One of the problems with data security is the sometimes complex nature of best practices you can find online.

Even if you know what encryption and access control is, you may not have the time to implement them or the money for the specific software or infrastructure to make them work.

To put a band-aid on this we’ve come up with a short list of measures you can do right now, for free, from your home or office desk. Think of them as a quick checklist to make sure you aren’t being careless with your data.

Check if your accounts have been compromised

The site “Have I been pwned” is a great resource to check if any of your accounts have been exposed to the world. Enter your username or email address associated with accounts you’ve created online, and the site will trawl through known data breaches and leaks to see if your particulars have been leaked.

If you find out that your details come up, we suggest taking measures to change your passwords and delete any information you have associated to the breached accounts. We also suggest that you sign up to their mailing list, which will notify you if your email address appears in one of these incidents.

Cover up your webcams and microphones

In 2016 a photo of Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, made the rounds because of the MacBook that was sitting on his desk. What made this interesting was the fact that both the built-in webcam and microphone were covered with tape.

The reason for this is the fear that, at one point, someone may gain outside access to this hardware to spy on the user. It may seem a bit paranoid, but two small pieces of tape can give you a lot of piece of mind, and if one of the biggest names in tech does it, why not?

Never write down your passwords

While it may seem like a good idea to keep a list of your longer or more complex passwords written down on physical pieces of paper or as digital documents, it’s not recommend. Anyone who gains physical access to your location or digital access to your documents will now gain even more unfettered passage to more of your data.

If you have trouble remembering your passwords, use a password manager such as LastPass or the built-in manager in Chrome.

Never give any information away over the phone

Even if you’re wise to social engineering, it’s easy to slip up one day when you’re busy and reveal something you shouldn’t over the phone.

The general rule is to never believe anyone is who they claim to be over the phone. If your bank, gym, school or anyone else gives you a call, ask them to send you an email instead. If they are who they claim to be, they should have those details on hand.

Change your default usernames and passwords

This mainly applies to hardware such as routers where you’ll find a default username and password printed under the case. This is a huge vulnerability as anyone who knows the model of your router (even easier to identify if you don’t change the default wifi name either) can jump onto it an play around.

Aside from going onto the internet on your dime, from here they can mess with your settings, potentially hijacking your internet connection and locking you out, requiring a factory reset on your side. There’s also more illicit activity, such as a perpetrator engaging in illegal activity on your connection.

[Image – CC0 World’s Direction]