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101 Data Protection Tips: How to Keep Your Passwords, Financial & Personal Information Online Safe in 2022

by Juliana De Groot on Tuesday June 28, 2022

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We've compiled 101 Data Protection Tips to help you protect your passwords, financial information, and identity online.

Keeping your passwords, financial, and other personal information safe and protected from outside intruders has long been a priority of businesses, but it's increasingly critical for consumers and individuals to heed data protection advice and use sound practices to keep your sensitive personal information safe and secure. There's an abundance of information out there for consumers, families, and individuals on protecting passwords, adequately protecting desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices from hackers, malware, and other threats, and best practices for using the Internet safely. But there's so much information, from using a virtual private network (VPN) to using unique and strong passwords or an antivirus software, it's easy to get confused, particularly if you're not tech-savvy. We've compiled a list of 101 simple, straightforward best practices and tips for keeping your family's personal information private and protecting your devices from threats.

Table of Contents:


Securing Your Devices and Networks

1. Encrypt your data

Data encryption isn't just for technology geeks; modern tools make it possible for anyone to encrypt emails and other information. "Encryption used to be the sole province of geeks and mathematicians, but a lot has changed in recent years. In particular, various publicly available tools have taken the rocket science out of encrypting (and decrypting) email and files. GPG for Mail, for example, is an open source plug-in for the Apple Mail program that makes it easy to encrypt, decrypt, sign and verify emails using the OpenPGP standard. And for protecting files, newer versions of Apple's OS X operating system come with FileVault, a program that encrypts the hard drive of a computer. Those running Microsoft Windows have a similar program. This software will scramble your data, but won't protect you from government authorities demanding your encryption key under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), which is why some aficionados recommend TrueCrypt, a program with some very interesting facilities," explains John Naughton in an article for The Guardian. Twitter: @guardian

2. Backup your data

One of the most basic, yet often overlooked, data protection tips is backing up your data. Basically, this creates a duplicate copy of your data so that if a device is lost, stolen, or compromised, you don't also lose your important information. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and insurance company Nationwide points out, "According to Nationwide, 68% of small businesses don’t have a disaster recovery plan. The problem with this is the longer it takes you to restore your data, the more money you’ll lose. Gartner found that this downtime can cost companies as much as $300,000 an hour." Twitter: @growwithco

3. Make your old computers' hard drives unreadable

Much information can be gleaned through old computing devices, but you can protect your personal data by making hard drives unreadable before disposing of them. "Make old computers’ hard-drives unreadable. After you back up your data and transfer the files elsewhere, you should sanitize by disk shredding, magnetically cleaning the disk, or using software to wipe the disk clean. Destroy old computer disks and backup tapes," according to the Florida Office of the Attorney General. Twitter: @AGPamBondi

4. Secure your wireless network at your home or business

A valuable tip for both small business owners and individuals or families, it's always recommended to secure your wireless network with a password. This prevents unauthorized individuals within proximity to hijack your wireless network. Even if they're merely attempting to get free Wi-Fi access, you don't want to inadvertently share private information with other people who are using your network without permission. "If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router," says FCC.gov in an article offering data protection tips for small businesses. Twitter: @FCC

5. Use a firewall

"Firewalls assist in blocking dangerous programs, viruses or spyware before they infiltrate your system. Various software companies offer firewall protection, but hardware-based firewalls, like those frequently built into network routers, provide a better level of security," says Geek Squad. Twitter: @GeekSquad

6. Encrypt data on your USB drives and SIM cards

Encrypting your data on your removable storage devices can make it more difficult (albeit not impossible) for criminals to interpret your personal data should your device become lost or stolen. USB drives and SIM cards are excellent examples of removable storage devices that can simply be plugged into another device, enabling the user to access all the data stored on it. Unless, of course, it's encrypted. "Your USB drive could easily be stolen and put into another computer, where they can steal all of your files and even install malware or viruses onto your flash drive that will infect any computer it is plugged in to. Encrypt your SIM card in case your phone is ever stolen, or take it out if you are selling your old cell phone," according to Mike Juba in an article on Business2Community. Twitter: @EZSolutionCorp

7. Disable file and media sharing if you don't need it

If you have a home wireless network with multiple devices connected, you might find it convenient to share files between machines. However, there's no reason to make files publicly available if it's not necessary. "Make sure that you share some of your folders only on the home network. If you don’t really need your files to be visible to other machines, disable file and media sharing completely," says Kaspersky. Twitter: @kaspersky

8. Create encrypted volumes for portable, private data files

HowToGeek offers a series of articles with tips, tricks, and tools for encrypting files or sets of files using various programs and tools. This article covers a method for creating an encrypted volume to easily transport private, sensitive data for access on multiple computers. Twitter: @howtogeeksite

9. Overwrite deleted files

Deleting your information on a computing device rarely means it's truly deleted permanently. Often, this data still exists on disk and can be recovered by someone who knows what they're doing (such as, say, a savvy criminal determined to find your personal information). The only way to really ensure that your old data is gone forever is to overwrite it. Luckily, there are tools to streamline this process. PCWorld covers a tool and process for overwriting old data on Windows operating systems. Twitter: @pcworld

10. Don't forget to delete old files from cloud backups

If you're diligent about backing up your data and use a secure cloud storage service to do so, you're headed in the right direction. That said, cloud backups, and any data backups really, create an added step when it comes to deleting old information. Don't forget to delete files from your backup services in addition to those you remove (or overwrite) on your local devices. "If you back up your files to the cloud, remember that even though you delete them on your computer or mobile device, they’re still stored in your cloud account. To completely delete the file, you’ll also need to remove it from your backup cloud account," says re/code. Twitter: @Recode


Data Protection Tips for Mobile Devices

11. Consciously check and configure app privacy settings

Most apps offer privacy settings for users, enabling you to determine how much and what types of information are shared or stored. Always choose the least amount of data-sharing possible. Casey Chin from Wired explains, "You probably spend a lot of your day inside apps: catching up on the news, playing music and movies, keeping in touch with friends, racing cartoon characters around a track, and so on. Every once in a while though, it's worth running an audit on these apps to make sure they're not overreaching and going beyond their remit—collecting more data about you and controlling more of your devices than you'd like." Twitter: @WIRED

12. Enable remote location and device-wiping

"If your gadget is lost or stolen, tracking apps can tell you exactly where your phone is. These apps also let you wipe sensitive information remotely. If your phone does end up landing in the wrong hands, you can at least make sure they don't get your information," says Kim Komando. Twitter: @kimkomando

13. Take care of privacy settings immediately upon setup

When configuring a new device or operating system, configuring privacy settings should be the first order of business. This ensures that you're not inadvertently sharing sensitive information as you set up your standard apps and services. "The minute you download and install iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad, you should take note of these privacy steps in order to lock down your device. iOS 8 has a number of new features tied to your location. It also has new privacy settings, allowing users to limit how long data is stored for, such as message expiry features and new private browsing settings...Before you do anything like customizing your phone, loading new apps, or syncing your data for the first time, these first seven settings need to be checked, and if necessary, changed," explains Zack Whittaker in an article appearing on ZDNet. Twitter: @zackwhittaker

