Today’s mobile devices can carry massive amounts of data and information, making life far more convenient for us. But this also means that our personal information is even more at risk than ever before. We tend to carry personal and business data with us just about everywhere, which makes our devices extremely susceptible to attacks from hackers. Additionally, it’s easy to lose, misplace or have our phones, iPads or other devices stolen. Tack on third-party apps that aren’t validated through major app stores such as Google Play or iTunes, and you have apps that don’t meet the minimum standard for security and are connected to other apps that carry your person information. Anytime you log into an app using Google or Facebook, you make a highly susceptible ecosystem–hack into one and you get access to all. To protect your personal data, here are a few tips to use.
Use Strong Passwords
We have heard this over and over again and we can’t stress how important it is to create strong, unbreakable passwords. Hacking a password is one of the easiest ways to crack into a social media account to a bank account or even your wireless network (which can provide access to any device connected to your Wi-Fi). So avoid using words that are in the dictionary and break it up with a random combination of special characters and numbers and capital letters. And don’t use the same password for more than one website or application. Be sure to also update your passwords frequently, every six months or so.
Turn Off Autofill & Cookies
Web browsers can be nice and convenient when they offer to save your address, name and even credit card information “for next time.” Don’t do it. Turn off autofill and cookies on mobile devices, web browsers and login information. You don’t have to give up that convenience altogether, however, there are third-party apps available for most platforms that can manage login information and saved passwords and also provide a far higher level of security. Mac’s operating systems already come with a built-in password manager Keychain. Other secure apps include SplashID, 1Password or LastPass. Ultimately the best way to go is to not use any form of autofill, but these secure managers are a great compromise.
Be sure to update your operating systems often. From your phone to your computer, each new update comes with better security so don’t ignore those reminders to update. Get your phone plugged in and install the update as soon as you can.
Use VPNs & WPAs
If you do get access to a virtual private network (VPN), use it. These networks provide a secure access to organizations’ networks and allow you to access the internet behind a wall of security that can help protect your information. Moreover, enable Wi-Fi protected access (WPA) on your wireless router. WPA’s encrypt data that is sent on your network so it can’t be intercepted by outsiders. If your router only supports a WEP (wireless encryption protocol), it’s time to update to a new router that uses WPA. WEP’s are older protocols that can be easily hacked giving outsiders a foot in the door to access anything from your security cameras, personal information and business data.
Turn off Bluetooth
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are open connections to your phone, car, home and therefore your data. If you are out and about and no longer connected to your Bluetooth speaker or home Wi-Fi, turn it off. Especially your Bluetooth. Too often we forget to turn our Bluetooth off, giving hackers a front door to any and all of the information on our mobile devices including access to video monitoring for your security cameras which can result in physical hacks to your homes.
Don’t Forget the “S”
URLs that start with ‘https:’ tend to be safer than those that start with ‘http:’. They aren’t completely foolproof, but they are better. The “s” means that you are connected to a website via a secure socket layer (SSL), which means that any data transmitter to the site over the Wi-Fi is encrypted. So when you access your bank’s site, make sure you don’t forget the “s”!
by: Rick Delgado