Innovations in the field of technology have strengthened cybersecurity capabilities. Recent reports, however, show that cyberattacks are quickly matching that progress. Just in July of 2023, 87 publicly disclosed security breaches saw 146,290,598 compromised records.
The companies and organizations that collect and process your information are obliged to have strong cybersecurity measures in place. Still, they remain vulnerable to cyber attacks.
To safeguard your devices from unauthorized access and protect your privacy, consider the following personal cybersecurity measures.
Personally identifiable information (PII) refers to data that can identify an individual, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, and more. It’s crucial not to share PII online. Cybercriminals can exploit this information for malicious purposes, causing financial and personal harm.
Avoid disclosing your PII on social media, public forums, or suspicious websites. Learning who has your sensitive data is also fundamental to your digital privacy. Too often, your PII is harvested and traded by information broker companies without your explicit consent. You can take control of your data by asking these companies to remove you from their databases or using automated information retrieval tools.
Multi-factor or two-step authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. Most online services, such as Gmail, Amazon, or PayPal offer this feature. Essentially, to log in to your account, you’re asked to provide your username, password, and another way to verify your identity. This can be a special code or password sent to you via phone or email. If possible, enable two-factor authentication in all your accounts.
Malware is malicious software developed by hackers to steal data or destroy computer systems. Common red flags of malware include:
- Suspicious emails and/or emails from unknown senders with a link or attachment in the form of a Word or PDF file.
- Unsecured connections to websites that have “http://” instead of “https://” at the beginning of their URL.
- Websites with numerous unwanted pop-ups.
- Websites that trigger spam warning notifications.
Regularly backing up the data on your smartphone or computer is crucial. It safeguards your valuable information from loss due to hardware failures, theft, accidents, or malware attacks. By creating backups, you ensure that your photos, documents, contacts, and settings are secure, allowing you to quickly recover and resume your digital life in case of any unforeseen events. Consider using a hard drive or cloud storage system.
Antivirus programs detect and remove malicious software, preventing viruses, malware, and spyware from infecting your device. Meanwhile, firewalls act as a protective barrier, monitoring incoming and outgoing network traffic, and blocking unauthorized access. Together, they create a robust defense against cyber threats, safeguarding your personal and financial information, ensuring online privacy, and maintaining the integrity of your system.
Safeguarding sensitive data is paramount in today’s digital landscape. Keeping your PII to yourself, enabling multi-factor authentication, identifying malware, performing periodical backups, and installing antivirus software and firewalls will help minimize the likelihood of a cyberattack and ensure your privacy.