14. Use MyPermissions.com to control app permissions in one fell swoop

While it's not all-inclusive, MyPermissions.com is a handy tool that allows you to check your permission settings across a multitude of apps, get reminders to clean your permissions with mobile-friendly apps, and get alerts when apps access your personal information so that you can remove it with a single click. Twitter: @mypermissions

15. Lock your smartphone and tablet devices

Practically everyone has a smartphone, tablet, or both these days. All it takes is a single mishap where your device slips out of your pocket or briefcase at a restaurant or on public transportation, and your data could wind up in the hands of someone who will use it maliciously. You can take steps to protect your data in the event of a lost or stolen device, however, beginning with locking your device. When your device is locked, a thief must crack your password before gaining access to your apps or personal information, adding a layer of protection. Unfortunately, many don’t lock their devices, says Monica Anderson of Pew Research, "More than a quarter (28%) of smartphone owners say they do not use a screen lock or other security features to access their phone." Twitter: @pewresearch

16. Disable automatic uploading

Some devices automatically backup your data to the cloud, and some apps used on smartphones or tablets store information in remote servers. Yes, having a backup of your data is a good thing, but the backup should be accessible only by you or someone you authorize. You can prevent your devices from sharing your personal photos and other information with the cloud for the world to see by disabling automatic backup settings on your device and on individual apps. In an article on BBC, Colin Barras explains, "As cloud services grow it’s becoming common for devices like smartphones to upload user data to remote servers by default. If you’re at all worried about some of your photos falling into the hands of malicious parties it’s probably not a bad idea to check your phone settings to see what data is being automatically backed up to the cloud, and disable automatic uploading." Twitter: @BBC_Future

17. Disable Bluetooth when you're not using it

Bluetooth technology has offered incredible conveniences to the mobile world, but it also opens the door for vulnerabilities. Most threats exploiting Bluetooth connectivity are dependent on the active Bluetooth connection, and while they aren't typically devastating or dangerous, they're certainly inconvenient and can be serious. "Bluetooth attacks depend on exploiting the permission request/grant process that is the backbone of Bluetooth connectivity. Regardless of the security features on your device, the only way to completely prevent attackers from exploiting that permission request/grant process is to power off your device’s Bluetooth function when you’re not using it — not putting it into an invisible or undetectable mode, but completely turning it off (there are bad apps that can power your device back on, just one more reason overall app security is vital)," advises Kaspersky Lab. Twitter: @kaspersky

18. Get anti-virus or anti-malware protection for your mobile devices

Anti-malware protection software is a given for most computer users, but many consumers still overlook the importance of protecting mobile devices from the growing number of malware programs impacting all types of mobile devices. Just a few years ago, however, security options for mobile devices offered mediocre protection against threats, at best. "Besides antivirus and malware scanning, security apps for Android also offer a full McAfee LiveSafe 2014 Android screenshot McAfee for Android security suite with features such as device location, remote wipe, backup, and suspicious-URL blocking. These extra features usually require a premium subscription, but most apps offer a minimal, basic level of protection for free, including malware scanning," according to an article on PCWorld. Twitter: @pcworld

19. Check your push notification settings on mobile devices

Push notifications are notices posted to your device homescreen so that you don't miss important information or updates. "Many applications send proactive notifications to your phone's home screen. In general, these notifications are valuable and make it easy to keep track of what's happening in your favorite applications. Personal health applications may send these types of notifications as well. If you are using applications that use push notifications, review them to ensure that sensitive data isn't being shared unexpectedly to your home screen. You don't want your personal health data laying out in plain site on your phone," according to an article on TrueVault. Twitter: @TrueVault

20. Enable Touch ID if you use an Apple device

If you use an iPhone 5 or later, you can take advantage of an added security measure known as Touch ID, a technologically advanced fingerprint security tactic. "The actual image of your fingerprint is not stored anywhere, and is instead converted to a mathematical representation of a fingerprint that cannot be reverse engineered into one. This mathematical representation is stored in a Secure Enclave within your phone’s chip, and is never accessed by iOS or other apps, never stored on Apple servers, and never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else."

21. Set up content filters

If you have children who use mobile devices, check into security options such as content filters that can be activated either through your wireless provider or on the physical device. These filters restrict access to certain types of content, ensuring that your children cannot inadvertently go to websites or download apps that contain either inappropriate or malicious content. Verizon Wireless, for instance, offers a number of content filters and security options for families through Mobicip. Twitter: @VerizonWireless

22. Set your device to automatically lock after a period of inactivity

Most smartphones and tablets enable you to set a specified time frame, after which the device automatically locks if it's been inactive. This means if you lose your smartphone but it wasn't locked, it will lock on its own, ideally before a thief obtains it and attempts to access your personal information. "Configure your settings to ensure that your device locks after a short period of time," says DeviceCheck.ca, formerly known as ProtectYourData.ca. Twitter: @CWTAwireless

23. Prevent your smartphone from being stolen

While remote wiping and location-tracking solutions are great for finding your device and protecting your data if it's been stolen, the ideal solution is to avoid having your smartphone or other device stolen in the first place. "One of your best 'grab-prevention' options is a wireless proximity alarm system. These handy app/device combos let you know when your phone gets more than the pre-set distance limit from the proximity device (which is usually small enough to fit on a key ring)," ComputerWorld recommends. Twitter: @computerworld

24. Use an on-device, personal firewall

Firewalls aren't just for servers and browsers; you can get a personal firewall for your mobile device, too. MySecurityAwareness.com suggests installing "an on-device personal firewall to protect mobile device interfaces from direct attack."

25. Be mindful of eavesdroppers when shopping via your mobile device in public

If you have time to kill on your morning commute, you might browse the virtual shopping aisles, but be mindful of who is sitting beside you or behind you. Criminals can easily peep over your shoulder and watch as you enter passwords, credit card details, and other information. "A long commute on a bus or a train is the perfect time to get some holiday shopping done, but beware of that stranger sitting next to you. Your neighbors might try and read your screen and steal your credit card number or other information. Investing in a privacy screen or filter can significantly reduce the risk of peeping thieves. Screen protectors come in all shapes and sizes and at Best Buy, you can find the one that’s best for your favorite tech gadget," advises BestBuy in an article offering tips for keeping your digital data safe on Cyber Monday (and really, anytime you're shopping online). Twitter: @BBYNews


Protecting Data While Working Remotely and Working from Home

26. Consider using a VPN

A VPN can help keep your data and personal information secure, especially for those working on less secure networks. According to Firsthand.co, “A VPN will encrypt any data that you send over the web. That being said, your VPN provider remains with your browsing history. You can never be too sure what someone does with that information. That’s why it’s wise to ensure that you’re using a trusted VPN such as NordVPN or Bitdefender, both available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, and has extensions for Chrome and Firefox. NordVPN guarantees faster connection speeds and security over six devices simultaneously.” Twitter: @FirsthandHQ

27. Maintain physical control over your devices

Theft of devices such as laptops and smartphones is prevalent in some public locations. “Take your laptop with you everywhere, and if you’re feeling tired and think you’ll fall asleep in the lounge between flights, put your laptop into secure storage,” explains WorkflowMax. Twitter: @WorkflowMax

