4 Tips to Lockdown Your Private Data

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If you were following the news, you’ll know that 2016 was fraught with cybersecurity crimes. From hackers breaking into the systems of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to stolen user data from various household name companies, hackers are getting smarter. We live in a connected world which shows no sign of turning away from technology. Arm yourself with these 5 tips to lockdown your private data in 2017.

1. Start Covering Your Webcam

While you may have glanced over news of hackers spying on regular people and corporate boardrooms via webcams, you should take webcam hacking very seriously. Simply placing a post-it note or some tape over your webcam can protect you and is something the FBI suggests internet users do. High-profile figures such as Mark Zuckerberg have been reported to cover their laptop webcams.

While this is the easiest way to protect yourself from webcam hacking, there are some more advanced tactics you can employ. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know because webcams can be easily hacked through malware. Furthermore, err on the side of caution if you receive an email from an unknown source, as the sender’s email may have been hacked. Make sure you have a high-quality antivirus program that can detect malware and stop it in it’s tracks.

2. Change Your Passwords Regularly and Invest in a Password Manager

Chances are that you visit several websites, or use applications, that require a password. It’s essential that you create strong, unique passwords for each site or application you log into. Don’t make the mistake of using the same password for every log-in—if a hacker is able to hack into one account then all your accounts are compromised.

Password managers are a great solution to having to create and memorize a myriad of secure, complicated passwords. Password managers are convenient tools which allow you to securely store all your login and password information in one spot. Furthermore, most password managers have the ability to create tough to crack passwords for you. They are then encrypted by a master password which is used to login to the password manager.

3. Beef Up Your Home Security

With smart homes booming in popularity, they also become a target for hackers. From reports of hackers spying on babies via baby monitor webcams to thieves disabling home security systems, making your home hacker-proof is more important than ever. To start with, make sure your home security system’s software is regularly updated. Just like your computer or phone, your home security system needs to be regularly updated to receive the latest security enhancements. “Security companies will continue to improve and strengthen the security of their products with the increasing prevalence of the Internet of Things,” stated David DeMille, a home security expert with A Secure Life.

Furthermore, be sure to change the default username and password your home security system came with—it’s the same for every unit and an easy way for hackers to access the system. Additionally, secure your Wi-Fi network and do not leave it open. Protect your Wi-Fi network by using WPA2 network encryption as well as a firewall.

4. Secure Your Smartphone

From places visited to banking information, smartphones store an enormous amount of personal data. The co-founder of mobile security company Skycure warns users to avoid being complacent when it comes to their smartphones. “At the end of the day, everything is hackable…people sometimes forget that it’s so easy to hack into these devices,” he told CNBC.

While having a four-digit unlock code may be cumbersome, it can deter thieves from easily accessing your personal information. Better yet, choose a longer password with letters, numbers and special characters. And while no device is completely secure, iPhones have received fewer cyberattacks than Android phones.

With a digital world comes risk, but don’t let that scare you. Stay cautious and lockdown your private data to avoid becoming a target for fraud and digital theft.