Our personal data is more valuable than we think. The modern advertising model for big tech companies is built around this misunderstanding. We happily surrender our data to services which we suppose to be free, not realising all the while that our valuable personal information is being sold to third parties. In some cases, we don’t even have to give our data away voluntarily: if our digital security is lax enough, a third party can gain access to data that’s much more sensitive than our age, or height, or dating preferences.
Let’s look at how we might eliminate a few common lapses in data security.
If you don’t have a VPN, then public WiFi is an opportunity for other people on the network to get into your device. All of the information you send could potentially be intercepted. This is especially common on trains, and in crowded public cafes with plenty of people coming and going.
Not using a password manager
Keeping all of your passwords stored on a password manager will save you the trouble of having to come up with unique, unguessable (and at the same time memorable) passwords for each online service you use. Google comes with one of its own. Bear in mind that when all of your passwords are concentrated in one place, it becomes more important than ever that the ‘master’ password is kept secure. The best way to do this is through two-step authentication.
Use Two-step authentication
A password is a form of ‘one-step’ authentication. It’s something you know. But there are other ways to identify you. You might present something you have (usually your phone), or something you are (that’s a fingerprint). Banks have been using two factors (chip and PIN) for awhile now, but online services are just catching up. Make sure that you aren’t left vulnerable. Tom Scott explains it all nicely here.
When you’re connecting to an unfamiliar website, be on the lookout. This goes especially when you’ve received an unsolicited email from a source which claims to be a familiar one. Is that really an email from the Domain Name Registration Office? Is there such a thing?
Phishing is a big problem, especially when you’re working remotely. But with a little diligence, it’s something that you can avoid.
Sometimes, you can take every precaution to keep your data secure, and still end up compromised thanks to the laxity of a trusted party. In this case, it’s time to contact a solicitor with specialised knowledge of cybersecurity, and pursue a claim for data protection breach compensation.
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