Various data breach attacks have affected hundreds of major companies in the past decade and this should not be ignored, even by those at the consumer level. Some more radical minded individuals might think this just "comes with the territory" for larger businesses because they are obviously lucrative targets for hackers and snoopers. However, this does not mean the proverbial man on the street is safe from the same kind of intrusion and data theft.
One has to understand and accept the fact that there are unethical people out there who have both the knowledge and the tools to take advantage of the unwary in the digital age. This does not mean, however, that you are powerless against them. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say.
Accept that you are a target.
There is no easy way to say this, but this is a fact: you are a potential target of hackers, fraudsters, snoops, and similar unscrupulous individuals. There is no point in denying this. Many things like malware, computer viruses, malicious links, phishing emails, ransomware, and many more potential threats are out there just waiting for someone complacent to come along.
By accepting the reality of this situation, you can act accordingly. There is a phrase called “defensive driving” - being alert when you are on the road. Similarly, you should practice caution with your activities online and especially during any transaction that involves conveying personally identifiable digital information (i.e. using credit cards, online shopping, filling out forms, etc.)
Do not recycle old passwords.
Recycling old passwords is a practice that many folks continue to do out of habit. While this can be convenient (especially for those who must remember dozens of different passwords and find it too inconvenient to track them individually) this can also make it very easy for data thieves to figure out. The problem is further compounded when you use a fairly easy to remember password (a good number of people still use their date of birth with their initials.)
While it can be a minor hassle, it's best to practice using different passwords for every single account that you use. Having a password manager like Dashlane is a good idea but be extra careful to use a complex master password if so. Another very effective way to protect yourself and your privacy is to use 2-factor authentication whenever it's available.
Destruction of Old Data
Before you even think about selling or donating your old devices like desktop computers, laptops, Macbooks, hard drives, or SSD’s, you should completely clear them of all data. Take note that an ordinary reformat or reset of drives does not provide a complete data wipe. Digital forensics and recovery exist for this reason and while there are legitimate services and businesses that conduct this service, this also means there are those out there with the same knowledge and tools to take advantage of this inherent vulnerability in digital devices.
Using a data erasure tool like Redkey USB is recommended before letting go of old drives. Redkey USB is a data wipe tool that is easy to use while also providing complete removal of even fragments of data. This ensures you can sell or give your old machine away without the fear of your private data ever being compromised.
Protect Your Personal Cyber-security
Awareness and due diligence go a long way in protecting your personal cybersecurity. Accept that you are a potential target, avoid reusing passwords and always use data destruction tools like the Redkey USB. These things alone can greatly reduce the risk of you from becoming a potential victim of information theft.
Go a step further and follow these 4 best practices before selling your old PC or laptop. For more useful information, news, tips, and tutorials on cybersecurity developing technologies, and similar topics - visit the Redkey USB site regularly.