Your data can be a weapon, make sure that yours is secure.

Recent events, accusations about Russian hacking, and seemingly weekly security failures at several huge multi-national corporations have thrust the importance of data security into the spotlight.

It is only natural as a developer that I am obsessed with how we can better secure our data and prevent our personal and business information from being used against us.

On the personal side, If you are anything like me, my computer and mobile device contains a treasure trove of information about me, my friends and my family. In the wrong hands, this information can be used for financial fraud, identity theft, etc. For our customers, failure to properly secure data can lead to massive financial losses, in the form of stolen IP, data loss. Additionally, for businesses responsible for PCI, HIPAA, FERPA and GLBA compliance improperly securing data can translate into huge legal risks. Most importantly, the cost of regaining the trust of your customers after a major personal data exposure can be limitless.

Considering the amount of data that we are all responsible on a day to day basis, it’s more important than ever that we practice secure computing techniques. There are some simple things that we can all do to make sure that our data is secure and prevent our on our most cherished asset from turning into a huge liability:

Only Carry what you need.

Keep only the data that you need on a routine basis available on laptops, smartphones, USB drives, etc. If you don’t need personally identifiable information (SSN, DOB, etc) on your laptop, smartphone or USB drive safely archive it, then DELETE it from portable devices. If your laptop or phone is lost or stolen you don’t want someone to have access to more information than is necessary. In other words, be proactive to minimize the loss.

“Password” is not a password!

Set strong passwords, a strong password can go a long way in preventing data theft and losses. You should choose passwords that are not based on simple patterns, but also choose something that you can remember (don’t write it down!) and for different websites use different passwords, this way if one account is compromised other accounts remain secure.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

Multi-factor authentication involves something you have and something you know. In order to sign in to your account, you must know your password and you must have your smartphone. When you attempt to sign in you will enter your password, followed by a one-time code that is displayed on your phone. This means that if someone wants to access your data your password must be compromised AND they must be in physical possession of your smartphone. Not likely!

While these simple techniques won’t solve every problem they will go a long way in ensuring that your data remains safe and secure!