When you connect to the online world, you are automatically susceptible to hacking. When hackers get into your devices, all your personal data is immediately at stake. A hacker has many ways to get in and all kinds of data become vulnerable in the process.
The good news, however, is that there are several steps you can take to improve your security and prevent hackers from infiltrating your systems.
We brought in the experts to guide you on protecting yourself from data hacking.
A good place to start is to remind everyone that passwords should never be stored in cleartext.
Private communication between services
Any information system exchanges data with external or internal services, the protocol must be sufficiently reliable or the channel must be private. A number of threats exist, and solutions to counter them have been around for a long time. Pay attention to authorization methods and ways of transferring information, not just content.
If users create their own accounts, then you need to make sure that if the user enters a weak password, the account will still be protected.
But sometimes scammers try to guess passwords or keys, and it is important to be able to identify such activity and take action to prevent guessing values.
No matter how professional an engineer may be, humans make mistakes. It is best to order an external security audit of your system on a regular basis if you deal with personal or sensitive data. The costs are not cheap, but isn't it more important to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities or, at some point, to detect the loss of important data?
There is a lot to say about following best engineering practices, but the main thing is how the team interacts. A quality product requires code review, automated testing, and manual testing. All of this may require significant human resources, but the end result will be better than expected.
Jacob Sever, Co-Founder & CPO of Sumsub. He is an expert in the fields of ID verification market, personal privacy, anti-fraud trends, and regulatory compliance.
If you don’t use a VPN when you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network, then it’s easy for hackers to see what you do online as well as your device’s IP address. VPNs encrypt this information in a tunnel before it reaches the internet service provider.
Antivirus software blocks against cyber threats like phishing, malware, ransomware, spyware, adware, Trojans, and computer worms. You should have it running in the background of all of your devices.
Each of your online accounts should have a password that’s long, complicated, and unique. You can check the strength of your passwords using our free password strength checker. I recommend saving all of your passwords in an encrypted password manager to keep track. Never store your passwords in plain text; it’s actually preferable to write them down on a notepad that you put in a locked drawer when not in use.
When it’s available, add two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) to all of your online accounts. With 2FA, you’ll not only have to enter in your username and password but also a passcode sent to your phone. With MFA, you’ll have to use biometrics like fingerprint or facial recognition. This prevents unauthorized access to your accounts, even if someone already has your login credentials.
Aliza Vigderman, Senior Editor and Industry Analyst of the digital security website Security.org
It's important to be mindful of the information you share online about yourself as it can be used as clues to answer your security questions. Such as the name of your pet, color or make of your car, etc.
This information is easily found on social media profiles such as Instagram and Facebook, so with little digging cybercriminals can find the answers to your security questions and gain access to your profiles.
Ron Harris is the Vice President of Omega Computer Services, an I.T. Managed Service Provider specializing in managed I.T. solutions for insurance, financial, and non-profit industries.
The best way to safeguard your data from hackers is to never put it online or on a device that connects to the internet.
The next best thing is to follow smart digital security practices: use a password manager with unique usernames and unique passwords, use email masking and alias information when possible for online accounts, keep your software and devices up to date, verify all links and files in email and text, and encrypt your data. A password manager is much better at remembering and creating complex, long, unique passwords than humans.
Email masking services let you create unique email addresses that you can turn on or off at will. They appear in your main email inbox (you don’t need to log into something else to see your emails), but if the masked email address is shared or leaked you can just turn it off and won’t get any more emails or spam to that address.
Using alias information helps too. If your fitness app has a data leak (MyFitnessPal had one years ago) you won’t care since you used an alias name and a masked email address.
Keeping your software and devices up to date is very important. This means your operating system (e.g., Windows, iOS, Android), the software you use (e.g., iTunes, Adobe Photoshop, your apps), and your other hardware (e.g., router, smart TV).
Verifying links and files in emails and texts helps protect you against phishing or spear-phishing attacks. Verify the sender’s email address first and be wary if you weren’t expecting a file from them. If you are unsure don't click it.
Encrypting your data makes it unreadable if it’s stolen in its encrypted form. An attacker would need to know the password you used when encrypting the data.
James Wilson, Digital Privacy and Security Expert, Founder of My Data Removal
A portfolio of security measures is the best way to safeguard your data from hackers. No one method is guaranteed, so data security is best managed at multiple levels.
Using strong, unique passwords should be the foundation for everyone’s security measures. By carefully creating and managing passwords, employees can thwart a significant number of cyberattacks. By requiring multi-factor authentication, companies can add another layer of protection to accounts.
Using a VPN is a popular method of encryption for your data, especially for those who routinely connect to public networks. Though quality VPNs can be expensive, this is a measure worth investing in, since cheap or free VPNs may sell user data anyway.
Most people set up their routers and never touch them again unless there’s an issue. Router manufacturers routinely issue firmware updates whose most important role is to fix bugs and strengthen security.
Matt Donahue, Compliance and Risk Analyst at Sentient Digital, Inc.