7 tips to prevent data theft
Recently, data theft has dominated the headlines of the media. Businesses, governments, and individuals alike have to jump through several hoops to protect their personal data, from implementing two-factor authentication, fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, to retina scanning. Even with these extensive measures put into place, data theft perpetrators always find a way to carry out their actions.
According to IBM and the Ponemon Institute, data theft has cost organizations approximately $4.24 million in 2021; a 10% rise from 2019.
Data theft is damaging not just to corporations but also to individuals. In many instances, data theft happens because people are less cautious about securing their personal information. This is because people are keen to reveal their personal information. According to Chris Hadnagy’s book “Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking”, people are the weakest link in a security system just waiting to be exploited.
Reckless behavior creates vulnerability
Data theft is an omnipresent risk that can occur both offline and online. Offline data theft can occur in our everyday lives. For instance, during a casual conversation between someone and a stranger who turns out to be a fraudster. Or even in a public setting, where a chat with a friend sharing certain personal information is overheard by others.
Online data theft has grown routine, particularly during the pandemic, where individuals are forced to do almost all of their activities online. This new habit necessitates the creation of accounts in multiple media platforms and the completion of several forms requiring personal information.
Your name, cell phone number, date of birth, address, and even general population data are examples of personal data. By disclosing our personal information to other parties, we inadvertently subject ourselves to the danger of data theft and exploitation by irresponsible individuals.
Oversharing on social media, for example, can pose a risk of data theft. Oversharing refers to the practice of sharing comprehensive details about everyday activities. For instance, real-time sharing of images and locations, as well as selfies with diplomas or ID cards.
Mobile number theft
In recent times, mobile phone numbers have become crucial keys to personal data, since they are often used for authentication. Almost every important online platform requires a cellphone number, including bank accounts, e-commerce accounts, and emails.
Ironically, mobile phone numbers are one of the most often exchanged pieces of personal information with strangers. Many people believe that sharing your personal mobile phone number with others is a sign of friendship or politeness.
In reality, irresponsible parties may track additional personal data from a phone number, such as social media accounts, parents’ names, date of birth, employment, and other sensitive personal information. A mobile phone number may also be used to drain money from a person’s bank account.
One indication of how easy it is for us to share phone numbers can be seen from the WhatsApp application account being flooded with spam messages and malware links. In fact, there have been several instances of account theft and fraud in the platform. The modus operandi is that the perpetrator claims to be a victim and borrows money from friends and family of the victim.
Tips to prevent data theft
The risk of data theft cannot be completely eliminated, but can be minimized. The main effort, of course, is to be extra careful in selecting the information you share, either offline or online.
Summarized by Kaspersky, a multinational antivirus and cybersecurity company based in Russia, there are several things that can be done to prevent data theft, either through mobile phones, computers, or other electronic media that require access to credentials, namely:
1.Use a secure password
Passwords can be easily cracked by hackers, especially if you don’t use strong passwords. The shorter and weaker your password is, the easier it is to crack.
A strong password is at least 12 characters or more and consists of a mixture of upper and lower case letters, in addition to symbols and numbers. Avoid choosing something that is easy to guess, such as a serial number, date of birth, or other personal information.
2. One password for one account
It’s a good idea to use different passwords for various accounts. Moreover, it is also recommended to change passwords regularly, at least every six months or so.
3. Remember the password well, do not write it down
Noting down passwords using other media that are prone to being read by other people makes them vulnerable to being hacked. If you have too many passwords to remember, it is recommended to use a password manager to help you keep track of them.
4. Take advantage of MFA technology
Multifactor Authentication (MFA), especially Two-Factor Authentication (TFA), is the most commonly used technology today to log in to an online account. Always enable MFA on personal accounts.
5. Be careful when sharing personal information
Make it a habit to keep access to personal data. Make sure the person requesting the data uses it properly. Furthermore, ensure the kind of security precautions they have in place to keep your private data safe.
6. Limit the sharing of information on social media
Avoid putting personal details on your social media profiles, such as your address or birthday. Criminals may use this information to create a false identity, which they can then use to deceive or even ruin your reputation.
7. Be careful when using public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks are often simple targets for hackers and cybercriminals looking to steal data. Avoid opening or transferring important data when on public Wi-Fi, disable Bluetooth and file sharing, and use a VPN and firewall to keep your data and device secure.