Four simple ways to increase your online security and protect your data from hackers

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, cybersecurity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

However, given the amount of time we spend online and the amount of sensitive information involved, perhaps it should be.

Here are four easy things you can do to protect your data and devices from hacking.

1. Choose strong passwords

Yes, it’s the most boring advice in this article, but it definitely still applies. According to a 2019 online security survey by Google and Harris Poll, 13 percent of people use the same password for all their accounts.

Doing so makes you vulnerable if your credentials are leaked in the event of a data breach, and we’ve seen a lot of these over the past few years. You can check the website to find out if you are affected by one of these violations: by entering your email or phone number.

The site will conduct a search on published violations. If your mail appears in the list, it is recommended to change your password immediately. And please, choose a strong one.

For example, National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) suggests combining three random words. This is a precaution to take, especially for your mailbox, where any sensitive information is stored.

Despite some controversy, the easiest way to keep track of your different logins is to use a password manager. Even if no solution is 100 percent secure, a password manager allows you to have different strong passwords and keep them all encrypted.

Should you change your passwords regularly? This is a tricky question.

The French cybersecurity agency recently changed its guidelines to say that frequent forced changes actually lead to a lower level of password security. As a result, it is no longer recommended for companies to require regular password changes for basic users (as opposed to IT admins).

2. Secure your transactions with two-factor authentication

As the name suggests, two-factor authentication combines the use of a password with another method, which could be a text message, app, or biometric identification.

NCSC recommends using it for “high-impact” activities like transferring money or adding credit card information.

Yes, two-factor authentication may take a little more time, but it provides an additional safety net in the event of a data breach.

3. Save your tears by saving your data

I’m definitely guilty of not following this rule despite some misfortune (a sad fallback to my master’s thesis being converted to a corrupt file).

Saving your data regularly should be a reflex. It can be useful in case of hardware failure or virus. It also makes you less vulnerable to ransomware attacks, which have increased since the pandemic.

You can save backups to external storage that you keep separate from your computer or to the cloud. Experts recommend using the 3-2-1 strategy: three copies of your data are stored in two different types of storage and one copy in a different location.

But even a single copy is better than nothing.

4. Update, update and update again

What is the purpose of updating your software? NCSC says regular updates bring security patches and new security features. A patch is a fix for a security vulnerability that has been discovered since the software was released.

The operating system (OS), your web browsers and your antivirus are the main points to focus on, but they are not the only points.

Keeping up with updates is perhaps the easiest step to take, as it can be automated on most devices.

Bonus tip: Invest in a privacy screen for your PC and screen

This option is suitable if you regularly work on sensitive data publicly (or want to swipe without judgment). It consists of a polarized part that limits the viewing angle from 30 to 60 degrees and usually costs under 50 euros for a laptop screen.

Think of it as window blinds for your screen. The screen will appear dimmed for people around you.

Some privacy screens also working in front of the screenlike the anti-reflection option or the blue light filter.

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