Virtual security: do you have a plan?
It seems as if it almost happened overnight. One minute you were confident with you plan to protect your physical world by installing double bolts on your front door and an alarm system for your property. And now you are making a plan to secure your virtual world, something that is becoming equally as important to protect. But have you evolved with technology? Are you prepared with a defense and response plan to guard you against cyber threats? If not, let’s make it simple. Here are the steps to take to secure your virtual world.
- Secure your WiFi
If you have WiFi set up at your home, that means you have an option to password-protect it. While sharing your internet access with the neighbors may seem like the right thing to do, it isn’t. By having a WiFi connection that is not password-protected, your first line of defense has already been compromised. Hackers cannot only access information on all of your computers linked to that WiFi connection, but if your home security system is automated, they’ve also just let themselves into your physical home as well. The answer is to encrypt your WiFi network. By requiring a password, access to your WiFi has already become more difficult to navigate. You can also hide your SSDI, your network name, which simply means your personal home WiFi network is not visible to others searching for a connection in the area. Only you, and people you trust, are able to access your network.
- Encrypt your hard drive
One line of defense is never enough. After you have secured your WiFi connection, the next step is to encrypt your hard drive. Hackers won’t only be accessing you through your home WiFi network, and it’s important to safeguard your information at all times. By encrypting your hard drive or USB data, it makes accessing your files near impossible. Luckily, there are very simple ways to encrypt your data. Online tools such as Microsoft’s BitLocker or Apple’s FileVault, that often come along with your computer, can encrypt your entire hard drive or selected pieces of it. You can also protect your data with an external hard drive that has built-in encryption, and oftentimes are equip with fingerprint readers for another layer of protection.
- Use virtual credit cards to shop online
While there may still be a lot of traditional shoppers out there, the reality is that we all purchase items online at some point, whether it be prescription refills, gifts, household items, cloths or an ongoing relationship with Amazon.com. The good thing is that many financial institutes can provide you with what they call a virtual card number. When you use that number, it is good for one use only. The bank that supplied it then charges the purchase to your personal debit or credit card, cutting out the threat of hackers who can now not gain access to your personal credit card information.
- Protect your cell phone
Most people forget to safeguard their cell phones, assuming it only holds phone numbers and photos. But your cell phone accumulates more valuable information that you may realize. Phone numbers, email addresses, credit card information, personal photos and anything else that you register as connected with your computer. Malware is slowly creeping into smartphones, which means experts only expect this technology to get stronger. The best way to protect your smartphone is to download an antivirus program, and there are plenty of free options. If you have an iPhone, the threat is lessened due to Apple’s higher restrictions on downloadable apps. But as added protection, Apple offers tools like Find my iPhone which allows the user to lock and remotely delete data from the iPhone if it is stolen as well as track the device by GPS.
- Avoid Free WiFi
As common as free WiFi is, and the decisions it leads a consumer to make in terms of where they hang out, it’s a bad idea. There is no other way to say it. If you are serious in protecting your personal virtual information, it is strongly recommended you do not access any WiFi network that is not your own, password-protected one. This can be a hard one, especially for those that tend to work on-the-go and need WiFi access when away from home. The best advice is to use the hotspot on your cellular network or have your own VPN, virtual private network. VPN’s are easy to set up on your laptop and they are the best choice if you are an avid on-the-go-laptop user.
The best way to stay protected in your virtual world is to remember that any information you access or use on any electronical device, can be hacked. So when assessing your virtual world, make sure to add a layer or two of protection at each access point and update those tools often.