Protecting yourself in a digital world

Even the most tech savvy of us think we have digital security sorted but in reality, people are always trying to get in and there are always ways that we can improve. It’s a bit like pulling your front door closed behind you in the morning but not double locking it. Why should we double lock the door? To make it just as hard for an intruder to leave if they have gained entry by other means.  At Alliants we are always striving for ways to improve our security and we particularly like this easy to follow checklist that we picked up from Jason Fried at 37 Signals, in his bookRemote. It is not an all-encompassing bulletproof security plan, but it has some great simple guidelines for everyone to follow in their business and personal lives in order to protect against some of the most common security vulnerabilities.

Here is an extract:

1. Put a password on your devices

This is a must. Think about how much someone could find out about you now, if they picked up your phone. Do you get twitchy when a friend picks up your device and starts looking through your photos? What about your messages? How would you feel if someone you knew was snooping around? Passwords are an easy way to protect the data on your computer and smartphone, and you should ensure that your devices are set to automatically lock when you put them down. Whilst we know that isn’t very often these days it is important.

2. 12345 or password are not acceptable passwords.

Having a password like 12345 is like leaving your keys under a flowerpot by the front door. It’s best practice to create a unique password for everything you use. If one service you use gets hacked, you don’t have to stress out about the vulnerability of others. Whilst this is good practice, even those with the highest IQ are going to struggle to remember 100+ unique passwords. There are some great solutions that can take the stress of this away. We like 1Password by AgileBits, some of the guys use it internally. There are some great free alternatives too so have a look in the app store.

3. Make sure you can wipe your device from anywhere

Nowadays, it is smart to use an app that can remotely wipe your smartphone if it’s stolen. Those living in the iDevice world, check out Find My iPhone. If you are Android lover then look at Android Device Manager.

4. Encrypt your Hard Drive

It is a common misconception that a hard drive encryption is complicated in nature. If you have a Mac, you can turn on the FileVault setting for your hard drive. If you run Windows then search on Google for “How do I encrypt my laptop” and you will find some great ways to do this.

5. Two-factor authentication for email

Firstly, what is two-factor authentication?! Well, you are probably using this today to access online banking. It is simply the way a company wants to double check you are who you say you are by another means before letting you use their service.

This might be a future step for those that don’t have a password on their devices yet, but is definitely worth considering if your email contains sensitive information or if you have been a victim of hacking in the past. Simple to implement with services like Gmail, after you turn on your device, every time you wish go to your emails a unique code will be sent to your phone which you will be prompted to key in. Though it may be a long process, it is definitely an effective way of ensuring it is you that is accessing your information and no one else! Great tip for those looking for tight security.

6. Health Check

So here it is a simple security health check:

1.    Do you encrypt your Hard Drive?

2.     Are any of your devices just unlocked with a simple swipe and no password?

3.     Can you wipe your device if you left it in a bar, taxi or train etc?

4.     How many websites do you use the password 12345 on or something similar?

5.     Have you thought about two-factor authentication?

Ask yourself these questions and take action to protect yourself!