Regardless of the industry we are working in, staying safe while working online is one of our top priorities. In our day-to-day lives, we need to protect various types of information, both personal and official, failing which we could face serious problems. And in an era when cyber attacks are becoming common, protecting our personal information becomes more important. Read below to find out how you can protect your personal information while working online.
What happens when your device is hacked?
Every action we perform online through our mobile phones or computers such as online shopping, remote working, interacting with others, downloading applications or browsing for information leaves behind data trails. This data may contain valuable information such as browsing history or personal information. When cybercriminals get access to such data, they misuse it through malicious activities. Whenever our system becomes vulnerable to data breaches, potential consequences may include:
- Hacking of bank and financial details.
- Emails are read by a third party or shared with malicious sites.
- Identity theft and misuse.
- Confidential data can be leaked, or
- Criminals asking for payouts in return for stolen data.
How to protect your personal online information?
Prevent personal data storage in official computers or phones
Saving information on the device we work is usual but you must understand that official laptops or phones provided by the workplace are not private and may be confiscated once the purpose is fulfilled since it belongs to the company. All the stored files can be accessed easily not only by the company’s IT teams but also by others employees who are granted access to it. Although many contemporary organizations use security tools that ensure the data privacy of their employees, any data breach or security lack may start wiping your files. Even malware sites can destroy or misuse your personal information easily. Hence, you must remove any personal files or confidential data and keep them in a USB wand.
Never express strong opinions on the company’s chat platforms
Many companies use chatting platforms such as Google Hangout, Slack or Campfire for enhancing team collaboration. They are easy to use for interacting with office colleagues in real-time. But those messages are stored on servers and can be retrieved via emails. Employers may also check them occasionally to ensure that the workplace atmosphere is secure. Any strong message stored can make you fall into trouble later.
Be mindful when using the public network
Using free public Wi-Fi on your device when working remotely can be appealing. Free Wi-Fi locations, like the local café, can expose you to fraudsters, though. This is due to the chance of attackers building phony networks which impersonate legitimate ones but are not. It is a smart idea to use a VPN and abide by a standardized approach to ensure online privacy when using public Wi-Fi.
Use antivirus software
Malware attacks can be protected in your work or personal computers and mobiles by installing good antivirus software available online. You may use the free version initially or buy a comprehensive one if your work demands storing and protecting sensitive data. Antivirus software not just protects network-based devices from malware or virus attacks but also detects potential threats ahead through protective layers.
Keep your system updated
Websites and applications keep updating themselves to fix bugs or issues detected in the core system. You must also ensure that your device programs and operating system are up-to-date and run on the latest versions to ensure data security. Instead of manual upgradation, you can enable automatic updates to secure your system.
Protection of personal information via VPN
Encryption is one of the ways to hide data that can be accessed by authorized parties only. It uses readable data and modifies it like a random language to anyone else, even to the attackers who try to intercept it. To some extent, data encryption works like a secret code. VPN is one way which establishes an encrypted connection between devices. All devices that connect to the VPN encryption keys can encode or decode the personal information sent between them. This process can add security between connected devices even while working in a public network. To ensure that your browsing history is secured, you can combine a VPN and an incognito mode in your browsing window. Incognito mode automatically deletes browsing history and other files once the cookies are closed.
Avoid screen sharing
During meetings or chatting, avoid sharing your device screen with others. If possible, prevent leaving any window open that you do not have to share as you may accidentally share that information which could be confidential. Also, you should be mindful when sharing data over social media as cyber criminals keep an eye on it to get information about the targeted users. Never disclose information such as birth date or favourite colour on social media and avoid participating in the public quiz, especially on suspicious sites.
Keep strong password
A strong password is one that combines letters, special characters, numbers and symbols. You must avoid keeping similar passwords in all your account and if possible, keep changing them regularly. Do not jailbreak or root your device which can provide hackers with ways to override your settings or install their malicious software. You can also use apps that can delete all your data at once if your device is stolen or misplaced accidentally. You can also use two-factor authentication wherever possible besides passwords via fingerprint, body part scan or pattern to add an extra layer of security to your personal information online.
Stay alert to prevent phishing attacks
Many cybercriminals and phishers look for ways to impersonate organizations or gain users’ credentials to deliver malware to their devices via malicious site links. This can be easily done by emails or SMS where the attackers send a link that is attached to a malicious website. Whenever you find suspicious mail in your inbox, avoid clicking on any link attached to it and delete the message at once. If you still think that your account or device is been watched or hacked, report the same to the cybersecurity agencies rather than waiting for a data security breach.