Aug. 15, 2016 02:59 PM

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And hackers. We have to fear hackers, too.” — FDR (if he’d been inaugurated in 2017)

It seems like no one — including the first female candidate of a major political party, a member of the DNC and even users of a secretive online dating service — is safe these days when it comes to data access. But who should you fear? The Russians? The white-haired hacking data hosting heister Julian Assange? Even if you separate your business from pleasure device-wise, everyone has something worth stealing. So how can you keep your private data from being another statistic in a world wide web of ones and zeros?

PASSWORD STRENGTH

There’s a reason some online services require a password that contains upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and a picture of your childhood pet. Quite simply, the more quality characters you put between your data and outsiders the better. That said, don’t use the same complicated password for every online account. That would be like giving thieves a master key to your car, house and bank accounts. And yes, you should also change your passwords periodically. Sometimes private information from compromised databases may sit idle for years before being auctioned off to the highest bidder — often at a bargain. Recently, a hacker tried to sell more than 400 million Myspace logins for little more than $2,500. Not even our selfies are safe!

For Mac users, the Keychain is a secure way to store all of your passwords in one place. Need a wider business solution? LastPass is a great password-generator, formfiller and overall digital wallet that allows you to create and share passwords for an unlimited number of online resources.

SEPARATE BUSINESS FROM PLEASURE

Have you ever wondered why celebrities, high-level executives and politicians have multiple mobile devices? The answer is security — divorcing their personal browsing habits from their professional ties keeps them safer. The reality is that we all use our personal devices to access data from lots of shady places across the web (torrents, live streaming, coupon code sites) and download applications from untrustworthy, third-party develop ers.

Most of us don’t consider what we’re signing off on when we click “agree” to those lengthy terms of service disclaimers. You know that free flashlight app you just installed, the one that turns on your camera flash so you can find the remote buried in your couch? For all you know, it has the ability to edit your storage contents, install other apps and read your Google services configurations (search history, where you’ve been, app preferences). That’s a lot of power for a glorified light bulb.

The point is, if you’re intermingling your business emails or corporate reports, or even just previewing PDFs from email, you’re opening yourself up to a world of risk — even more so if you’re accessing them via an unsecured, public network.

BE SMART ABOUT ACCESS

From emails with completed credit card information to lists of social security numbers and wage data in unencrypted, shared network locations, I’ve heard it all. As business owners and IT professionals, you must have processes that are not only secure, but also comply with the law. Remember when Target got class-action sued for the leak of customer payment info? Or the philanderous online dating service that had its users’ profile information stolen from their servers and posted publicly? For any business, it’s not only a good idea to have a cyber safety consultation, it may be the law. Some companies are required to keep years of email backups on file, while all companies have a responsibility to keep sensitive data under e-lock and key. Whether you choose a bigname online cyber security company like Barracuda or Cisco, or a local firm, make sure you cover your digital assets.

As internet marketing specialist at BBR Creative, Cory LaGrange spends his workdays managing the online marketing and optimization operations for digital clients. From SEO to paid search, he ensures content is seen and voices heard.

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