Tips for your Data Security
Sharing your data
Many users are “seduced” by social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X etc. into revealing very personal data to the general public. However, people often forget what can be done with their data afterwards, or what it can be misused for. It has long been no secret that the respective operators sell this data to marketing companies for not inconsiderable sums of money. And anyone who is surprised that after posting a product recommendation to a friend, they are soon afterwards bombarded with corresponding advertisements: Now you know why.
So don’t be too generous with personal details from your life. Even a photo of your lunch can give away your location, as the camera or smartphone stores it as so-called meta-data in the image file, which is then uploaded to the social network. You should also never post when or where you are going on holiday, otherwise you may be “greeted” by an empty and robbed house when you return.
Everything you share on Facebook, Instagram, etc. is at least as visible to the entire public as if you wrote it on a huge billboard in front of your house that can be seen clearly even from outer space.
Acceptance of cookies
Not only since the introduction of the GDPR have you been nagged with a warning about the use of so-called cookies on websites that you have not yet visited. This has the following background:
A cookie is a small text file that is saved on your computer (or whatever you use to look at the website) by calling up any website. It usually contains settings you make on the corresponding website (e.g. selection of region/language, colour/design, login data), but very often also information about the device you are using (e.g. screen size, operating system, which browser you are using, and much more). This data is often sold to marketing companies, just like your personal details on social networks (see above).
Most of the time, these cookie warnings offer two options: Accept Cookies or Configure. If you’re lucky, you can avoid all cookies altogether by clicking “Decline”.
So if you haven’t selected any special settings on the website, you can do well without storing the cookies, otherwise you will have to do it again every time you visit the website when you reject them.
Regular backup of your data
An often underestimated topic is the backup of your (at least most important) data on a second or external storage medium. Depending on the amount of data, you can use a USB stick or an external hard drive or even a streamer (tape drive, rather rare nowadays). This way you can ensure that you still have access to all your documents, emails, pictures, videos, etc. even if your computer, tablet or smartphone fails.
Especially if you run a business, a data loss can mean the end of your business existence. Therefore, in addition to a local copy of the data, businesses/companies should consider a backup in a data centre in order to at least be able to fall back on a not entirely up-to-date data stock even in the event of a catastrophe such as fire, flood or similar. However, the data should definitely be stored there in encrypted form to prevent third parties from accessing it.
Anonymous Surfing on the Internet
Everyone who travels on the internet pulls a wide swathe of information about themselves behind them. In any case, there is your public IP address, which allows conclusions to be drawn about your current location. Furthermore, information about the device used is always sent along, including the browser used, the operating system installed and much more. So-called trackers precisely follow your path through the internet and transmit this information to marketing companies, which then provide personalised advertising.
If you don’t like this at all, you can travel through the internet via an anonymised network (called a TOR network). This disguises your IP address by routing you through additional servers, making you at least much harder to track. Unfortunately, functions such as Firefox’s “private mode” or Chrome’s “incognito” mode are only a poor alternative, as they also send various data about your own computer. However, you are generally NEVER completely anonymous.
Beware of phishing emails
Phishing emails are emails in which you are asked to enter certain data (for example, access data for your home banking, credit card data, your address, identification data and others). This usually happens via more or less well-done imitations of well-known websites (banks, parcel services, but also official websites).
Of course, this data is not really collected by the bank/company/authority in question, but criminal organisations are behind it, speculating on the ignorance of the user and hoping that no one will recognise the fraud. However, it is very easy to determine from certain characteristics that this email is not from the person it claims to be.
As a rule of thumb, the following always applies: Official companies, banks and authorities will NEVER ask for such information via an email! If you have any doubts about the accuracy of an email, please ask the relevant office. They will tell you there whether the request can be genuine or not.
You should also be wary of the digital version of the “grandson trick”. In this case, you usually receive a Whatsapp or SMS in which a relative allegedly pretends to be stranded somewhere, to have no more money or that their phone is no longer working. In the same breath, they ask for financial support. If you receive such an email, Whatsapp or SMS, please check the context and the authenticity of this request.
Only necessary online accounts
Often you are surfing through the internet, you find a site with an interesting offer here and there and you are tempted to register right there to test the product or service on offer.