Make Your Data Unreadable to Whoever Steals It. Here’s How

Cybersecurity is a topic that can’t escape discussion in this era of increased cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals are out in full swing […]

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Cybersecurity is a topic that can’t escape discussion in this era of increased cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals are out in full swing to steal any data they can gain access to. Where the attacks are successful, the hackers benefit, especially financially, while the victims lose personal data and finances. 

With this knowledge, security experts advise users to shift gears to make their data unreadable to intruders. It’s becoming increasingly important to look out for options that offer end-to-end encryption. 

Unfortunately, many people still don’t have this information. Don’t fall under this category. Instead, arm yourself with all the information you need on how to make your data unreadable to anyone who wants to steal it. You need to stay proactive about your data and how to keep it safe.

It all begins by keeping your applications updated, especially by fixing the security bugs. Ensure all your smart appliances, gadgets, and apps are updated with their latest versions. Recently, the FBI warned that whoever owners a router must reboot it. This may not have been sufficient to protect the files and network, and some extra measures were required to keep communication protected. 

The goal is to ensure that hackers can’t find any loopholes in the operating systems. This blocks them from attacking computers or using them as a Launchpad. Here are some excellent approaches to keeping hackers and scammers away from your data.

1. Keep Your Systems Updated

Whether you spend a lot of time online or not, it’s highly critical that you install updates as soon as they’re released. Ensure you always use the latest patches and firmware in updating your apps and gadgets. 

The operating systems you use notwithstanding, you need to update them regularly, failure to which puts your computer at risk. Windows operating systems should be updated at least monthly while other systems may not have a regular updating schedule. For such, ensure you set the system to update automatically in given time intervals. 

2. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi

Hackers are always looking for unsuspecting users who join an unsecured network. Sometimes, they create “honeypot” networks that resemble the original ones but in the real sense, are not genuine and are out to steal your information. When you’re exposed to public unsecured networks, hackers can easily walk away with your email address, name, usernames, and passwords. 

This brings in the importance of using Virtual Private Network (VPN) when in public. You can also use it with your home network as well since it hides your gadget’s IP address from the websites you visit. By browsing anonymously, you give hackers a hard time trying to steal your data. 

3. Use Two-Factor Authentication

2FA creates an extra layer of protection to your online accounts. It’s part of the login verification process for the most critical accounts. It goes a step further beyond providing your username and password to prove your identity. 

Currently, the most popular form of two-factor authentication is a unique one-time code sent o your smartphone. The system you’re login in requires you to enter the code within a given time span to allow you access. 

4. Use Guest Network Options

Sometimes, friends and close associates will want to use your Wi-Fi instead of burning up their data plans. If you don’t want to turn them down, ensure they’re not connecting directly to your primary network. Alternatively, you can let them use your router’s “Guest Network”.

This option prevents them from seeing your shared files and services. Ensure you set up the guest network with a different network name and password to avoid confusion between the two. 

5. Encryption

Data encryption may sound like a foreign technological term to the common man, but it shouldn’t. It refers to a data security method that encodes information in a way that anyone without a decryption key can’t read it. Encrypted data is also known as ciphertext and appears all scrambled up. This makes it hard for a person without access to read it. 

The purpose of data encryption is to prevent malicious or negligent parties from gaining access to sensitive and private data. It serves as a very critical line of defense in cybersecurity architecture by making it impossible to use intercepted data. 

The upside of encryption is that it can be applied to all kinds of data that need protection. Whether it is personal credit card information or government Intel, this is a method that works. In the market today, there are several data encryption tools, also known as an encryption algorithm or cypher that you can use to develop an encryption scheme.

An old pencil drawing of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza sitting on their horses, by Wilhelm Marstrand.
An old pencil drawing of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza sitting on their horses, by Wilhelm Marstrand.
 ©SSL Buy

Encryption is usually employed in two distinct forms, namely symmetric and asymmetric keys. A symmetric key, also known as a secret key, uses a single key to encode and decode information. An asymmetric key is also known as a public key or cryptograph and uses one private and another public key.

The public key is the encryption one while the private key is used to decrypt. Take note that the encryption key can be used by anyone to encode data. 

6. Backup Your Data

Among the most commonly overlooked data protection methods is backing up, yet it’s the most basic step. Backing up creates a duplicate copy of your information so that you have something to fall back on in case a device is stolen, lost or compromised. 

It’s always advisable to have your back up copies stored on a different device or account if possible. A common backup device is an external hard drive that is easy to retrieve data from in case of an emergency. 

As technology changes, so are your backup options diverse. Instead of using local back up devices, consider moving to the cloud. Cloud storage means that your data is stored off-site by a cloud service provider. Your data becomes accessible from multiple places and from different devices that you use to login. 

However, ensure that you practice safe security practices when using the cloud for your data storage. Before engaging any service provider, check to see that they’re certified and are cybersecurity compliant. 

7. Anti-Malware Protection

Malware is a serious issue that plagues many computers and systems with the hope of stealing data. It crops up in inconspicuous places unknown to users, compromised data, and makes it available to hackers. As such, it’s critical to install anti-malware protection features in all your devices as a protection measure. 

Malware comes in a range of many forms, including worms, Trojans, viruses, spyware, ransomware, and scareware, among others. These present themselves in emails, websites, downloadable files, videos, photos, shareware, and freeware. 

The best way to keep your device from getting infected with malware is to install a good anti-virus program. It should be strong enough to detect all kinds of malware without becoming compromised. Additionally, create the habit of running periodic scans for spyware and most importantly, avoid clicking on suspicious links. 

8. Disable File and Media Sharing When Not in Use

If you have a home wireless network connecting multiple devices, you likely find file-sharing convenient. However, avoid as much as possible, making the files publicly available. Ensure you’re only sharing the data on your private home network only.

When this feature is not required, or you don’t need files to be visible on other machines, disable it altogether.

9. Secure Your Smart Devices

Surprisingly, more than half of smart device users don’t take the initiative to make use of features that safeguard their devices. What they don’t understand is that a cybercriminal can intrude a hand-held device to gain unauthorized access to personal information, messages, and other data.

It’s advisable to set a security code for added later of security. It may seem like an inconvenience at first, but in the long run, it’ll prove to be a significant security precaution. End-to-end data encryption is also crucial. It converts data into an unreadable form that can’t be decrypted without a special key or password.

Use programs that automatically clear out your messages after a set time interval. You can install a tracking app that allows you to wipe out any sensitive information should your device get lost or stolen. This is the least you can do to protect your data should your device land in the wrong hands. 

Final Words

With the increasing rates of cyber-attacks, the importance of keeping your data protected can’t be overemphasized. Cybercriminals are working tirelessly to come up with new ways to hack your private information. However, you can make it harder and even possible for them by being more keeping about your data security. 

This you can do by making your data unreadable, which is possible in a wide array of options. For better results, you may want to use a combination of the methods. Encryption, data backup, cloud storage, and the use of the anti-malware program are some of the conventional approaches to data protection.

Remember not to share your primary Wi-Fi connection with strangers and avoid using public networks. Keep your smart devices secure by using passwords and installing a tracking device. If it gets lost or stolen, you can privately wipe off all the information. Be as vigilant as you can be about your data security.

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