January 28th is Data Privacy Day (DPD). Since 2008, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) has led this international campaign in North America, to raise awareness of the importance of privacy and promote efforts to protect your personal information.
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To mark the day, NCSA and TRUSTe, the leading global Data Privacy Management Company, published their 2016 Consumer Privacy Index. Their Infographic has a lot of interesting statistics and shows that privacy and data security are on the minds of most people in one form or another but they don’t really know what to do about it.
To do your part on Data Privacy Day, take a few minutes to follow the advice of NCSA to make your data secure.
Keep your computer clean
While many Mac users don’t use anti-virus software specifically, you still have protection from the security built into OS X. If you are not running the latest version of your OS X version, today would be a good day to update. While you’re at it, make sure you are running the latest version of the web browsers you use.
Gatekeeper, introduced in OS X 10.7.5, is a great tool to help protect against installing potentially dangerous software, but there are times when you might need to by-pass it or turn it off to install software that was not signed by Apple. Now is a good time to check that gatekeeper has not been accidently disabled. You can learn more about Gatekeeper here.
USB Flash Drives
USB flash drives are a convenient way to exchange files but they also pose the risk that a USB drive also contains malware or a virus. Be careful about what you plug into your computer. If you don’t know the source of the file, think twice before plugging it in. If you need to share data via a USB flash drive, and want to protect it in case you flash drive is lost or stolen, consider the iStorage datAshure PRO USB Flash Drive. With its AES-XTS-256 hardware based encryption, Admin and User PINs and brute force hacking protection, the iStorage datAshur PRO USB Flash Drive is perfect for carrying and sharing important and sensitive data on-the-go. Read our full review here.
Protect Your Data
You’ve heard it before, USE STRONG PASSWORDS. A recent survey found that the two most common passwords in 2017 were “123456” and “password”. Your best protection for websites are to use long and strong passwords. It is also recommended that you use a different password for each site.
To help manage these passwords, consider a Password Manager like 1Password or Dashlane. Both applications have consistently received high marks for security and ease of use and can synchronize your passwords between multiple devices.
If your computer holds sensitive data, consider encrypting your hard drive. Beginning with OS X 10.3, Apple introduced FileVault to encrypt the User Home Folder on a Mac. Data was encrypted and decrypted “on the fly”. Beginning with OS X 10.7, FileVault2 was introduced which provided a way to encrypt the entire start-up volume.
If you need to share a large quantity of data and need to protect it from loss, or you need to store data off-site and want to be sure no one will get access to it, consider the iStorage diskAshur hardware encrypted portable drives. Available in regular and PRO series, and in a variety of storage sized, these drives will protect your data from falling into the wrong hands because as the folks at iStorage say, “without the PIN, there’s no way in!”
Be Careful Where and How You Connect
One of the easiest way to infect your Mac is through a link sent to you via email. Even if you know the sender, be cautious about clicking on a link. If the tone of an email seems strange or it’s not the type of message you would expect from the sender, check it out before you open it. You might be surprised to discover the sender doesn’t know anything about it either.
When connecting to your bank or on-line shopping sites, look for the web address to start with “hhtps://” or “shttp://”. That is an indication that the business partner on the other end of the line has taken the proper precautions to make you connection secure.
As Wi-Fi becomes more available, we find ourselves connecting in more and more places. When using public Wi-Fi, be cautious about what you do on your computer. You never know who may be watching. Stay away from logging into your bank or credit card company sites. Even if they are using the security measures mentioned above, it’s possible for someone to intercept your log in credentials.
Consider using a VPN when connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots to protect your data.
Keep up to date about the latest trends in computer security as well as the latest scams. Web sites like StaySafe.org are a great resource for following the latest trends and issues. Be wary of emails or web sites that demand immediate action. No, that email from the IRS telling you to pay an overdue tax bill by going to Western Union right now is not real. It doesn’t matter how official the web page looks.
And finally, back up your computer! In the event the worst happens and your Mac is compromised, a recent clean backup is the easiest way to eliminate the problem and start over. Portable hard drives like the WD My Passport Ultra or the Seagate Backup Plus for Mac are great options that allow you to easily transport you back up data at a reasonable price.
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