28. Use a personal hotspot

A personal hotspot can be set up with most major wireless carriers and provides a more private alternative compared to public Wi-Fi. Critical Insight explains, “Although your web traffic will be unencrypted between the hotspot and its destination, using a hot spot does eliminate the problem of getting hacked by people on the same public Wi-Fi. With most major carriers, you can pay a nominal fee for the capability to set up a private Wi-Fi network with your cell phone. Of course, it will count against your data, but the cost is minimal relative to the potential downside of a significant hack to your company’s systems or computer.” Twitter: @detectrespond

29. Maintain clear separation between personal and work devices

Employees that have dedicated devices for work should use those devices only for work purposes. “The temptation to use personal devices for work purposes (and vice versa) can be much higher for employees that work from home, and that’s why education is key. Many companies routinely install updates, complete antivirus scans, or block websites on verified work devices, but these safeguards won’t make it to personal laptops and phones. Stay proactive about following all the cybersecurity guidelines your company has in place, including keeping your work devices separate from your personal life. In the event that you do need to use a personal device for work, contact your company security team to ensure you have as many safeguards set up as possible,” FormAssembly recommends. Twitter: @FormAssembly

30. Implement a cyber security policy

It’s crucial for companies to not only implement a cybersecurity policy for remote workers but also ensure that employees are aware of their role in keeping company data secure. “The policy document should cover the reasoning behind having a policy in the first place, as well as details outlining all of the various security protocols employees are expected to comply with, how the company will support them in complying (i.e., which tools and resources they will provide), and a place for the employee to sign their commitment to following the policy,” explains Laura Spawn, CEO and co-founder of Virtual Vocations, in an article published by CMS Wire. Twitter: @cmswire

31. Use encryption

Scale Technology suggests encrypting emails, as they are often a target of cyberattacks. “Through encryption, content is disguised, so any sensitive information that comes up in a conversation will be seen only by the designated recipient. Password management can also be encrypted. By using a system to encrypt password management, sharing passwords can be made simple among team members. Individual passwords get shared without anyone seeing the actual password. This is especially helpful if a team member leaves the business for any reason.”

32. Implement access control

Remote employees should have access only to the systems and data that they need to perform their job duties. Nira explains, “Implementing limited remote access to confidential and sensitive data on a need-to-know basis can help reduce security risks and prevent a severe security breach from occurring when working remotely.”

33. Use a mobile device management platform

Lane Technology Solutions suggests employees should keep their devices secure with firewalls, antivirus software and anti-malware. “Companies might also want to have the ability to remotely wipe devices in case they are lost or stolen. Having mobile device management platforms in place allows remote workers to continue to use their own devices while ensuring the safety of company data.”

34. Follow security best practices when using video conferencing applications

Videoconferencing is now a staple of the modern workplace, but if security practices aren’t followed, sensitive data may be at risk. JD Supra explains, “With the number of meetings being conducted virtually, it is important to secure video conferencing applications, including by checking meeting links, requiring a password to enter each meeting, using virtual waiting rooms, locking rooms once a meeting has started, ensuring that screen sharing/recording and file sharing are controlled solely by the meeting organizer, and consistently reviewing attendee information during a meeting to ensure that only those invited are participating.” Twitter: @JDSupra

35. Ensure that remote workers are educated about phishing

Remote workers are often a target of phishing attempts. According to an article published by Business News Daily, “Many scammers send phishing emails with the intent to steal sensitive information from the recipient or the company. Especially in complicated times – like the novel coronavirus pandemic – phishers are hoping to take advantage of trusting victims. They’ll often pretend they’re someone within the company, like the CEO or a manager, to establish false trust. Remote workers are easy targets because they’re not in the office and, therefore, hackers are hoping they won’t check to see if the email is legitimate.” Twitter: @BNDarticles

36. Consider using hardware security keys

SSO solutions are increasingly popular to centralize the access control of various systems, but they can pose additional risks. Time Doctor explains, “But that’s not a reason to avoid using an SSO solution. It’s a reason to eliminate passwords as a weak point to be exploited by attackers. And it’s quite a weak point. According to a report, a full 81% of successful data breaches that year involved a compromised password. The good news is that there’s a solution to the problem: hardware security keys. These are physical devices that contain complex, encrypted passwords to access digital systems. By giving them to employees and making them the default method of authentication with an SSO solution, two-factor authentication, the odds of a data breach go down dramatically.” Twitter: @TimeDoctorApp


Protecting Your Identity

37. Decide what you define as Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

ComputerWorld asks six privacy experts for their recommendations for protecting data in the modern digital age. "'The traditional definition of personally identifying information (PII) -- health records, credit card numbers, social security number, etc. -- is so 20th century. The big data age of the Internet is upon us, and even data not previously considered to be PII can feel very personal when viewed in a broader context. 'Bits of data, when combined, tell a lot about you,' says Alex Fowler, chief privacy officer at Mozilla. Those aggregated bits, which constitute the new PII, may include such information as your email address, browsing history and search history. 'The definition of PII -- information that a person has a legitimate interest in understanding and protecting -- is going to be broadened as we move further into the information society,' says Fowler. 'It's a different footprint than what your parents ever thought about. Think about what you consider personal information,' Fowler adds. 'You need a working definition.'" Twitter: @Computerworld

38. Use secure passwords

Passwords are easily cracked by hackers, particularly if you don't use sound password-creation practices. The best passwords contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You should also avoid using easily guessed words or alphanumeric combinations, such as the names of children or pets, birth dates, addresses, and similar information that can be easily guessed by someone looking at your Facebook profile or through a Google search. "The shorter and less complex your password is, the quicker it is for cybercriminals to come up with the correct combination of characters in your password." suggests the CSA Alliance. Twitter: @CSAsingapore

39. Don't use Social Security numbers, phone numbers, addresses, or other personally identifiable information as passwords

Don't use numbers or combinations associated with other personally identifiable information as all or even part of your passwords. "Don't use any part of your social security number (or any other sensitive info, like a credit card number) as a password, user ID or personal identification number (PIN). If someone gains access to this information, it will be among the first things they use to try to get into your account," Bank of America advises. Twitter: @BofA_News

40. Be overly cautious when sharing personal information

This tip applies to both the online and offline worlds: Who is asking for your personal information, such as your Social Security number or credit card information? Why do they need it? How will they use it? What security measures do they have in place to ensure that your private information remains private? According to the Department of Justice, “Sharing personal information with others you do not know personally is one of your biggest risks online.  Sharing sensitive information such as your address, phone number, family members’ names, car information, passwords, work history, credit status, social security numbers, birth date, school names, passport information, driver’s license numbers, insurance policy numbers, loan numbers, credit/ debit card numbers, PIN numbers, and bank account information is risky and should be avoided.  Consider removing your name from websites that share your personal information obtained from public records (including your phone number, address, social media avatars, and pictures) with anyone on the internet.” Twitter: @NDGAnews

