Norton UK Blog
Your Identity and your devices: You know they're all connected?
You don’t have to be a super nerd to know how to protect yourself from cyber criminals and hackers. They might know more about computers and software than you do however, there are some basic defenses at your disposal to help you stand up against even the most sophisticated online threats.
How many communications devices do you have? These days most of us have access to a smartphone, tablet and PC and in some homes there may be multiple devices. All of these create a latticework of information that links to each individual person in your house. If one device is unprotected, it could be compromised in a way that affects all the others. That’s because most of us use different devices to access many of the same personal and sensitive accounts we manage online—everything from insurance and banking to retail shopping and social media.
You see? Your identity is connected to all of your devices but you can take some proactive steps to limit any potential breaches of your personal information across all your devices.
At some point, most of us will need to use a home or office computer to perform important personal tasks. Desktop computers pose some unique challenges because they are often shared devices that remain continuously connected to the Internet and contain ample storage for personal data. Here’s what you should do to protect yourself if you use a desktop computer:
- Regularly back up your data—this means copying important files to an external hard drive or onto a cloud-based system. Cloud-based systems offer great security and most can be accessed from any device and at any time.
- Install anti-malware software. Malware is short for malicious software, which is definitely not something you want on your computer. This layer of protection will guard against worms, Trojan horses, and spyware.
- Update the operating system as often as possible. Every update contains valuable patches to fix vulnerable areas of the software. You can change the settings on your computer to automate this process and automatically download the update every time it’s available.
- Ensure old hardware is unreadable. Deleted files on a hard drive are usually still retrievable—although it does take considerable skill. Always have a hard drive wiped completely using magnetic cleaning, special software, or disk shredding.
- Turn off your computer. Left on and connected to the Internet, your computer is an easy target.
Do you know anyone without a smartphone? It’s a tough challenge to find someone who doesn’t own a smartphone or tablet. While these communications devices can make life a bit easier, they can also make it less secure. That’s because mobile devices are jumping across Wi-Fi networks and on and off Bluetooth and GPS. Here’s what you should do to help secure your identity on various mobile devices:
- Always set a password to lock a phone or tablet down after a short period of inactivity. This is an easy way to discourage would-be criminals who might gain access to your physical mobile device, or simply to keep your information away from prying eyes should you ever lose it.
- Disable Bluetooth when inactive. Bluetooth is a vulnerable connection. It’s not safe to leave this on all the time, so keep if off if you’re not using it.
- Always check privacy settings after an update. Updates on mobile devices will often default the privacy settings. Every time you update, go into the settings menu and ensure that things like automatic uploading are disabled.
- Always review push notification requests. Push notifications are an easy way to stay connected to updates and news in an app, if left unchecked they can also share your personal information or grant other access to parts of your phone or tablet.
- Be cautious of apps from unknown sources. Apps are part of what make smartphones and tablets so convenient, but they’re also a doorway through which malware can easily enter.
- Install a mobile firewall. You can protect your online interface while surfing the web via mobile just like you would for a server or desktop browser.
Password Security Precautions
If you follow the tips above, your chances of protecting your identity across multiple devices will greatly improve however, there are a few more things you can do to help ensure your passwords on these devices don’t become compromised:
- Don’t use the same password on every device. This is an easy way to help improve security.
- Avoid passwords that contain numerical information like ages, dates of birth, phone numbers or easily found data such as the family dog’s name. Remember most of this information your publicly sharing on social networks so be smart in how you create your passwords.
- Don’t write your password down near or on the device. You’d be surprised how many people actually do this. If you have trouble remembering your password, try using a passphrase instead. This could be a song lyric or a famous quote.
- Avoid sending information regarding passwords or other sensitive personal data via text, email, or messaging service. These are not secure lines of communication and you should avoid doing it at all costs.
Ensuring you have the best online protection is important. Why not consider Norton Security to help give you further peace of mind?