The internet is a wonderful tool and resource for everyone–the biggest advance in communications technology since the telephone. However, like any technological development it carries risks as well as benefits. When your data hits the internet it becomes a prime target for malicious software and hackers. Cases of identity theft, online slander and other serious issues are constantly cropping up. Keep these 5 tips for online data security in mind to protect yourself and your information.

  1. Use a Firewall
    Every time you browse the internet you are opening yourself up to attacks by malicious software and hackers. You could use your personal computer for the most professional and innocent purposes and still end up exposed if you’re not careful. Using a firewall when you do your internet browsing will help keep your information safe. This is especially important if you are doing important business-related work online or making financial transactions. Your data can be used against you, so be sure to keep it safe from prying eyes.
  2. Perform Regular Scans
    Understand that there is always the possibility of something slipping through the cracks. You should regularly scan your computers for viruses, spyware and malware to make sure that nothing is going to degrade the performance of your computer or expose your personal information to prying eyes. Remember that some scanners are better than others and make sure you’re using the best software available. Run comprehensive scans at least once a week to make sure your data is safe and secure, and fix any problems immediately should they arise.
  3. Stay Up to Date
    No software is perfectly impervious to prying eyes. As soon as new security updates are released, there are people working to find and exploit new weaknesses. Avoid becoming the victim of these security holes by keeping all of your software up to date. Web browsers, operating systems, anti-virus software and spyware scanners should all be updated as frequently as possible. Don’t neglect your defenses by ignoring updates to your most used programs–it could mean the difference between prime security and total vulnerability.
  4. Separate Business from Personal
    This is especially important for businesses and freelance professionals. Company computers and web services such as email should be used only for business purposes to keep data security optimal. Keep separate accounts for correspondence, data storage, and other things for personal use. You don’t want to be using the same email account for important business matters and personal letters to friends and family. By separating business and personal data, you can at least keep one side safe if the other is compromised.
  5. Restrict Access
    Absolutely essential to keep your online data secure is restricting access. Internet defamation is a serious issue, and it often comes about when individuals are careless about the people with whom they share access to data. Make sure that your website and all related files are encrypted and secure–security openings are easy for malicious hackers to exploit. Keep everything password protected and don’t share your passwords. Make sure access is locked down.