In this odd internet world that we live in these days, data security is coming to the forefront of our attention as a major concern. Between the news about the NSA, the Heartbleed bug that exposed many internet users across the globe, and other hacking and cyberwarfare allegations, how do you know your data is really, really secure—and, if it’s compromised, what does that mean for you and your business?
How To Check If Your Accounts Are Compromised
There are a few ways to check if you have been compromised. A website called https://haveibeenpwned.com offers a free and easy way to check your email address against known breaches of security. (“Pwned” is internet lingo for “hacked” or “compromised.”) It asks for no passwords, account details, or any of your other personal information. It simply returns results based off previous breaches. It also offers a notification service so that any future breaches are sent to your inbox, preventing disaster in the future.
Other sites that use different data sets are http://www.
The takeaway: Check your password and account—it’s important!
How To Prevent Compromised Accounts
Learning about previous breaches is fine—it can help you improve your data security by changing the locks—but how can you modify your practices going forward to further secure your data from hackers? If passwords are no good, why have them?
The simple answer here is to encrypt all of your communications (or at least as much of them as you can) to prevent being compromised. For social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, all your data is transmitted through what’s known as HTTPS, which is encrypted. Most email and sensitive data sites are using the same protocols, which can keep people from reading what you’re doing.
Password strength, too, can help keep you safe. If you’re using passwords like “mypuppy1” or “1234,” your account is unsafe as people might guess that information or pull it from your social media accounts. Strong passwords are long and use symbols, numbers, and both cases of letters (“Bugh1az!3altre” is an example of a strong password). The same goes for security questions—if you’ve used a piece of data as a security question, don’t discuss it on the internet. Keep everything as private as possible when it comes to passwords or you’ll end up with a compromised account.
Finally, where possible, use a service known as “two-factor authentication.” Basically, this adds a randomly-generated password to your account that requires another device that’s yours to generate that code. Google’s service is the most well known, but Facebook, Twitter, and other services are hopping on the bandwagon. With Two-Factor on, people need both your password and your device to access your account.
The takeaway: Use every available measure to keep your data safe while maintaining ease of use.
It’s Not Difficult
If you’re reading this and it feels like it might be too difficult for you to understand, don’t panic. Most web browsers default to HTTPS. Two-factor authentication for most sites are explained as you enable them so that you’ll know what you’re getting into. Learning about previous breaches helps you to learn where you need to change your passwords. Any of these factors will help you secure your data, and using even a few of these tips will help keep you safe on the internet. Be sure to get started today—before your data becomes someone else’s!