Data theft is all around us. It’s what makes a lot of people paranoid about uploading their deepest, darkest files (ok, possibly just their invoices and personal photos) to the cloud and if it doesn’t stop them completely, it certainly makes a few people I know think twice before every online financial transaction.
In the news recently we’ve had the high profile Ashley Maddison story and big reveal of their patron’s information – leaving in it’s path a trail of destruction, thousands of Lloyds customers’ personal data stolen, in the US the Office of Personnel Management, affecting over 21 million individuals, have had information stolen from their database and the list, unfortunately, goes on.
As we use and rely on our phones more and more, hackers are constantly inventing new ways of stealing from our mobile devices – often without us ever knowing we’ve had data stolen. As Andy Coulson knows only too well, there are ways for people to listen to our calls or even steal our photos (not to mention our fingerprints).
If all of that isn’t worrying enough, there is a trend of blackmail that restricts your access to files, websites or your computer. It can happen using what’s known as ransomware – or even by clever hacking at email passwords and security.
Even our anti-virus software, or our beloved Macs (previously, smugly known to be more virus and hassle free than other computers) can be hacked.
Which, all in all, paints a pretty dim view of the modern world and our security and would have even the most technologically enthusiastic of us deleting everything from every device we’ve ever owned from our cracked screen iPhone 4 to our 90’s PDA and all the way to our shiny MacBooks, desktop computers and gloriously large mobile devices.
But there is a positive in and among all of this. Leaps forward in tech security are ahead of the attackers and all we have to do is practice diligence. It’s not without reason that tech departments and websites try and force you into having ridiculous passwords – it’s for our own good and can mean the difference between having data stolen and not. And for those of us who don’t password protect our phones – why?! Are you so busy that you can’t spend seconds entering a password (or your thumbprint)? Not having a security barrier on your phone is like leaving your windows open when you go out: the chances are, you’ll be fine – but then again, you could come home to find someone has been in and stolen your laptop…
Update your software. Always. With updates come updated security. Don’t mindlessly click links from emails, facebook or twitter – it happens so frequently and catches even the best of us out. Get decent anti malware for everything – not just your computer. And if you are going to store data in the cloud (DropBox, Google Drive to name two obvious providers), consider decent security.
There’s no need to panic about data security or go to extreme measures. It’s time we started to look after our electronic devices and data like we do our homes and although the above wouldn’t help the victims of Ashley Maddison, usually common sense is enough to protect us.