackers can put a malicious program on your browser if they can’t get your computer. So, saving your passwords on your browser is giving them another passage into your data.
16. Store your most sensitive data locally
Cloud services are probably the best thing that’s happened to data storage. They help prevent loss of data, but on the flip side, you’re not in control of them and they can be hacked to access your private data.
If you must store your files online, keep the sensitive ones on your hard drive.
17. Use a reputable email provider
You can’t trust all email providers out there, as they aren’t made equal. Some are definitely more secure than others. It’s better you stick to the reputable and safe ones – those that will protect your information and also protect you as much as possible from spam mails.
18. Immediately change passwords following a data breach
What if you notice a breach? The first thing you should do is to change your passwords, even before reporting to the right channels.
Nobody is 100% safe from scammers and identity thieves, but we must all try to protect our valuable data to the best of our ability and fight back against these breed of bad people.
With the above 18 tips, your valuable data has a lot of potential to not get into the wrong hands – at least not easily.
Have more data-protection tips? Please let’s discuss further in the comments.