Private data is a hot commodity these days, with many groups vying for access to it – marketing agencies, advertisers and corporations, scammers, hackers, intelligence agencies, and many more. It can be difficult to navigate this digital landscape with your data kept safe and intact, but certainly possible with the right knowledge and tools. Let’s cover some solutions that may help you with this:
1. Password manager
For over a decade, users with dozens of accounts and subscriptions to various services have struggled to keep track of their credentials. Inevitably, taking the shortcut of reusing passwords across multiple platforms became common, though it also put users at great risk of simultaneous breaches.
Password managers are the perfect remedy to this issue, and are becoming more versatile and useful every year. Most big-name managers allow you to save hundreds of credentials, generate complex and unique passwords, store confidential notes, and transfer certain types of data (with end-to-end encryption). Users can decide how difficult it will be to open this vault, but the very minimum is a master password – pretty easy to use.
2. Cloud and local backups
Hard drives, servers, and various storage devices have mostly replaced physical photo albums and many items we used for storing information. Given the incredible sentimental value of our digital photos, texts, and recordings, it is inconceivable that these records might be lost. But it is nonetheless possible, so having backups can save you from deep, deep regrets.
You may choose to store your backups locally on a drive or upload them into the cloud. While it is easier to control your data locally, you will not have much recourse if the hardware fails. As for cloud solutions, they tend to have higher costs over time and slow transfer speeds, but good providers keep alternative copies of your data in case something nefarious happens to the primary versions.
3. Antimalware software
Many of us are used to the terminology of computer viruses and Trojans, but these two fall into a larger category of malware. Accordingly, to shield yourself from most such threats, you should not install just a virus scanner, or a spyware tracker, for example. Instead, look for a comprehensive solution that will evaluate many aspects of your devices and activity, not only checking files and processes, but analyzing anything that is not healthy or normal.
Windows users can make use of default system tools like Defender and Firewall, but it is best to augment them with additional solutions that cover gaps in functionality.
4. Hardware solutions
As you focus your efforts on strengthening digital security, be sure to pay some mind to the actual hardware as well. Examples of this approach include securing your devices from theft (e.g. with locks), setting up hardware keys for authentication, and blocking physical ports that hackers may try to use. If you are worried about confidential data being viewed as you work, you may consider buying a screen protector that will eliminate unwanted angles of view.
5. Be diligent with links
This one is not exactly a solution that should be implemented, but rather a mindset. Be wary of and investigate suspicious links, as they are one of the most popular vectors for exposing you to phishing, malware, scams, and other dangerous content.
6. Alerts and traps
Although nobody wants to think about something bad happening to their account, it is good to be made aware of unusual activity in case something does take place. In this regard, security alerts are helpful, providing an update to your device within minutes of a breach. Subsequently, a fast response is likely to limit the harm that is done. Security alerts are most common for recording logins, changes to privacy, account billing, and various security configurations.
Some users even create traps (commonly referred to as honeypots) with fake but plausible information that a hacker is likely to be interested in. For example, it might be an email with fake login credentials or a file called “password”, with some sort of tracking mechanism to gather information about the hacker (e.g. their IP address and activity) that might give more context to the attack. Of course, such an approach is not to be tried without prior experience and technical knowledge, otherwise, you are just asking for trouble.