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Ways to protect your devices and data

We cannot fight the fact that the world has gone digital and we might as well understand how to best protect our gadgets and devices from cyber crime, theft, virus attacks and loss of data, explores Grace Wachira

1. Use complex passwords

This might come off as one of the most obvious, but the truth is some people prefer to have the same password across all their platforms and devices. Do not use names or numbers that are otherwise your favourite. If possible, mix upper and lowercase letters, numbers and non-numerical characters in your passwords. 

2. Encrypt your data

If you are working a high-level security job or on something private, encrypting your devices could be the most effective way to achieve data security. Encryption is the process of converting (information or data) into a code. To access or read an encrypted file, you must as well have access to a secret key password. You can use encryption software such as truecrypt or veracrypt.

3. Browse anonymously

There are some sites that you visit that only you know of. They could be anything from dating sites to X-rated ones. You can browse anonymously using, for instance, a free-to-download software called The Onion Router (TOR). This is in addition to browsing incognito on major browsers such as Chrome and Firefox.

4. Tricksters are everywhere

Don’t act on or reply to emails or phone calls requesting confidential, personal or organisational information. Tricksters and con artists call all the time posing as customer care attendants and may dupe you into disclosing your passwords with ulterior motives.

5. Use protected devices

When you access sensitive information from a non-secure computer, such as the one at the work place or a shared one at home, you put your information at risk. Make sure your computer is running the latest approved security patches, antivirus and firewall. Even then, do not install unverified programmes on your devices. They may be laced with viruses. 

6. Take care of sensitive info

Don’t leave print outs containing private information or photos on your desk, in open areas in the house or in your car. Lock them away or shred them if you no longer need them. It is easy for third parties to glance down at them and walk away with sensitive information.

7. Lock your devices

Always lock your phone, tablet, computer or even the smartphone when you are not using them. Your gadgets contain sensitive data, so make sure they are secured with strong passcodes, patterns or synchronised login steps. 

8. Discourage external plug-ins

Don’t allow third parties to plug in external drives without your evaluated consent. Smart devices, particularly, can be compromised by a code waiting to launch as soon as they are plugged into another device.

9. Don’t trust everybody

Even when taking in your machines for repairs, ensure you trust (but question) the ones you’re leaving the devices with. Sometimes, it is those closest to you, including friends and family that pose a danger when it comes to handling data in your device. Mind those you trust to use your devices.

10. ICT policy is important

An ICT policy should be put in place for organisations. This policy guides both the usage and handling of the organisation’s data and ICT equipment. It may help monitor and avert otherwise dangerous viruses from potential hazardous websites.

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