29 Jan Bringing awareness to Data Privacy Week
The holiday season has come to an end, but hopefully, you were treated to some of the latest gadgets. It is important to remember that, however impressive the latest iPhone or gaming computer might be, the ability and knowledge to properly secure these devices is more important – as any device that connects to the internet is potentially vulnerable and could become compromised. In honor of Data Privacy Day, January 28, we are providing you with five great tips that can help you to securely configure any new device.
- Multi-factor authentication. If presented the opportunity, always enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your devices. This ensures that only the person who has access to your account is actually you. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device such as your smartphone, an authenticator app or a secure token. For instance, with an iPhone you can utilize your screen lock feature with a PIN or password. MFA can prevent hackers from accessing your accounts, computer and mobile devices. The availability of MFA is becoming more and more widespread and for good reason.
- Disable your location and safeguard yourself from monitoring devices. Location services might allow someone to see where you’re located, so make certain that you consider disabling this feature when you aren’t utilizing your device. Additionally, consider disabling your Bluetooth feature when not in use as well. Bluetooth can be used to connect to other devices or computers and disabling this feature when not using your device can help to further secure private information.
Another form of device to always be cognizant of is your digital assistant. If you use an Amazon Alexa, baby monitor, audio recordable device or anything of that nature, always be sure to limit your conversation when they are on and cover any cameras on toys, laptops and monitoring devices when they’re not being used.
- Consider installing firewalls and antivirus software. Installing a firewall on your home network can help defend it against outside threats. For instance, a firewall can block malicious traffic from entering your network, while also alerting you to potentially dangerous activity. Some firewall features, including the firewall itself, may be turned off by default. Make certain that your firewall is on and all the settings are properly configured to strengthen your security.
In addition to a network firewall, antivirus software can be a very protective measure against malicious activity. This type of software possesses the ability to detect, quarantine and remove malware. Fortunately, this software is typically easy to install and adds another protective shield to your security arsenal.
- Patch and update. Quite often, technology has settings that allow for automatic updates to occur. This is extremely important. Updates to your devices aren’t always about creating a smoother and slicker interface. Manufacturers will typically issue updates when vulnerabilities in their products are discovered. A perfect example of this would be the update notifications you receive on your iPhone. Whether you have an iPhone or not, make sure that your device is configured to receive automatic updates. If updating your device is something that you need to do manually, it is important that you ensure you’re making updates directly from the manufacturer (i.e. Apple), as third-party applications could very well compromise your device.
- Secure your Wi-Fi network. The good news is that it isn’t too difficult to make your wireless network and your devices more secure. This can be completed in a few simple steps:
- The first thing you should do to secure your network is to change your router’s default password to something more secure. Using a password manager is a great idea, as it will ensure you are only using strong passwords, such as those with special characters, numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, etc. This will prevent others from accessing the router and allow you to maintain the security settings you desire.
- In addition to changing your password, it’s also worth changing your Service Set Identifier (SSID), otherwise known as your wireless network name. Although changing this name won’t necessarily enhance your network security, it will make it clear which network you are connecting to. Make sure you do not use your name, home address or other personal information in your new SSID name.
- To further improve your defenses, you should also use Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3). WPA3 is currently the strongest form of encryption for Wi-Fi. Other methods are outdated and thus, more vulnerable to exploitation.
Today, we are connected more than ever – not only to each other, but to our devices. In the same manner which you protect your physical assets, such as your bike with a padlock, you need to similarly protect your internet-connected devices. This is how Data Privacy Day came to fruition. Data Privacy Day is an international event that occurs each year on January 28th with the purpose of raising security awareness, as well as highlighting data protection best practices.
For more information on Data Privacy Day or how to get involved, visit https://staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day.