As the world becomes more digital, initiatives like Data Protection Day, celebrated on 28th January, have never been more relevant. Awareness of information security is also higher than ever, not least of which is due to GDPR officially coming into play last year, multi-million lawsuits including the latest Google fine and many career-ending data breaches. Today provides an opportunity to remind you can never be too safe.
Here are five simple tips to protect your data:
1. Up-to-date systems
A decisive factor contributing to internet security is how up to date your systems are. That’s why companies and private individuals should always ensure that their PC, laptop and smartphone always run the latest versions of operating systems and software and that these are regularly updated by the manufacturers. However, it’s also a good idea to occasionally check yourself whether or not a new update is available.
2. Secure passwords
The advice to devise a secure password isn’t new, but it’s still as topical as ever. Weak passwords make it easier for hackers to access your data so make sure to check and recheck the security of your passwords and make them more complex if necessary. According to the latest guidelines of the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), it is advisable to rely primarily on the length of a password rather than on a cryptic string of letters, numbers and characters, although the complexity cannot be completely neglected. Therefore, depending on the complexity of the password, we recommend a length of 12 to 15 characters. In addition, do not use the same password for several sites.
Tip: if you have problems remembering long rows of characters, you can think up a sentence and create a password by using the first character in each word, including special characters and/or numbers. Here’s an example: the phrase “In August I like to be in Italy and eat good ice cream” results in the password I08IltbiI&egic.
3. Two-factor authentication
Two identification components are better than one – and this has become clear in areas like online banking, where the practice has become firmly established. In many banks, users have to enter their PIN and then a second, one-time password before they can transfer money. This is sometimes from a list generated by the bank or sent directly to the user’s mobile phone.
We recommend using this double authentication method for your personal data too. Even if hackers know the password to one of your user accounts on the net, they would still need access to your mobile in order to get to the data.
4. Encrypted communication
Who we talk to and about what – that’s a private matter and we want to know that our conversations are protected. When communicating on the net, it’s a good idea to use encrypted services. The same applies if you’re sharing data during the conversation. That should also be encrypted to stop unauthorised people from accessing it. But even encrypted email isn’t always the best solution. Depending on the confidentiality level of the data, it’s best to use secure online platforms for data sharing and collaboration.
5. Regular data backups
The protection of your personal data also includes making regular backups of it. It’s easy to do and ensures that you can restore your data if the worst comes to the worst. If you’re working with sensitive or critical data, especially in a business environment, it’s best to use special data storage solutions that ensure extra security.