It sounds painfully dull but taking a little time to consider your cyber-security can save you a lot of time, frustration and even money in the long term. The aim of a cyber-security audit is to consider what assests you have, the risks posed to them and make improvements to reduce those risks.
All your data has value
The first task is think of all the information stored on your computer and devices as an asset, as something real, that can be lost, damaged and of course stolen.
To begin your data audit you have to take stock of what data you have stored electronically how important it is and the potential threats that could damage, steal or cause the loss of your data. The risks can vary from the unfortunate but unlikely such as an external harddrive being damaged. To the serious and likely such as malware compromising data.
Almost everyone has personal information floating around on their computer and devices from family photos, emails to bank account login details and personal information.
Identify your most at risk data
The potential risk to and cost of losing your data can be depicted on a chart like the basic probability-cost matrix in this article. The most important data is the most at risk and would incur the largest cost if lost. That data would be in the top right of the chart. For most people that would be things like bank and credit card account details. In the middle music downloaded from services such as itunes could have a high likelihood of being lost due to having a device stolen or damaged but the impact would be limited as they can be easily downloaded again from itunes.
Every user is different and what's important to them varies, family photos probably have limited value to a data thief but losing them would be of high personal cost so precautions should be taken such as having back ups of family photos.
Items that rank as low cost and low probability don't need as much attention when it comes to security.
How to improve your security
Once you have an idea of what data your are dealing and the potential threats you can begin to consider steps to avoid the risk. Something high cost but low probability of loss such as family of photos may just need back up so they can be retrieved with little cost if they're lost. Other information such as that transmitted over internet browsers (e.g. passwords) may require changing settings to enhance your security. We have previously written about how to improve security on Chrome, iPhone and Firefox .
The basics everyone needs:
- good anti-virus software
- a firewall
- keep everything up to date
- turn on spam filters for your email account
- have log in passwords on your computer and phone
- backup regularly.
- a VPN
These simple steps will massively reduce the risk of losing your data.
And don't forget about encryption and using a VPN. There are two types of encryption that you should know about, one allows to make files unreadable to anyone who doesn't have the private key (usually a password), this is great for important documents. You can also encrypt the data you transmit over the internet with ZenMate.
ZenMate enhances your privacy and security when using the internet, particularly public wifi. The simple easy to use browser add-on adds encryption everywhere meaning your data is secure.