Smartphones, tablets, and laptops have become an essential part of our everyday lives. They help us communicate with friends, manage our time, pay our bills, and more.
As these devices have become more powerful and easier to use, they've also become a target for criminals. Here are several ways you can protect your digital life on your devices.
1. Use a password or PIN on every device
You probably keep your door locked when you're at home and in your living room because you wouldn't want a stranger to walk in uninvited. It's important to think of your devices the same way. If they're not secure, anyone can access your personal information.
Use a password or PIN on every device. We recommend a PIN because it's quicker than entering a password. And be sure to use a number that's not easy to guess, like a birthday or anniversary date. Make sure your passwords are strong and unique for each website or app you use. A strong password does not have personal information (like family members' names) and includes numbers and upper-case letters.
2. Keep your operating system up-to-date
This may seem obvious, but installing operating system updates is one of the most important things you can do to protect your computer, phone, or tablet from threats.
Operating system updates include improvements that make your device run better and fix security issues. Some updates are released automatically, so you won't need to install them manually. The number one way the bad guys get into your computer is through a vulnerability in your operating system — the software that runs your device.
Hackers constantly look for these vulnerabilities and exploit them by sending out malware (malicious software) to infect people's devices. Since manufacturers are aware of this, they regularly release updates to their operating systems, which close the vulnerability and make it harder for hackers to attack you. You must apply these updates as soon as possible after they are released.
3. Set up screen locks
Screen locks are the first line of defense for protecting the data on your device. Set up a passcode for your lock screen if you're using an iPhone/iPad/iPod. If you're using an Android device, you can use a PIN, password or pattern.
If you use biometric security such as Face ID or Touch ID, that's even better — it's much easier to use and far harder to crack. Ensure that your password or passcode is complex enough to take a computer a long time to guess it.
You can include numbers and letters for your passcode and special characters, such as exclamation points and question marks. Setting up your screen lock is one of the most effective ways to keep your data safe because if someone steals your device, they won't be able to get in without knowing the code you've set up.
4. Back up your data
It is important to back up your data. Whether you choose to back up to the cloud or an external hard drive, you should encrypt your backup, so it's protected from hackers. Backing up your data is one of the best ways to protect the digital life of your devices. When backing up your data, you have two options:
Cloud storage: Storing data in the cloud means storing it on a remote server that's maintained by a company such as Apple (for iCloud), Google (for Google Drive) or Microsoft (for OneDrive). The benefit of using cloud storage is that you can access your backed-up data from any device with internet access. The downside is that the security of cloud storage can sometimes be questionable — there have been many reports in recent years about hacked cloud systems and stolen data.
5. Use a VPN
For the sake of your digital life, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. These networks are notorious for being less secure than private Wi-Fi, so you should always avoid them. Use a VPN if you have to use public Wi-Fi. A VPN has added security features to protect your data from hackers and prevent identity theft. That means you get to hide your IP address with VPNand, in turn, make it hard for hackers. You should also never log into sensitive accounts or make any purchases on public Wi-Fi. Wait until you're back home to browse bank statements or pay bills.
If you want to keep your digital life secure, you can take a few steps that will offer maximum protection with little effort. With hackers waiting around every corner to steal your personal information, it's more important than ever to protect the digital lives of your devices. This article will help you do that.