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Simple Ways to Boost Your Level of Cyber-Security

Simple Ways to Boost Your Level of Cyber-Security

Data mining, hacking and outright theft of information is becoming a problem of epidemic proportions.  However, most people still don’t realize how easy it is to secure accounts and keep your data from being accessed without your permission.  While it is true that a lot of data theft occurs from companies and entities that have your information, there’s still a lot that you can do to prevent people from getting into things on your end.

Be Sensible

The first step towards making your data more secure is to use common sense.  Have strong passwords on your WiFi at home.  Make sure that every device that is connected to the Internet, from your phones to the TV to your refrigerator has password-protected access.  Never access bank accounts, secure websites or conduct transactions over public WiFi hotspots.  Always ensure that you are being careful about what apps you are using on your devices, keep an eye on the data they will acquire and install and keep anti-virus software up to date.  Another really important trick is to keep an eye on what devices are logging into your WiFi network. 

Common sense goes a long way when it comes to preventing a lot of attacks from happening in the first place.  These are just a few examples of very basic and simple steps that you can do right now to add a strong layer of protection.  You should also frequently change passwords on your WiFi network and make them unrelated to anything that has to do with your personal information.

Strong Passwords and PIN Numbers

Despite all of the warnings out there, people still insist on using weak passwords that are either easy to guess or easy to decrypt.  You don’t need to have passwords that are on par with government or financial databases.  However, you should make sure that you are using passwords that don’t spell out your name, use your address, phone number, birthday or any other information that is easy for someone to obtain. 

Sure, it’s easy to use passwords that are easy to remember, because it makes it easier on us to keep track of our accounts.  However, it also makes things easier for anyone who wants to access our information as well.  Consider mixing things up a little bit, like using some digits along with initials, letters or names of people you know.  Get creative, throw in some symbols and numbers between letters.  Spell things backwards.  Add numbers and capital or letters in the mix.  You can get by with a short password as long as it is complicated enough to confound the average hacker from trying to get at your data or access your protected sites.

The same applies to PIN numbers.  Never use your birthday, never use your address or the last four digits of your Social Security Number.  Avoid the last four digits of your phone number as well.  Don’t put these numbers in backwards either, as they are very easy to figure out.  Remember that if someone has the opportunity to attempt to enter PIN numbers over and over again, they have a greater chance of getting a hit sooner or later.  Make PIN numbers as unfamiliar as possible, and don’t use simple combinations like pairs of numbers either. 

Diversify

Never use the same password for accounts or website login information.  This will make it nearly impossible for anyone to gain access to everything, even if they get lucky cracking one or two of them. 

Remember, good data security involves making the conditions difficult for access to begin with, making it hard to discover passwords, and reducing risk if someone figures out one of them.  Diversify, get creative and use common sense.  You also want to remember to change passwords and PIN numbers frequently out of an abundance of caution.

The trick now is to remember all of the passwords that you are going to modify and set.  You can be as paranoid or as practical as you like in terms of devising a system that will help you to remember them.  A lot of what you decide will depend on your situation and anticipated level of vulnerability. 

While you shouldn’t keep all of your eggs in the same basket, you don’t want to over-hide the lists of passwords you keep as well.  Use some common sense, avoid placing them in areas where people will look, such as near desks, in your computer, device or in the cloud.  But, you do want to make a hard copy and keep them somewhere that is easy for you to access.  Finally, you want to try and memorize your passwords in order to minimize the reliance on hard copies as well.

These are just a few examples of things to consider in order to fortify your security in the digital universe.  Keep in mind that the vast majority of people who are victimized don’t even bother to consider half of the things that are mentioned here.  The more prudent, vigilant and proactive you are with respect to your digital security will make you less vulnerable, and it’s really not that difficult.  It just takes a little bit of time, effort and ingenuity, and doing so now will pay big dividends over the course of time. 

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