How to make sure your data is secure

Olly Mann

What you should and shouldn't be doing with your data can get overwhelming, we help you navigate a way to keep yourself safe from data thieves

As more and more companies find themselves in the middle of data breach scandals, it’s important to know how to keep your information secure. Here, Olly Mann offers a few simple steps you can take…

Shops, banks and social media companies have all hit the headlines recently due to data breaches. So, now seems a good time to audit your online privacy. What simple steps can you take to protect your data?

 

Beef up your Facebook security

Despite the negative publicity, Facebook users can decide how their information is stored. On the desktop version, there’s a little downward arrow, in the top-right corner of the screen. Click that, then “Settings,” then “Privacy”—and you’ll find yourself in a zone where you can de-authorise any apps you’ve unknowingly granted access to your social life. You can also, for example, turn off facial recognition, decide whether you’re comfortable for Facebook’s advertisers to target you on the basis of your relationship status, and select which of your posts can be read by people you don’t know.

 

Install a private browser

Chrome’s “Incognito” function prevents your device from storing your search requests. But check the small print: even in Incognito mode, Google themselves track what you’re visiting, and target you with related ads. If you’d rather keep your browsing truly private, the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app (free) features no advertising, and automatically routes you to the most secure version of each website you visit. At the end of a session, tap the “fire” button and your search history goes up in smoke.

 

Use two-factor authentication

Cloud computing is convenient, but if you’ve got oodles of documents and photos up there, consider protecting them with Yubico YubiKey 4 (£39), a USB stick that fits on your key-ring. Affiliated sites including Gmail and Dropbox will then only log you in if you’ve physically docked your key. So, if hackers compromise your passwords, your data still remains off limits.

 

Think like a hacker!

Google yourself. What information have you previously made public that might compromise your security in the future? For example, have you shared you mother’s maiden name, or your dad’s date of birth—common security questions for financial services? Have you posted a photo that reveals the location of your home? Weigh up if you’re keen for all that to be on the public record…