Cybersecurity: Recommendations for Protecting Personal Data
The security of personal data online remains a crucial concern as information technology advances. Data breaches increase each year, making cybersecurity a top priority for both individual users and businesses.
According to forecasts by the leading research and consulting firm, Gartner, cybersecurity spending is expected to rise to $188 billion in 2023. In another three years, by 2026, these expenditures are projected to exceed $260 billion.
What is Cybersecurity?
It involves various methods and practical solutions aimed at safeguarding data stored on computers, mobile devices, servers, and cloud storage. The goal of cybersecurity is to protect against malware and unauthorized access to data.
The key cyber threats include:
- Malware: Specialized software designed to harm systems, break into them, and gain benefits. This category includes viruses, surveillance, and data collection programs, including financial data, Trojans, data-encrypting software used for extortion, botnets (infected computers) for sending spam, password cracking, and server attacks.
- DoS Attacks: Used to sabotage a company’s operations by creating an excessive load of requests on servers, causing websites to stop functioning. These attacks can damage parts of the digital infrastructure.
- Phishing: Protecting personal data online is closely related to identifying and neutralizing phishing attacks. Phishing links, through which malware is downloaded, are most often delivered via email or messaging apps.
- SQL Injection: This technique is used to breach websites and software that rely on a database. Injection involves special strings containing malicious commands. This allows attackers to gain access to hidden sections and potentially alter their structure.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: Network security and threats to users are associated with using unsecured Wi-Fi networks. This security loophole enables malicious actors to intercept data exchanged between the user and the server.
- Insider Cyber Threats: Network security for small businesses heavily depends on the actions of company employees. If a user within the organization has a high level of system access, they could cause harm from the inside by destabilizing the security system.
How to protect your personal data? There are several recommendations that can enhance the security of your digital devices. Cybersecurity tools are specialized protective programs that utilize cryptographic protocols in their operations. These programs encrypt files during transmission, reducing the risk of data interception by cybercriminals.
Let’s explore the best practices for safeguarding data online.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) provides additional security for your operating system or mobile application accounts. Enabling it ensures the protection of your personal data even if your login password falls into the wrong hands. The first factor is entering your account password, while the second factor involves receiving a digital code on your smartphone.
Password storage and management tools are essential. All passwords should be unique, complex, and securely stored. Regular files are not suitable for this; it’s better to use specialized applications. These applications encrypt passwords, making them resistant to hacking. A strong password should contain at least 12 characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.
Free password managers
Bitwarden – user-friendly with unlimited password storage. Bitwarden was selected as the best password manager of 2022. The free basic package for personal use includes all the essential features. It also offers competitive prices for business packages. Available for: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android.
Enpass – a versatile password manager with a user-friendly interface. It has been downloaded over 1 million times on Google Play Market. It holds a certificate of compliance with ISO requirements (security standard). Available for: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android.
NordPass – simple to use and reliable. NordPass has more than 3 million users worldwide. The free version is basic but sufficient for personal use. Available for: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android.
Working through a VPN: Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to connect to internet services through an encrypted protocol, ensuring privacy. When a user logs into a network via a device, they can be identified and tracked through their unique IP address. However, if a user accesses the network through a VPN, their IP address is concealed, and they are assigned a private network address. In this case, cybercriminals would only see a jumble of characters, which cannot be deciphered without special encryption keys.
Cloud Technologies: To protect your computer from hacking and data theft, you can store your data in the cloud instead of on your device. Cloud storage provides access to information from anywhere and on any device. Cloud service providers implement measures to secure data and applications in the cloud.
Cybersecurity in Social Media: To protect your personal data on social networks, it’s recommended to:
- Avoid adding geolocation tags to your posts.
- Restrict access to third-party applications.
- Avoid saving login credentials for auto-login.
- Never share your login information (passwords, usernames, email addresses) with third parties.
- Whenever possible, use Face ID, Touch ID, or two-factor authentication for registering and logging into your account.
Wi-Fi: Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable and often exploited for data theft. If you need to stay connected while in public places, you can: Choose a specific location for internet use, like coworking spaces with secure networks. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to enhance your online security and privacy.
How to Protect Your Computer from Viruses and Hackers
In addition to the user actions mentioned earlier, you can further enhance the security of your personal computer, tablet, or smartphone with a few important tips:
Install Antivirus Software: Antivirus software tracks and identifies viruses and malware, preventing your computer from getting infected. It also blocks phishing links and malicious email attachments, continuously updating its virus database.
Enable a Firewall: A firewall acts as a filter between your network and your computer. It filters out malicious content and potentially dangerous connections. Installing antivirus and firewall software is highly recommended to enhance the security and protection of your devices.
Updating Your Operating System: Each update package contains fixes and security improvements, enhancing overall security.
Creating Backup Copies: It’s recommended to regularly back up your data for additional protection. You can store backups on your computer or in cloud storage.
How to Avoid Cyberattacks:
- Don’t open email attachments from suspicious or unknown senders, as these attachments could contain viruses.
- Avoid clicking on links sent by unknown sources in emails or messengers.
- Heed warnings from your system about potential threats and avoid visiting flagged websites.
Network Security in Business
Businesses can face various types of attacks, including network, phishing, targeted attacks, and more. Neglecting cybersecurity issues can lead to the leakage of personal and corporate information, data loss due to cyberattacks, and financial and reputational damage.
Network security for small businesses involves implementing measures to protect elements of the IT infrastructure, including:
- Corporate email systems
- Cloud storage
- Workgroup servers
- Local networks
Top 5 recommendations to enhance business cybersecurity:
- Invest in cybersecurity software and technologies
- Obtain a cyber risk insurance policy
- Develop an incident response and system recovery strategy
- Increase cybersecurity awareness and knowledge among employees
- Regularly update server and workstation software.
Don’t forget about the security of customer data! When talking about protecting customer data, it usually refers to personally identifiable information (PII). This term encompasses markers that identify specific individuals. For example, it includes information like names, addresses, email addresses, bank card numbers, or IP addresses.
Customer Data Strategy
Remember two main aspects: confidentiality and security.
Data confidentiality is the honest handling of information with the consent of users – for collecting and using it – and controlling access to personal data.
It’s essential to prevent hackers, fraudsters, or untrustworthy employees from gaining access to your customers’ confidential information. If a customer provides their consent for using their personal data while working with your company, for instance, during registration on your portal or when providing information for a purchase on your online store, your goal is to avoid any leakage of this information.
To ensure the security of your customers’ and partners’ confidential data, you should pay attention to the following:
- The security level of the physical storage devices where the data is stored or processed
- Ensuring the integrity of the information system and data
- The security level of all data transmission nodes.
New Line Technologies team shared their experience working on a project that involved undergoing a PCI Vulnerability Scan procedure. This procedure aims to identify potential vulnerabilities within the organization’s network. As part of the task to integrate with the payment service provider World Pay and implement card payments, we conducted scans of our infrastructure and individual components to check for vulnerabilities and ensure compliance with PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) requirements.
Feel free to explore our experience and ensure that your organization also adheres to security standards. Don’t forget to assess your infrastructure and components for vulnerabilities to guarantee the protection of customer data.