Securing Your Personal Information

Securing your personal information in a world of cyber criminals can be a challenge. Even large companies like Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and major telecommunication databases have been compromised in the last 12 months alone.

It’s no secret that cyber criminals have become more active and organised these last few years, with the hacker group known as “Anonymous” getting into major news headlines and showing the world just how vulnerable we all are.

Some of you who own a Mac may be thinking that you’re safe, and that Macs don’t get viruses and cannot be hacked. I do hate to be the bearer of bad news however you are very much mistaken. Just take a look at the recent ‘Flashback’ virus that was estimated to be stealing more than $10,000 a day from unsuspecting Mac Users.

How can I protect myself?

Before you even start, make sure you are using secure passwords, with a combination of numbers, letters and symbols that aren’t some variation of your name or business name.

Now that you have some secure passwords you need to install a decent Anti-Virus to keep them safe. If you are running a business, don’t hold out and limit yourself to the free versions. If you have sensitive information on your computer or even just information you can’t live without, you need to fork out that little extra cash to buy a really good, decent Anti-Virus that you can rely on. Personally I use Kaspersky but there are many different anti-virus programs that are quite reliable like Avast, Norton and AVG, just to name a few. I would highly recommend doing a little research, have a look at what people are saying about each anti-virus program this year.

Now that you have everything set up, you’ll need to make sure that your computer and anti-virus program is setup to perform regular updates and full system scans. If you are unsure how to do this, please check the program’s ‘help’ section as it is different for every program and operating system.

As new viruses come out every day, you do still need to be vigilant and careful of what emails you open and what files you download.

Unless you live away from civilisation, I also highly recommend some personal encryption, as unfortunately computer theft is very common. If you have personal files on your computer they should be encrypted. You startup password is not good enough, as anyone that has access to Google will be able to find a tutorial showing them how to bypass the login screen. Now many external hard drives come with this type of software built in, but if you are looking for something a little more ‘high end’, I would have to recommend TrueCrypt. With this program you can either encrypt the whole computer hard drive or have an encrypted folder on your computer.

Now that your computer is secure you should also be ensuring that your personal documents are just as safe. Not just the ones you keep in your house but also the bank statements or personal documents that you put in your bin. There are thieves that go around checking your bins for personal information so that they are able to steal your identity and setup credit cards in your name. Some thieves even go so far as to collect your shredded pages and then put them back together like a puzzle. If you can, always burn your shredded documents or at least make sure that you mix it up with your other rubbish to help deter would be thieves.

Everything I have described in this blog helps to improve your security, so if you are serious about protecting your personal information online and offline, be sure to take every precaution you can.