Analysis

Five easy steps to protect your data

9th July 2018
Alex Lynn

The NHS data breach, affecting 150,000 patients in England, revealed that even the most confidential information is under threat because national services aren’t adept at protecting what they collect. Magnus Steinberg, Chief Technology Officer at Surfshark VPN, recommends five easy steps to help you stay safer and more private online.

The NHS is blaming a coding error for allegedly breaching confidential health information of over 150,000 patients. Apparently, there was a problem with the software used by GPs.

Since companies and national services have both failed to protect citizens’ personal information, people should be doing it by themselves. Magnus Steinberg, Surfshark’s CTO, suggests several ‘hygienic’ privacy protection checks which are easy for anyone to understand and protect their digital identity.

Don’t share too much

Do not share anything you would not say to a stranger. What you put online, stays there forever and goes from hands to hands. Companies who get a hold of personal data can do whatever they wish without obtaining people’s consent. Even if they did get your consent, you could never be sure what happens with your personal information.

Control your passwords

There's a popular internet meme about our passwords - treat them like your underwear. It means, do not share them, do not leave them lying around, and change them often. Also, there are a few easy steps which will help to control your passwords:

  • Make them long. Since hackers use dictionary attacks, try capitalising letters, misspelling the words, don't use your name, surname or other easily relatable words.
  • Don't use a common phrase. Again, hackers use dictionary attacks, and common phrases are an easy target.
  • Don't reuse. Remembering different passwords can be such a hassle, but if you want your sensitive information secure, it's the price you must pay.
  • Use a password manager. It will help you stop picking all the wrong passwords.

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a robust tool to protect your online identity. It hides your data from scammers by encrypting it. VPNs make it impossible for snoopers to track your online activities or steal your sensitive data (such as addresses, passwords and bank account details) Trusted VPN providers use the latest encryption standards which can take billions of years to be decrypted. Moreover, reliable VPN services guarantee a strict no logs policy, they do not monitor, record or handle your private information in any way. 

Don’t submit to marketing clichés

Marketers know the value of certain propositions, and they use tricks to make you give up the information yourself. They tempt you by offering discounts, free trials or unlimited services in exchange for personal data. The more data they own, the more precise their marketing can be. Also, your data can potentially be sold and reused by third parties, without you even noticing.

Educate yourself

Staying safe online requires some level of knowledge. But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you have to become an expert, just the necessary knowledge is more than enough.

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