It seems we are constantly hearing about various forms of personal data theft in the news. From major financial corporation breaches to credit card duping, personal data protection is a growing conversation in modern-day culture. And that makes sense, given that reports show that over 33 percent of Americans are victims of online identity theft.
As a business, you’re in control of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of individuals personally-identifying information. That’s why it’s crucial your business exercises a strict set of best practices to keep this information out of the hands of bad actors.
Why data security is so important
Data security is crucial for many reasons. Fraudsters are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, and they’re always looking for new ways to steal and exploit information such as credit card details, bank accounts, and passwords. Identity theft:
- Costs you money – the financial cost of identity theft increases every year
- Damages your business’ reputation
- Erodes consumer trust
- Causes distress and hassle for every victim
What’s more, you’re over 80 times more likely to experience identity theft online or through the cloud than in a physical store, which is why protecting your information online has never been more imperative.
Protecting your data integrity
Although there are many ways to protect your data online and offline, these are the most important steps you can take.
Improve your passwords
Use strong, hard-to-guess passwords which include a mixture of numbers, letters, and special characters. Change your passwords frequently, and don’t use the same password for multiple sites.
It’s good practice to change your passwords every six months or so, and you should change them immediately if you suspect that someone else has accessed and account of yours.
Secure your browser
If you use WiFi hotspots at cafes or other public places, you need to hide your personal information from hackers who may be waiting to steal your data. Always use a legitimate VPN service to hide your data from prying eyes. Don’t use a public hotspot unless it’s a secured wireless network.
At home, it’s worth browsing the internet in secret or incognito mode for extra protection. Again, you should always use a secured wireless network – don’t rely on encrypted websites alone. These websites only protect the data passing through them. They don’t keep you safe when you’re online.
If you’re sending personal or financial data online, make sure it’s encrypted. Encryption “scrambles” your data so that it can’t be read by hackers. Don’t send personal details over the internet unless you can see a “lock” icon in your web browser status bar. This symbol shows that your data is safely encrypted upon transfer.
Use security software
Keep your firewall, anti-spyware program and anti-virus software updated. This is the only way to be sure that the programs are protecting you from current and emerging threats.
Always install operating system security patches when prompted, as these updates are often pushed to tackle a new set of security threats that older versions fell prey to.
It sounds obvious, but the easiest way to protect personal data is to exercise caution. Don’t click on links in emails from senders you don’t know, and don’t divulge personal information unless you’re confident that you can trust the recipient.
There’s no such thing as being too careful where your private information is concerned – if you’re unsure how to protect yourself or your business online, always seek an IT specialist’s advice.
Or just leave it to the pros
If you’re concerned your business needs more proactive cybersecurity than these steps, it’s time to find a professional. At Xpert Technologies, we’re well versed and experienced in provided proactive security solutions to businesses to ensure they aren’t the victim of a cyberthreat. For more information on how our cybersecurity and personal data protection can protect your business and your clients, contact us today.