Seven tips to protect personal information online

    Technology has infiltrated our lives to such an extent that it is impossible to imagine a life without mobile devices, online video games, social media, phone applications, and whatnot. Did you know that in 2020, around 88.5 percent of the Singapore population were using the internet?

    It is pretty clear that the internet has become an indispensable part of our lives; unfortunately, it doesn’t come without some drawbacks. The digital platform has exposed many people to unheard-of threats. Hacking, cybercrime, data theft, and many more security problems have risen. But, as these threats grow, there are plenty of ways to minimize and eliminate them. It is all a matter of knowing what to do.

    With that in mind, the following tips should help you protect your personal information online:

    1.      Use Firewall Protection

    When connected to a network, like the internet, a firewall acts like a filtration system that controls and restricts access to outside users and monitors incoming and outgoing information. You could refer to it as a private and public network barrier.

    This monitoring system only allows information that meets predetermined criteria to enter the private network. In this manner, it protects your data from being accessed by cybercriminals and prevents malicious hackers and viruses from entering your network.

    A firewall service provider like Fortinet Singapore would be the ideal choice for a business growing in a dynamic country like Singapore.

    2.      Use Data Encryption

    The term might remind you of some computer geek or tech expert, but this modern security tool isn’t just for them. A decade or so ago, encryption might have been a tool exclusive to geeks a while back, but not anymore. Today’s many available public tools allow the general public to encrypt their critical data.

    For instance, to encrypt your emails, you can use GPG, and to safeguard your devices’ hard drives, you can use the inbuilt FileVault program. Similarly, you can use encrypted apps like Whatsapp or Signal to protect your private chats and messaging.

    3.           Create Strong Passwords

    While keeping the same password for all your frequently used accounts is appealing, this is a very insecure practice. If one of your accounts gets hacked, all other accounts are also at risk. A security breach in a single company account could also give hackers access to all your other data.

    According to Singapore Police, more than 22,000 cybercrime cases were reported in 2021. So consider recycling the same password for different accounts to ensure you’re safe from information theft.

    An obvious problem with creating so many unique and complex passwords is memorizing all these different login details. A clever solution to the problem is to use a password manager. You should also avoid repeating passwords at all costs and ensure the passwords you use are not generic.

    You can also use a password manager to keep all online credentials in one place. You can store your passwords in an encrypted database that a master password can access.

    4.      Steer Clear of Free Wi-Fi

    Free Wi-Fi might look like a blessing, but one small mistake for this ‘blessing‘ could cost you a lot in the long run. If you happen to share any important details like your bank account information or credit card number, the consequences could be terrible.

    When using this free Wi-Fi, make sure never to make transactions or share necessary credentials on any insecure network; save those tasks for later. An alternate solution to the problem is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device or encrypt your online activity and restrict its access.

    5.      Keep Your Data Backed Up

    Data backup is an indispensable tool today, especially for small and big businesses. It is easy to lose information permanently on the digital platform without proper backup. Data backup keeps duplicate data in alternate storage space so that data is not lost forever in case of any problem.

    The secondary storage location of choice used to be alternative hardware appliances a while back, but software solutions have become common today. Software backup tools are more flexible because they can be accessed from anywhere and don’t need an additional hardware system for storage.

    6.      Close Accounts you’re Not Using

    There are numerous accounts we opened but aren’t using anymore. Any personal data linked to these accounts are at risk of being accessed by ill-meaning individuals. Cybercriminals might hack accounts out of use for some time, and you’d never know.

    For instance, you might have some important documents like bank statements or account details on an email account that has been hacked, and you have no idea because you haven’t logged into it for a long time. Therefore, take some time to sift through all possible accounts and delete the ones you don’t need anymore.

    7.      Clear Out Old Files From Online Backup

    You are good to go if you continuously back up your data on a secure cloud storage device. One problem with frequent cloud backup is that you must go through an additional step of deleting files from it to save space or sync to a new device.

    If you don’t remove them from the backup location, your files will remain on your cloud account even if you clear out all local storage.

    Final Words

    The increased digitization today doesn’t come without drawbacks. There are always some disadvantages that come with the increased reliance on online tools. Cybercrime is a genuine threat that you cannot ignore.

    To secure your online information, use firewall protection, make strong passwords, avoid free Wi-Fi, back up your data, and close unused accounts. The tips above will help you protect your personal information online.  

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