5 Easy Ways to Secure Your Personal Data

Top three recommendations for securing your personal data using  cryptography, by EU cyber security Agency ENISA in new report — ENISA

When we hear the word “commodity,” we usually think of goods traded on the market, such as oil, metals, and food. However, there’s one commodity that many people don’t even realize exists. It’s in every cellphone, computer, and smart device on Earth. It’s possibly even one of the most valuable things you have. I’m talking about your data. According to The Economist, data is now the world’s most precious resource.

A private company network can contain confidential plans, trade secrets, financial records, and customers’ and employees’ information. Your phone holds the keys to your social media, email, and bank accounts. Companies go to great lengths to secure their data, while cybercriminals work tirelessly to steal them. That’s why you need to take data security seriously. Whoever gains access to your data controls your life.

Fortunately, you only need to adopt a few common-sense measures to safeguard your data. Here are a few security measures to get you started.

  1. Backup your data

One of the easiest things you can do to protect your data is to make a backup, and yet many people still fail to do this. A hard drive backup ensures that you have a duplicate copy of your important files if your computer is compromised, damaged, or stolen. While there’s nothing you can do once your data has been stolen, having a backup ensures your business can continue operations while you recover from the breach.

There are two types of backups: local and cloud. Local backups are stored on an onsite physical device, which provides some protection against online attacks. But if something were to happen to the building, you could potentially lose both your main server and your backup. Meanwhile, cloud backups are stored offsite by a third-party provider. If you lose your hardware, you’ll still have a copy of your data in the cloud.

  1. Create a strong password

Another common-sense measure you need to adopt is ensuring the use of strong passwords. All too often, we see people using and reusing the same easy-to-crack password for all their accounts. A cybercriminal only needs to infiltrate one account, and they can gain access to others with the same password.

For starters, replace all of your old passwords and use a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers when creating a new password. The longer and more complex the password is, the harder it is to crack. Avoid using personal information such as your location, birth date, and the names of people close to you. Don’t forget to change your password every three months.

  1. Update your operating system

Your computer is only as secure as its operating system. To keep your computer as secure as possible, you need to update the operating system as soon as a new patch comes out. While updates can be extremely annoying, they’re also essential. Most updates include critical patches that fix security vulnerabilities. Neglecting to install these updates means your data is at risk of being stolen.

Many operating systems update in the background, but you might want to double-check for good measure. You can also enable automated updates so that you don’t have to manually check for updates once in a while. Do the same for all your software.

  1. Enable data encryption

You don’t have to be a security expert to encrypt data. Today, many services can be encrypted; all you have to do is check the settings and enable a few functions. The macOS and Windows operating systems have features that allow you to encrypt your drive. You can also download tools to encrypt specific files and drives such as photos, videos, and emails.

  1. Secure your Wi-Fi network

An open Wi-Fi access point is basically an invitation for everyone, including cybercriminals, to access your private network. Make sure to secure your wireless network with a strong password. 

Even if it’s just your neighbor angling for free internet access, you don’t want to accidentally share confidential data with people in your network. For an added layer of protection, you can also set the access point to hidden so only authorized devices can gain access to the network.

A final word

By following these common-sense security methods, you can rest easy knowing that your data won’t end up in the wrong hands. If someone wants to steal your data, strong passwords, encrypted files, and a secure network should keep your personal data safe and secure.

Meta title: Data Security: What Everyone Should Know

Meta description: You need to secure your devices to keep your personal data safe and private. Here are some pointers to get you started.

Author Image
Reed Hamilton

Mason Reed Hamilton: Mason, a political analyst, provides insights on U.S. politics, election coverage, and policy analysis.