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The 10 best ways to keep your data secure

07-06-2021

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How much do you think your data is worth? No matter what is included in your data, it's worth enough to have corporations, governments, and cybercriminals track your online activity and intercept your data at any time. In other words, your data is worth hundreds to thousands of dollars.

The 10 best ways to keep your data secure

10 Ways to Stay Private Online

Time and time again, all previously listed parties have shown that there are no limits to what they will do to get their hands on your data. As a result, it is vital to your security that you do everything in your power to secure your data. Today, let’s go over ten ways you can do just that and begin browsing the Internet without needing to worry about having your data stolen.

1. Avoid Certain Free Deals

It’s not uncommon for certain software vendors to promote “lifetime” subscriptions for their products. A good example would be VPN vendors. Smaller VPN vendors may advertise a deal where you can “subscribe” to the VPN for life. However, these VPNs rarely work as well as ones that require payment each month, and they may not even work at all.

When it comes to software, you mustn’t fall for deals that could be considered too good to be true. This goes double for deals that promote free products in an industry where quality rarely comes free (like the previous VPN example).


2. Stay Away From Sketchy Apps

Both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store suffer from one common problem: malware disguised as apps. Many cybercriminals attempt to disguise their malware as legitimate apps. For example, many utility apps (flashlights, for example) that plagued the App Store in the iPhone’s early days were unsecured at best, malware at worst.

Of course, the lax vetting process of the Google Play Store means there are considerably more malware-infected apps located on the Play Store than there is the APP Store, but that doesn't mean the App Store is clean, either.

When perusing both stores, make sure that you’re not just downloading any app you see. Vet them, see what users are saying, and make sure they look like a legitimate app. 


3. Use a VPN to Connect to Unsecured Networks

There is nothing worse for your data than connecting to unsecured (read: unencrypted) networks. Without proper encryption, your data is visible to everyone on the same network, including cybercriminals.

If possible, you should avoid connecting to unencrypted networks. However, many people count on public networks, which are unencrypted, to get their work done. If you are one of those people, you can use a Virtual Private Network—a VPN—to encrypt your data.

Using a VPN to stay private on public networks is a concept that has only grown in popularity since the mid-2000s, and there isn’t a better way to remain anonymous and encrypt your data all at once while on an unencrypted network.


4. Install an Anti-Virus Program

Viruses (and other types of malware) can be tough to detect on your own. After all, many types of malware are designed to stay hidden, quietly transmitting your data to a third party while you're oblivious.
For this reason, everyone who is serious about staying safe online needs to have an anti-virus program enabled and even an anti-malware program if needed. Fortunately, most operating systems come with an anti-virus bundled in. If not, there are plenty of free options available that are good for, at the least, basic security.
 


5. Don’t Share Personal Information Online

With social media constantly probing for users to share every moment of their lives, it feels almost impossible not to comply and share with the world your entire life. Doing so, however, opens you up to dozens of threats.

For one, there is no telling who is monitoring your social media accounts. There could be a cybercriminal who thinks you’re an easy target when it comes to stealing data. Or, a corporation may be combing through your social media accounts to see how they can target you with ads.

The best way to combat these third parties is by limiting what you share on social media. You don’t need to post every day. You don’t need to tell Instagram where you live and what your real name is. Be responsible on social media.


6. Never Save Payment Information

There's a good chance that many of your accounts contain troves of personal data that, if hacked, could put you in danger—in danger of scams, fraud, identity theft, and more hacked accounts. Even with the most robust passwords, it’s good practice to assume your accounts are always in danger. The first step to doing that is never saving your payment information to any of your accounts.

Yes, it is a tedious process, constantly entering your card number every time you order something. However, the positive side of never saving your payment information is not running the risk of a hacker stealing your payment information if they ever get access to your account(s). It happens more than you think.


7. Beware of Phishing Scams

Ever since the Internet became available to the masses, scammers have used the anonymity provided by the Internet to their advantage. In other words, scammers have tricked countless users into giving away their personal information, payment information, and passwords via phishing scams.

For those unaware, phishing scams are social engineering scams that manipulate victims to give away their information. Phishing scams come in many forms, from phone calls made by fake tech support employees to emails promising a free gift card if you take a brief survey.

Thousands of phishing scams are sent every day, and many online users from all generations fall for them. And as time goes on, phishing scammers get smarter with how they trick people.
It's worth investing some time into learning how to identify phishing scams. From there, all you need to do is avoid them at all costs.


8. Update Your Passwords

Despite all the talk about passwords being inferior to other forms of security authentication, passwords are going absolutely nowhere. As a result, you must check all of your passwords and ensure that each one is strong—capable of warding off even the toughest of cybercriminals.

See, cybercriminals are capable of cracking tens of thousands of passwords with one device. This is because many online users decide to use short, weak passwords to safeguard their accounts. These passwords are easy to guess, to crack.

When creating a password, make sure it fits these criteria:

  • The password is long (16-32 characters).
  • The password incorporates symbols, numbers, and a mix of capital and lowercase letters.
  • The password is randomized, typically via a password generator.

For those of you worried about keeping up with passwords, password managers, “lockers” that encrypt and store all of your passwords in one place, are a great way to keep up with passwords.


9. Update Your Operating System Frequently

There is no such thing as software that releases in a perfect state. Software updates are common for this very reason—developers need to constantly add new features, fix existing errors and glitches, and tighten up security when possible. This includes all major operating systems.

Android, Windows, macOS, iOS, all Linux distros: all operating systems released with security issues that require software updates to fix. Fortunately, developers often pack security fixes and features with expected software updates, so all users have to download and install the update.

However, many users ignore OS updates. Do not do the same.

Check for an update to your preferred operating systems every day, and if there is an update available, prioritize installing it over everything else. It may be tedious and slightly annoying, but keeping software updated—your OS, especially—is key to keeping your data secure online.


10. Use Apps That Respect User Privacy

Nowadays, it’s hard to find an app or website that actually respects the user’s privacy. Facebook, for example, continues to see exponential growth, despite the company’s notoriety for exploiting user data, selling it off, and going as far as willingly spreading misinformation.

As hard as it may be, people must find services, apps, and websites that cater to their needs while also respecting their privacy and security. For example, instead of using WhatsApp, a messaging app currently in hot water for sharing user data, users can move to Signal, an encrypted messaging app dedicated to protecting its users.

Even modern browsers aren’t as secure as people believe. Google is no stranger to data-related controversy, and Google Chrome allows Google to collect user data continuously. Moving to a privacy-oriented browser and search engine will help users secure their data.

Make sure the websites you are viewing are using SSL Encryption. Most web browsers will show a Pad Lock in the address bar to let you know that website is transferring your data securely. This is especially important if you are buying from an eCommerce website. If you are a small business and planning on building a website design solution, then I would suggest using Let's Encrypt for a free SSL certificate which will improve your search engine rankings and provide better security for your website visitors.


Conclusion

Data is the ultimate goal of nearly every government, corporation, and cybercriminal. Your data is no exception, so you must take data security seriously, as there is no telling when you will be targeted. With these ten tips, you’ll be able to comfortably surf the Internet again, confident that your data never falls into the wrong hands.



Article by Brad Smith: DCP Ecommerce Website Design


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