It doesn’t feel that long ago that protecting yourself from web-based predators was pretty simple. You installed some simple anti-virus software on your computer and let it run in the background whenever you connected your computer to the information highway. That’s right, kids: once upon a time you could disconnect from the internet (ask your parents). Today, thanks to the cloud, wi-fi, smartphones and all of those other beautiful inventions that have made life easier, there are more steps involved in protecting yourself from “the bad guys.”
It is important to understand, though, that while there are more potential points of entry than ever before, the process of protecting yourself doesn’t have to be complicated or intricate. Here are some of the best tips from the top experts in web security.
Protecting Your Devices
According to the experts in data loss prevention at Trend Micro:
“To avoid the embarrassment, reputation damage, regulatory fines, and revenue loss, your enterprise must be able to identify, track, and secure all confidential data from multiple points within the organization and in the cloud — without impacting employee productivity and performance. In the past, many organizations tried traditional data loss prevention (DLP) solutions but found they were too intrusive, too complex to manage, and too costly to acquire, deploy, and maintain…[you need] Integrated, single-click DLP eliminates cost and complexity barriers that may be holding you back. You’ll simplify the roll out of data protection and start seeing results right away.”
This is perhaps the most important part of securing yourself against all of those vague and threatening “bad guys.” Trying to secure each part of your network separately can be confusing and time-consuming. Almost more importantly, it bogs down your entire system. Nobody wants that. One system that can be integrated across all of your access points mobile or tethered is a much better way to go. It saves you time and effort and is often the less expensive option as well.
Taking steps to protect sensitive data isn’t just about protecting your physical devices and servers. You also need to protect yourself. Identity theft isn’t something that only happens to major corporations. According to Jason Hanson in an article for Entrepreneur:
“We are at greater risk of identity theft than large corporations. Yet, we have all seen company after company hacked putting Americans’ private information at risk.
Identity theft is the number one complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with 15 million victims each year at a cost of $50 billion annually. Identity theft is growing at such a rate, that many people believe there is nothing they can do. Not true.”
This is true for individual citizens as well as entrepreneurs and small business owners. And the primary methods used by identity thieves are surprisingly old-school. The Justice Department reported that the most popular methods used by identity thieves include phishing schemes, mail theft and even “shoulder surfing” which is just what it sounds like: someone nearby watching as you punch in your passwords or listening carefully as you read a card number to someone over the phone while in public.
One of the best ways to deal with these threats, says the US Justice Department, is to be stingy:
“Start by adopting a ‘need to know’ approach to your personal data. Your credit card company may need to know your mother’s maiden name, so that it can verify your identity when you call to inquire about your account. A person who calls you and says he’s from your bank, however, doesn’t need to know that information if it’s already on file with your bank; the only purpose of such a call is to acquire that information for that person’s personal benefit. Also, the more information that you have printed on your personal bank checks — such as your Social Security number or home telephone number — the more personal data you are routinely handing out to people who may not need that information.”
So why does all of this US-based identity theft and hacking fraud matter for African entrepreneurs? Because nobody is immune. The tips that help protect Americans will help protect Africans, especially in spaces where infrastructure is sparse and theft/fraud are rampant. Oracle is expanding here, and said at the Africa Executive Summit, that they wanted to help bring the Internet of Things to the continent. With increased cloud access comes increased responsibility for everyone.
Finally, while the increased cloud access can feel scary or risky, know that it is going to be a boon for all Africans. The ability to work remotely will help those who are far flung and help modernize entrepreneurial infrastructures and support systems.