The combination of internet use and the proliferation of new digital technologies means that we are more connected today than ever. This continued use of the internet has tremendously revolutionised communication, to the extent that it’s now our preferred medium of interaction. In almost everything we do, from sharing moments with loved ones to buying clothes to ordering pizza, we use the internet. Unfortunately, however, as the internet continues to be intertwined with everything we do, the more room for cybercrime is created.
You’ve probably heard a lot about data breaches and hacking activities from one source or the other. Such reports are very much true and may be affecting your security and privacy in various detrimental ways that you may not even detect. In situations like these, when sharing personal information and data breaches have become the new norm, it becomes important to protect your digital identity. In this post, we share the five best practices to consider for protecting your digital security.
Use an Encrypted Network
If you follow tech and cybersecurity trends, you already know that public Wi-Fi networks, such as those found in cafes, airports, and hotels, are massively unsafe and can put you into some serious cyber threats. However, as with most threats, when something gets publicised a lot, people tend to become less concerned and ignore it. The truth is, public Wi-Fi networks are unsafe and completely vulnerable to cyber-attacks because they are unencrypted.
With unencrypted networks, cybercriminals can perform a variety of activities to breach your data. One of the common activities is called ‘Man-in-the-Middle attack, where a hacker can choose to passively sit back and ingest your unprotected data or manipulate them to carry out more evil acts. Another is called ‘Network Sniffing’, where hackers use ‘sniffing’ applications to intercept your network and steal your personal information.
Whether you are a casual internet user or a business, your data should be encrypted for such obvious reasons. At present, the best way to do this is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt your traffic so others can’t see it. A VPN can help you in a variety of ways, including but not limited to, network encryption, reclaiming your anonymity, remote access, protected file sharing, security, as well as bypassing blockers and filters.
Use Encrypted File Systems (EFS)
For most of us, using a password for our personal computers is the final line of defence for all the data we store. In fact, not many people are aware of what encrypted file systems or operating systems, and what they can do to protect the data stored in your computers.
Without stronger protection, it becomes easy for unauthorized people to access your stored data. This risks access and loss of vital information, which can be damaging, especially for people who use their computers to store business data.
Using encrypted operating systems, such as File Vault on Mac OS or Full-Disk Encryption on Windows, makes your data unreadable to people who don’t have authorization. System encryptions ensure that the information stored in your PC is encoded with algorithms to generate cipher tests that can only be read if decrypted.
Stay Away from Unsecured Sites
Most people can’t tell if they are visiting a secure site or not. Google has started differentiating between ‘secure’ and ‘not secure’ sites so that visitors can be able to have a guarantee that the data they share between them and the site is scrambled (secure).
As with unprotected networks, when you visit a site that is not secure or encrypted, it means that everyone else accessing the site could look at the information passing between you and the site. Google noted that anyone snooping at such information could modify the contents and get to you for malicious reasons such as identity theft, credit card manipulation, and cyberbullying.
To differentiate between secure/encrypted and unsecured/unencrypted sites, simply look at the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) on a site’s URL. Unencrypted sites will have the URL as just HTTP, while encrypted sites will include an ‘s’ to have it as HTTPs. This means that such sites have purchased and installed an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), a digital authentication for their websites that has the ability to encrypt sensitive information.
Backup Your Data
A simple and yet often ignored digital security best practice is backing up your data in a secure and encrypted platform. People just don’t understand how a simple loss of a laptop or data storage device can cause detrimental consequences for their personal, academic, or business undertakings.
Without a proper backup strategy, a current study indicates that loss of data can cause a company as much as $300,000 an hour. The problem is, with the longer it takes for you to restore your data, the more money and time you’ll lose.
With the advancement in digital technology, people and businesses can automate their data backup or use advances in cloud storage as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Use Two-Factor Authentication
As much as they can be annoying, most people don’t realize just how much two-factor authentication is essential in the protection of their digital security. The problem of using single factor authentications, i.e., username and password, is that when a hacker is able to decode your password, he can be able to access several of your other accounts.
To make matters worse, people have a tendency to take advantage of ‘keep me logged in’ without realizing how this negatively impacts their digital security. In most cases, the websites you visit will store ‘cookies,’ which can be harvested by malware and sent to hackers who can then access your passwords to hack your accounts.
The simple fact is, it is hard for bots and hackers to complete a 2-step verification process because a computer-generated code will always be sent to your email or phone for your verification. This will make your personal and business accounts harder to access.
Currently, as noted in this post, immense quantities of data are uploaded and downloaded over digital electronics, sometimes knowingly and others unknowingly. For now, we’re all creators, publishers, and commentators in this digital space. Such a massive exchange of data online may be detrimental to your digital security.
While some cybercrime activities may be out of your hand, there are actions you can take to ensure that you’re a step safer when it comes to the safety and privacy of your personal or business information. The five best practices described here are meant for exactly that purpose!