41. Watch out for impersonators

Related to the previous tip, there are many impostors who attempt to trick unsuspecting consumers into giving out their sensitive personal information by pretending to be the individual's bank, credit card company, or other entity. This can happen by phone or online, via phishing emails or websites designed to mimic the authentic company's look and feel. "Make sure you know who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service. Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement. Ask whether the company really sent a request," advises the Federal Trade Commission. Twitter: @FTC

42. Share passwords carefully

This is a data protection tip that's been emphasized by many security experts, yet there are still many people who fail to follow this advice. The truth is, it's impractical in the modern environment. Families need to share passwords to bank accounts, credit cards, and other online services with spouses, and many share a single login to services like Netflix. In the workplace, there are abundant reasons why co-workers may need to share login credentials. You shouldn't give out passwords without concern; rather, determine when another person legitimately requires access to your personal information or account and grant access on a case-by-case basis. If another person needs access for a single, isolated purpose, change your password when the task is completed and they no longer require access. Another option, suggested in an article on PCMag, is to use a password manager that can share single login credentials with other people without them actually being able to view or interpret the login information. Twitter: @PCMag

43. Don't use the same password for more than one account or service

A password manager seems like an even better idea when you consider the fact that you should never use the same password for more than one account or service. Think about it: If a hacker cracks your password on one website, they suddenly have cracked your password for a dozen more. But remembering the slew of passwords the average person would need to recall to access the many accounts and services most people have these days is no simple feat, unless you have a photographic memory. In lieu of a password manager, you could follow Nuxnik’s Lab’s advice and create your own password algorithm that makes it simple to remember all your passwords without ever using the same one twice.

44. Watch out for theft of your government-issued identification numbers

Thieves don't always go after credit and debit cards; sometimes, they steal important government-issued identification numbers, such as driver's license numbers or Social Security numbers in attempt to assume another individual's identity. "If you are notified of a breach involving your driver's license or another government document, contact the agency that issued the document and find out what it recommends in such situations. You might be instructed to cancel the document and obtain a replacement. Or the agency might instead 'flag' your file to prevent an imposter from getting a license in your name," suggests PrivacyRights.org. Twitter: @PrivacyToday

45. Don't write your passwords down

It's tempting to keep a written list of passwords, or even a single password written down in a notebook or, worse yet, a sticky note. But this is a bad idea, as it makes it extraordinarily easy for someone else to steal your login information and access your accounts without your permission. "Writing your password on a 'sticky-note' and sticking it on your monitor makes it very easy for people who regularly steal passwords to obtain yours. Hiding it under your keyboard or mouse pad is not much better, as these are common hiding places for passwords. However if you must write something down, jot down a hint or clue that will help jog your memory or store the written password in a secure, locked place," says Switch Technologies.

46. Organize your passwords in logical groupings

By using a different system for creating passwords for different types of websites, such as social networking websites, financial institutions, and other membership sites, you ensure that should a hacker crack one of your algorithms, they won't immediately be able to crack all of your accounts' passwords. "First up, group your passwords by function — social media, financial information, work — and use a different approach for creating passwords within each group. That way, if a hacker figures out your Facebook password, he won’t be just clicks away from your bank account," explains an article on Boston Globe. Twitter: @BostonGlobe

47. Avoid faxing sensitive information unless absolutely necessary

Faxing can be a convenient way to send information quickly, but it's not possible to ensure that the intended recipient is the person who receives the document on the other end, or that the information isn't visible to someone else in the process of transporting it to another department or individual. "Personal information should not be sent by fax unless it is necessary to transmit the information quickly. It is important that sufficient precautions are taken to ensure that it is received only by its intended recipient," says BCMJ.org. Twitter: @BCMedicalJrnl

48. Shred old documents and statements

Most consumers receive an abundance of mail largely considered junk mail. Credit card statements, bank account statements, notifications regarding other accounts, credit card offers, and more plague the mailboxes of consumers across the U.S. While online access to accounts has made printed statements practically unnecessary, many consumers simply toss these items out when they're received. But doing so without first shredding them could put your personal information in the hands of thieves. "Each day, the U.S. Postal Services delivers more than 187 million pieces of mail1, and much of that correspondence contains sensitive personal information. A lot of it may seem like junk mail, but it could be a useful tool for identity thieves. Even a partial account number, coupled with the name of your bank, or other information can be matched with any other info that’s been gleaned to open accounts in your name. That’s why it’s important to shred mail or other documents containing potentially sensitive information.," explains Certified Financial Group Inc. Twitter: @certifiedfingrp

49. Get rid of old data you no longer need

Keeping your computer and mobile devices clean is a good practice to ensure usability, but it's also wise to eliminate old data you no longer need. Why give potential criminals more info than absolutely necessary? "Keep only the data you need for routine current business, safely archive or destroy older data, and remove it from all computers and other devices (smart phones, laptops, flash drives, external hard disks)," advises the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Twitter: @mit_istnews

50. Properly dispose of electronics

It's true that nothing is ever really deleted permanently from a computing device; hackers and technologically savvy criminals (and, of course, the FBI) are often able to recover information from hard drives if they haven't been properly disposed of. "There are a variety of methods for permanently erasing data from your devices (also called sanitizing). Because methods of sanitization vary according to device, it is important to use the method that applies to that particular device. Before sanitizing a device, consider backing up your data. Saving your data to another device or a second location (e.g., an external hard drive or the cloud) can help you recover your data if you accidentally erase information you had not intended to or if your device is stolen (this can also help you identify exactly what information a thief may have been able to access). Options for digital storage include cloud data services, CDs, DVDs, and removable flash drives or removable hard drives (see Using Caution with USB Drives for more information).," the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency says. Twitter: @CISAgov


Protecting Your Credit

51. Sign when using debit cards, don't enter your PIN

When possible, ask cashiers to process your debit card as a credit card transaction. Not all retail stores allow this (it results in a small processing fee to be paid by the retailer), but most do. It's often simpler just to enter your PIN, but it also makes it easier for thieves to steal all the information they need to make unauthorized purchases using your card. "Not entering you PIN into a keypad will help reduce the chances of a hacker stealing that number too, Young says. Crooks can do more damage with your PIN, possibly printing a copy of the card and taking money out of an ATM, he says. During Target's breach last year, the discount retailer said hackers gained access to customers' PINs. Home Depot, however, said there was no indication that PINs were compromised in the breach at its stores," explains Joseph Pasani in an Associated Press article appearing on USA Today. Twitter: @USATODAY

52. Sign up for email alerts for transactions

If your bank or credit card company offers this service, sign up to receive an email alert when your card has been used for a transaction. This makes it easy to pinpoint charges you didn't make, and allows you to take rapid action to cancel cards. "When you receive a potential fraud alert, you’ll be asked to confirm whether you’ve made the purchase in question — and if you haven’t, your card issuer will work with you to report the fraud and reverse the transaction." says Bankrate. Twitter: @Bankrate

