Shady individuals and organizations are always crawling the internet, trying to infiltrate accounts with malicious intent. These pervasive hackers continue to show no intent to respect personal privacy. So it has become a priority for all internet users to ensure their online visibility and data remains protected. Here are 7 guidelines to get you started:

1. Adjust your browser settings
Browsing is one of the easiest ways to fall victim to those prowling the web — privacy isn’t guaranteed! This is because of the clickstream — a log of all sites you visit — is public property. Companies rely on this information to track your online behavior for various reasons. You should configure your favorite browser to repel those trying to snoop. Experts recommend internet users explore and fully understand the privacy controls offered by their preferred browser before they even begin browsing.

2. Use email more cautiously
Email is another conduit for attackers to reach unsuspecting victims — especially those who tend to click everything in their inbox. They rely on those who open spam email, oblivious to the dangers inside. To protect your data, avoid opening unsolicited mail until you can verify the source. Links are particularly dangerous, so if you accidentally open an unverified email, avoid clicking any. If it looks like a company email, type its URL into a browser to visit their official website to confirm the information is correct.

3. A password is not enough
Maybe it’s time you rethink your password. Rather than using a single word or phrase, which is easy to crack for seasoned hackers, people who wish to better protect their data use more reliable passphrases — combinations of characters that are not easy to decode. Use symbols, spaces, and numbers to make your passphrase more complex. Data protection experts even recommend using a separate passphrase for each site. For enhanced protection, enable stronger authentication tools like biometrics and multi-factor authentication where one-time codes are sent to your smartphone.

4. Wisely choose file storage
If you decide to carry sensitive data on a USB stick, ensure that it is encrypted. The cloud is better than portable storage devices, as it provides unlimited space and advanced security features. Not all cloud services provide equal resources, so search for one that meets your criteria and offers the best protection for all your data. When you subscribe to cloud storage services, make sure that automatic-upload is turned off. Be careful with smartphones, as they have been reported to upload files to virtual servers by default.

5. Overwrite all deleted files
Deleting a file from a computing device may not mean the file is truly gone. A tech-savvy individual with intent can recover that information, even if you formatted a USB stick or emptied the recycle bin. Overwriting is the only way you can be sure that deleted files are gone forever. This shouldn’t be an intimidating process, as there are free tools that carry out the overwriting process. If you delete files on a device, remember to remove any copies on the cloud if you never want them found.

6. Firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-viruses are your friends
Cybercriminals invest in advanced technology to infiltrate accounts and access private data. In response, everyone with an online account should invest in the most powerful anti-malware they can afford. In addition to scanning for malicious programs, the right tool should offer device location, remote wipe, suspicious URL blocking, and backup. Without reliable protection, your photos, business information, and identity are at risk.

7. Be careful where you open an account
Cafés are a nice way to access the internet, but be careful. Personal accounts, or those with sensitive data, should never be accessed via public networks. Avoid sharing personal information over the internet.

Protecting sensitive data should be an end goal for every internet user. Practice the above guidelines for effective protection. For more information, contact our professional team to take you through the entire security process.