Did you know human error is one of the leading causes of data loss? It is accountable for around one-third of incidents. Of course, it’s unfair to expect people not to make mistakes, especially if they’re under pressure or require more training. However, just five simple measures can drastically reduce the likelihood of data loss through human error.
1. Choose better passwords and use 2-factor authentication
Start by choosing strong passwords, which can’t be easily guessed or figured out. This is one piece of advice you’ll hear over and over: An insecure password offers malicious users (hackers, disgruntled employees, competitors, etc.) an open door to your personal and confidential information, as well as that of your customers.
Where possible, use two-factor authentication for accessing critical data. Many popular services support 2-factor authentication. For example Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox and PayPal, to name a few.
2. Develop secure computer and personal habits
Secure habits take into account your surroundings, and how they may change over time. For example, lock your computer before leaving your desk to prevent privacy breaches and unauthorised computer use; be wary of sensitive printed documents left unguarded in a high traffic zone; and use a concealing posture when entering PINs, passwords and patterns on your mobile phone or tablet, cleaning your touchscreen often to remove any trails left behind.
When asked for personal information, be vigilant about who is asking, and what you’re giving away, as seemingly innocuous details can reveal more about you than you realise.
3. Back up your data on a regular basis
It’s easy to accidentally delete an important file – so easy that operating systems introduced the ‘Recycle Bin’ and ‘Trash’ folder to help users reduce the risk of losing critical information. However, not all files get caught by this safety net. Your file may still get unintentionally deleted, and worse still, your hard drive may fail. Ensure your most important files are backed up on a regular basis.
4. Surf wisely and employ an anti-virus
Many Australians are getting caught by Cryptolocker, a type of malware that encrypts everything on your computer or network, then asks for money. Your only options from there are to restore your files from backup or pay the demanded ransom.
While anti-virus programs are an excellent safety measure against known malware like this, they are no replacement for using the internet wisely. Be wary of sites asking to install applications on your computer, ensuring you’re familiar with the programs they suggest (eg. Flash, Acrobat). Obtain only licensed software from reputable sources – not only is software piracy illegal, there is no guarantee that your pirated program is tamper-free.
Finally, think twice before opening an email attachment, even if the email is from a trusted source.
5. When in doubt, ask for help
Software updates, installations and repairs should be performed by technically experienced users, as some maintenance operations can cause data to go missing. For frequently performed operations, where it’s not practical to ask for help each time, consider getting technical training to make the day-to-day efforts run more smoothly.