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  • Secure Your Data Before It’s Too Late

    binary-1538721_640Any data — or information — you produce in the digital space is considered a record. This includes social media data, emails, local and cloud-based files and much more.

    Believe it or not, even the most mundane information can be used against you if it falls into the wrong hands. Your address, full name and other personal identifiers can be used to steal your identity and gain access to your accounts. Your location — after checking in somewhere on social media — can be used to keep track of your whereabouts. Your regular posts, emails and correspondence with colleagues, friends and family can be used to discern habits and patterns — and these are just a few examples.

    Just imagine what could happen if you lose your phone. Or consider the damage that could be done by someone who steals your laptop or business machine.

    It’s not just personal data, either. The same can be true of your business or client data. It can all be used against you if someone unscrupulous gains access, which is why you need to secure it before it’s too late. All of it.

    We’re going to take a look at some ways you can lock down your data, both personal or otherwise.

    Make Security a Priority

    Security should not be an after-thought. It should be a priority. If you’re building some kind of data system or working with a data center, security should be integrated into the core of your platform. Data center network security, especially, is at the forefront of everyone’s mind these days.

    If your company uses an internal network — and stores data via a local system — you absolutely need to bolster security. This means staying up-to-date on all the latest security trends and procedures and restricting access to your network.

    Don’t look at security as something you should focus on after a breach — by then it’s much too late.

    Password Protect Your Phone

    Even if your phone offers anti-theft protection, it may not be as secure as you think. That’s why you need to lock it down with a password.

    Locking your phone can be annoying at times when you need quick access, but it’s much more secure. If you forget your phone somewhere and a stranger tries to gain access, it won’t happen without the code.

    This protects all data stored on the device, including personal information. Just take a moment to consider everything you have stored on your phone and everything you do with it. Someone could collect an endless stream of information about you if they had access to your mobile device.

    You also want to ensure the timeout period is as short as possible. It’s a good idea to keep it between three to five minutes. That way if you do leave your phone somewhere, it gets locked down fairly quickly.

    Additionally, while we’re discussing passwords, remember to use a password on any and all computers you access. Hopefully, you already do this, but it’s worth mentioning.

    Make it company policy, as well. You want all of your employees and colleagues to use passwords, too. It’s just as easy for someone to gain access to another device and collect data about you. They can glean information from conversations, emails and much more.

    Restrict the Data Stored on Your Mobile Device and Remote Computers

    Depending on what type of browser you use — Chrome especially — it is designed to save login and password info for easy access later. This can be a problem if you misplace your phone or if someone gains access to a remote computer where this info is stored. Be sure to screen what data you are leaving behind and clear out this info, especially on devices that are used by multiple people.

    For instance, always delete banking and shopping info from your mobile device when you’re done. Remove sensitive pictures and information and store them elsewhere. Clear browser history and auto-fill info where applicable.

    Sadly, it’s an involved process, and you need to stay on top of it. However, if you want to protect your personal and corporate data, it’s necessary.

    Restrict What You Do on Unsecured Networks

    About 52% of BYOD users regularly tap into an open or unsecured network, and more than half of all open Wi-Fi networks are potentially compromised.

    This is true of any device, but it’s especially true with your mobile ones. Monitor what networks your device is connecting to, and when you have access to an unsecured network, don’t transmit any sensitive data. Don’t shop, access banking sites, send work-related emails or anything of that nature while connected to an open network.

    On an unsecured network, it is possible for someone to gain access to your device and log everything you do. It is even possible for hackers to modify a network source so it collects any and all data traveling through it.

    Simply put, try to stay away from unsecured networks as much as possible, and if you do have to connect to one, restrict the data that’s being sent.

    Security Starts and Ends With You

    It sounds corny, but it’s true. Even the most advanced security procedure in the world is useless if you don’t follow the basic guidelines. A password or passcode, for example, is much more vulnerable if you use the same password across multiple accounts or if you use easily identifiable information.

    All it takes is a breach of one account for someone to gain access to a majority of your information because you used a single password across the board. This happens often, too, because most people also use the same email to sign up for different services. Obviously, once you have an email and password, you can tap in.

    The same is true of personally identifiable information. If you use your birthday as a passcode, it’s not secure. In most cases a person’s birthday is public record. You may also have it visible on a social network or something similar.

    So be sure to stay informed and follow the security guidelines presented to you. If IT tells you not to do something because it’s unsafe, then you shouldn’t do it.

    Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on navigating the work world. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and entrepreneurship to professional development, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum

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