Whether you’re at home, the office, or on the road, we all have important (and sometimes irreplaceable) data we’d hate to have compromised or lost in any way. Have you ever thought about what happens if your hard drive with all of those vacation photos died? Or if you lose the flash drive all your work is saved on? What if a cybercriminal gains access to your office network using your passwords? Securing your data isn’t only for keeping your information private – it’s also a helpful reminder to back up.
Password Security & Complexity
Let’s talk about some ways to keep your data safe. An intruder doesn’t have to have physical access to your data to steal it. We’ve already talked about phishing, when a cybercriminal attempts to gain access to you and your data by stealing your password. And how do we help combat that? Multi-factor authentication is a great additional step to take, but what about step 1: your actual password? Look, we know how annoying it is to keep up with different passwords for different sites, and we feel your pain on that too. Here’s the thing though – you don’t have to have some 980>HQ9cR[59/.J type password to be secure. Keep it memorable using a combination of words, numbers and symbols – just keep it over 8 characters and change it every 90-120 days. Eliminating one letter from a common word is a quick way to make an easy password more difficult to crack, e.g. MyWrd17@. Time to change? Make an adjustment to your numbers and/or symbols to make it different, but still memorable. Once you have a good password routine, it can help prevent something we see fairly often… Do you have your password written on a sticky note? How about under your keyboard? All it takes is one lost piece of paper to compromise your data!
Keeping your files
That leads us in to our next data safety tip. Have you ever shared your password with a co-worker? Are you still using “Password1”? How about the sticky notes mentioned above? We’ve heard it more times than you can imagine, “I don’t have anything important.” While this may be true of your files on your personal computer, it’s a good practice to think of your work environment as every file your company keeps, not just your personal files on your work computer. While you may not be able to directly see the documents on the Accounting share, an intruder with your password is just one step closer to breaking in and gaining access to all of those files. We have seen multiple cases of one user having their account compromised, and an entire company losing their data due to a malware attack. You don’t have to be an admin for an attacker to use your user account against your company.
Hanging on to your data
Back to the subject of data you have direct control over (including your personal files), let’s consider some ways to not only keep it safe, but keep it backed up. You may have your files backed up on a flash or external hard drive, but either of those can still fail. Or worse, they can be stolen. If you’re looking to backup all of your company data, we’re here (and happy!) to help tailor solutions to your particular recovery objectives. For your personal data, there are several cloud based options out there for little to no cost to you. While you won’t have your data on a device in your possession, cloud based options allow you to store your files in data centers maintained by reputable companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon. While these don’t have the recovery guarantees or robustness of a custom solution you’d use for your company, they’re still a good option for some of your personal stuff.
Do you have a GMail account? Did you know that account gives you 15GB of storage for free? Simply visit drive.google.com, login with your e-mail, and start uploading files! 15GB not enough? Google offers a couple of paid plans for even more space. Do you have a Mac/iPhone/iPad? Apple offers 2GB of free space with iCloud, and your device is automatically ready to backup to those out of the box. Apple also offers paid plans for additional space. While it’s still a local option (i.e., your files are kept on a device you have physical access to) Apple also has an app called “Time Machine” built in to Macs. Time Machine can automatically make a full backup of your MacBook/iMac to any external drive when it’s connected. Another option is Microsoft’s OneDrive. OneDrive’s free plan gives you 5GB of free storage, but where it really shines is if you have an Office 365 subscription. If you have the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), you may already have access to 1-5TB of storage as part of your plan. The last common one to mention is Amazon Drive. Amazon gives you 5GB of free storage with an Amazon Prime subscription. There are multiple other options out there as well.
While this all may be a bit overwhelming, it’s important to keep in mind one of the biggest components of having a computer, smartphone, or tablet is your data. It’s a big part of our lives, and hopefully we’re able to help you keep it safe, secure, and ready for when you need it.