Losing your smartphone or pen drive not only raises the sceptre of having to spend your earned money in buying a new device, it can also entail loss of valuable data. A smartphone or a pen drive is typically the repository of all kinds of valuable data, including your contacts, your schedule, your to-do lists, your passwords, important files and much else. Even if you have backed up your data in the cloud space, you are not completely safe. Hackers are increasingly targeting the data being digitally stored in servers around the world. You could fall prey to identity theft, leading to depletion of your bank accounts and credit cards.
Here are some tips to ensure safety from hackers and scammers:
Encrypt Your Data
There is lot of talk about encryption, but hardly anyone goes to the extent of actually doing it. You can find good data encryption software, for systems running Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux, from True Crypt (http://www.truecrypt.org). The system out here can be used to encrypt an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or portable hard drive. Encrypting your data ensures that if someone gets hold of your pen drive or external drive, he won’t be able to simply plug and play.
Take care of your smartphone
The first thing you need to do is place a screen-lock password on your smartphone. If you are using an iPhone, you should ensure that it is not jailbroken. Once you Jailbreak the device, you throw away your security advantage. While installing new apps in iOS or in Android, you should ensure that you are picking up apps from verified publishers, and you should avoid providing unnecessary permissions for access to your personal data. You can also invest in mobile security software, such as Trend Micro Mobile Security.
Two Factor Authentication
Even if you have encrypted your files, you can still fall prey to hackers if someone is able to sniff out the password while it is being sent over the Internet. This usually happens when you are surfing on insecure wireless networks in places like coffee shops. As soon as you log into a website that is not using “https” in the address bar, you expose yourself to a hacker, who might be sniffing around on the WiFi network. So you should avoid doing any work with sensitive data at insecure networks. Or you can go in for the system of two-step verification. No one can access your data, as your account can only be accessed through a 6-digit code that is generated every 30 seconds and can only be seen on your smartphone.
Keep your computer systems updated with latest anti-virus software. For Windows users Microsoft Security Essentials is a good option. The anti-virus can be downloaded for free and it does a very good job of detecting spyware, viruses and malaware.
Hide data in image files
For really crucial data, you could start using the system of hiding the data in image files. Online utilities like http://www.zamzar.com/ give us an easy way of transforming files into different formats. Zamzar automatically converts each page into it’s own PNG picture file.
Secure your network
You need to take into account the security of the network that you are using for communication with the outside world. Is it using WEP or WPA or WPA2? The Wireless Protected Access (WPA) protocol and more recent WPA2 have supplanted the older and less-secure Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP). As encryption key, you should use a strong password, preferably a combination of numbers and digits.
Backup your data early and often
You have to recognise the fact that even the best measures that you undertake might not be enough to safeguard your data. The risk is not only from hackers; you could also lose data due to accidental loss or breakage of device or due to system crash. So it is necessary to have back up. The number of times that you take a backup should depend on the quantum of data that you can afford to lose if your system crashes completely.