2020 can be a scary time when it comes to securing your identity and other personal data. Now that everything is getting more and more automated, data protection can also be quite confusing — especially if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately there are several steps you can take to ensure your digital safety. Check out our tips to protect your data at home and lock down your information today!
1. Protect Your WiFi Connection
These days nearly everyone has an internet connection within their home. Some people who live alone may stick to using an internet modem, in which only one direct connection via an ethernet cord can be established at one time. More common however is that a home will feature a multi-connection router, which offers additional connections via individual ethernet cords or through the use of WiFi. What many people don’t know is that these routers can be a source of invasion if not properly secured. Some routers will walk you through the process of setting up a password during the initial setup, but many do not. There are a few different types of protections you can add to a router, but the most common and simplest protection is adding a WPA2 password. This feature acts as any other type of password you’re used to using online; once you create a password, anyone who would like to connect to your home’s WiFi (via laptop, smartphone, or any other mobile device) will have to enter this password. Another potential security breach is found through smart devices that offer their own WiFi connection point. With more and more buyers requesting smart technology in the home, home sellers are constantly adding these types of devices throughout their living space. If you check your available internet networks at home, you may see the name of your smart device populate on the list with a warning showing that the network is unprotected. If that’s the case, be sure to add another WPA2 password to the smart device to avoid any unwanted connections from neighbors or anyone else looking to steal your data. There is an assortment of information someone can steal by hacking into your home’s Wifi, but the mere minutes it takes to create a secure password makes this one of our easiest and most effective tips to protect your data at home.
2. Add Antivirus Protection
Adding a WPA2 password to your WiFi connection is a great way to ward off any potential internet threats, but there are even more tips to protect your data. Some security breaches come from browsing the internet rather than a local threat. These breaches usually occur in the form of different types of viruses, or pieces of code that steal, damage, or corrupt information stored on your computer. The good news is that there are several tools which can help you prevent these viruses from ever reaching your computer. A quick search online will show you there are plenty of reputable antivirus programs available, and the best part is that these programs have come such a long way in recent years that there are even great options which are completely free to use. Of course, you may need a specialty program depending on which types of viruses have infected your computer—some antivirus programs don’t scan for things like malware—but choosing the best program should be easy enough once you compare the specific features each one offers. You may also want to avoid any explicit sites on your device, as those are notorious for being full of different kinds of viruses that can damage your system.
PRO TIP: Even the best antivirus programs are prone to a few hiccups. You may want to check your program’s firewall settings, as the default preferences may prevent you from visiting websites that are generally considered safe.
3. Secure Your Social (Media)
Now that we’ve covered the tech-heavy half, we can move on to something a little more user-friendly. Did you know that your social media accounts can reveal a lot about you and your personal information? One of the most important tips to protect your data involves locking down your social media profiles. Of course there are always exceptions, but let’s assume that all your friends whom you know in person won’t be out to get you. With that in mind, the real people you need to worry about are any strangers who may request to follow or communicate with you. It’s good practice to ignore or decline these types of invitations, as some of them could be parties looking to steal your data. A lot of people don’t realize that platforms like Facebook or Instagram can reveal a substantial amount of your personal data if your default privacy settings are left unchanged. Another item on our list of tips to protect your data involves checking all of your social media profiles and making changes to your privacy settings. This process should only take a few minutes on each platform, but doing so is a great way to hide any valuable information from potential dangers. Aside from location-based status updates and posts, you can also hide your photos from anyone who isn’t directly connected to you. Don’t expose your personal information to anyone who shouldn’t have it!
4. Don’t Forget Your Mail
With such an emphasis on digital security, it’s easy to forget about some of the physical dangers related to your privacy and personal records. If someone is able to successfully pose as you, they may be able to discover your credit card or social security number. This can happen when a potential threat reaches out to a vendor you use, such as a cable, vehicle, or credit card company. A breach that many people forget about is the sensitive information going into your home trash receptacle. You may not have noticed, but many invoices, bank statements, or cable company billing documents often contain your name, address, phone number, and associated account numbers. If someone were to dig through your trash and steal these documents, there’s a good chance that at least one vendor could accidentally provide them with additional privacy information that could compromise your identity and security. One of our tips to protect your home data related to these documents includes blacking out private information with a permanent marker. Some people use a pasty white-out solution to cover important text, but these applications can be scraped off with a razor blade if handled carefully. The ink from a permanent marker will bleed into the paper and can’t be lifted. Another possible solution is to use a paper shredder, if you don’t mind spending the money. If you’re paranoid about someone piecing together the fragments of your shredded document from the waste bin, you may consider running the document through the shredder both horizontally and vertically.
Many privacy breaches come down to whether or not you have been proactive in your data security—take advantage of these tips to protect your data at home before someone takes advantage of you!