Let's face it, technology rules our lives. It's what we use to connect, handle our money and document our daily lives. But with great power comes great risk, like hackers getting their hands on our personal data. In this blog post, we'll give you some no-nonsense tips to keep your information safe in the digital age.
What is a data breach?
Companies and organisations typically collect personal details about their users for business purposes. We trust them with details such as our email, home address, phone number, health records and more – hoping they’ll keep it safe.
A data breach happens when personal information is accessed or disclosed without someone’s authorisation. This can be by accident, for example, when an email with personal information is sent to the wrong person. Or it can be the result of a computer system being hacked in a malicious or criminal attack.
How common are data breaches in Australia?
Figures released by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner OIAC show five breaches affected between 1 million and 10 million Australians between July and December 2022.
Keep in mind that BreachAlert does not search for all personal information on all dark websites.
1. Use strong passwords
The first step to securing your personal data is to have strong passwords. Do not repeat the same one across every site!
Avoid predictable patterns and use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. You can also find free password generators online if you need help.
Most people use predictable passwords like "123456" or "password", making it almost effortless for hackers to access your accounts.
Here is a visual that demonstrates how long itgenerally takes hackers to crack passwords.
What is multi-factor authentication?
Also known as two-factor authentication2FA , this requires two pieces of information to log in, adding an extra layer of protection. For example, you could enter your password and then enter a one-time code sent to your email or smartphone.
There are other options for the second step of authentication, such as using your face or fingerprint as a biometric identifier, or receiving a temporary passcode through an authenticator app.
Enabling multi-factor authentication is simple. Most websites or apps have a security section where you can look for multi-factor authentication. Follow the prompts and provide your phone number or email address to turn it on..
With just a few minutes of setup, you can double the security on your accounts and make it twice as tough for hackers to access your information with multi-factor authentication.
2. Opt-out of data collection
When you sign up for an app or online service, you're granting access to your personal data. But the more apps and services you use, the higher the chance of a potential data breach.
When you grant permission for an app to track you, you are essentially giving your consent for the app to collect information that can identify either you or your device. This combination of data is often used for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes.
You can still enjoy all the features and functionalities of the app, regardless of whether you choose to allow tracking.
To safeguard your information, be selective in the apps and services you sign up for. And when you do sign up, take the time to carefully review the terms and conditions to understand what data is being collected and how it will be used.
3. Be cautious when using public wifi
Public wifi is convenient for all of us, but it also comes with its risks. Firstly, hackers can easily spy on your online traffic and steal your personal information.
Secondly, free wifi often lacks proper security measures making it effortless for hackers to access your device without your consent. One way to stay safe while using public wifi is by using a virtual private networkVPN . VPNs encrypt your online traffic and provide an extra layer of security.
If you don't have a VPN, it is best to avoid public wifi altogether.
4. Regularly update your apps
Don't overlook the importance of updating your apps and software. It may seem like a hassle, but it's crucial to your security.
By staying on top of software updates, you can defend against potential attacks that could compromise your data, infect your device, or even grant unauthorised access to your computer.
5. Don't overshare on social media
Social media platforms collect large amounts of our personal data. Whenever you post personal information, you are making it easier for hackers to compromise your data. To limit your exposure to data breaches, be mindful of what you share on social media.
Avoid posting photos of your home, phone number or sensitive personal details.
Data breaches can be alarming and overwhelming, but by following the practical tips outlined in this blog post, you can significantly reduce your exposure to vulnerabilities. Stay safe out there!
Disclaimer: This article contains general information only, and is not general advice or personal advice. Wisr Services does not recommend any product or service discussed in this article. You must get your own financial, taxation, or legal advice, and understand any risks before considering whether a product or service discussed in this article may be appropriate for you. We have taken reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but the information is subject to change. We may not update the article to reflect any change.