Every year, it seems like the list of groups striving to steal data from us and use it in nefarious ways grows. Those universally called “hackers” by some people are actually millions of scammers and fraudsters, corporate spies, intelligence operatives, automated systems, and hundreds of other entities. They have their own agendas and can potentially target the data in your email account, social media accounts, and other sources of information.
To keep your data safe and secure, you can build up your defenses with a wide variety of tools, such as using a private email. Let’s go over some other great solutions for keeping your data safe in 2023.
Table of Contents
1. Password Managers
Password managers provide both convenience and security by serving as a single place where passwords and other credentials can be stored. It is not uncommon for an uninformed user to store their passwords in different locations – in the browser, on a text file, even on a slip of paper. This is a bad idea not only because it is easy to lose these sources, but also because other people can gain access to them relatively easily, putting your data at risk.
One thing to keep in mind is that password managers are an enticing target for hackers, and several notable ones (e.g. LastPass and Roboform) have been compromised in recent years. For the greatest level of protection, you may choose a manager stored locally on your computer (with encryption, of course), instead of somewhere online on an external server.
2. Encrypted communications
Encryption is a must-have in various forms of communications, as it protects data going from one place to another from being captured and read/modified by someone who is not the intended recipient. While there are ways to break encryption, most standards used today make it very hard and next to impossible for anyone lacking military-grade hardware.
One place where you want encryption to happen is email (TLS, PGP, and S/MIME), but chat applications are also favored. For example, WhatsApp is often praised for end-to-end encryption, so data sent through it cannot be deciphered even by WhatsApp company servers. In web browsers, make sure that you are working with confidential data only on webpages with active and valid HTTPS.
Pop culture has undoubtedly raised awareness of computer viruses, to the point where many people believe that any suspicious activity on their device should be tested with an antivirus. The reality is that there are dozens of other types of digital threats besides viruses, and a solution that scans for a range of them would more aptly be called anti-malware. Examples of such threats include spyware, adware, Trojans, and ransomware.
4. Secured drives
Encrypting hard drives and flash drives is a way to make sure that your data cannot be read, changed, or used if the drives are accessed physically or remotely by someone without authorization. Tools for encrypting drives can be found on some computer operating systems (e.g. Windows) or provided by vendors via software/hardware.
5. Awareness and vigilance
While physical and digital tools go a long way towards protecting data, you are still at risk if you don’t take some responsibility for yourself. If you take the time to educate yourself on some of the common threats faced by the ordinary internet user and stay vigilant of these threats, you can minimize the risk of becoming a victim of hackers, fraudsters, and the like.