These days, people are always connected. Whether it’s checking emails on the morning commute or ordering goods, a big part of our days are spent online. But, with so much to do and so little time, how much attention are we paying to ensuring our personal details are kept safe – and private?
Millions of pounds are spent every year on anti-virus software, but email account hacking and identity theft are still real threats. It’s important to be on-guard and remember the basics when it comes to computer safety, as sometimes we expose ourselves to risk in ways that are really quite obvious.
Here are 10 ways to protect your computer and help keep your details safe:
Be aware of your surroundings
Whether you’re sat in a coffee shop or on the train, being aware of who is around you is important – especially when working with sensitive information. Don’t look at anything you wouldn’t want others to see like personal emails or confidential work documents and be sure not to spread your paperwork and anything else important all over the table in front of you.
If you need to work on your commute or in a café, you may benefit from a privacy screen. This goes over your laptop screen and means the information you’re looking at can only be seen if you’re facing it directly, so you don’t have to worry about prying eyes looking over your shoulder.
Never click on emails from unknown sources
Hackers are getting cleverer all the time, which is why when it comes to scrolling through your emails, you need to be alert. You may be busy and short of time, but it’s important to always know exactly who an email is from and if it’s genuine. Be wary of unknown email addresses and attachments. Don’t open the attachments and never respond if you’re suspicious of the authenticity. If the email is from an organisation like your bank, you can normally forward it on to the company and request that they confirm if it’s genuine.
Protect your data with a password
The most basic of all rules in computer safety – don’t get complacent when it comes to your password. Use different characters, numbers and upper and lower case letters. Avoid using the same password for different accounts and be careful when using the names of loved ones or places as they could be guessed. If you need help, there are lots of password security tips available to ensure you have a strong password.
Install anti-virus software
Be sure to install anti-virus software on your device, and always check it is up-to-date. This will not only shield you against most virus-infected emails or corrupt websites but will help protect your personal information. You should still make sure you never save any personal information onto a public computer.
Get it backed up
One of the best ways to protect your data is keep your computer backed up. That way, if you’re the victim of theft or something happens to your computer or laptop, you have a duplicate copy of everything. Remember to back up regularly, or alternatively, set your computer to automatically update.
You can also use an external hard drive as a way to back up your data. This can provide an extra level of security, especially when protected with software that enables only you to access your data.
Install your updates
While it may seem annoying to pause what you’re doing to allow your computer to update, the reality is that these updates are generally done to keep your data safe. The most up-to-date version of your operating system can help protect against both web and software threats.
Be wary when using public Wi-Fi
Although it’s something many of us do as second nature now in shops, restaurants or cafes, joining a public Wi-Fi network puts you at risk. Hackers can position themselves between you and the access point, meaning you’re sending your data directly to them. This is an increased risk for those who work remotely, or travel for business. If you regularly use public Wi-Fi, make sure to read up on advice around how to keep information secure first.
Use a VPN
If you need to access public Wi-Fi, a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, can be a good way of shielding you from prying eyes. You’ll be able to access a business or private network if you’re travelling, as well as access shared files if needed. A VPN service is generally something you need to pay for and there are a number of different services around.
Read up on industry threats
One of the best ways to keep you alert and aware when keeping your data safe is by reading up on the latest industry news. Knowing what is out there and how it can affect your computer, operating system or software is a great way to stay ahead of the game. As technology advances, so do the methods of the hackers. It’s important that you know about the latest scams or risks, to help be prepared and avoid falling into a trap.
Make a hard copy
If you’ve saved your work and backed up your computer, one other way to ensure your data doesn’t get lost is to print it off and store it in a filing cabinet or a desk drawer – somewhere you can access it but also where it’s safe. Make sure to only print if necessary, as not everything will need a hard copy.
With so many threats around in the cyber world, it’s important to protect yourself and your data. By ensuring you’re savvy to the ins and outs of issues that might impact the safety of your data, you’re on the right track to protecting your digital privacy,