Phone numbers, bank accounts, family photographs and work documents are personal materials we keep safe in our homes. But as these increasingly become stored virtually online and in our digital devices, it is easy to forget how vulnerable they are to being stolen or misused by others. Digital protection for your personal data is not very different from what you would do for a home. Here are 5 cyber security tips:
1) Passwords Are Keys to Your Digital House
Would you use a single key to secure the doors, windows and safe at home? Bet the answer is ‘No’. This is why you don’t use the same password for all your digital accounts too. Once a hacker gains access to one account, they would have the keys to everything else.
You should also not write or display your password for others to see just as you don’t leave your keys lying around. Create complex passwords that do not have your names or initials because you don’t label your keys with your addresses. And no, “password” is not a password.
2) Mummy is Still Right: Don’t Open the Door for Strangers
This age-old advice applies in the digital world too. But instead of opening actual doors, you should not click on unfamiliar links or plug unknown devices into yours. Doing so means letting someone you don’t know into the house. And once they are in, they can do whatever they like.
Particularly for wireless devices, turn off Bluetooth until you need to use them. Keeping it turned on means leaving a window open for anyone to climb in and out your home whenever they like.
3) Beware, You’ve Got Mail Does Not Always Lead to a Happy Ending
When someone turns up at your doorstep, you know who they are by looking at their faces or asking for some identification. Do the same when receiving e-mails to ensure the senders’ are who they say they are—not some scammers trying to enter your homes. It’s not enough to look at the sender’s name, also check their e-mail address and see if the message inside is typical of them. If the email is offering a deal that is too good to be true, then it probably is. Think of what you would do to that dodgy salesman in front of your door: keep the door shut.
4) Use A Lock That Works
Just as you would never use a faulty lock to secure your home, the same applies in the digital world too. This means regularly updating your software and applications to ensure the latest security flaws are addressed, preventing any known and obvious ways for hackers to enter your digital devices. If you have highly valuable documents to secure, you may also consider investing in anti-virus software to prevent intrusions—the equivalent of buying a surveillance camera system to give your home an extra layer of security.
5) Social Media: The House Party that Never Ends
Imagine hosting guests at home and letting them wander around on their own—that is what it can mean to be posting content on social media. While you can set your privacy settings and decide who can access your digital “home”, you should still be aware of what you share online.
Just as you would not leave your undergarments lying around the house when you have visitors, think twice about posting such intimate data online. Information such as your primary school or the name of your pet may be used in security questions that online accounts ask for during password recovery. More importantly, sharing is (almost) forever: it will be tough to remove all traces of what you’ve shared online should you feel a twinge of regret at sending out that last angry Tweet about your best friend.