Data Protection: How to Keep Sensitive Materials Safe
19 October 2018
This article was adapted from “Data Protection: How to Keep Sensitive Material Safe” by Kaspersky Lab, a member of the Cyber Security Awareness Alliance.
Modern devices are treasure troves of valuable personal information. When it comes to important personal information, users typically have two concerns: first, that it may fall into the wrong hands, and the second, that it may be lost irrecoverably. Here are a few tips to help users keep their data where they want it, and away from prying eyes.
Don’t be sore, store!
- The first thing to do to keep your data intact is to make backup copies. Backups can help restore your information even if it is destroyed by malware or lost with a device.
- Experts' advise making several copies of valuable files in different places, rather than just one. Unfortunately, physical storage media can also break sooner or later, so at least one copy should be kept in a reliable cloud service accessible from any location around the world. This will enable you to restore your data as soon as you need it, wherever you are.
- When choosing a cloud service for your data it is also sensible to check that the storage has a reliable reputation. Two-factor authentication and data encryption would be extra advantages.
All is not lost
- Even if your data was accidentally deleted and no backup copies were left, all is not lost yet. Sometimes, data can be recovered using specialised software designed to restore deleted data. You can also ask trusted IT specialists for assistance.
- If your data was lost when your device was lost or stolen you can try to recover it by finding the device using special technologies, such as using GPS location or an alarm signal to help with the search. These are available in many mobile devices (but you must activate them first!) or in mobile security solutions.
Encrypting your data
- Some users have information on their devices that is so sensitive they would not like anyone else to see it. To prevent that you should encrypt your most confidential data.
- Also, do not overlook the data encryption tools incorporated in some operating systems (e.g. Encrypted File System in Microsoft Windows or Encryption in Google Android security settings).
- Ensure Wi-Fi traffic in home networks is encrypted – devices that transmit data through wireless signals are potentially susceptible to interception. It’s easy to enable encryption mode in the router’s settings. Of all encryption standards supported by modern hardware, we recommend WPA2 as the most reliable.
- If you use a physical storage medium, make sure no one can get access to the information stored on it in case it gets lost or stolen. For example, encrypt all information you store on it or keep the actual device in a safe.
He who can destroy a thing has the real control of it
- To make sure that sensitive data on a lost or stolen device does not fall into other hands, you have to, first, enable password protection, and second, use remote administration tools that allow you to remotely delete all personal files from your tablet or Android smartphone before others get their hands on them.
- You also need to watch out that your valuable data does not get accidentally deleted by somebody else, i.e. your child. For that, you need to delimit different user privileges in the system, or use parental control software that can set restrictions on working with files, applications and personal data.
No gate is strong if the key is lost
- It is very important to use reliable passwords to all services and pages that you log in to, as well as to all your devices. If intruders brute force your password, they will gain access to the same information that you have access to, including your confidential files.
- Do not use the same passwords for different sites, services and/or devices. If you do, when one site is compromised it opens up all the others.
- If you have so many services and pages that you cannot remember a different password for each of them, think about a reliable way to store them.
- Cybercriminals also like to set up phishing (fake) websites to trick users into handing over their passwords directly. To avoid these traps, you should make sure that the Internet security solution you use has effective anti-phishing capabilities. Also, always make sure the site is legitimate before you enter your credentials on it.
The night is dark and full of terrors
- It prevent your personal files from being destroyed, altered or stolen by malware, all users are strongly recommended to use an advanced online security solution that can block network attacks and has the ability to track system processes for malicious activities.
- If you choose a security solution that provides extra protection from ransomware that’s an added bonus. Such ransomware programs encrypt the user’s files, and then demand a ransom before decrypting them. There are security products that can automatically create temporary backup copies before files are opened by a suspicious program; if the files are tampered with they can be replaced with the backed-up versions.
There are many solutions, applications and tools out there to keep your data secure and you should choose a solution that fits your needs. Remember to research independent product reviews from reputable websites and cross-check with several sources before deciding on a solution. Most importantly, be vigilant and practise good cyber hygiene to protect your devices and your data from cyber criminals.