10 best practices for protecting your personal data online

Cyberattacks are commonly associated with breaches in organizational data, causing businesses significant financial and reputation damage. Yet, among the 2,200 daily cyberattacks are individuals who face breaches in their personal data — whether financial records, sensitive information or personal communications.

Cybercriminals work to identify gaps to exploit an individual’s digital security measures; unknowing victims often offer the hackers simple access through a mere lack of due diligence and preventative measures. To prevent these attacks and secure your information, we will cover 10 best practices.

10 best practices for protecting your personal data online

Protect your personal data: 10 best practices

The motive behind personal cyberattacks vary, yet are usually driven by financial gain. The ability of a cybercriminal to gain access to your financial information — and other sensitive data — is most commonly (99.9%) driven by poor cyber hygiene. Put differently; hackers gain access through preventable security flaws.

To fortify your cyber hygiene and reduce security risks, consider these 10 best practices.

1. Backup all of your data, both digitally and physically

Start by ensuring you securely backup your data to the cloud, using a reputable cloud service provider. Physical backups — such as external hard drives or storage media — also serve as an additional safeguard, particularly when your digital data becomes compromised.


2. Keep your software up-to-date

Outdated software comes part-in-parcel with known vulnerabilities. Hackers will commonly use these familiar avenues to access data — a concern able to be mitigated through up-to-date software. As updates generally contain necessary security patches, ensure that all your software is promptly and regularly updated.

3. Avoid any unfamiliar links

Generally in the form of an email or text, cybercriminals will send links — commonly masqueraded as an offer, promotion, urgent message or even a falsified message from someone you know — that lead to breaches in data. Hence, avoid and report any suspicious links.


4. Exercise caution when sharing personal information online

When sharing anything personal online, particularly that of a sensitive nature, always err on the side of caution. Hackers may leverage the information you have shared — such as an image with your card in the background —  to commit identity theft or engage in other malicious activities.


5. Refrain from using public WiFi

Despite their ease-of-use, public WiFi is prone to security risks due to improper encryption. Due to their lack of security measures, consider avoiding public WiFi altogether. If you must, consider safeguarding yourself with a VPN, as we’ll cover next.

6. Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is a cost-effective way to safeguard your data. They work by encrypting your internet connection and hiding your IP address, making it difficult for hackers to interfere with your online activity.

7. Create strong passwords

Weak passwords are among the most prevalent means of data exploitation. As general rules, avoid using old passwords; use a combination of lowercase, uppercase and numbers; and avoid autofill. If you are to use an autofill, consider using a secure third-party password storage software to facilitate it.

8. Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication generally requires your initial, strong password, followed by a verified code accessible only to you. This simply acts as an extra security barrier and helps ensure that even if someone manages to obtain your password, they won’t be able to access your accounts without the second verification step.

9. Check in on the site’s security

All sites should have an SSL certificate, meaning the website is properly encrypted. To identify this, the landing page should either have a green lock icon or ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL. Conversely, if the URL states ‘Not Secure,’ then look to browse elsewhere.

10. Use a third-party, all-in-one internet security service provider

Beyond their ability to protect your data, all-in-one internet security providers work in the background, doing the security heavy lifting without your knowing. Total Defenses Ultimate Internet Security is a sure way to protect your online activity, offering full encryption and protection against cyber attacks. Learn more about how Total Defense can secure your personal data today!