March 31st is World Backup Day, the brainchild of a couple users on Reddit who, after losing their own information, wanted to raise awareness about the many ways data is playing an increasingly important role in our lives, and how critical it’s become to regularly backup and protect your digital information.
“It’s not only a day for backing up your personal data, but it’s also a day to talk about the enormous task of preserving our increasingly digital heritage and cultural works for future generations.” — World Backup Day
Beyond preservation, World Backup Day also shines a light on a number of other reasons why backing up, updating, and taking general care of your digital information is so important. In fact, every minute, 113 phones are lost or stolen, and 1 in 10 computers are infected with viruses each month.
Theft, viruses, and other forms of malware and virtual criminal activity leave you incredibly vulnerable to hacks and data breaches, where malicious individuals can invade your privacy and steal your sensitive information. In a statement to CNBC, Skycure co-founder Adi Sharabani warned, “Everything is hackable. People sometimes forget that it’s so easy to hack into devices, [and] the services your smartphone relies on are much more attractive targets to attackers.”
In an article for Forbes, blockchain technology expert Laura Shin also reminds us that, “Hackers are opportunistic and constantly changing tactics. For instance, many of them [even] exploit natural disasters.”
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Arguably, there’s a large knowledge gap between device ownership and the knowing how to properly protect and use those devices. For instance, a whopping 30% of phone and computer owners have never done even the simple task of backing up their devices.
Whether you own a computer, phone, tablet, or all three plus some, here’s how to properly take care of and safeguard your connected device ecosystem to protect yourself against hacks and data breaches.
Stay Updated –
Step one to protecting your devices against hacks is to keep them updated, installing software updates as soon as they become available. Don’t wait, no matter how tedious you find the task to be or how much you’re dreading an interface change. A large number of successful hacks actually exploit vulnerabilities that engineers have already fixed and baked into updates.
Also, make sure that your software updates completely. Sometimes, for example, Apple computers will have pop-up notifications that say not all updates were successful. Don’t ignore this notification, and take the necessary steps to ensure complete installation. Also, if your devices have the option, enable automatic updates to save you time.
Monitor For The Signs –
More times than not, device hacks happen without you even knowing until significant damage has already been done. Thankfully, there are a number of different device technology solutions you can use to protect and monitor your systems, in addition to being able to recognize the signals.
One of the first signs of some kind of ransomware is a slowed-down computer. If you notice a sudden lag in your computer’s performance and you have plenty of free space, your system may be compromised. Invest in and download reputable, well-reviewed antivirus computer software programs which will scan, protect, and notify you of any vulnerabilities.
Another clear sign that your data has been compromised is unfamiliar activity in your bank accounts or a sudden, unexpected change in your credit score. There are a number of different reasons why your credit score may drop, but if you haven’t made any notable recent financial changes or actions, it may be because of someone else.
According to FICO, the number one reason cyber-related attacks happen is for financial gain, meaning monitoring your finances for suspicious or unfamiliar activity is critical. And no, you really don’t need to pay for your regular credit report. Unfortunately, there are a number of free credit report scams, so make sure you know how to get access to a free credit report the right way.
Practice Safe Internet –
A large part of protecting your devices is simply not putting them in harm’s way. Here’s a list of best practices when it comes to general computer and smartphone use:
- Don’t “jailbreak” your phone, which can remove important technical safeguards and permits apps to perform prohibited, privacy-invading actions.
- Install wisely. It’s easy to mindlessly accept app and software terms and conditions and privacy policies, but do your due diligence to make sure you aren’t giving them permission to read your files, access your camera, use your data, or listen to your microphone unless absolutely necessary.
- Review permissions regularly. Some updates can be sneaky, so take the time to review which permissions your apps are using under Settings > Privacy. On Android, you’ll need a security app to get an overview of permissions.
- Keep it locked and enable device tracking. You can also set your phone to automatically erase everything on it after a certain number of incorrect attempts to enter the passcode.
Back Up Your Data –
And finally, back up your devices. All the protection in the world can’t 100% guarantee that you won’t fall victim to some form of malicious activity or an unfortunate accident, and given that the things we store digitally are increasingly precious in nature, you don’t want to compromise both your sensitive financial information and your priceless personal items.
Beyond malicious activity like viruses and ransomware attacks, there’s also the reality of failing hard drives, electrical power outages that can corrupt files, physical damage, and accidental reformatting — things no one can plan for.
To cover the basics, you should back up your documents, email, music, pictures, and videos. Think about what’s most irreplaceable, and how you’d feel if you lost those items. Your best options for backing up include cloud storage and external hard drives, and it’s also a best practice to backup your files on a daily basis. If you’re looking for the most convenient option, online backup solutions are configured to immediately sync files as you save them.
Why Advantage CCS wants to be involved in World Backup Day –
We hear about a lot of life’s hard lessons or mishaps working in this industry. Everything from job loss, a major death in the family, to medical illnesses, etc. that leave people’s lives in shambles and shake their financial footing until they’re in pretty deep. Losing all of your important financial and personal information can be one of those HUGE life mishaps.
Identity theft is another big problem and something we like to educate the public about to protect them. We feel that the more information we can provide to help people better manage their finances and protect their financial futures will create a more knowledgeable and responsible consumer. As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that mission is especially important to us and our overall goals. We believe it is critical to help spread the word about the upcoming World Backup Day in hopes of continuing to educate and protect the public.