Digital don’ts on an unsafe web

That awful sinking feeling you get when you realise your Facebook account has been hacked and all your friends, including your grandmother, have been sent an email link so inappropriate that you’ll never be able to look them in the eye again. Ever.

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In fact a social media hack is probably the least dangerous form of data stealing. Nowadays, hopefully, most people don’t tend to store full names, addresses, bank details and so forth on social media platforms. Hacks tend to get spotted pretty quickly and a quick message on your wall to explain and warn friends and you’re back up and running. Password changed and off you go.

But when the hacking gets serious, stealing your whole identity, bank details or highly confidential records like medical notes, then it’s time to beef up your security. Here’s how:

Encrypt

It’s well-known fact that messaging service WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, which means that neither the messages you send nor the messages you read can be hacked into and read, in theory at least. It certainly makes the life of a would-be hacker much harder and may put them off even attempting to snoop on you. It’s not just message services that can make use of encryption software, it’s available in email form too. Apple, in particular, has spent some time developing this technology on its products for email and file usage.

Later Is Now

When you’re right in the middle of something and the iOS update request comes in, how often do we hit delay, again and again? It’s time to make later, now and get your computer, phone or tablet kitted out with the most up to date information.

These software updates, including other anti-virus software, are your first line of defence against cyber attack and malicious bugs sent to corrupt, steal or delete your data. While it might be true that data recovery specialists can get back some of your precious data, far better to save time, money and worry by taking those few minutes to protect yourself.

Deleted But Not Dead

Despite deleting files on your device, they are very often easy to re-animate and purge of the information stored on them. This terrifying thought is why you need to overwrite your deleted files, not just leave them in the trash can.

If you’re a small business with hundreds of old files containing confidential customer information then a scourge of your deleted files is well worth your time. Exposing private information, though not your fault runs the risk of making you look weak and vulnerable to attack. Get hold of software that will overwrite the deleted information permanently.

Cyber security can sound like a truly terrifying place but in reality most of us will never experience having our personal data used against us. Common sense simple security basics can help ward off even the most vicious of attacks with just a little technological know-how. Make the investment in anti-virus software, stay up to date and keep yourself safe.

*This is a contributed post

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