Data protection might not be the first thing that pops into your head when you wake in the morning, but it is a serious topic that deserves your consideration. We live in an age where using a computer is second nature. Most of us can’t live without a smartphone. Everything is digitized. You’ve probably opted to receive paperless bills or electronic receipts in the past… sent or received invoices via email.
That may seem harmless (not to mention convenient, even good for the planet!), but it also means that sensitive information, like names, addresses, credit card numbers, even tax documents, is living on your desktop.
You lock the doors when you leave the office so someone won’t steal your belongings (including that computer…), but are you guarding against hackers who can break in with a few simple keystrokes?
Let’s look at five simple ways to protect your data from those who would seek to steal it.
Create strong passwords for online accounts and consider creating passwords at the folder and file level on your computer, as well. Make your passwords unique, hard to guess, and don’t use the same password for multiple platforms. This is one of the easiest ways to protect your data, so no excuses! Go the extra mile and set up Two-Factor Authentication for your most important accounts. While creating passwords is easy, remembering all of them is not. Consider using a credible password manager. Check out PCMAG’s top password managers of 2018 for some ideas.
Similar to passwords, you can set permissions at the folder and file level on your computer so that no one without those permissions can access the content. This is especially important if you work within a network of computers at a business or campus. Here’s a basic guide on how to do that on a Mac or a PC.
Fancy word, simply concept: Encryption turns data into code so that it is unreadable by unauthorized users. Passwords and permissions are fine ways to protect your data, but encryption kicks things up a notch in case those precautions don’t hold up. (An experienced hacker can usually break passwords with ease.) LifeHacker has a great Beginner’s Guide To Encryption that’s worth a read if you’re considering this tactic.
Best practice is to backup your data often. Do this on at least two different external drives so you have a backup for your backup. (Murphy’s law!) Test the drives regularly to ensure everything is intact and functioning properly. In the event that you are victim to a hacker (or an unexpected hard drive crash), you’ll rest easy knowing you didn’t lose your files.
Data loss prevention software is a more robust way to protect your data. It does this by identifying all of the places data lives on your computer, as well as locating potential breaches that make data susceptible to loss. Avexta’s DataSense software uses a centralized management interface to scan servers and databases for any type of personal data such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, passport numbers, and more. Unlike other providers, DataSense lives within its own hosted environment and doesn’t require any endpoints to be installed on the servers that it is scanning.
Without proper protection, data and personal information can easily be lost – whether it’s an honest accident by a colleague or a malicious attack by a professional hacker. Do yourself and your organization a favor – take the time and effort to backup, lockdown, and safeguard your data!