December 20

All I want for Christmas is a…

A new car. A new puppy. A new house. A boat. A trip to an exotic location. A new phone.

Holiday wish lists tread a fine line between “needs” and “wants” and more often than not, the whimsical and extravagant gifts win over the realistic, practical ones. Before you pick up your pencil and scrawl your list of most wanted items, consider this:

Nothing ruins Christmas faster than a data disaster.

Fortunately, our tech support and data recovery specialists have assembled a practical wish list for your cyber safety, so you can have the most wonderful time all year, every year (approved by The Big Guy, himself).

Make your list, check it twice:

Solid backup plan

This is so much more than a “Plan B”. It’s a comprehensive plan for backing up your devices and accounts, the hardware and/or software needed for the backups, and your contingency plan for what to do if your dreaded data disaster becomes a reality (worst case scenario). The components of a solid backup plan are:

  • An external hard drive, a physical piece of hardware (separate from your computer, often connected via USB) on which you can save massive amounts of information and store in a controlled environment, safe from internet breaches or natural disasters.
  • Cloud technology, a virtual space where you can back up that same sensitive and important personal information. If there is a natural disaster (like fire or flood), your data will be preserved in the Cloud.
  • A set schedule of when to regularly and consistently backup your data. The more frequently the backups, the less data might be compromised in a breach or loss.

Data recovery experts often cite the 3-2-1 strategy for data recovery. You should have 3 copies of your data, 2 local copies of your data using different storage types and devices, and 1 off-site backup.

Password manager

You have a need? Chances are, there’s an app or a program for that. We all have a lot of accounts, with (hopefully) strong and unique passwords. How on earth can you remember them all? Breathe a sigh of relief: you don’t have to.

A password manager is a technological tool that allows you to organize, save, manage, and update all your individual passwords through one system. You only have to remember one password: the login credential for your password manager of choice. Different password managers have different capabilities—some will even generate secure passwords for you. Explore the best options here!

Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA), which also encompasses Two Factor Authentication (2FA), is an extra layer of computer security that requires several pieces of personal information from the user before access is granted. It typically includes at least two of the following:

  • something they know (i.e. “What street did you grow up on?” or a PIN number)
  • something they have (i.e. a time-sensitive confirmation code sent to your cell phone or a USB token)
  • something they are (i.e. retinal scan, facial recognition, or a fingerprint)

This extra layer of protection can halt hackers in their tracks even after the cybercriminal is able to crack your username and password.

Mobile phone policy

According to Deloitte, the average American checks his or her phone 46 times per day. We feel compelled to check our phones constantly: immediately upon waking up, at work, during leisure time, while driving, before we go to sleep, as soon as they vibrate or ring. People have become experts at multitasking; simultaneously using their phones while performing other tasks.

We take our phones everywhere. They are intimately connected to our personal lives and sensitive data. Mobile devices are the “weakest links in corporate security”. Employees bring their own unsecured devices to work and connect to the company network or they work in public environments and connect to unsecure networks. But the problem isn’t the devices, it’s the users. By implementing a mobile phone policy and educating employees on good security habits, businesses can protect themselves against mobile security breaches.

Other ways individuals can secure their cell phones:

  • a strong passcode (not 1-2-3-4) or fingerprint
  • Encrypted storage
  • “Find My Phone” or remote wipe for lost or stolen devices

Encryption for all devices

Nowadays, almost all devices have encryption functionality built in to their operating systems. For Windows, it’s called BitLocker; for Mac it’s called FileVault.

Encryption: the process of converting information or data into a secret code, to prevent unauthorized access (the lock).
Decryption: the process of converting encoded information or data back into text the user can understand (the key).

Hackers employ encryption and decryption in ransomware attacks, hijacking your own data and rendering it unintelligible. You can use encryption and decryption to your own advantage, hiding your own data and rending it useless, should an unauthorized or unwanted third party try to access your personal information.

A data recovery service (for when all else fails)

You did all the right things: you had a contingency plan, you backed up your data, you utilize a password manager, you enabled multifactor authentication, you adhere to your company’s mobile phone policy, you encrypted your devices. 9 times out of 10, you’ll never have to worry about your data.

But life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. Fortunately, with more than 20 years of data recovery service experience and more than 140,000 recoveries, CBL has the knowledge and resources to identify hard drive failures and implement a successful data recovery solution.

As for the hackers and cybercriminals: everyone knows they’re on the Naughty List.

Category: helpful hints, data loss prevention

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