How To Keep Your Information Safe Online

So much information is stored online these days that it’s essential we all understand how to keep it as safe and secure as possible. Businesses have long understood how to do this, and are perhaps ahead of the game when it comes to cyber-security. That doesn’t mean that individuals can’t catch up though. In fact, it means that we can take their ideas and use them for our own peace of mind. Whatever threats may come for our online information – from malware to hackers to viruses and beyond – we need to ensure that we’ve done everything we can to make whatever is up there in the cloud or encrypted on a website impossible to find.

Backups

Backing up your data is one of the simplest yet most effective ways of ensuring your data is safe. A backup means you have a duplicate copy of everything you have chosen to keep, and that means, if your device is compromised in any way (whether that’s a security breach, it’s stolen, or even if it simply stops working), you can restore everything exactly as it was. Making a backup every day is the best idea, and it should be done on a portable, external drive, or alternatively you may wish to consider a cloud-based option (although this can also be subject to potential security risks). Most laptops will have a setting that will allow you to set the backup to start automatically at a certain time, so you won’t even have to think about it. Of course, a backup won’t stop your information from being used without your knowledge, but it’s a good start when it comes to keeping your important documents secure.

Encryption

Data encryption may sound as though it belongs to tech geeks, but anyone can make use of this great way of keeping information safe online. There are various plug-ins that you can download that can be added to emails, for example, and that will encrypt them for you when you send them. Why is that important? It is possible to hack someone’s emails, text messages, documents and so on, and discover valuable (because it is often sold on, or used for financial gain) information about that person, or the person the email is being sent to. If it is encrypted, it makes that hacking a lot more difficult to do. There are always advances being made in this field, and many businesses hire certified ethical hacking experts to check that their systems are entirely safe.

Make Old Hard Drives Useless

Getting a new computer and disposing of the old one is not as simple as it sounds. There are some important things to do before you finally say goodbye to your previous laptop or desktop. There is so much information that can be taken from an old, abandoned hard drive that unless you destroy it and make it totally unreadable, you won’t ever be sure who has it. Back up what you need and save it all externally so that you can upload it to your new computer and not have any delays in getting started. Once that’s done and you no longer require the old computer, you should sanitize the hard drive. You can do this by magnetically cleaning the disk, using special software to wipe it, or shredding the information. Once that’s done, you can sell the old computer on, or dispose of it in the trash if you like – your information will be safe from prying eyes.

Make the Most of Operating System Updates

Operating system updates are something that many device users dislike intensely. They stop you from using the computer or laptop while they update – and it could take hours – and they always insist on restarting the device for you. We’re all guilty of clicking on the ‘not now’ button rather than letting the operating system just get on with it. The thing is, these updates often contain essential security patches that make our computers much more secure. Therefore, it’s important to accept that the update needs to happen and allow it as soon as you can. It’s not always convenient, that’s true, but when you can afford to let your computer alone for a while, the update could save you from experiencing issues in the future.

Secure Your Wireless Network

WIFI is a wonderful thing; where would we be without it? It means we’re contactable all the time, and we’ll never miss a thing. However, it also means that it’s much easier to get into someone’s computer where important personal and financial information is stored. To stop this from happening, you need to keep your WIFI network secured. All this means is adding a password to it, so that only authorized people – your household, friends, family of your choosing – can access it. Otherwise anyone looking for a WIFI connection can ‘piggyback’ onto yours. Although for the most part this is harmless, and just means they get Internet access without the need to pay for it, in some cases it can be much more sinister than that. With the right knowledge, getting into someone’s WIFI network can spell disaster. Remember to also check that your work WIFI is secure. You might take a moment to check your bank account, for example, during your lunch break, and doing that on an unsecured network is a bad move.

Install A Firewall

Having a firewall installed on your computer is a great line of defense against any malicious software that might attempt to come at you and your personal information. A firewall blocks any dangerous programs including spyware and viruses before they can do any damage. You can download and install firewalls from a variety of different sources; just make sure they are legitimate before installing them on your computer.

Turn It Off

When you’re not using your computer, it can be tempting to just leave it on so that when you want to use it again, it’s ready for you to do so, and you don’t have to wait for it to warm up and wake up. However, not only is this bad for the environment, it’s also potentially bad for your security. If your computer is switched on 24/7, and connected to the Internet, and you’re not around to keep an eye on things, that can give hackers the perfect opportunity to installed nasty viruses and malware, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen.

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