Five Tips for Improved Data Privacy
Data Privacy Day is January 28. In recognition of the Cyber Security Alliance's annual efforts to raise awareness around this critically important topic and to encourage smart data protection throughout the year, here are five best practices for keeping your information safe from savvy cyber criminals.
1. Strengthen your passwords
At the risk of sounding cliché, one of the most important steps you can take to protect your data is strong passwords. Yes, you've heard it before and yes, it really is the best defense you have. Don't use the same password across multiple accounts and be creative in what you choose. How many of you use password or 123456? Those are #1 and #2 on the Forbes 25 WORST passwords of 2011 list. It's amazing how people choose the same passwords over and over – much to the delight of hackers everywhere. Your password should contain at least eight characters and a mix of four different character types. With the number of logins the average person uses today, it's no wonder you're not able to remember them all. That's okay. Write them down and keep them somewhere safe. But just in case, come up with a formula. A trick I have found helpful is to add in a particular letter or number to your password – one that whenever it appears, you know it should be deleted.
2. If you wouldn't share something with someone on the street, don't share it online
Cyber criminals use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social networking sites to harvest information about you. It's called social engineering. If they know where you went to high school (thanks, Facebook) they can find your high school mascot. How many of you use that as your online banking password? If someone wishes you happy birthday on Twitter and you use your name as your handle and include your city in your bio, a hacker is that much closer to your social security number.
3. Don't share credentials over email
Data widely available on social media sites now make phishing emails easy. While it may look like an email from HR asking for your password, login, etc., be wary. Don't reply with your information. Chances are good it's a hacker who has discovered your place of business and email address via Linkedin.
4. Use caution when scanning QR codes
QR codes that you scan with your mobile phone for more information exploded in popularity in 2011. But the large amount of data they contain could also direct you to a malicious website. Think twice before scanning and for those times you want to scan, make sure you use a QR code reader that allows you to first confirm any action taken.
5. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe if you are a Mac user
Mac users are not immune to cyber attack. For hackers, it's a numbers game. They have targeted Windows users simply because there were more of them and that increased their likelihood for success. As Apple market share continues to grow, so too does a hacker's focus on Mac users.
Check out these videos for more cyber security tips that will help you protect your personal information and your company's.
Computer Viruses and Threats:
What is the difference between a computer virus, worm and trojan and most importantly, what can you do to protect yourself?
View this short guide to recognizing and avoiding email phishing scams, an increasingly popular way for cybercriminals to cheat you out of your personal information.
Learn the risks of weak passwords, how to create a password that can’t be guessed and protect it from criminals and wandering eyes.
This video focuses on what makes websites secure and how to recognize a secure website based on signals in the web browser.