53. Review your statements regularly

"Review your bank and credit card statements regularly to look for suspicious transactions. If you have online access to your bank and credit card accounts, it is a good idea to check them regularly, perhaps weekly, for transactions that aren't yours. Contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately to report a problem. Debit card users in particular should promptly report a lost card or an unauthorized transaction. Unlike the federal protections for credit cards that cap losses from fraudulent charges at $50, your liability limit for a debit card could be up to $500, or more, if you don't notify your bank within two business days after discovering the loss or theft," advises FDIC.gov. Twitter: @FDICgov

54. Keep an eye out for small transactions

Fraudsters don't always make major purchases with stolen cards. In fact, there have been some otherwise-legitimate companies that have scammed their own customers by charging small amounts to credit and debit cards they believed would go unnoticed by consumers. Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago, talks with ChicagoBusiness.com about his experience: "Mr. Ablin says those who pay with credit should be vigilant about tracking their bills. He recalls after a recent online order he placed for flowers that a random charge for $1.99 appeared on his account from an unknown source. He found that the flower company he used was scamming people for this small amount. He figures the company believed most people wouldn't notice the relatively small amount. 'Don't necessarily look for the Hawaiian vacation on your statement,' Mr. Ablin says." Twitter: @CrainsChicago

55. Be wary of offers of help following a data breach

It's an unfortunate reality that a data breach impacting a major corporation and, therefore, hundreds of thousands of its customers, spells opportunity for thieves. "Be very careful about responding to an unsolicited e-mail promoting credit monitoring services, since many of these offers are fraudulent. If you're interested in credit monitoring and it's not being offered for free by your retailer or bank, do your own independent research to find a reputable service," suggests FDIC.gov. Twitter: @FDICgov

56. Get a one-call fraud alert

Calling one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) and asking for a one-call fraud alert is a great way to stay on top of suspicious activity. "You only need to call one of the three credit bureaus. The one you contact is required to contact the other two. This one-call fraud alert will remain in your credit file for at least 90 days. The fraud alert requires creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or increasing credit limits on your existing accounts. When you place a fraud alert on your credit report, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus upon request," suggests Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.

57. Shop on familiar websites

There are hundreds of thousands of online retailers, known as e-commerce vendors, some more credible than others. Always opt to shop with a well-known retailer you're familiar with, rather than smaller, unfamiliar sites that could merely be a facade for credit card theft. "It’s best to shop directly with online retailers you know and trust. Bookmark your favorite shopping sites to get there quickly and safely. Avoid typing the name of the retailer into your browser bar. That’s because a tiny typo could land you on a fake site that looks just like the real one. Make a “purchase” on an illegitimate site and you may unwittingly hand the scammers your credit card number and other personal info.," according to LifeLock. Additionally, major online retailers are more likely to offer fraud protection options and the ability to return damaged or defective merchandise. Twitter: @LifeLock

58. Get a free credit report

The FTC recommends getting a copy of your credit report annually. "Mistakes on your credit report might be a sign of identity theft. Once identity thieves steal your personal information — information like, your name, date of birth, address, credit card or bank account, Social Security, or medical insurance account numbers — they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, get new credit cards in your name, open a phone, cable, or other utility account in your name, steal your tax refund, use your health insurance to get medical care, or pretend to be you if they are arrested." This allows you to pinpoint suspicious activity and identify accounts that you haven't opened. Twitter: @FTC

59. Be careful shopping online — for personal and business purchases

Because shopping online is one of the easiest ways to get your credit card number stolen, some experts suggest maintaining a separate, low-balance credit card specifically for online purchases. "Online shopping security is a concern for everyone who makes purchases on the Internet, but it is also an important issue for business leaders — and not just those in the retail sector. Firms also go shopping online, and their employees frequently make business purchases on the company credit card." explains Security Intelligence. Twitter: @IBMSecurity


Protecting Your Data on Social Networking

60. Don't share too much information on social networking platforms

Social networking has become a way of life for many individuals, but sharing too much personal information on your social media profiles can be dangerous. For instance, many hackers have successfully guessed passwords through trial-and-error methods, using combinations of common information (such as children's names, addresses, and other details) easily found on users' social media profiles. "Do not post information that would make you vulnerable, such as your address or information about your schedule or routine. If your connections post information about you, make sure the combined information is not more than you would be comfortable with strangers knowing. Also be considerate when posting information, including photos, about your connections," advises the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). Twitter: @USCERT_gov

61. Customize your social networking privacy settings

Social networks like Facebook enable users to customize their privacy settings. On Facebook, for instance, you can choose who is able to see the content you post and who is able to view information on your profile, such as your place of employment, birth date, and hometown. Always choose the highest level of privacy possible to ensure that your personal data doesn't end up in the hands of someone with malicious intent. "The content you post online will be around for a long time, but you can customize privacy settings on most social media sites. This will affect who can contact you and who can see the information you post. Be choosy: while it’s fun to share information, keep your online reputation in mind. And if you over-disclose information publicly, it could be used by identity thieves to hijack your identity," suggests the Chronicle of Data Protection. Twitter: @HLPrivacy

62. Don't trust "friends" who claim to be mugged or have other unbelievable stories

Facebook has become a dangerous platform for users who aren't careful. Scams have been attempted, some successfully, on the social network, involving thieves masquerading as users on an individual's friends list, asking for financial help after supposedly being mugged in a foreign country. Non-suspecting users who merely want to help their friends may wire money to these criminals, failing to recognize the ploy. According to Kim Komando, “As with phishing emails and scam text messages, Messenger is often the preferred way for criminals to find new victims. Whether it is to steal money or personal details, the more victims they entrap, the more profits they make. It can be so lucrative that criminals reuse old scams in new ways.” Never trust anyone who cannot verify they are, in fact, the person they claim to be. Ask strategic questions to which the answers are not readily available on the user's profile or easily located online. If it seems suspicious, get in touch with the person via phone or another communication method to try to verify the story. Twitter: @kimkomando

63. Block suspicious or shady users on Facebook

For users you don't know outside of Facebook who befriend you and then make you uncomfortable by asking repeated, personal questions or pressure you to meet them offline, blocking them is a viable option. "You also have a 'Block List' feature in your privacy settings. If you choose to block people, you cannot interact with them on Facebook at all," says Just Ask Thales. Blocking shady users means they cannot message you, contact you, or see that you're online. In fact, they cannot view your profile at all. Twitter: @thalesgroup

64. Protect your Tweets

If you're using Twitter to promote your business, you might want your Tweets to be publicly available. However, if you use Twitter for personal communications, you have the option of setting your Tweets to private, meaning only approved followers are able to view your content. Read more about the difference between public and private Tweets here and how to change your settings here. Twitter: @twitter

65. Check your privacy settings regularly

Privacy options are always changing on social networking platforms, so be sure to check your personal settings regularly and make adjustments as needed. "Content uploaded to social media platforms is not always secure, so it’s imperative to understand how to use the privacy features your social media sites have to offer," according to Social Media Examiner. Click through to the full article for a breakdown of how to update your privacy settings on each of the popular social networks. Twitter: @SMExaminer

66. Know who your friends are

Don't accept random friend requests on Facebook from people you don't know. "Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a 'fan' page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know trust) more synched up with your daily life," advises StaySafeOnline.org. Twitter: @StaySafeOnline

