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Every year, our world and the technology we use continues to evolve, so much so that most of what we do is now done on a computer or smartphone. While tech can make life more convenient, it also means that you have more digital assets than ever before — if you aren’t careful, those assets can be quickly stolen by hackers and cybercriminals.
It may not be fun to think about, but you need to secure your computers, tablets, and smartphones now so you can protect yourself against malicious characters. To help, we will discuss some essential tips and information that you can use to safeguard your assets and data. Take care of it now, and you can protect yourself and your finances for years to come.
Some people don’t bother to protect their unsecured data because they don’t feel that there is really a risk. However, by being negligent, you are making yourself a prime target. Studies show that cyberattacks occur, on average, every 39 seconds, and they can happen to businesses and individuals alike. It may not seem like a big deal, but hacking can have disastrous results for you, both personally and financially. It can even result in identity theft if you don’t take the proper precautions.
That is because every piece of data that you have online can be used for malicious purposes. While many of us realize that credit card information and Social Security numbers can be used to take out fraudulent loans and commit identity fraud, many don’t know that even phone numbers and email addresses can be sold on the black market or used to send scam emails.
Hackers can use many different tactics to try to get your data. If you ever leave your device unattended, someone could simply insert a USB drive and upload a virus. Even if you keep your computer at home, a hacker can still send a phishing email (a fake communication that appears to come from a trustworthy source, like your job or a store you like to shop at). When you open it and view the attachment, a virus is installed on your device. Criminals can even create fake alerts on your computer — like a warning that you have a virus — but when you click the button to “fix it”, malware is installed on your device.
The fact is that you need to be vigilant at all times, even when you think you are already protected. A good example is people who work from home. Although you may have an IT team at the office, if your personal device is infected and you send an email to your work account, the company can then get infected. That is why it is important to designate your home office a “work only” zone, where you separate your work and personal devices. Once you have that setup, then make it a point to keep a decluttered desktop where you keep all files in designated folders. That way, you won’t misplace your work, and you will know if a file has been compromised.
Now that you know the importance of securing your digital assets, it is time to start putting the proper protections in place. The first step is to take your password security seriously. Your password should have a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, and you should use a separate password for every system and website you use. You can combine your password with a form of two-factor authentication for additional protection
It is also important that you protect your entire system and disguise yourself from hackers by installing a virtual private network (VPN) on all of your devices. A VPN will hide your location and automatically encrypt your incoming and outgoing data, so even if a hacker was able to access your system, they couldn’t read your information. Using a VPN is especially important when you are working in public, where hackers love to hide.
Finally, it’s crucial to use an antivirus program installed on your computer and mobile devices. By having this software and running scans every week, you can ensure that any virus that does reach your computer is deleted immediately. Make sure to update your antivirus program often, so you are always protected against the newest threats.
Protecting your assets and data goes beyond the digital world.
These days, digital filing has become the norm as paper and filing cabinets become a thing of the past. This means it’s not uncommon for people to scan and upload their physical paperwork so they can file it on their computers to stay organized and save space in the office. However, while you are making a smart move, you need to be careful with the information you leave behind.
Once you have scanned and uploaded your physical paperwork, make sure to have that documentation properly shredded or disposed of. Do not simply throw out the full sheets because criminals are not opposed to going through your garbage.
When you are decluttering your computer and removing files you no longer need, remember that even though you press the delete button, it doesn’t mean that the file is gone forever. Hackers can still use special tools to recover those files if they get into your system. To ensure that the data is gone forever, you can install a wiping program to erase your hard drive.
If you plan to sell or give away your computer, then your best bet is to destroy the hard drive altogether. Your best is to bring it to a shredding center. They have the machinery necessary to ensure that the hard drive is properly processed and your data can never be accessed again.
As you can see, you must implement the proper protections today, or you could be hacked and your data exploited before you know it. Consider these tips and beware of common scams, and you can keep your assets, personal data, and sensitive information secure.