7 best practices to protect your data online

It’s no exaggeration to say that most people in the US with a computer connected to the internet have been affected by a cybersecurity incident in the last few years. Data loss costs businesses and individuals time, resources, and money, and the problem isn’t going anywhere. Hackers are constantly looking for new and sophisticated ways to steal data, and cyber crime is now a global problem.

The good news is that it’s possible to stay safe and protected online. Here are 7 top ways to protect your business and personal data.

Password managers

You should always choose the most complex or unusual password you can–this makes it harder for a hacker, or password-stealing programs, to access sensitive data. Use a mixture of capital letters, numbers, and symbols where possible.

Password managers help you generate strong, obscure passwords for different accounts and devices. This is especially helpful for businesses entrusted with sensitive client data.

Two-factor authentication

Passwords are helpful, but two-factor authentication is even better. Once you input a password, you receive a code by text or by email. You then input this code to prove you are who you say you are. Two-factor authentication is a valuable extra layer of security, especially when you’re protecting business and client data.

Device protection

Chances are you carry a portable device, such as a cellphone, everywhere. Although modern cell phones have impressive built-in security features, they’re not impenetrable. With more people working from home and using cell phones, iPads, and laptops to conduct business, end-user devices can present complex security challenges.

A good start is to carefully choose the apps you install and limit the access they have to your data. Keep all devices current with the latest software updates.

Disk encryption

Encrypting data makes it much harder for hackers or unauthorized parties to access privileged information. When you encrypt data, you translate it into an unreadable code, and only someone with a decryption key can unscramble it. Disk encryption is another layer of security for data stored on a disk, including USB drives. Disk encryption software is readily available.

Incognito browsing

Whether you’re accessing the free WiFi in a coffee shop or using a public computer, unsecured public networks put your data privacy at risk. You can use a virtual private network, or VPN, to hide your personal information so that hackers can’t see your activity. You can also use incognito or private browsing modes to hide your browsing history.

Make sure you use a trustworthy VPN service provider: if you’re unsure, ask a reliable IT specialist for advice.

Education

You can’t protect yourself or your business against cyberthreats if you don’t know what threats are out there. While hackers evolve all the time, it’s still possible to stay ahead of them. Keep up-to-date on the current cybersecurity risks and trends, and understand how they affect your business.

Your employees are vulnerable to hackers, too. Provide training to your employees on cybercrime and data protection so they don’t run into trouble online.

Work with IT specialists

It’s not easy to stay on top of the latest data protection and privacy issues. That’s why it’s a great idea to hire IT specialists to help you devise a solution for your business needs.

Managed IT service providers, for example, offer all the benefits of an in-house IT team without the associated costs, and they’ll ensure your systems and data are secure. They’ll also assess your IT strategy and check to make sure it’s strong enough. IT service providers let you focus on running your business without fretting over cybersecurity.