Cybersecurity 2020: Safeguard Your Data

Categories: Best Practices Cyber Security Awareness Month Information Security

Why should you care?

How would you feel if you walked into your office tomorrow and your computer was gone? Does your physical and emotional state worsen if you realize all your data that you accumulated over the years was suddenly ripped out of your hands? Even worse, what if the data now in the possession of the thief contained your account information from banks and credit cards, and the personal information could allow them to steal your identity? If you are like me those thoughts put a knot in your stomach and make you realize how important it is to keep your data safe.

How can you prevent this from happening?

I bet you want me to tell you the one thing you can do to make your computer and your data safe! Unfortunately, there is no one thing you can do to completely protect yourself and your data. Thefts happen, computer hard drives fail, flash drives get lost or put through the washing machine, and even secure websites occasionally get breached exposing secure data. That doesn’t mean you should give up and not do anything. Instead, you should take steps, however small or insignificant they may seem, to protect your data. These small steps when put together will provide you with better data security than one fix-all solution (if it actually existed.)

Steps to help safeguard your data.

1. Use passwords on your devices. This is a very simple step that can create a huge stumbling block to anyone who would like to access your data. If you do not have a password on your computer, laptop, or phone anyone can simply walk up to it and have instant access to anything on your device. Passwords don’t have to be huge monstrosities that you have to write down to remember. Think of a word or phrase that is important to you and that would not be easy for others to guess. Even using a simple password is better than not using a password at all. Read more about passwords in this blog post.

2. Make sure you have your data backed up on to more than one device. Having all of your data on one device whether that is a flash drive, computer, or hard drive is never a good idea. All electronic devices have a limited lifespan and can have issues or even completely fail. If you have all your data saved only to one device, you are just asking for trouble. One of the best solutions is to backup your data online. This protects you from most vulnerabilities that would leave you with no data– yes even tornadoes and fires! OneDrive is a good tool for backing up documents and this blog post provide more information.

3. Protect your devices like your identity depends on it — because it does! When on trips, dining out, or even at work, never leave your devices unattended or in plain sight in your car. Technology is one of the most targeted thefts in the world today. If you have purchased a new phone, laptop, or tablet lately you probably noticed the prices are higher than the last time your purchased the same technology. This makes them an easy target especially if you leave your laptop or phone on your table in the coffee shop as you quickly run for a refill or to the restroom. Don’t assume your devices are safe. Read more about cybersecurity and your personal devices at this blog post.

4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on important accounts. OSU is in the process of implementing MFA for all employees. MFA is a security measure that decreases the likelihood someone other than you can log in and steal your data. Yes, this extra step to use your device or online account can make it a little more difficult. It also makes it almost impossible for anyone other than you to get access to your data and access your personal accounts – which is the entire point of MFA!

5. Finally, be suspicious of items that do not look or feel quite right. If someone emails or calls you claiming to be from OSU Information Technology and needs you to verify your account, it is fake. OSU IT already knows your information because it is configured on the servers. If you receive a phone call or email with misspellings, bad grammar or odd phrases, it most likely is not who they claim to be. When this happens, safeguard your information by not giving it out or clicking links in your email. (More information about phishing in a previous blog post.)

One response to “Cybersecurity 2020: Safeguard Your Data”

  1. Jane Carpenter says:

    Thanks Levi! Sometimes I wonder if my data is being backed up on our network drives. I don’t have a back-up of that. Also — is our email being backed-up?

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