Data is all around us, and something that everyone who uses the internet should know is that keeping that data secure must always be a priority. During the second quarter of 2022, internet users worldwide witnessed approximately 52 million data breaches. Unfortunately, you can also experience the same thing if you’re not being careful.
No matter how vigilant and precautious you are, there are certain data security risks you can always face as an individual who’s just using the internet. So if you want to learn how to keep your data safe as well as avoid the most common mistakes and data security risks, you’re in the right place.
What Is Data Security and Why Is It Important for Individuals?
As the name suggests, data security is the process of keeping data secure and safe from loss through some sort of attack or unauthorized access. A lot of malicious outsiders may want to access your data whether it’s to steal or corrupt it, which is why data security is a big topic.
A lot of people will know the answer to the question of why cybersecurity is important for small businesses but did you ever think about why cybersecurity and data security are important for individuals?
Well, think about all of the most important data you have on your computer and the private information you put on the internet. Bank account passwords, credit card numbers, and social security numbers are just some of the sensitive data hackers are after.
Security incidents that leave your data compromised to a cyber attack can lead to you losing all of the data and files you have on your computer in the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, someone might steal your money or even your identity.
So if you want to keep your privacy intact, you need to take data security seriously and realize how important it is.
4 Common Data Security Risks for Individuals
Don’t think that as an individual you aren’t in danger of some of the most common data security risks. If you want to protect yourself from these risks, you need to know what they are and what harm they can bring.
Malware is one of the biggest data security risks for both businesses and individuals as hackers always find new ways to sneak dangerous code into systems. This malicious software can come in all shapes and forms such as computer viruses spyware, Trojans, and adware, just to name a few.
While some types of malware are just seen as an annoying nuisance, others can seriously harm your system. This is why it’s extremely important to be very careful about what attachments, downloads, and links you click on because you can never be sure where malware is hiding.
Ransomware is a special type of malware that has unfortunately become very common over the past few years, so it’s important to mention it as a standalone threat. It’s a big risk to data security and many individuals have fallen victim to it.
Cybercriminals who put ransomware into your system can lock all of your files and demand a large payout (or ransom) from you in order to release that data. If you want to avoid ransomware, you need to use good antivirus and anti-malware software to protect your device as much as possible.
But it’s important to mention that no matter how careful you are, some determined hackers can still get ransomware into your system. So if you don’t want to lose any data, make sure to perform regular backups.
This data security risk can be both high-tech and no tech as it doesn’t require you to click on any link or download something like with other cyber threats. On the contrary, social engineering involves exploiting human psychology to gain access to systems or valuable data.
A very common example of social engineering is when a cybercriminal impersonates a trusted individual to exploit the victim’s human qualities such as trust, curiosity, temptation, or politeness. The most common type of social engineering individuals are targeted with is phishing.
The goal of cybercriminals here is to get their victim to act without thinking, which often leads to the person being scammed losing invaluable data. In the case of phishing, the cybercriminals are after their bank account details, login information, social security numbers, and anything that can be seen as confidential information.
It’s very important to be wary of these fake emails as sometimes they can even come from trustworthy email addresses belonging to people you know if they were a victim of hacking.
Nowadays, almost everyone uses the cloud, and for a good reason. It’s a great storage solution and in most cases, the safest as well. By 2025, there will be over 100 zettabytes of data stored in the cloud, so it’s easy to see how the popularity of the cloud is growing every year.
However, the cloud isn’t always as safe as some individuals believe because there are some vulnerabilities cybercriminals can and will exploit. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the cloud because it still has a lot of benefits. You simply need to learn how to secure your data in the cloud.
Common Data Security Strategies
Data security risks are more common and widespread than some people realize, but that shouldn’t worry or scare you. The most important thing is that you know what you’re up against and do everything you can to protect yourself from any risk to data security.
And you can do that with these strategies.
Be careful with online banking
Online banking is popular because it’s convenient, but how secure is it? In fact, there are several ways hackers can get into your system or even the systems of your financial institution and steal your account details.
If you want to ensure your online banking is secure, here are a few practices you need to put into place:
- Look at the online policies. Each bank has its own policies for online banking and they are known to periodically change, so keep an eye out to see if there’s a change in the policies you don’t agree with.
- Never save card information. Whatever site you use for online shopping will give you the option to save your credit card information, but try to refrain from that.
- Don’t access your account in public places. You can never be sure who’s watching you as public monitoring is always a possibility. Also, refrain from using public networks and free Wi-Fi as they can be infected with spyware.
Install antivirus and anti-malware software
Luckily, we live in a time when antivirus and anti-malware software are easily accessible and work very well. Good software will be able to detect, prevent, and remove the viruses and malware that are installed on your device and help keep your data safe.
If you can, purchase this software. While there are many different free antivirus and anti-malware programs you can get, they usually don’t work as well as the paid versions.
Use a VPN app
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short, is software that creates a secure connection between whatever device you’re using and the internet. As long as you’re connected to a VPN while browsing the internet, all of the data traffic you create will be sent through an encrypted virtual tunnel.
VPNs don’t only ensure security but also privacy. They make you virtually invisible and untraceable online, so they’re generally a good idea.
Only use strong passwords
Passwords that are too easy to guess are unfortunately very common. If you don’t have a strong password, a cybercriminal won’t have to do anything special to get into your system. Whether it’s for your email, online bank, cloud storage platform, or anything else, remember that a strong password is always a necessity.
Don’t use something that’s easy to guess, especially personal information such as your birthday or a family member’s name. Always use both upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols when creating a password. And never use the same password twice.
As an additional security step, make sure to use multifactor authentication. When you have multifactor authentication on, after you enter your login details and password, you will receive a code to your phone or email. Only when you input this code will you be able to access your account.
Cybersecurity risks are unfortunately always going to be present and they are going to come in various shapes and sizes. Seeing as how malicious individuals can get access to your system even via something as simple as malicious email attachments, you always need to be careful.
Remember that anyone can fall victim to phishing attacks, malware attacks, and ransomware attacks as these cybersecurity threats are unfortunately all too common. But with the right approach to security as well as well-defined security practices, you won’t have anything to worry about.
So, make sure you install security software, don’t save your card information when making transactions online, and always use strong passwords. This will keep you one step ahead of hackers who may want to compromise your cybersecurity.