Are you concerned about your data?
Firstly, let’s start with the meaning of Data security. This refers to the process of protecting data from unauthorized access and data corruption. Data security includes data encryption, tokenization, and key management practices that protect data across all applications and platforms.
So, what does that mean? It means things like Data storage, Bit Locker, keeping your software updated, using unique and strong passwords, two factor authentication (2FA), or multi factor authentication (MFA).
Sound scary? It’s really not! Let’s take a look.
Where do you keep your Data? Is it all on your hard drive? Do you use cloud services such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive?
It is perfectly fine to have all your data stored on your PC or laptop and nowhere else. But, ask yourself these two questions:
- Is the data backed up?
- Is it data encrypted? (refer to Bit Locker later in this article)
There are various cloud backup services available, or a simple external hard drive will also do the trick. Just make sure you have a copy of everything…….somewhere! And not just one copy you lock away. Your data changes constantly, and therefore you should be backing this up constantly.
So, what is the Cloud?
Sounds all fluffy and lovely, but it’s actually a very large building that houses computing facilities like servers, routers, switches and firewalls, as well as supporting components like backup equipment, fire suppression facilities and air conditioning. These facilities offer the greatest security and protection for your data. The likes of Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive are held in exactly this type of facility. So, whilst everything isn’t included “out of the box”, you will definitely have options to turn on backups, or enhance security using 2FA or MFA.
So that brings me nicely onto two factor authentication (also known as multi factor authentication). What is this? It’s where you are required to not only enter a password, but you are then asked for a validation key. The most common form is a code being sent to you via text, but there are other options such as using an app like Google Authenticator, or even a key, which is a USB device you plug into your laptop to “allow” you in.
What are Strong Passwords?
These are a random collection of characters rather than a simple word with a capital letter at the beginning and some numbers at the end (come on, you’ve all done this I’m sure!). The classic one is Password1 (or Password 2 if you’ve been asked to change your password). The likes of Google have a strong password generator plug-in. Another one I use is LastPass. Despite the security those platforms offer, if you are unsure about storing your password in an app, then use longer passwords; the longer the better! Short sentences are a great way for you to remember something, but near impossible to hack. Ie Datasecurityreallydoeswork! (obviously that isn’t one of mine!)
There is a Microsoft inbuilt tool called BitLocker which will encrypt your data. It isn’t on by default as you need to know the Bit Locker key should your PC or Laptop have any issues. In some settings you will need the key if you are trying to access or change settings on a drive.
How do you know if BitLocker is active or not?
On the taskbar on your screen (the area where your application shortcuts are displayed), type BitLocker, and Manage BitLocker will come up at the top of the screen. Click this to open the settings.
In my case, it looks like this. You can see BitLocker is on, therefore you have the option to suspend, back up your recovery key or turn it off. If your device has been set up by someone else and this is on, make sure you have the recovery key. Simply click backup your recovery key and follow the prompts on where to print or save this if you are unsure. NOTE : Do not save it to your hard-drive as you will not be able to access it when you need it.
If BitLocker isn’t on, you can just click to active this, HOWEVER, make sure you do this when you have time away from your PC/Laptop. When you activate this, it begins to encrypt your data, so if you have a lot of data, this will take a long time.
Update your Software
Ever get prompted that a new version of your software has been released but you are in a hurry and click no to updating it? Well, make sure you do get back to those updates. Software developers are constantly updating their software, to not only enhance the features, but to close security breaches. It is very easy to update or add features, whilst at the same time breaking something else. That break could be a way in for hackers, so the update could potentially be closing that door, accidentally left open! Don’t ignore these updates, they do need to be done.