In the first half of 2021, publicly reported data breaches in the US exposed 18.8 billion records. In total, there were 1,767 reported breaches from January to June 2021.
Those figures should be enough to prompt you to start protecting your data better. Otherwise, you’re at risk of becoming a data breach victim yourself.
To that end, we came up with this guide listing some of the best data protection tips you should abide by ASAP. So, read on as these strategies can help keep your sensitive information under wraps.
Create Multiple Backups
A recent survey of close to 3,000 people found that over nine in 10 respondents backed up their data. Unfortunately, however, more than two-thirds still experienced a loss of data. From failed hard drives to outdated backups, these are just some of the culprits behind data loss.
As such, one of the best ways to secure data is to always back it up; the more often, the better.
Abide by the Golden 3-2-1 Rule
Experts recommend not only creating backups but abiding by the 3-2-1 rule, too.
The 3 there refers to how you should have no less than three copies of all your crucial data. For example, one copy could be your computer’s built-in hard drive. The second could then be in an external HD backup, and the third could be a cloud backup.
The 2, in turn, pertains to how you should use at least two different storage media platforms. Using the example above, one is physical storage, the other being the cloud.
Finally, the 1 there means to store one of your back-ups in an off-site location. For instance, you could have a trusted friend keep your external HD backup in their home. Another example is the cloud, as it does serve as a different, albeit virtual, location.
It’s vital to store backups in different places as there are both cyber and physical threats.
For instance, if you experience a data breach, you could rely on your external HD backup. The same goes if your entire server gets hit by a cyberattack.
On the other hand, a physical threat can arise from incidents like property crime. It can also take the form of natural disasters, such as flooding. Note that in the US alone, at least 41 million people are at risk of river and stream floods.
If those events damage your office building, you can recover your data stored in the cloud. Since it’s in the cloud, you can access your backup somewhere safer, away from the disaster site.
Clone Your Drive While You’re At It
According to the folks at Setapp.com, a clone is also an HD backup, except it’s bootable. That’s because by cloning your drive, you also create a carbon copy of your operating system. This added feature sets it apart from a usual backup, which only replicates files and folders.
Since a clone has an OS, you can plug it into a computer and boot it the same way as a built-in drive. There’s no need to migrate things, either, as the computer will load the entire drive, including the OS.
Thus, a clone can save you time if you need to work right after your old drive fails or if it gets breached or damaged.
Password Protect Files
Another crucial safe data storage practice is using password protection on sensitive documents. This involves creating a passkey and then using that to lock your files. Only the folks who know the correct password can then access those files’ contents.
The good news is that many apps, such as MS Office and Apple’s Pages and Numbers, offer this feature. PDF creators, including Adobe, also allows you to lock files with passwords. Use these to your advantage, especially when sharing data files online.
Encrypt Entire Folders
Data encryption also uses passwords, but it’s more secure as it also conceals contents.
For example, let’s say you encrypt folders in your Mac or Windows computer. In this case, the encryption scrambles the contents of the folder itself. So, if an unauthorized user tries to access its contents, all they’ll see is gibberish in cipher.
On the other hand, authorized users must have a key, such as a password, to decipher the scrambled contents. The people trying to access the folder must also have an authorized user account on the computer. Then, they must log in to the computer using their credentials before they can decrypt the folder.
Both Mac and Windows computers have file and folder encryption features. Take advantage of these to protect your data from snoopers and cybercriminals.
Forget Creating Your Own Passwords
According to experts, it takes less than 2.5 hours for a hacker to crack an eight-character password. Worse, they weren’t even talking about simple codes like “password” or “12345678.” Instead, their estimate includes complex passphrases.
The problem is that the longer the password, the more forgettable it is. Another risk these lengthy codes pose is their potential for reuse. In fact, 65% of respondents in a survey admitted to using the same password in multiple accounts.
Unfortunately, those are dangerous habits hackers capitalize on. So, rather than put your sensitive data at risk, why not use a password manager instead? These software applications can create and store your passwords in a secure location.
Apple’s very own iCloud Keychain is a perfect example of a reliable password manager. This app, native to Apple devices, generates and then recommends strong passcodes. Users can then opt to use these randomly generated passwords.
From there, Mac users also have the option to store the password in Keychain. If they do, Keychain will then “remember” and autofill their passwords for them.
Stop Hackers From Their Tracks With These Data Protection Tips
Always remember that businesses aren’t the only targets of data breaches. Regular consumers can be victims, too. Just take the 300.6 million US individuals affected by data breaches in 2020.
So, whether you own a business or are simply an Internet user, it’s time to follow our data protection tips. The sooner you do, the sooner you can buff up the safety of your sensitive information.
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