We are living in unprecedented times. The Corona pandemic has brought about the biggest upheaval in our lifetime. Besides the fear and threat on our lives, our ways of living and doing business have been affected, maybe permanently. We are relying more on digital platforms to stay connected and productive.
Here’s the thing; data is the new oil. Our data is valuable and the lockdown periods have brought with them an increase in hacking activity online. Even our governments are resorting to utilising our data as part of their tools in tracking and monitoring infections. Now, more than ever, we must take steps to ensure our data and devices are as secure as possible.
Here are 5 ways to increase your data security:
It is important to make sure your passwords are robust and secure. Do not use the same password across platforms and stay away from using birthdays or names as passwords. The best practice guidelines for password generation are:
A special character
An upper case letter
A lower case letter.
Avoid writing down your password. To manage your passwords, you can use a password manager like Dashlane or LastPass.
Try as much as possible to stay clear of unsecured sites. A secure site will have HTTPS protocols installed to secure your data when using the site. This is especially important if you are purchasing things and doing transactions online. When in doubt, ask the platform how they secure your information before making a transaction. You can also use browsers like Firefox which comes with a variety of security features to make it more secure.
Do Not Phish
Phishing is when hackers send emails seeking to get you to divulge your personal information. This is usually through emails purporting to be from your bank or other institution. Lately, hackers have been taking advantage of the pandemic by sending fake emails from WHO and other organisations involved in fight against Corona.
Do not give out your personal information in emails or on sites of questionable credibility. When in doubt, check the official websites of organisations or get in touch with them to verify email communications.
Install Security Software
Secure your devices by installing security software like firewalls and antiviruses. These will protect your device from viruses and malware taking over the device. Ensure that the software is updated so you are preventing attacks from the latest versions of malware. Hackers are constantly innovating attacks to it is important to keep updating your software.
Beware The Government
In their efforts to track Corona infections, some governments are resorting to utilising citizens’ mobile data to monitor and track movements or contagion. Countries like China, the UK and South Africa are already doing so to varying degrees. While there are positives to this approach, there is a danger of how governments will use vast amounts of citizen data and whether or not this will lead to mass surveillance becoming a norm.
In a recently published Digital Whitepaper (read the Whitepaper here) by Mozilla, guidelines on how governments should use openness and inclusivity as a framework to guide such measures, and ensure that people’s privacy is put first are set out. Citizens should be made aware of how their data is going to be used, why and for how long.
Governments should be accountable enough to collect and use only the data that they need and discard what they do not. Data collected should further be stored in a decentralized system to prevent malicious actors from accessing it en masse.
As we continue to adapt to life with Corona and incorporate digital platforms into more aspects of our lives, the security of our data is paramount. Take these steps to minimise the risks of your data ending up in the wrong hands.
Stay Safe and Take Care.
Written by @WenyuDutch