It seems that recently not a day goes by without news of some sort of major data breach. Personal data is the new currency of the digital age and hackers are very eager to get their hands on sensitive information like financial details.
Facebook has recently revealed that it fell victim to hackers that managed to access roughly 50 million user accounts. The popular social media platform now says that only 30 million users were affected, with hackers gaining access only to the name and contact details of the 15 million but finding their way to all sorts of information for 14 million users – including religion, birthdate, and recent searches, but the number remains staggering.
The good news? A series of cybersecurity tools work behind the scenes to make sure that our data stays secure – and that we are always one step ahead of hackers.
1. Password Manager
Making sure that you use secure and hard to crack passwords is a piece of advice all of us have heard at one point in time – but that doesn’t mean we are getting better at it.
According to research, 10% of Americans aged 18-34 use the same password across all their accounts, while 34% use the same password for several log-ins and only 13% only use it once. 42% of that same age group state that they have seen one of their accounts successfully targeted by hackers at least once.
81% of data breaches occur due to weak passwords or passwords that are used more than once. Having a password manager that creates, stores, and automatically fills in strong passwords on your behalf is essential to discreetly lower your chances of getting hacked.
You will find more infographics at Statista
2. Web Application Firewall
One of the most valuable mechanisms for performing a series of tasks online, like logging into your personal account on social media or Amazon, are web applications. It is only natural that hackers will target them as they usually store and process valuable personal data – and even the most secure password cannot be your only line of defense.
A web application firewall (WAF for short) is a cybersecurity tool that companies use to protect their web applications from attacks that deny services and allow criminals to steal sensitive data. A WAF filters incoming requests to spot and prevent malicious traffic and prevent some of the most well-known application layer attacks.
3. Data Encryption
One of the most important and tireless behind-the-scenes soldiers in the fight for protecting our data is encryption. When data is encrypted, it is essentially scrambled down into indecipherable code that is called cipher-text – to put it plainly, a bunch of nonsense that can only be understood by someone who holds the key to decrypt the data back to its original form.
Data encryption is popular across several organizations and websites. For example, popular chat service WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption to protect its users from prying eyes – but whether that also protects them from parent company Facebook and its less than stellar record of protecting personal data, it remains to be seen.
The padlock icon that we usually see on our browser when we access a secure website – and especially when we use web banking or shop online – is also a sign that our connection with the web server is encrypted.
Next time you are online, take the time to notice – does your favorite website provide a secure connection? Only by understanding how cybersecurity works can we demand that companies take our personal data security seriously.