67. Use two-step verification for LinkedIn

"LinkedIn members can enable duplicate authentication for their accounts, and then require a password and a verification code when a login attempt is made from a device that LinkedIn does not recognize. This code is sent by SMS to the user's mobile number. In other words, any invalid or unauthorized login attempt requires a password and access to your mobile phone.," according to a post on LinkedIn Pulse. This ensures that should someone crack your account password, they will be unable to login unless they can't access your account unless they also gain access to your code -- meaning they'd have to also be in possession of your mobile device. Twitter: @LinkedIn

68. Contact the social network to regain access, and let your friends know if you've been hacked

Sometimes, having your social networks hacked means your friends could be being conned by criminals pretending to be you. Or, you could even be blocked from your own account if they've changed the password or conducted activities that have led to your account being banned by the service. "If you’re locked out of your account or blocked from accessing it, many Web services have steps in place so you can get back in. For example, Facebook has a system where you can use a trusted source like a friend to take back your account. Search each service’s help section for specific instructions. Speaking of friends, you should let your contacts know that you’ve been hacked, and report the issue to the site. Also, run a scan of your computer or mobile device using a trusted and up-to-date antivirus program," advises re/code. Twitter: @Recode


Protecting Your Online Privacy

69. Avoid sensitive transactions on public Wi-Fi

Working at the local coffee shop may have some appeal, but relying on a public Wi-Fi connection means your data is interceptable by outsiders. Avoid conducting banking transactions and sending other sensitive information over a public Wi-Fi network. As the FTC notes, "If you use an unsecured network to log in to an unencrypted site — or a site that uses encryption only on the sign-in page — other users on the network can see what you see and what you send. They could hijack your session and log in as you." Twitter: @FTC

70. Use website privacy settings

Websites other than social networking platforms also offer some privacy options. YouTube, for instance (which could arguably be considered a social networking platform, as well), allows users to make videos private or viewable only by specified persons. "Ultimately, the best way to control your personal information online is not to hand it over in the first place. Recognizing that it may not always be practical or possible to withhold information, one way to try to contain the potential privacy implications is to use privacy settings. It is important to remember that privacy settings are not a silver bullet for privacy protection, but they can and should help you increase the control you have over how your personal information is handled online, such as what information an organization collects and who can see what you post.," recommends the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Twitter: @PrivacyPrivee

71. Don't forget to sign out

Signing in to online services is necessary when you need to access your personal accounts, but many users forget to sign out when they're finished using a service. "When accessing account-based websites via a public computer, be sure to logout of the service when a session is over. Just because a new website is accessed following a visit to a site you've logged into doesn't mean the next user can't hit the back button and access your logged in account. Some systems are setup to automatically save information, as well, so be sure to see if this feature can be disabled.," according to NortonLifeLockPartner.com.

72. Don't open emails from people you don't know

If you receive an email from a source or individual you don't recognize, don't open it, and definitely avoid clicking any links or file attachments. "There is a golden rule to dealing with spam emails: if it looks like a spam message, it probably is — so delete it without clicking or downloading anything. Such messages may contain software that tells the sender you've opened the email, confirming you have an active account, which may lead to even more spam messages. Some malware programs can steal your email address and use it to resend spam messages under the guise of a legitimate address. For example, imposters could pose as someone you know, like a friend, relative, or colleague. If the message in question appears to come from someone you know, contact them outside of your email,” Norton suggests.

73. Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is an additional layer of security that provides protection in the event that a hacker guesses or cracks your password. Two-factor authentication requires a second verification step, such as the answer to a secret question or a personal identification number (PIN). You should opt for two-factor authentication when given an option. "Some websites, such as Google, will text you a code when you login to verify your identity, while others have small devices that you can carry around to generate the code. Authenticator apps are also available on all major smartphone platforms. Other types of two-factor authentication do exist as well, so look in the settings of your banking, shopping, and e-mail hosts for the option," explains the Webroot Threat Blog. Twitter: @Webroot

74. Don't believe everything you read

This tip is important for much beyond data protection, such as protecting your financial assets, your reputation, and perhaps most importantly, your personal confidence or self-worth. Too many people have fallen victim to scams online, by buying into false claims and promises of vast accumulation of wealth. Michael Daniel, on The White House Blog, advises, "Be cautious about what you receive or read online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Best-case scenario is you lose a few bucks buying into a pyramid scheme that will never net you any profits; worst-case, your personal information is sold and your identity stolen. Twitter: @WhiteHouse

75. Use secure websites, especially for sensitive transactions

When you're conducting a financial transaction or sharing other sensitive information, always use a secure website to do so. Secure Socket Layers (SSL) is a commonly used website security protocol that provides additional protection for data as it's transmitted through the Internet. You can tell if you're using a secure website by looking at the beginning of the URL. Those beginning with https:// are secure. "When you request a HTTPS connection to a webpage, the website will initially send its SSL certificate to your browser. This certificate contains the public key needed to begin the secure session. Based on this initial exchange, your browser and the website then initiate the 'SSL handshake'. The SSL handshake involves the generation of shared secrets to establish a uniquely secure connection between yourself and the website. When a trusted SSL Digital Certificate is used during a HTTPS connection, users will see a padlock icon in the browser address bar. When an Extended Validation Certificate is installed on a web site, the address bar will turn green.," explains Instant SSL. Twitter: @SectigoHQ

76. Avoid clicking on links in emails

Most everyone gets the occasional email from their bank, financial institution, or similar accounts and services. But to be safe, you should always open a browser window and type the URL in the address bar, rather than click on links in emails. Why? Phishing emails are one of the most common ways hackers obtain personal information, tricking users into inadvertently handing over their login credentials to bank accounts, credit cards, and other accounts where they can glean further information, make unauthorized purchases, or even steal your identity. "Phishing is a type of cyberattack that uses disguised email as a weapon. These attacks use social engineering techniques to trick the email recipient into believing that the message is something they want or need—a request from their bank, for instance, or a note from someone in their company—and to click a link or download an attachment." CSO explains. Twitter: @CSOonline

77. Be mindful of your online reputation

Any information you enter on social networking websites, accounts, or any other website could potentially be up for grabs in the event of a data breach. In general, the information you put online contributes to your online reputation, which can impact your chances of securing employment, getting into your college of choice, and create many problems if the information is unfavorable. Monitoring your online reputation can also help you pick up on sensitive information that shouldn't be publicly available so you can take action to have it removed. “Think before you post anything online or share information in emails.  What you post online, can be seen by anyone.  Sharing personal information with others you do not know personally is one of your biggest risks online.  Sharing sensitive information such as your address, phone number, family members’ names, car information, passwords, work history, credit status, social security numbers, birth date, school names, passport information, driver’s license numbers, insurance policy numbers, loan numbers, credit/ debit card numbers, PIN numbers, and bank account information is risky and should be avoided.  Consider removing your name from websites that share your personal information obtained from public records (including your phone number, address, social media avatars, and pictures) with anyone on the internet,” The United States Attorney’s Office in the Northeastern District of Georgia recommends.  Twitter: @NDGAnews

