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How to stay safe from cybercriminals and avoid data breaches 

A data breach is any person’s nightmare. It can affect you mentally and financially, and an 100% unhackable device or account necessitates taking precautionary measures.  

Hackers target small and medium businesses as they don’t have the resources to pay for cybersecurity tools and network upgrades to protect their data against the latest cybercriminals’ tricks as large corporations do. Then, they steal your data, putting your job, company or private life in jeopardy.

A professional hacker gains good money and cyberattacks have nearly doubled since last year and have reached an all-time high of $4.4 million. Therefore, depending on who has benefits to rip and on who suffers the loss, a data leakage can be both a drainer and a gainer. 

No matter if you run a business or are only concerned for your cybersecurity, take the necessary precautions like the ones below to safeguard your computer and data – they enable you to protect your finances and private life after all.

Secure your accounts with complex passwords

Are your passwords so strong you struggle to remember them? If not, it might be time you shift to new password and cryptography strategies. 

To safeguard your data, you need to enter into a hacker’s mind to foresee how they would approach their victim. Therefore, here are some ways they can breach your data:

  • The cryptanalytic “brute-force” attack means they submit many passwords and passphrases until they find the one that gains them entrée into your account. They can use the essential derivation function that stretches keys into longer keys to obtain the required key format, thus enhancing the chances they stumble across your passcode
  • Through the “dictionary” practice, they enter every word in the dictionary to break into a password-protected computer, network or other IT resource until they access your device or account. This method works because many people set ordinary and easy-to-remember passwords, often using the same one for multiple accounts
  • By acting as a “middleman” between your network and device – data transmitted through public Wi-Fi is rarely encrypted. Be cautious when you enter public wi-fi and use VPN to protect you from hacking techniques and phishing attacks

If you lack the inspiration to come up with uncommon paroles, use password generator webpages. Try to link your words with an image or memory: imagery is essential when you want to remember details. As unfeasible as it may be, long and complex passwords and unique passphrases prevent others from accessing your account. Many apps help you keep track of your passcodes if you don’t like the traditional method of writing them down in your passcode agenda.   

Whatever your security strategy is, be sure you verify that your data and accounts are safe from hackers. Browsers such as Mozilla and Google offer such services. A leakage can cost you millions, and that is way more costly than the effort of safeguarding your business. Nevertheless, in the event of unauthorised transmission of your data, databreachclaims.org recommends you get evidence of the breach and the harm suffered and reach out to a data breach compensation solicitor to help you minimise the financial damage.

 

Download from official sources 

You should download both personal stuff and business-related files from safe sources. Search for the official sources: there’s no risk of malware when you download a file or software from them. Turn to third-party sites if you don’t find what you need on the official sources, but examine the websites first.

There are both subtle and obvious red flags that warn you when a page is untrustworthy. Pay attention to “Payment not secure” or “login not secure” kinds of websites, and close tabs if “messages like “your connection to this site is not secure” pop up. Avoid unencrypted pages so that third parties are unable to gather data passed between systems. 

An SSL certificate delivers a safe, encrypted and secure connection between the web server where your site is hosted and your browser. Most of the time, you can recognize SSL-enabled web pages by checking their URL – they usually begin with HTTPS instead of HTTP. Also, a webpage that ends in “P” instead of “S” will often show “Not secure” instead of a padlock. You can verify the certificate’s validity by clicking that padlock and ensuring you see “Connection is secure”.

For extra security, use a scanner tool to scan the file download link. There are many user-friendly online virus scan tools to inspect the URL of a website.

.EXE is one of the file extensions that are likely to contain viruses. Ensure your file is saved under popular formats such as JPEG and PNG, and avoid downloading zipped .ZIP or .RAR files from deceitful sources. 

Pay attention to symptoms of malware

Worms, adware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, ransomware, and many other viruses that may have come to your ears along the time are your personal data’s enemies. You must check your computer regularly. If you see symptoms like the ones below, your computer might suffer malware.

  • Pop-up advertisements – Most browsers restrain pop-ups from showing up, so if you did not explicitly allow pop-ups, then something changed your settings
  • Unusual emails and social media messages sent to a large audience without your permission
  • Changed default search engine without your consent
  • Frequent crashing and freezing
  • Programs closing or running randomly
  • New toolbars in the browser
  • Dramatically slowed down web browser or computer for days or weeks
  • Deleted or modified files

You should run an antivirus to ensure these issues are fixed and don’t lead to more significant trouble.

Security tools and programs are our device’s best friends 

Besides using the enumerated data security-booster tools, have a program running in the background of your computer to effectively and effortlessly detect and remove any rising threats. This will comfort you if you lack time to pay attention to all the little details. 

You can download a free antivirus program, though it is recommended that you buy one. Many resources go into developing a superior one, therefore enhancing its effectiveness. The more features in it, the more you pay for it. And yes, it may cost money, but rest assured it gains you ten times more. 

 

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mclynd

Mark Lynd (CISSP, ISSAP, ISSMP), Head of Digital Business at Netsync is Top ranked global thought leader, author, speaker and practitioner for, AI, Data Center, IoT and Cybersecurity. He has been an accomplished enterprise CIO, CTO, CISO and Board Member for several large organizations. Mark has performed speaking and thought leadership engagements for Oracle, Intel, IBM, Cisco and others. He was named an Ernst & Young’s "Entrepreneur of Year – Southwest Region" Finalist and presented the Doak Walker Award on ESPN’s CFB Awards Show to a national television audience. He served honorably in the US Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion & 82d Airborne.