A thorough approach to security is a little bit in the hardware, a little bit in the software, and a lot in the hands of the user. If you aren’t well informed of best practices, it can be difficult to protect your device from compromise. Knowing what to look for, understanding where vulnerabilities hide, and learning the fundamentals of security can keep your device (and all the data it contains) safe from malicious people or attacks.
1. Always Make Backups
You probably don’t even want to consider a data disaster or device failure, but you should always protect yourself in the event that it happens. You should utilize an external hard drive to back up anything important on your devices, as well as things you simply wouldn’t want to lose.
Your master password list, your family photos, and your financial documents you store digitally should be placed on an encrypted hard drive that cannot connect to the internet. Keep the device in a physically secure place, like a safe or a lockbox. Hackers cannot access that information without internet connectivity, and the external hard drive cannot easily be stolen if it’s stored safely.
2. The Principal of Least Privileges
The best way to avoid major accidents is to make them impossible. Don’t always log in to your computer from an admin account. For regular day to day usage, create a regular user account. Make anyone else who uses your device use the same kind of account. Regular user accounts cannot perform actions that require admin privilege, like changing the system in any way or adding or removing programs. The more restricted the account is, the safer any activity on the account will be.
3. Be Careful with Torrents and Software
Not all torrents are dangerous, but there have been millions of cases where torrent files contained malware or malicious code of some sort. This is especially true when the torrent is for some kind of software. Typically, torrents are some form of illegal software. Illegal software can lead to serious consequences, as downloading and using it is technically theft.
Oftentimes, illegal software will also cause data security issues. It isn’t supported or protected by the company, and you have no idea who put it out there. Anyone can see anything you’re doing when you install illegal or illegally cracked software on your device. It’s best not to take the risk.
4. Don’t Use Easy Passwords
Using easy passwords is one of the biggest mistakes people make. It’s also one of the easiest mistakes to avoid. If someone wants access to your accounts or personal information, the very first thing they’re going to do is attempt to guess your password. It’s even easier to guess if the person attempting to steal your data knows you. Simple pins, like your birthday, or one word passwords like your pet’s name, are very easy to obtain via social engineering. Sometimes, hackers ask and you tell them. You may not even realize you’ve given yourself away.
Stick to passwords that don’t make any sense. Random combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters are not easy to guess or crack utilizing a password cracking tool. The longer the password is, the harder it will be to figure out. If you have a difficult time remembering lengthy and abstract passwords, you can always use an encrypted password vault like KeePass for safe storage and easy log ins.
5. Never Skip Important Updates
Updates are very inconvenient. Nobody wants to interrupt a busy work day or a compelling Netflix binge watching session to install system updates – especially since they can sometimes take an hour or two to complete. The truth is that you can’t afford to skip or postpone these updates.
Software companies and operating system developers release these updates to combat emerging threats. New things that can potentially invade or privacy or compromise your security pop up every day. Developers stay on top of known and potential threats, releasing updates as often as necessary to keep you safe. Skipping an update can leave you vulnerable just long enough for a threat to impact you. You wouldn’t ride in a car without a seat belt, and you shouldn’t use your device without its updates.