It is factual that most people spend time on the internet almost every minute connected via their own devices or public devices, either uploading data or downloading data. Those days where you had to travel for a long distance and sit in cues to get access to the internet to send emails, chat with pals elsewhere or stream music at an Internet cafe are far gone. You can just sit in the comfort of your sofa or lie on your bed and access the web easily now.
The social media revolution changed our habits on the internet drastically as it has really helped to connect people all over the world easily. Connecting to childhood friends, schoolmates and colleagues we have lost contact with is much easier now as you can search for profiles of people on the internet by just typing their known names or nicknames or contact numbers
That is possible because people upload their data on the internet in the course of creating accounts on such platforms
The bone of contention here is, are our data safe? Do we really care about how much info we upload on the internet and what type of data it is?
Can we trust these platforms that hold our data to do their best to protect our data 100%? Hell no and can’t even be possible!!
In as much as we are concerned about our data, we can’t also disconnect from the internet as it is now the medium controlling the world by helping families and friends far apart to connect and communicate, a medium for learning and fishing out for information, etc thus breaking off from this connectivity is like living in an island of oneself
Notwithstanding the pros of the technology our use of technology has made people fall victim to the bad guys (hackers) who day in day out gather information about their targets over the internet to prey on, therefore we must be mindful of how much and which data we put on the internet
Below are some guidelines we can follow to ensure a certain level of data security
- When surfing the internet, we should always ensure websites without Secure Socket Layers (SSL) are avoided or if it is necessary we visit such websites, we should ensure we don’t transmit sensitive data like credit card details, passwords, bank accounts, etc onto such websites. In layman’s terms websites without HTTPS preceding the domain name or URL
- When creating social media profile or profile on any website, we should ensure we only put data about ourselves which are not sensitive in nature
- In setting up passwords on our accounts we should ensure we set strong passwords that use a combination of Capital letters, small letters, numbers, special characters, and should be 8 or more characters in length (example [email protected][email protected]@[email protected])
- We should always avoid using the same password for more than one account we own on the internet, be it email accounts, online banking accounts, social media accounts, etc.
- We should always avoid using raw simple passwords like our names, date of birth, contact numbers, etc., as they can be easily broken with simple dictionary attacks
- When we suspect our account might have been compromised we must quickly change our password
- We should always ensure we set Two-Step Verification or Authentication on our accounts or emails on websites or web applications that have such functionalities
- When using public devices to check our emails or to open our online banking accounts or our social media accounts, we should always ensure the tiny box that ask us to check so we are always kept login or remember this browser is unchecked before proceeding to login
- We should always ensure attachments or links we receive in our emails are scanned with the emails antivirus before we open them, and if we feel insecure we can ignore opening them at all
- Social engineering is one common way hackers use on their prey to gather information, so make sure whoever you are talking to on the phone with is the right person before you give out sensitive information
- No institution you do business with will ever ask of your password, the highest they can go is to let you reset your password, so never give out your pin or password to anybody, no matter how much you trust them
- Always be on alert when strange people call you and start demanding your pin codes and other sensitive information, you just have to drop the call
- We should always ensure pins are set on our mobile phones and set to lock immediately so, unauthorized persons don’t easily browse through our phones
- We should always ensure passwords are set on our computers or laptops and be logged off if we will be off from it for a long time whiles still on
- Data on Hard disks and Memories are easily recoverable with recovery tools, so ensure you give out faulty devices to professional service providers or remove any hard disk or memory from your devices before you leave it with them for repairs that will take some days
- If you are fond of storing sensitive data on your phone or laptops such as your private bedroom activities desist from it, else even if you delete them, it can still be recovered whenever such devices exchange hands through either selling them or dashing them out
- Whenever you create a document of sensitive nature on your devices ensure it is password protected
- We must always ensure any link we share or forward especially in WhatsApp groups is verified before sharing them, like links that talk about freebies and promotions. Copying the URL and putting it in https://who.is will at least give you a gist about the link or better still you can paste it in google search to check reviews and comments on such websites
- GPS Location on our devices must always be put off if not needed or we can set up applications that need GPS location to function to only uses the GPS location when the application is in use
- Don’t just slot pen drives from strangers or even people you know into your devices without having updated antiviruses to scan them.
- Ensure all applications that hold sensitive data or info opened on your devices are closed before leaving the devices unattended for a long time or handing over the devices to other people
- If you are unsure of links or attachments or feel suspicious about certain activities on your account consult an expert to assist you
- We should avoid downloading a lot of freebies from unknown websites
- We should always ensure pop-ups are blocked on our browsers and only allow the ones that are important
- We should always read privacy policies before entrusting our data with web platforms
- Don’t trust people so much with your devices
In conclusion, we should keep in mind that, “The only device that is safe is the one that is not connected to the internet through any medium” but once a system gets connected to the internet it can likely be hacked therefore we must ensure we do our best to protect ourselves by putting measures in place to secure our data.
Kwaku Darpah, 0242222874
Technology Enthusiast and Advocate