Although we don't have concrete numbers, according to Norton, as many as 800 thousand people are possibly getting hacked in a year. And since many people don't take the necessary precautions, once they're hacked, their personal and financial information can be easily accessed by the hacker. This opens them to blackmail, fraud, and a slew of other problems.
In a world where the number of cyberattacks grows every year, new methods for phishing, hacking, and spoofing are used regularly, and where our lives depend on our digital presence more than ever, it is important for everyone to learn how to protect their information properly.
In this article, we'll go over some easy and accessible tips that everyone, regardless of tech proficiency, can implement to make their presence online more secure and protect their personal and financial information.
Data encryption is the first and most obvious step a person can take to protect their information. Hackers have a variety of ways to try to snoop out information by spying on networks, sending phishing links, trying to exploit software, but the one thing no one can do is decrypt a file with sophisticated encryption.
Unless quantum computers become widely available, there's no way modern encryptions can be broken. The only way hackers can get around this is by trying to get access to the keys one way or another. If a person can properly store the keys securely, once they encrypt their information, nobody can get access to it unscrupulously.
Of course, there are some downsides to encryption:
● Advanced encryption algorithms are complex, and encryption and decryption can take minutes to hours. This can be quite inconvenient.
● Depending on the method, data encryption can become quite costly, especially if you're regularly encrypting and decrypting large amounts of data.
But, these downsides are easily manageable by people who use encryption methods judiciously: only use encryption on personal and financial information that's vital for you. Use encryption when storing the paystub template that includes vital financial data for your company. Use encryption when storing information about your bank account. These are the scenarios in which encryption should ideally be used.
Cloud as a Viable Alternative
Due to the way cloud services are structured and operated, they're inherently more secure than traditional approaches to data storage. When you buy cloud space, you are renting physical space in one of the huge physical servers that companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. operate. This is what's called the 'cloud'.
Companies like Amazon and Microsoft have hundreds of dedicated system administrators, security experts, and DevOP specialists that work around the hour to keep these cloud servers up and operational.
Amazon's and Microsoft's cloud services are worth trillions of dollars. Any security breaches could cost these companies billions of dollars. That's why they use the latest tools and techniques to keep the servers safe, secure, and reliable.
This added safety and reliability is why small and medium-sized enterprises (that can't afford security experts and server admins full time) rely on cloud technologies for storage and server solutions. It is a cost-effective way to store vital data and serve clients without a lot of overhead.
This doesn't only apply to businesses. It applies to individuals as well. If you want a safe and relatively inexpensive place to store your data and protect your information, cloud storage is one of the best options.
Perform Basic Steps to Improve Your Cybersecurity
There are many small steps you can take to improve the security of your digital information, and although none of these small steps are very potent on their own, together, they can make it extremely difficult for you to get hacked or have your information leaked:
● Unique passwords and two-factor authentication: this is a basic step that only takes minutes, but it is hard to overstate how much protection it affords you. One of the primary ways hackers get access to people's information is through using a list of common and leaked passwords and trying to see if it works (and very often, it does). By setting unique passwords for important accounts and turning on two-factor authentication, you protect yourself from these sorts of attacks.
● VPNs: VPNs have a mixed reputation, and while some of it is deserved, VPNs are still potent and affordable tools you can use to protect your information. And here, we don't just mean protecting your information from your internet service provider (ISP) and the government, but VPNs also protect your information from any hacker that might be snooping on your network. This added layer of protection is vital if you want to protect important personal and financial information.
● Antivirus: there are a variety of malware from keyloggers to spyware and ransomware that have a single solitary purpose, and that's to extract information from your device. And although you can protect yourself from almost all malware by only browsing trustworthy websites, it might be worth it to also invest in an antivirus as an additional layer of added protection.
● Keep your system up to date: whether you're using Windows, macOS, or any of the various Linux distributions, you should always keep your operating system up to date. Security flaws and exploits are discovered almost daily in all major operating systems, and the companies behind them work hard to make sure they get patches out as soon as possible. You should update your system regularly because hackers often succeed in exploiting devices with out-of-date OSs by using well-known security flaws that have been long patched.
● Use online payment systems and internet wallets: one of the best ways of keeping your banking information safe is by using it very sparsely. Instead of using your bank account or visa card to pay for products and services online, you should use payment systems like Paypal. These services act as intermediaries protecting your financial information.
Take all of these steps combined, and your financial and personal information will be quite secure from any attempt.