Personal information is anything ranging from the files on your computer to banking information. Personal Information Security is just one of many terms that are used when discussing securing your personal data. Security is very important if you do not want your personal information or identity stolen. Securing your personal information is not a simple process. Not only do you need to protect your digital data, but you need to protect you physical items such as your computers, and credit cards.
The first step is to protect you computer. This means making sure you have antivirus that is unto date. There are many many antivirus products available for reasonable prices. Most Internet providers such as Spectrum, and AT&T will even provide it to their customers free of charge. I personally use Sophos home product on all my computers. Sophos offers a free version for up to three computers. Or you can purchase a premium version for $50/yr that will protect up to ten computers. This step is not just for those with Windows computers. Mac and Linux computer can be compromised as well and therefore should have a good antivirus program installed.
Online accounts are anything from banking websites you use to your Facebook account.
First let’s talk a little bit about Social media accounts. People just love to post all kinds of personal information from checkins to pictures of their dogs on their social media pages. Now don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with this. That is what these sites are for after all. The thing that you have to understand is that the information you put on these sites is often an answer to a security question used to reset a password on say for example your banks website. There are people out there that specialize in identity theft. One of the trick they use is to review social media posts in order to gather personal information on a target. With this information they are a step closer to hacking into the targets bank accounts, email accounts, etc. To protect this information you should first set a good password for your log in. None of this password1234 crap. A good password is anything between eight and fifteen characters long that includes both upper case, lower case letters, numbers, and symbols such as the @ sign. Another good practice is to not use the same password for more than one site, and to change the password every thirty to ninety days. I know you’re probably thinking “that’s two many passwords to remember”, or “I can’t come up with that many passwords”. There are many password manager applications out there that you can use to both store passwords and generate new passwords. Apple has its KeyChain built into IOS and MacOS. Google Chrome will also ask to store passwords. I do not recommend storing your passwords in a browser, but it is an option. I use LastPass myself.
The next step is make your profile, and the things you post private. Each site has their own privacy settings. You’ll have to look up how to make your stuff private based on the site you use. On facebook for example I have set my privacy settings so only my friends can see my profile and the stuff I post. Another best practice is to never accept a friend request from someone you do not personally know.
Banking, Amazon, Email accounts, etc.
Again with these sites you should adhere to the password suggestions I gave in the social media section. Other than the password suggestions you should also use an updated browser that includes features like HTTPS everywhere. Google Chrome, and Firefox both support this. Another thing to consider is using a personal VPN. There are tons of company’s out there that sell personal VPN products. I personally use NordVPN when I do any online banking.
Data files can be anything from a pdf of you tax return to pictures of your kids. Securing your data files depends on where you store them. Do you store them locally on your desktop/laptop computer? Do you store them on a flash drive or in the cloud? Do you have more than one copy?
The first and most important step to securing you data files is to make sure you are backing them up. There are several ways to achieve this. Windows and MacOS both have built in functions that you can use to backup the data. There are also third party products that can be used to backup the data either locally to a USB drive or to online storage. I personally use Carbonite to backup my data.
Use something other than the products I use? Did I miss something. Let me know in the comments below.