- If you’re not doing anything to keep your personal data safe and private, you could be at risk.
- According to one study, a hacker attacks every 39 seconds. So what can you do to make sure you’re not next?
- Take the precautions we discuss in this article, and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re better protected from hackers.
What is Personal Data?
Before we start to tell you how to protect your personal data, let’s first make sure you understand what we’re talking about. There are two types of personal data:
First, is the data stored in your local network. This includes data on your computers, smartphones, and devices.
This could include:
- Financial information
- Medical information
- Social security number
The second type of personal data is external. This refers to the data that companies collect from you, with or without your knowledge. For example, companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Apple collect data about your activity, interests, contacts, and more.
What Hackers Do
A hacker’s number one goal is to figure out a way to make money off of you. Here are the primary ways they do this:
1. Holding Your Files Ransom
Imagine logging into your computer and finding you can’t access anything – emails, important files, medical files, and more. If a hacker can get into your home network, they have the ability to encrypt your files and essentially hold them for ransom. They demand that you pay them in order to receive the decryption code and regain access to your files.
2. Selling Your Information
Hackers also make money off of you by selling your information on the dark web. This is how identity theft occurs. For example, if a hacker gets into your home network and finds your social security number in an email, they can then sell your social security number on the dark web.
3. Using Your Financial Information
Think it’s convenient to store your credit card information in your web browser? Well, if a hacker can access credit card information, it’s extremely easy for them to use it for unauthorized purchases. By the time you realize what’s happening, the damage could already be done.
What You Can Do
So if all of this is true, what can you do about it?
The good news is this: hackers always look for the path of least resistance. In other words, they are looking for easy targets. Because if it takes them too long to hack someone, then they aren’t going to make much money off of them.
Here’s what that means for you: the more you do to keep your data safe and secure, the less likely you are to get hacked.
It’s not about trying to make your data 100% secure. It’s about making your data so difficult and time-consuming for hackers to obtain that they move on to an easier target.
Let’s talk about how.
Secure Your Home Network
One of the easiest things you can do to make yourself less vulnerable to attack is to change the name of your home network. Many people make the mistake of leaving their network name as the name of their router.
The problem is, if a hacker knows what type of router you have, then it’s that much easier for them to get into your home network.
What’s equally as important is making sure you are not using the default password for your router. Not only should you change the password, but you should also change it to something that wouldn’t be easy to figure out. Unfortunately, that means using the year you were born or the name of your kids is probably a bad idea.
Avoid Using Public WiFi
Yes, the free WiFi at McDonald’s is convenient, but it’s not worth the risk. The problem with shared WiFi networks at restaurants, airports, and other businesses is the number of people with access to the network.
Anytime you’re connected to a shared network, even those that require passwords, anyone on that network could potentially see what you’re doing and obtain personal data.
Opt-Out of Data Collection
Earlier, we discussed how major service providers like Facebook Google, Apple, and Instagram collect your personal data.
The good news is that most of these companies give you the choice to opt-out of data collection or to determine which data is okay for them to collect and which is not.
It takes time, and you may have to do some digging, but it will be worth it to ensure your personal data stays personal.
Protect Yourself With a VPN
A VPN or virtual private network is one of the most effective tools in keeping your personal data safe and private. It gives you a secure connection to the internet.
Here are a few of the ways a VPN keeps your information safe:
- Your IP address and location are hidden.
- You’re protected from malware.
- Your data traffic is encrypted.
These are just a few of the ways a VPN can protect your personal data.
Learn more about how a VPN can keep your personal data safe, from anywhere, and on any device.