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Best practices for protecting your data

As the amount of available data stored by businesses and individuals continues to grow so does the risk that the data can be accessed by unauthorized individuals. Below is a list of tips to help a business or individual keep their data secure.

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  • Antivirus Software – Antivirus software was originally developed to remove computer viruses after detection, but the software has enhanced with history and now commonly provides users protection from ransomware, malicious browsers, spyware, infected websites, keyloggers and online privacy amongst many other security risks. To stay effective antivirus needs continual updates of its databases. These databases contain information on various threats and inform the software on how to neutralize the threat, ensuring the database is current is critical and can usually be set up for automatic updates.
  • Strong Passwords – Studies continue to show the usage of weak passwords and easily guessed passwords. Best practices place a priority on emphasizing that security should be over convenience. Individuals should look at their passwords and attempt to:
    • Reduce the use of the same password for multiple websites/software.
    • Avoid writing down passwords.
    • Avoid having a file on the computer that contains all passwords.
    • Avoid having a file on the cloud that contains all passwords.
    • Frequently change and update passwords.
    • Create complex passwords that use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters or passphrases. Passphrases are more preferred now as they can be easily remembered and are generally more secure
  • Multi-factor authentication – Multi-factor authentication is the usage of an electronic authentication method that grants access after two or more factors are presented. Factors could include knowledge, possession, or inherence mechanisms. In addition, there is growth in apps that enable two-factor authentication via random code generation, QR Codes, or user input.
    • Knowledge mechanism is generally seen as a password, PIN, or secret questions, what street do you live on?
    • Possession mechanism is generally seen as the use of a security token such as an app or security dongle.
    • Inherence mechanism is frequently biometric such as fingerprint, face, or iris recognition.
  • Software updates – Hackers are constantly evolving and looking for breaches in software applications and existing security measures. Individuals and businesses should frequently monitor software and application updates for security enhancements and security patches being applied. Also, individuals and businesses should consider turning on automatic update for their operating systems and web browsers along with critical software.
  • Data Encryption – Data encryption will generally scramble your data into a computer code that generally cannot be deciphered unless you or your computer as the key to decrypt the data. Certain software will automatically encrypt the data within the application but there are applications that can be installed which will allow a user to encrypt their full hard drive.
  • Data Backups – Ransomware hacks are becoming more common where a hacker will encrypt your computer files and demand payment before providing the key to decrypt your data. Usually, in these situations, the hacker is not interested in viewing and using your data but is more interested in getting paid to unlock the data.  If an individual or business is frequently backing up their data, then in the event of a ransomware attack, a user could restore their files to the latest backup before the ransomware and theoretically avoid payment.

We know dealing with data, be it security or analytics, can be intimidating. That’s why we recently launched a Data Analytics department. Let Henry+Horne help you enjoy the benefits of having easily displayed data at your fingertips. Contact us today for more information.

Kevin Bach, CPA