10 Tips on How to Protect Your Personal Data

As we are progressively moving towards Web 3.0, personal data becomes one of the greatest commodities. The recent scandals with Facebook and Google suggest that we cannot fully trust even the most popular brands on the planet to protect it. If you are an active user of social media and other online platforms, you are constantly exposed to multiple dangers such as malware, phishing, hacker attacks, and social engineering.

The following 10 tips will allow you to pinpoint the key threats and optimal protection methods.           

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Practically speaking, two-factor authentication requests additional information such as a PIN number, a secret question, or a code from an SMS message in addition to your login and password. Always opt for this option when using various web platforms to prevent hackers from logging into your accounts with stolen or brute-forced login/password combinations.

Learn More about Biometrics

Fingerprint sensors and facial recognition are becoming more and more widespread in 2019. This additional layer may protect the information on your personal laptop, smartphone, or PC in the case of theft. The effectiveness of these methods is higher than that of strong passwords while they are extremely easy to implement.

Encrypt All Confidential Data

This step ensures that your data and email messages cannot be decrypted without a unique key. Combined with the previous steps, this one may provide for maximal security in the case of data theft and ensure that no one can read your communication.

Do Not Create Nodes

A node is a slang word meaning a central point in a network granting the hacker full access to multiple computers or data storage units. If you use the same e-mail for all your registrations like most of us, chances are a hacker getting into your mail will instantly get access to all your social networks, bank clients, and online forums. The story told by Sean Coonce may be a good cautionary tale of losing $100,000 in cryptocurrency overnight despite using two-factor authentication and other precautions.

Use Several E-Mail Addresses

The previous point suggests creating multiple accounts (preferably, also have a separate SIM-card if you use it for authentication). This allows you to isolate your online communication from other activities and prevent hackers from gaining access to your personal e-mails, contacts, correspondence on online subscriptions.

Minimize Your Online Footprint

Even if you are a socialite, publishing your personal details such as the date of birth, contacts, residential address or travel dates gives hackers something to work on. Use simple logic. If your two-factor authentication question for your e-mail is your mother’s maiden name, you better not put her account on the Facebook list of family members.

Use the Strongest Passwords Possible

Yes, this seems mundane and obvious. However, the brute-force cracking times for a strong password of 12 lower-case letters may take several decades to break. You do not need to remember complex and random combinations of characters if you install a reliable password manager.

Consider Using HASP Keys

The next step for maximal security is the use of HASP keys. These are normally-looking USB dongles that only allow you to start up a computer if you plug it into an empty USB port. While this instrument was mainly used by major corporations in the past, modern solutions such as the YubiKey allow you to also use wireless NFC authentication for managing your PC and smartphone security.

Lock All Your Apps

Make sure that a person who steals your smartphone will be unable to log into your banking app, personal e-mail or download any compromising photos before you can block your account from another device. Again, do not make your smartphone a single node unlocking the door to all your personal assets.

Use VPN for Public Networks

When you use Wi-Fi hotspots at the airport or a café, all your traffic can be sniffed to steal your passwords or personal data. To prevent this, install VPN managers (you can use some free ones to test the idea) and keep your browsing history and information private. This is an absolute necessity for business travellers and frequent flyers who are unable to quickly access their main computer to block their accounts in the case of a data breach or a password theft.

These 10 tips offer some practical guidance on how to increase your safety right now (most of them can be applied within an hour or less). The key rule formulated by security experts is to avoid complex solutions that will be quickly discarded due to their awkwardness. If you already feel safer after installing a password manager and registering a ‘burner’ email address, so be it. There are no limits to online safety and there is no need to utilise corporate-level protection on your home PC used exclusively for web browsing. However, make sure that you maintain reasonable precautions when dealing with sensitive personal data or online banking passwords.