The web is a fantastic place to learn and share information, but it also carries a certain risk for people who entrust it with their personal data. It’s a public space first and foremost, which means that anyone could potentially dig up information you’ve shared on the web.
That might not matter much to you if you just upload silly pictures and update friends about celebrity gossip on social networking sites, but there are real dangers for people who depend on the web for storing sensitive information.
Bank information, addresses, phone numbers, various usernames and passwords can be vulnerable to hacking and malware if not properly secured. The recent story about passwords stolen from LinkedIn’s database is just the latest example that proves how exposed our personal information is to predators online.
I’d like to share some common sense tips aimed at securing any personal data you’ve saved online. You might think it’s secured behind a basic password, but it wouldn’t hurt for you to consider these extra precautions.
Security apps and software
There are tons of apps, addons, and utilities out there specially designed to keep your sensitive data safe against even the most invasive and damaging malware. To start with, there are long-established digital security firms like Norton and McAfee, both of which sell mobile apps and more comprehensive software for desktops. These companies specialize in antivirus software and malware detection on a huge scale, offering software packages for huge networks to keep them safe from invasive programs and curious hackers. Having security software is a no-brainer for big tech companies and online outfits, but fewer individuals seize its full potential.
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You can find just as powerful protection apps for smartphones. You might not think about using antivirus protection apps to strengthen your smartphone, but you’d do well to consider it. Just think about all the tasks you perform in a single day on your smartphone: checking emails, checking financial information, sharing pictures, and chatting with friends on social networks are just some of the things you do on your smartphone that involve sensitive data. Security apps protect your smartphone so you don’t have to worry about the information getting into the wrong hands. Apps like Lookout Mobile Security will protect you from malware, scan downloads for viruses, and even alter you of your phone’s location should it be stolen. All for such a paltry price, why shouldn’t you consider it?
A complex and unfamiliar password
Sometimes the only defense between your information and a potential hacker is a simple username and password. And if that’s your only defense, then an elementary password—like the name of your favorite dog, or an old street address—just won’t cut it. A simple rule of thumb is to avoid words, phrases, and numbers that refer to you in any way. That means that you avoid passwords that reference birthdays, zip codes, anniversaries, anything that a criminal could figure out by looking at your basic information. The more obscure and nonsensical you can make your password, the safer your information will be. It’s also wise to use different passwords for different online services, and to change up your passwords as often as you can.
There are a number of sites that will let you test out the strength of a potential password just so you have an idea of how easy it would be to crack. You’d be surprised at the vulnerability of most typical passwords—those that features full words with a few numbers tacked on at the end can be cracked fast than you might think, whereas passwords composed of purely random letters, numbers, and symbols take the longest time. It might sound like a hassle, but think about all the information that you’re hiding from potential criminals. It’s much better so spend a few minutes memorizing passwords than spending hours and hours dealing with the repercussions of identity theft.
About the Author: With knowledge of the best background check companies and tactics, Jane Smith provides vital information and tips throughout her blogs. Email her your thoughts or concerns at janesmith161[at]gmail[dot]com.