From retailers to the Russians—everyone is out to get your online data. Even the American government has rolled back FCC regulations, making it easier for your internet service provider to sell your data to advertisers and turn a profit. So what can you do? What options do you have to protect your data from Putin, politicians, and the public?

You’ll never be able to perfectly prevent data theft. In fact, in 2016, data breaches rose by about 40%. And, as more and more people turn to the internet for banking, shopping, taxes, and everything in between, this number will only increase. After all, about 95% of security incidents are caused by human error, and human error is something that’s never going to go away. However, you can still take action to protect your online data as best you can and alleviate the big damage one little mistake can have.

Your Data Security Checklist

For over 16 years, we’ve worked alongside businesses and other organizations, helping them enhance their security and upgrade their defenses. We’ve seen a lot over the years and pieced together a checklist based on our experiences, a checklist of the easiest ways you can make your data just a little bit safer.

We’ve broken this checklist down into three categories: ways to mitigate human errors, technology techniques, and methods for covering the legal bases. All of these tips are things you should start doing now, well before any incident occurs. This is especially true when it comes to the final category. Acting early will help alleviate panic if or when a cyber crisis strikes.

Mitigate Human Error:

  • Implement a password policy No qwerty. No 1234. Make sure passwords are a random string of 12-15 characters and not repeated on any other account.
  • Add an extra layer of security by enforcing multi-factor authentication PIN numbers, security questions, and ID numbers are all types of two-step authentication.
  • Send emails containing personal data over encrypted services Info like account passwords should never be sent through your Gmail account. Try Sendinc instead.
  • Wipe all of your devices before recycling or donating them Deleting your files isn’t going to cut it. Even resetting your computer to its factory state won’t completely wipe your data. Check out which device you have and run a quick online search for a quality disk wiping tool. There are tons.

Technology Techniques for Data Security:

  • Secure your network with a VPN A VPN will keep your ISP from selling your data (though there are some catches you have to beware of). It tunnels your inbound and outbound data to a secure server, far removed from prying eyes.
  • Ditch removable storage for “the cloud” Nearly a quarter of data breaches are triggered by removable storage, while the cloud is forever changing, advancing, and offering the latest security measures.
  • “Patch” your software regularly Your computer or phone isn’t trying to be annoying when it tells you it needs an update. Updates, or patches, are released when developers believe a new cyber threat is on the horizon. Take a few minutes and update your software.

Cover the Legal Bases:

  • Put together a data security action plan Assemble a diverse group of experts, from PR to IT. Figure out how your company will identify the problem, address it, and rebuild from it.
  • Invest in cyber liability insurance The costs that come with cyber attacks probably aren’t covered by your existing insurance. They require a coverage all their own. Check with your insurance provider for details.
  • Find a cyber lawyer Law firms are forging entire departments of cyber security experts, ready to offer advice and assistance to businesses and other organizations.

Looking Ahead

There’s not much you can do to reverse what’s already happened. Congress doesn’t seem likely to reenact the FCC regulations. Retailers will probably only find more ways to buy and sell your data. And, if current events in America and throughout Europe are any indication, Russia probably won’t back down anytime soon.

However, there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself both now and in the future. Educate your employees, upgrade your technology, and start planning today. If you need help, we have an IT support team who’s ready to turn the above bullet points into action points. If you’re ready to start protecting your data, fill out the form below and someone will be in touch with you soon.