How to Protect Your Data and Devices

By: Robert Siciliano | March 10, 2016 (Edited July 7, 2017)

Having antivirus software isn't enough for protecting your data and devices. It's only the beginning. There's more:

  • Recognizing ruses by hackers to get you to give up personal information
  • Keeping software updated
  • Using long, strong passwords
  • Recognizing when your device might already be infected (e.g., it runs really slow; programs start spontaneously)

The Importance of Updates

  • Since hackers are always updating their skills and tricks, why shouldn't security software keep up? Though alerts for updates are annoying, you absolutely must get the updates.
  • Don't just wait for the alerts. Go into your control panel/settings and see if any updates are available for your OS.

Different makes and models of mobile devices have different processes for updating protection software. The key words to look for when you're inspecting the device for making updates are "Settings" and "Updates." A few more key words are "Apps" and "App Store." The devices are user friendly, so once you're in the Settings function, you should be able to figure it out.

Passwords

You must go through the passwords of every one of your accounts and make sure they are 1) different from each other, and 2) strong and long.

Now, is it really crucial that you have a long, strong password that gets you into some lame, non-critical site? I wouldn't fret about this as long as there is zero chance that this site can be linked to any personal/private/critical data.

But passwords for accounts relating to your healthcare plan, credit card, bank, blog, social media... these passwords should be re-evaluated to make sure they don't contain keyboard sequences or actual words and names, and DO contain a jumbled mix of characters, not just letters and numbers. At least eight characters long is a good start, but 12 characters are even better.

Every account needs a different password; otherwise, if one account is hacked, all of your accounts are at high risk of getting broken into.

Accounts

Go into every major account to see if it offers two-factor authentication. You can set this so that you can't log in until you type in a one-time code-that's sent to you via phone call, text or e-mail. The feature may also allow you to log on from your device without the code, but not from other devices without the code.

Other Protective Steps

  • Encrypt your drive
  • Update your router's software.
  • Turn off location services of apps you don't use.
  • Clear your browser's data on a frequent basis.
  • Disable the Adobe Flash in your browser. This doggone thing is a common conduit for malware.
  • Password protect and encrypt your devices.
  • Never click links inside e-mails when you're not expecting the link.

Never access bank accounts, your medical plan account or other important accounts using public Wi-Fi unless you have encryption software.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention

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