78. Don't download files from untrustworthy websites

Websites like peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms are not only illegal, but they're often rife with malware. Avoid downloading files from any website that you don't trust completely. "The biggest risk of downloading files from the internet is the file itself. There might be a possibility that the file you have downloaded is infected by the virus. This becomes even more serious regarding Peer-To-Peer applications. Downloading data from peer-to-peer platforms comes with many risks. You are shown viruses disguised under attractive names. If these files are downloaded and opened in the system, the whole system will get infected.," The IT Base explains. Twitter: @theITbase_tech

79. Consider using a disposable email

A disposable email account is one created solely for a specific purpose that you'll never use again or for any other account or purpose. "If you need to sign up for a service but don’t want all of the promotional updates that come with it, sign up with a burner email address. Where there’s a risk of getting spammed by email marketing content, you can avoid clogging your inbox by registering for things with a designated ‘spam’ account, and then perusing it at your leisure. This is perfect for when you’re out of the office and need to register an email address to use WIFI in a public space, for example, or need to register to a website in order to access content," GetApp explains. Twitter: @GetApp

80. Take advantage of secure mobile access options

Some online services offer secure mobile access options, enabling users to access services without exposing login credentials. "For best practices, download your financial institution’s app instead of using a browser to get to the site and log in. Apps are designed with greater security than a browser. Some apps offer enhanced security tools, such as Touch ID, use these beneficial tools for added safety.," says First Bank Iowa. Twitter: @FirstBankIowa

81. Opt out of ad tracking

An article on MakeUseOf addresses the issues that arise from ad tracking online: "Advertising is a huge business. We’ve written before about how online ads are used to target you and this goes even further with social media ads. You have to expect a level of this behavior while using the Internet, but there are ways to limit how much information is collected about you." For tips on how to opt out of ad tracking on Windows devices, click here. Twitter: @MakeUseOf

82. Don't save passwords in your browser

Another useful tip from MakeUseOf, this advice suggests that the common practice of 'remembering passwords' in browsers is a dangerous practice. Indeed, should someone gain access to your computer or mobile device, they'd be able to easily access any accounts for which you've stored login credentials in your browser. While it may make logging in more convenient, it's a risky habit in terms of data protection. "Keep an eye out for these pop-ups and be sure to deny them." Twitter: @MakeUseOf

83. Use more than one email address for different contexts

Much like using the same password for multiple accounts, using the same email address for every account is a recipe for disaster. That's not to say that you can't use the same email address more than once, but a good strategy is to use a different email address for different contexts, such as one for personal accounts, one for business-related accounts, one for online retail accounts, and so on. Rich from Securosis says, "One of my favorites is to use different email accounts for different contexts. A lot of security pros know this, but it’s not something we have our less technical friends try. Thanks to the ease of webmail, and most mail applications’ support for multiple email accounts, this isn’t all that hard. Keeping things simple, I usually suggest 4-5 different email accounts: your permanent address, your work address, an address for buying online when you don't trust the store, an address for trusted retailers, and an address for email subscriptions." For more suggestions on the types of accounts to use with each email account, click here. Twitter: @securosis

84. Create a dedicated email address for long-term projects

GetApp.com also offers a list of compelling reasons for maintaining multiple email accounts, suggesting creating a dedicated email account for a long-term project. That way, should you need to hand over the work or the position to someone else, you can simply pass along the login credentials rather than worry about forwarding emails for weeks and months to come. "If you’re working with teams, on projects or even hiring more people, you’ll have a ton of information coming in that’s meant for specific tasks or goals. Having a separate email address dedicated to these workflows makes sense; it’ll not only help you manage communication channels, but you can add more than one person to these email groups so that everyone has visibility into the communication coming in. This also makes it easier for contacting specific teams within the business." Twitter: @GetApp

85. Take stock of your digital footprint

Akin to evaluating your online reputation, taking stock of your digital footprint involves investigating your online presence, but to find old accounts that you no longer use. "Even assuming that you don’t reuse passwords, the personal data associated with your old, unused account could still give attackers answers to your security questions on other websites. To protect your privacy, it’s a smart idea to remove your private data from services you no longer use. You can do this by closing those outdated accounts rather than leaving them dormant.," explains How-To Geek. Twitter: @howtogeek

86. Don’t use social media credentials to register for or sign in on third-party sites

It seems like a convenient option: Simply register for a website or online service using your Facebook or LinkedIn account, and as long as you’re signed in to that social network, signing in to the third-party site is fast and easy. Doing so can jeopardize your privacy, however. “Although it is a convenient option, signing into another account with your Facebook username and password can mean giving the other site all the information Facebook has gathered about you. Worse, if someone hijacks your social login information, they can also gain access to these third-party accounts,” explains ReputationDefender. Twitter: @ReputationDef

87. Be careful when searching in categories known for malware

This is a difficult tip to adequately describe in a relatively small number of words, but use caution anytime you're searching for any topic known for spam or malware. This often happens with extremely popular search topics, such as pharmaceuticals, celebrities, and adult-oriented content. Because so many people search for these topics, it's easy for hackers to set up websites that are essentially fake, designed solely to elicit clicks and execute malicious files. "Googling your favorite celebrities can be a dangerous business if you don't recognize the sites you are clicking on. Many Google results of famous celebrity names lead to infecting your PC with malware and viruses," according to this article on PopSugar. Twitter: @POPSUGARTech

88. Don't send passwords or account login credentials over public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks

"You should always use any public WiFi with caution, but you should use unsecured WiFi only for the most mundane uses that don’t require entering a password or accessing personal information–and never do your internet banking on an unsecured WiFi account. You should also never do any internet shopping on public WiFi. Even if your phone remembers your credit card information so you don’t have to enter it and give a password, you’re still vulnerable," warns WilsonPro.

89. Store your most sensitive data locally

Instead of backing up all your data in the cloud, particularly a cloud storage provider with security measures you're not completely confident in, consider backing up your most sensitive information locally or on a removable storage device you can keep under tight wraps. "I doubt there’s such a thing as real privacy on the internet, so personally I wouldn’t trust storing my top secret files in the cloud. Call it paranoia, but identity theft is on the rise and I just don’t want to risk any of that. In any case, we probably don’t have to look at our most sensitive data through the cloud on a 24/7 basis. My advice is to keep only those files which you need to access frequently and avoid putting up documents containing passwords for your various online accounts or personally identifiable information (PII) such as your credit card numbers, national identification number, home address, etc. If you must include these information in your files, make sure to encrypt them before you upload," says Michael Poh in an article on Hongkiat. Twitter: @hongkiat

90. Regular password changes might not actually be necessary

Frequent password changes has long been advice offered in security circles, but the practice's efficacy has come into question in recent years. "Security expert Bruce Schneier points out that in most cases today attackers won't be passive. If they get your bank account login, they won't wait two months hanging around, but will transfer the money out of your account right away. In the case of private networks, a hacker might be more stealthy and stick around eavesdropping, but he's less likely to continue to use your stolen password and will instead install backdoor access. Regular password changes won't do much for either of those cases. (Of course, in both instances, it's critical to change your password as soon as the security breach is found and the intruder blocked.)," says an article on NBC News. Twitter: @NBCNews

