Information and data are the most valuable assets any organization has in its possession. Physical assets are insured and replaceable, but in the event of complete loss of information, the organization remains completely vulnerable and unable to carry out its usual operations.
Data everywhere is consistently under attack. There are malicious people that have devoted themselves to breaching security walls surrounding organizations’ and individuals’ data to gain access to it and use it for personal benefit. Over the last few years, numerous big companies have come under cyber-attacks, including Home Depot just recently.
Celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence have had their personal accounts hacked into and private information broadcast before the entire world. Just because you’re obscure doesn’t mean you’re safe. You need to take steps to secure your data.
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The Biggest problem: your passwords
Ultimately, your password is the only thing preventing a cybercriminal from gaining access to your account. Too many people are using non-unique and weak passwords, exposing countless risks to their information. Hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated hence you cannot have a weak password and think that you’re protected.
Another miscalculation is using the same password for multiple accounts. This means that if a hacker gains access to one of your accounts, he or she can access all your other accounts, tools, and platforms. It’s understandable, one strong password is hard enough to recall, how much more than six or seven different strong passwords with 12 or more characters?
The main thing to remember is that your main email account’s password is the most important; if hackers get hold of it, you’re done. What they would simply do is go to all your other accounts and use the “Reset password” feature, like you do when you lose your passwords. You cannot be alive in 2015 and pay no attention to the level of security of your data, both individual and organizational.
Below is an outline of six steps to take to ensure your data security is up-to-snuff going forward:
1. Own the situation
As an individual or business owner/manager, you should be responsible for your data security. Don’t just delegate to your IT team or host or another person. Take steps to determine your security situation presently and then implement data security throughout the organization, or for all individual data.
2. Make your backups
Backing up to external drives or servers is no longer sufficient, especially in the wake of natural disasters and grand larceny operations. Every organization’s backup requirements are unique, and there are many considerations to make including local data on computer systems, data stored in email accounts, corporate websites and blogs, CRM and client tracking systems, business intelligence tools, data in mobile devices, and many more.
A robust cloud backup solution can provide the kind of security needed, and the beauty is that it’s highly scalable and customizable according to the needs of your organization. Individuals can also use remote backup for their personal data and internet-based data through affordable cloud packages by cloud service providers. In any event, you should be able to regain critical data within the shortest possible time.
3. Strong passwords
Strong passwords merge two aspects: length and complexity. Identity thieves and hackers are targeting users’ social media sites to gain access to personal information. You must therefore ensure you have secured any place where you have personal details with a strong password. Find out how to generate strong passwords and use those tips in all your accounts, or use strong password generators.
4. Unique passwords
It’s easy to remember one or two passwords, but try to use different passwords for all your logins. This is especially true for different classes of sites on the Internet. You can never be sure about the level of security/encryption for systems that are not yours. By having unique passwords, any breach leaves minimal damage in its wake.
5. Two-step authentication
This is like double-locking your door. Two-step authentication uses what you know i.e. your password and what you have e.g. a cellphone. When you key in the password, you’ll receive a single-use passcode to your cellphone for instance, which you must key in before being logged in. Gmail is the best example of using two-step authentication.
6. Password management
If you have multiple passwords as suggested above, you’ll need a password manager to keep track of your passwords. You can get free password managers that can help you generate, store, and retrieve your strong passwords for various accounts. Lastpass is one such service. Such programs also store usernames and speed up your login process to various sites.