Okay, so you probably don’t have secrets at the level of the US government – but you still have confidential data. Business trade secrets, personal and private information about you, and employees. Stop and think for a moment: what disruption and breakdown would occur if that information was stolen, or made public?
Protect yourself from a personal Wikileaks with these simple steps:
1. Change your Password
Ok, one more time, repeat after me: Change your Password! How long have you used the password you are using now? How many places are you using that same password? Is this password just a rotation of the usual passwords you use?
One of the technology websites I frequent got hacked recently and all the username/passwords stolen. If one of those had been yours then how many other websites could they have gotten to using that same username/password?
Take a little time before the end of this year and write down all the places you have a password. Your office password, your banking password, your Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo password, your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn password, your online club/Meetup/Wine Group/Steam/Online Dating password. Now go through and change your password at each place – and please, not to all the same password again. If you really need to, write your passwords down in a safe place, but change them. Do it now.
Most popular passwords (hint – DON’T use these!)
2. Review your Online Personal Information
Each website you go to generally asks for some personal information. Social Media websites can ask for quite a bit. I try to keep this information to minimal levels and definitely never add anything like a Social Security (or SIN) number or full address. Use your list you created in Step 1 and check your information at each website.
- Facebook’s Security Help Page
- LinkedIn’s Account Settings Management
- Twitter’s Profile and Account Settings
3. Physical Security
Could someone walk into your your office and take your computer? Your server? Tuck them away, make them hard to get to. Do you have confidential files on your laptop? Password protect them (see below) and don’t leave your laptop sitting of a coffee table or the back seat of your vehicle.
4. Document Security
Never send documents in Microsoft Word format. Many email systems will strip the file off the email as unsafe – but it’s also the fact that Word can be so easily changed or manipulated. Any contract or proposal should be sent in PDF format so that no changes are allowed.
None of the steps shown here are really difficult. Yes, going through and changing all your passwords will take a little time, but really, what is a half hour out of this year? Take a little time and make sure you don’t experience your own personal Wikileaks.