Just a few short years ago, when you asked a person what the cloud was, chances are pretty high that they would look at your like you were crazy and point to the sky. Now, most people know what the cloud is, but not necessarily how it works or how secure it is. People just know that their data is in the cloud and it’s easily accessible whenever they need it. But is this how nonchalant everyone should be about storing data in the cloud? The cloud is a great solution for easy data storage, but you must be careful about what you store there and how secure your cloud provider is. With so much private information being shared over the internet via social, email, the cloud, etc., what steps can you take to protect yourself?
Follow this list of 5 things you should start doing right now to help keep your data secure.
1. Stop using cloud services for private and important data. We know, the cloud is so easy and accessible, but if you truly want to protect yourself, this is the first major thing to stop doing. Many of the popular services are hosted in the United States and although they do promise protection, no one can ever be too sure in this day and age. What can you do instead though? Host your own server from your house. You can easily purchase and set up an NSA storage device and make it accessible from nearly anywhere using a free dynamic DNS hostname. The Result? Your information will be safe and tucked away from prying eyes.
2. Stop over sharing via social networks. I am probably one of the biggest culprits of this. I like to share, a lot, but I also keep a close eye on my friends/contacts list and am sure to have all of my social settings set to the highest privacy level. At the same time, we are learning that these tactics aren’t keeping the government from accessing our information, so keep that in mind. You can easily cancel your social accounts (although, it never really cancels them, just leaves them dormant until you want to login next) but this will be a great step forward in protecting yourself in the future. If you really have friends that you want to keep in touch with, why not go the old fashion way and write them a letter or actually call them on the phone. Crazy, right?
3. Don’t store private/secure information in your email. If the information is something you wouldn’t want anyone else to know, then don’t store it in your email. You could also consider setting up and running your own email server, or purchasing POP3/IMAP service from a trusted provider.
4. Be sure that your WiFi in your house is password protected. Also, when you are out and about and using public WIFI, use a VPN server to keep yourself safe. You never know who is sneaking around on an open WiFi network. That public WiFi at the coffee shop or the airport is awesome, until you check your bank account while on it and a week later you see some mysterious charges. Hacking over WiFi happens all the time. If you are away from the home or office, consider tethering your device to your cell phone data plan, or if you choose to use an insecure network, be sure to use a VPN server, or don’t access any websites that have sensitive data or require password logins. If you go the VPN route, they are easy to setup and are even easier to log on and use.
5. Don’t become a victim because of a weak password. Your information is only as secure as the password that is protecting it. Passwords are by far, one of the easiest things to hack these days, but only if you aren’t following the industry standards for a strong password. Never use the same password for everything and be sure to avoid the 25 most common passwords. To help you remember your passwords, you can use a password keeper like 1Password, Keepass, or even just create an encrypted text document, save it to a thumbnail drive and load it up when you need a password.
What things do you do to keep yourself and your information private on the Internet? Let us know in the comments.