This day in age almost all of our personal information and private data is stored online in some capacity. Everything from credit card information, to tax returns, to our identifying social security numbers can be accessed by hackers and identity thieves if left unsecured. So, how do you go about making sure your private information is kept secure and out of the hands of identity thieves? Below you will find 10 essential steps to securing your data online.
1) Create A Great Password
Yes, we know that you hear it all the time, but for good reason. A strong password is the most important way to protect your identity and private information. A great password should include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
2) Keep Your Password a Secret
Create a password that is strong, but also try to create a password that you will easily remember so that you don’t have to write it down. Many people keep password booklets or a desktop document containing all of their passwords. Do not do this! If an identify thief comes across this information they have hit the jackpot and can easily access not some, but all of your private information.
3) Change your Password Often
The guys over at Tampa Data Recovery lab, say when hackers access a database, of say a credit card company, they are collecting your account information at that moment in time. If you change your password frequently, the data collected by hackers will be irrelevant and they will be unable to access your information.
4) Lock Your Computer
If you work in a public place or an office building make sure to lock your computer before you walk away. All computers can be secured with a password by simply adjusting your settings.
5) Use Encryption
Make sure encryption is being used when visiting a website where you can view any information that you consider sensitive. You can be sure that a website uses encryption by checking the web address. If the web address begins with http://, then you know that it is encrypted. It is important to note that email is not encrypted. Make sure you are aware of this before sending any sensitive information via email.
6) Be Weary of Email Attachments and Links
This is the number one way that viruses and data collection software are transferred. Always do your due diligence before opening an email attachment or a link embedded in an email. First and foremost, if you do not know the sender immediately delete the email. Second, be cautious before opening emails claiming to be urgent, pertaining to payroll, benefits, etc., unless they are from a trusted co-worker. When in doubt, check with a network administrator before opening a questionable attachment or link.
7) Install AntiVirus Software
Our computers are constantly being bombarded with viruses and security threats. To help filter and block some of these threats, make sure to install a trusted antivirus program. Do your homework and find software that is appropriate for your model computer and has good user reviews. It is worth paying a little extra money for a program that will protect your data.
8) Use a Trusted Browsing Server
When it comes to surfing the web, not all servers are created equal. Servers like Internet Explorer and Safari are know for being less secure. When making online payments, filing taxes online, or exchanging secure information try to use a trusted browser like FireFox or Google Chrome. These two browsers are reportedly two of your most secure options.
9) Clear Browsing History
Anytime you have sent or received sensitive information online of through email it is important that you clear your browsing history. Believe it or not, hackers can access your browsing data and use that to visit the sites where sensitive information was exchanged.
10) Devise and Discuss a Security Plan with Family Members
It is important that everyone who lives in your household, or has access to your devices is on board with your efforts to secure data. Make sure to come up with a set of guidelines for you, your spouse, your children and any other family members to follow. Older children, especially, may have access to your sensitive information but may not be fully aware of how dangerous sharing that information online can be.