Protecting your data should always be a big priority, especially now where it seems that more and more common that large databases of information, such as TalkTalk, are being hacked into. So to help you try to protect your data, I am going to go through some helpful tips on how you can keep your data safe on the move whether you are on your way to business meeting or at a café networking.
So first of all make sure that all the systems or machines you are using are password protected, whether it be your laptop or your phone make sure you have this simple level of protection so no one can gain direct access to it. This also applies to websites, make sure all your browser based accounts are password protected and that you don’t have the passwords saved to your browser. This protects your data from being stolen directly from your device, in case your device is stolen or you just leave it on your seat on your flight etc.
Another basic way to protect your data is to make sure that your Operating System and Anti-Virus software is fully up to date this will provide you with the latest protection against viruses and malware, which can collect your data and track what you do. You can now even get Anti-Virus software for your mobile with many such as Norton Mobile Security being free. Also don’t think just because you are an Apple user you are protected; your data can still be collected and tracked by malware so I would suggest that you still get Anti-Virus software.
An aspect that other people don’t take into consideration is the visual security of your data, or simply put people physically looking at your screen. A study by 3M showed that 55% of on-screen privacy is violated on transportation such as planes, trains and busses and 51% in public spaces. Make sure that you are taking into account where you are using your devices and who might be able to see what you are doing. You can take and extra precaution and use privacy screens so that your screen can only be viewed head on.
When you are on the go, public Wi-Fi is free and very convenient to use, but by no means is it secure. If you are using these networks make sure that you don’t access any important or confidential data and especially don’t access online banking or make any transactions. If you’re planning on connecting to your company’s network on public Wi-Fi, make sure that you connect via an SSL secured L2TP IPSec VPN to give you an extra level of security. You should also only use Wi-Fi networks that are encrypted with WPA and avoid connections with WEP encryption as they can be more easily hacked into. If you are staying at a hotel and want to connect to their Wi-Fi, make sure it is a reputable provider and ask before you book who the provider is so you can guarantee that you can use it before you go. If the network also asks for you to do a software update in order to connect, you should immediately disconnect from the network and tell the hotel or host about it. If you need to connect to the internet whilst on the move, I would suggest that you take 3G or 4G dongle with you so you can have your own private network to keep your data safe.
One of the next steps is for you to completely encrypt your data, this can be on a per drive basis or on the system as a whole. Most businesses will have software in place to encrypt drives and any files that are saved on to them. The most common Microsoft Windows which comes with BitLocker drive encryption system will automatically encrypt data on the machine. When you go to read an encrypted file or access an encrypted device you have to have a key or password to open it, this key should be memorized for extra protection. Encryption can now even be done on mobile devices using the same premises that laptops and desktop computers use to access the data on the device, using a PIN or Password to access and unscramble the data into a readable form.
Encryption can also prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. These attacks involve people intercepting data that is being sent from your laptop or phone to another network then relaying the data on as if nothing has happened but they can also modify the data then send it on. This most commonly happens on open networks so another way you can stop this from happening is to not connect to open networks at all. Encryption would also mean that they couldn’t gain access to the data without having the correct key or password to decrypt it, keeping your data safe.
You should also consider what data you are taking with you, for example can some of it be backed up and uploaded to a cloud storage system for easy access later? If you don’t feel comfortable leaving some data behind, then you can always transfer data onto an encrypted memory USB stick to keep as you are on the go.
People can now also gain access to your data via a process called Phishing, this process involves them sending you an email from what appears to be a legitimate source then asking you to update some of your data on their website. The emails are normally threatening saying that you will be banned from the website or your account will be deleted with links to the website where you can update your credit card details etc. The websites are normally copies of the original companies’ websites. There are some tell tale signs that can tell you whether or not the email is from a legitimate source or not. First of all, the emails wont normally address you by name unlike the actually company that will have your name and email under the database and start the email by greeting you. Other things to look out for are the spelling and grammar of the email, if the email sounds threatening and if it is seeking personal information. Once you have identified a Phishing email simply block the email address and the delete the email. If you are uncertain whether or not the email is legitimate or not always go directly to the website and sign in to your account to see if there any notifications telling you to update your data. You can then also report the email to the company.
It’s very easy to keep your data safe on the go as long as you know what to look out for and the ways you can go about protecting your data. Hopefully some of the information provided in this article has given you an insight into how you can protect your data.
By Sam Tutt on October 28th, 2015