91. Use an encrypted cloud service

While cloud storage makes for an ideal backup solution, it can also be more prone to hackers if you're not careful about the cloud services you choose. Victoria Ivey, in an article on CIO.com, suggests encrypting the data you store in the cloud or using a cloud provdier that encrypts your data for you. "There are some cloud services that provide local encryption and decryption of your files in addition to storage and backup. It means that the service takes care of both encrypting your files on your own computer and storing them safely on the cloud. Therefore, there is a bigger chance that this time no one -- including service providers or server administrators -- will have access to your files (the so called "zero-knowledge" privacy). Among such services are Spideroak and Wuala." Twitter: @CIOonline

92. Choose a safe, reputable email provider

Much like not all cloud storage providers are created equal, neither are email providers. Inc.com interviews Patrick Peterson, Patrick Peterson, the founder and CEO of San Mateo, California-based email security firm Agari, about data protection, password management, and choosing safe service providers. "Be sure yours provides proper security. 'There's been technology development that stops people from impersonating your ISP, your bank, or your travel site," Peterson says. "You need to make sure your email provider uses technology like DMARC to stop that phishing. The good news is that Google does it, Yahoo does it, Microsoft supports it, AOL supports it, so if you're on one of those, you're on your way to minimizing your risk.'" Twitter: @WillYakowicz


Data Protection Following a Data Breach

93. Immediately change your passwords following a data breach

If a company through which you have an account has suffered a data breach, immediately change your password. An article on ConsumerReports.org discusses the JPMorgan Chase data breach, offering tips for consumers to take steps to protect their data after a breach. "We still recommend online and mobile banking, because it allows you to watch your account in real time from almost anywhere. Yes, it's now clear that Internet banking is not impervious to hacking, but 'the convenience you get from banking digitally greatly supersedes any security risk,' said Al Pascual, head of fraud and security research at Javelin Strategy and Research, a California-based financial services industry consulting firm. As part of your monitoring, watch out for changes to your debit card PIN." Twitter: @consumerreports

94. Verify that a breach has, in fact, occurred

There are many opportunists who use the likelihood of a data breach to trick unassuming consumers into actually handing over their passwords and other information, when a data breach hasn't actually occurred. Before responding to any requests to update your login info through a link sent to you in an email, visit the company's website by typing the URL into your address bar and confirming the breach occurred, or call the company to verify the information. "First, make sure that your card information has actually been compromised. If you receive a notification via email requesting 'confirmation' of your card information, don’t respond – it could be an opportunistic fraudster. Check the merchant’s website for news about a breach or reach out to customer support for details," says the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA). Twitter: @joxman

95. Request a new card, if applicable

If a data breach has affected a company that has issued you a card, such as a bank-issued or retail store-issued credit card, cancel your existing card and request a new one. This action makes the previous card number invalid, so if it has been stolen by hackers, it is no longer usable and your finances are secure. "Federal law says you’re not responsible to pay for charges or withdrawals made without your permission if they happen after you report the loss. It’s important to act fast. If you wait until someone uses your card without permission, you may have to pay some or all of those charges. Check your statement or online account for the right number to call. Consider keeping the customer service numbers for your bank or credit union in your phone’s contacts, and keep them up to date." the FTC says. Twitter: @FTC

96. Consider a credit freeze

This is a major step, but one that can be especially helpful if you suspect or know your identity has been stolen. It's possible to restrict access to your credit reports, meaning that thieves who are assuming your identity and attempting to open accounts in your name won't be able to do so. "A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report, which means you — or others — won’t be able to open a new credit account while the freeze is in place. You can temporarily lift the credit freeze if you need to apply for new credit. When the freeze is in place, you will still be able to do things like apply for a job, rent an apartment, or buy insurance without lifting or removing it.," according to the Federal Trade Commission. Twitter: @FTC

97. Take advantage of free credit monitoring

If a major corporation suffers a data breach and your account information has been compromised, the company may offer affected consumers with free credit monitoring services. "If your personal information is hacked, the company that was victimized will probably offer you credit monitoring. (Although a Chase bank spokeswoman told CNBC that credit monitoring would not be provided to customers affected by this week's breach because no financial information was compromised.) If it does, go ahead and take it," says Bob Sullivan in an article on CNBC. Twitter: @CNBC

98. Don't ignore reports from friends about mysterious emails coming from your accounts

One of the most common ways people learn they've been hacked is when their friends or family members report receiving an odd email or social media message, or even seeing strange updates posted on social media profiles. It's easy to ignore these warnings and assume it's some sort of fluke or someone who simply changed the "reply-to" when sending a spam email, but this is often a sure indicator that your account has been compromised. Don't ignore these tips. According to Consumer Affairs, “Anytime you receive a new “friend” request from someone who's already on your Facebook friends list, the simplest thing to do is send your real friend a message asking if they know about their apparent double.” Twitter: @ConsumerAffairs

99. Know the warning signs that your data has been breached or that you've been hacked

There are many possible indications that an account has been hacked, your identity stolen, or your data breached in some other way. Educate yourself on the warning signs of a potential breach and create positive habits for monitoring your personal data security to identify potential attacks or breaches before they escalate to devastation. Read up on data protection tips (such as the guide you're reading right now) and on information outlining the common warning signs of a data breach or hack, such as this list of "15 signs you've been hacked—and how to fight back" from CSO. Twitter: @CSOonline

100. Regain control over your compromised accounts

All too frequently, if one account has been hacked, your data is no longer secure on other accounts using the same login information, particularly if you use the same password for multiple services. "Regaining control of a hacked email account can be tougher. You'll have to contact the email provider and prove that you're the true account holder. Of course, if the hacker changes your password, you can't use your regular email to contact the provider. It's important to have more than one email address, and make each the alternate contact address for the other. Did you use your email address as a username on other sites? That's certainly a common practice. But if you also used the same password that you used for the hacked email account, those accounts are now compromised as well. Even if you didn't use the same password, you could still be in trouble. Think about this. If you forget a website password, what do you do? Right—you click to get a password reset link sent to your email address. A smart hacker who has control of the email account will quickly seek your other accounts, social media, perhaps, or worse, shopping and banking accounts," explains Neil J. Rubenking in an article at PCMag. Twitter: @neiljrubenking

101. Find out precisely why the breach or hack occurred

If your account has been hacked, your data lost, or device stolen, consider it a learning opportunity. Find out exactly what went wrong and how you could have protected your data by taking better precautions. "While you are fixing things, it’s a good time to take a step back, and ask yourself a more basic question: What was the reason for the breach? If it was your bank account, the answer may be obvious. In other cases, such as e-mail, it can be for a host of reasons — from using it to send spam, to requesting money from your contacts, to getting password resets on other services. An attacker may even be trying to gain access to your business. Knowing why you were targeted can also sometimes help you understand how you were breached," says Mat Honan at Wired. Twitter: @WIRED

Tags: Data Protection

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Juliana de Groot

Juliana is the Sr. Marketing Operations Specialist at Digital Guardian. She has been in the cybersecurity space for a combined three years. Prior to joining DG, she worked at Dell and CarGurus.