A Guide to Securing Confidential Personal Data Both Online and Offline

Scott Repasky
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Data Security

Basic Data Protection Tips

Data protection is essentially the processes that involve the securing of personal or confidential information to ensure that it cannot be accessed by people who are not authorized to access it. The protection levels are dependent on the importance of the data and the threats a user is facing.

For instance, your data is more confidential if the information you are keeping is related to company's future plans and project details, which may cost a company millions of dollars. Likewise, the threats may vary depending on the potential and likelihood of the threat. While a threat coming from an inside source might pose a high risk, a threat coming from an outside source or a random hacker may pose only a low threat.

Keeping Your Information

As Safe As Possible Online

There are two main ways that your information can be compromised as it is exchanged between devices on the Internet:

  • Through actively compromising the information means, which could be something as automated as a spam email, or as sophisticated and targeted as a cyber attack. Most security measures are designed to protect your information from this type of compromise.
  • Through neglecting the information means, such as leaving your credit card and social security card printed on top of your dresser for anyone in your family and significant other to see. While there are no major means to protect your information from neglect, there are some safety precautions you can take to protect yourself. Below are a few ways to make sure that your confidential information stays as safe as possible online.

Verify Information

The most common ways of getting your information online is through social media sites and email. On social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you should be skeptical of any and all links you see. These links can easily take you to fake social networking pages which steal your information for identity theft. The best way to avoid this is to always hover your mouse over the link you are considering clicking on. This will give you an explanation of where the link is going and allow you to avoid fake social network pages.

Keeping Your Information

As Safe as Possible Offline

Carry sensitive data (like your social security number, passport number, health card number, driver’s license, bank account number, and passwords) at all times. This is unlikely to happen if you’re talking on the phone, working at your desk, or in a public network. However, it’s important to make sure you make photocopies (with sensitive information blacked out) of important documents and keep them in different places (e.g. office, safe, wallet, etc.).

Check out the safety tips below for keeping portable devices safe.

Limit the Number

of Accounts You Carry

Your first step to securing your confidential information is to limit the number of accounts you carry with you. Prior to replacing your wallet or switching to a new piece of luggage, look at your current framework and reflect on how many cards you are carrying. Ask yourself if you really need to carry that new card you just got in the mail or the extra bonus cards you receive on occasion from your insurance company or department store.

Prior to replacing, look at what you have, what you really need and what information you are carrying around with you every day. Ask yourself will it be worth the hassle to secure those extra cards.

Understand the Tricks that

Thieves Can Use Via Social Engineering
Online and Offline

Phishing is considered as fraudulent email messages that are made to lure online users to provide confidential information about themselves such as account information, password and more. In many cases, you can purchase information online. Thieves use a number of successful strategies to steal your personal information. Some of them use social engineering and computer hacking while others gain access to computers through the use of wireless connections.

The most common phishing scams such as the Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud and the Fake Lottery Sweepstakes depend on the deceptiveness in the content of the email combined with convincing wording of the email to make it feel more personal to the online user. They make it appear to the recipient that the email is genuine, while in fact it is not.

Thieves request that you wire a payment for a "tax" or a "clearing fee" immediately and then if you don't, you'll never hear from them again. The con artists are very convincing and make these requests appear very urgent. The emails are neither sponsored by legitimate businesses nor institutions. In many cases, the con artists have used email addresses that appear to be based in other countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The con artists attach obscure titles in their emails and not the company's official logos.

Dispose of Financial and

Personal Data Safely

The most vulnerable to identity thieves are people who handle a lot of financial data and corporate data, such as employees of banks, insurance companies and credit card companies. It's important to keep business information secure, anywhere it is stored.

Keeping your data safe will involve certain steps and policies, depending on whether it’s online or offline. Not much has changed with the ways of how to keep your data safe, both online and offline, but there are always improvements that can be made.

The overall best practice for keeping your data safe offline is to have multiple copies of any sensitive data that would be needed in case of a records loss or a computer programming glitch. Insurance companies use offline data backups and all companies should take precautionary steps to ensure they don’t lose customer’s information.

Securing Children’s

Confidential Data

Protecting the privacy and confidentiality of children’s information is almost more important online than offline. Logic dictates that all of the information and products that are marketed to, sold to, and used by children will require a higher level of security than what you use for your adult accounts. This is because when children get involved it is almost impossible to get them to understand that information is confidential, or that confidential information is worth protecting. The main reason for protecting Children’s confidential data is to protect your children from Internet predators.

Every year thousands of children are sold and traded on the Internet by predators, and they are forever lost to their parents in the same way that countless numbers of children go missing in everyday society. This doesn’t have to happen to your children, and it doesn’t have to happen to your grandchildren. As a parent you don’t want to encourage your child to share their information, nor do you want to be overbearing by denying them the freedom to explore and learn about the online world.

Conclusion

Many individuals can be relaxed regarding personal data protection, but they should not. It is rather significant to shop, pay, and play online, but only if you maintain your security and privacy.

Securing personal data occurs at multiple levels. It can be applied to the hardware, software, accounts, and environment. However, despite your best efforts, you cannot secure physical devices, such as keyboards, mice, and headphones. These are typically bound by physical access.

It is vital that you choose home routers, computers, operating systems, and programs that are geared towards security. If you are unsure of the safety or encryption of your computer, then you should have a computing professional examine the system.

It is all about choice and observation. Try to learn how to identify potential cyber threats before it is too late.

In the current online system, you will want to establish a good credit score to be able to obtain loans. You will also want to have an excellent reputation as a consumer, as otherwise, you will not be able to get a credit card. Also, many companies will not want to work with you if you have a damaged credit history.

Also, you should safeguard your passwords. You don’t want anyone to access your online accounts. Furthermore, you want to refrain from using the same password over and over again. Furthermore, do not give passwords or personal information to people that are not authorized and reliable.

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