August 08, 2022 — Acronis

Best Practices for Personal Data Protection

Cyber Protect Home Office
formerly Acronis True Image

Be aware of what personal information is and why you need to protect it

Personally identifiable information (PII), or just “personal information” can be any piece of information enabling the identification of an individual — either through independent use, or by combining it with other elements of data.

Your name, birthday and address are primary examples of PII. You use them to create accounts on the web, fill out forms, or shop online.

Passport or driver’s license numbers are used less frequently, but are straightforward ways to identify you.

Then comes ethnic or racial origins and religion, medical, financial or criminal history. Along with your IP address (if traceable), those are enough to form a sound profile of an individual.

Lastly, if leaked, DNA, voice recordings and fingerprints can also identify their holder to third parties.

Nowadays, most of us are submerged in online activities. We use the internet to work, browse social media, purchase goods in online stores, discuss our everyday problems on forums, and more.

It has become a habit to insert your name and age when you create an online account or type in your credit card info when buying takeout. While many services rely on encryption and added security, the information we share online, both intentionally and unintentionally, can fall into the hands of unauthorized third parties. If that happens, attackers can compromise your online accounts and real-life engagements, or sell your data to the highest bidder.

To avoid identity or financial theft, users should be aware of the risks of sharing PII and only share such information with trusted recipients. Below, we’ve compiled our favorite data protection practices. Let’s go through them together to understand how to keep our personal information away from prying eyes.

Protect yourself from phishing attempts

Phishing is the most common form of malicious attack on the internet. Phishing is usually carried out through social engineering campaigns and emails. If you download an infected file or click on a malicious link embedded in the email, attackers may gain access to your device, steal your data, or install malware to hold your data for ransom.

To counter phishing attempts, you must take a sensible approach to email engagement.

·         Be on high alert if you receive something from unknown senders. Many times, phishing comes in an email disguised as if it came from a legitimate sender. However, if you’re not expecting such an email, you can reach out to the sender’s official website or phone to check if the email is genuine.

·         As a rule, avoid clicking on links and downloading attachments that are sent to you by an unknown person or that look suspicious. Unless you’re explicitly waiting for an email from a specific individual, it’s best to restrain from clicking on embedded files or links.

·         Deny answering emails asking for your personal information. A reputable organization will not ask you for confidential or personal details in email.

·         If information in an email sounds too good to be true, it’s probably exactly that. Even if it’s a free trip to the country you’ve always wanted to visit, such an email can result in lost or compromised data.

Report any spam or scam you encounter

Many people know how to identify spam or scam emails. Following identification, the default reaction is to ignore the email and move on. However, it will serve you better to report the scam email.

Whether you report the scam to your company’s IT department, internet service provider, or cybersecurity governing body, reporting the email helps other people avoid getting scammed out of their sensitive information.

Most modern email solutions (e.g., Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo) offer users built-in options to report email scams. What’s more, most countries have already established anti-phishing boards dedicated to battling online scams.

In the U.S., you can turn to the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Agency; in Canada, there’s the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre; and in the U.K., you can contact the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.

If you’re unsure how and who to report to, you can always ask an IT specialist or local law enforcement to guide you.

Secure your online shopping

E-commerce sites are a significant part of many people’s everyday lives. But however convenient they may be, online stores are a prime target for cybercriminals. Most platforms use third-party transaction vendors, so securing your online shopping to counter financial fraud attempts is crucial.

Here are some guidelines to make your online shopping safer.

Ensure every site you visit is legitimate

Checking the legitimacy of a new online store is critical. You can inspect the URL to see if it begins with “HTTPS.” “HTTPS” means the site offers encrypted communication between your browser and the platform. The closed padlock symbol next to the text shows that the platform enables secure transactions.

Moreover, you can click on the site’s lock icon and choose “Show certificate.” This way, you can view the security certificate and check its issue and expiry dates. Lastly, you can search to find seals of approval from third-party security solutions.

Rely on multifactor authentication

Typically, e-commerce stores will ask you to create an account and set up payment info before checkout. If you choose to do so, select a strong password, set up two-factor authentication, and do not tick the box “Save my details for future payments.”

Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks

Using a public Wi-Fi for online shopping is a fundamental no-no. It may be convenient for impulse buys, but it puts your data at significant risk. Since public Wi-Fi rarely has strong defenses, hackers can penetrate the network and quickly learn your name, address, or credit card information.

If you’re in a last-resort scenario and must use public Wi-Fi to browse, install and use a VPN to protect data in transit so it can’t be tracked, intercepted or stolen by attackers.

Be mindful of what you share on social media

These days, no defense can genuinely protect your sensitive information if you share it on social media.

As most social media platforms offer public access, users can browse your content even without an account. Yes, you can set your posts and photos to “Friends Access Only” ― but who’s to say you know all of your Facebook friends? Or how many of your Instagram followers are real user accounts? Not to forget Twitter, which is a data search haven that uses hashtags and shared tweets.

Location tags, bank statements, your kids’ elementary school, your email, phone number, and even educated Netflix recommendations can, in a way, compromise the security of your personal information.

The general rule here is as follows: If you wish to share something other than a vacation photo with your close ones, do it in person or via the phone. If you choose to share it on social media, be aware that anyone on the platform could also find a way to see it.

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office provides the best data protection

Every data protection strategy needs a strong antivirus. Even if you are mindful of your browsing habits, a cybersecurity solution adds extra layers of defense to foil snooping third parties.

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office (formerly Acronis True Image) blocks malicious attacks in real time without human supervision. You can also scan your device for existing infections, rid your system of them, and reduce the risk of data breaches and unwanted cyberattacks in the future.

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office provides a unique integration of reliable backup and cutting-edge anti-malware technologies that safeguard data against all of today’s threats — disk failure, accidental deletion, and loss and theft, as well as cybercriminal attacks. PCMag described it as “an all-encompassing tragedy prevention solution” in their “Editor’s Choice” review.

With Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office, individuals and small businesses alike can back up their data — including operating systems, applications, settings, files and Microsoft 365 accounts to local drives, external hard drives, NAS and the Acronis cloud. In addition, Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office stops cyberattacks — including attacks resulting from zero-day vulnerabilities — from harming both backup and device data with real-time protection, vulnerability assessment, on-demand antivirus scans, web-filtering, ransomware protection, and a cryptomining blocker. In case of a disaster, data can be easily recovered.

Learn more about Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office or, even better, try it out for free.

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