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.
To mark the day, TRUSTarc, the leading global Data Privacy Management Company, have published their 4th Annual Global Privacy Benchmark Results. You can download a copy of the report here. To do your part on Data Privacy Day, take a few minutes to follow some advice of to make your data more secure.
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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 macOS 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.
For some added protection, take a look at Malware Bytes. This free software can protect your Mac from unintended infection and is actually used by Apple Support if they suspect your Mac has a virus. You can find out more about it here. You can also check out the Mac App Store for a variety of free antivirus software options.
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.
Protect Your Data
You’ve heard it before, USE STRONG PASSWORDS. A recent survey found that the two most common passwords in 2023 were “123456” and “123456789”. Your best protection for websites is to use long and strong passwords. It is also recommended that you use a different password for each site.
To help manage all of these passwords, consider a Password Manager like 1Password or Dashlane. Both of these 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 as a way 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.
Be Careful Where and How You Connect
One of the easiest ways 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 you bank or on-lone shopping sites, look for the web address to start with “https://” 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 caution 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.
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 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 Western Digital 2TB My Passport Ultra for Mac HDD or the Seagate Portable 2TB External HDD for PC and Mac are great options that allow you to easily transport you back up data at a reasonable price.
Need more capacity so you can back up multiple computers in your home or office? Consider the Western Digital 4TB My Passport for Mac Portable HDD, or the Western Digital 6TB My Book Desktop External HDD.
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The Bottom Line
As we spend more time on line, and move our old shopping, banking, streaming, and other activities into the cloud and over the Internet, data privacy will continue to be an ever-growing concern. It’s in all of our best interests to do our part, and try to keep our information private. While it may never be perfect, these tips may just provide the extra protection you need.
How do you protect your data? Why not join the conversation and leave a comment below.
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