How to Improve Your Personal Security Online: Risk Awareness and Management

Personal data security is becoming more important and pressing each day.

With our lives becoming increasingly digitalized, it's understandable that the demand for security online is growing. Especially with the revelations about how social media companies have handled their users's data, internet security is now a major issue for governments, companies, and individuals alike.

There are all sorts of potential threats online: criminal hackers, rogue nations, malware, viruses, etc. The good news is that there are strategies to avoid becoming a victim of these predatory actors.

At the 2018 RSA Security Conference, there were keynote speakers, tutorials, and training sessions that offered insight into the best ways to protect our personal data. Shane Tews, scholar of cybersecurity, discussed some of these ideas in a recent article. With these ideas, governments, companies, and individuals can take proactive steps to protect their data.

Expertise, budget, and time commitment tend to be the main reasons why appropriate security is not implemented and maintained by both individuals and institutions. DHS has recommended enterprises implement programs that use “white hat” and “black hat” list authentication to ensure legitimate web addresses correspond with emails associated to that address. This also expedites the reporting of networks that are serving up spoofed web addresses and allows network operators to block bad addresses.

An individual likely does not have the same resources that companies and governments do, though. Fortunately, there are less complicated and more cost-efficient ways to protect personal data that can suit the average person.

For the individual user, a few simple steps can help with cybersecurity awareness and protect the information on the multiple devices the average person interacts with daily, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. These devices capture information all day that can be easily protected with a few basic tips and habits.

She recommends the following ideas to protect yourself:

  • Back up your information, using an automatic backup option if available.
  • Install anti-malware software and firewalls to keep from being a target of known phishing attacks. Many internet service providers offer this to their customers.
  • Use multifactor authentication whenever it’s offered, especially for e-mail, social media, and financial transactions.
  • Don’t open attachments from unknown senders, as they can easily seed malware on your device.
  • Use and change passwords frequently.

Cybercrime costs the world economy about $600 billion annually. Recovery, lost productivity, criminal prosecutions, etc, all cost money, and take resources away from other activities that could positively contribute to society. But by protecting computer systems against hackers, this will help to keep our economy (both national and personal) on track.

Tews concludes by stating that in order to protect our economy as a whole, individuals need to do their part in protecting their personal data. It may be inconvenient to add these extra steps while conducting transactions and surfing the web, but it's far more inconvenient to have personal data stolen.

What are your thoughts on these strategies? What are some things you do to stop potential hackers? Share your ideas with us!

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
sconnell1791
sconnell1791

Editor

I use a VPN (virtual private network). One way I've heard it described is to think of traveling over a body of water. You could swim across it (regular internet connection) or travel on the bridge (VPN). The network allows private information to flow over public networks securely. They can be a bit pricey depending on the plan you get, but the security it grants is worth spending some extra money on these days.