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Five ways your data may be at risk — and what to do about it



Modern phishing campaigns, malware and other cyberthreats cast a wide net: nobody is “too small to target.” If you’re having trouble getting people to understand the cyber risks facing them, pass along this article.

If you’re like most people, your digital life is more significant than ever.

We store vast amounts of data — financial records, photos/videos, family schedules, freelance projects and more — on our personal computers and smartphones.

Ever consider how disruptive losing that data would be? Or having it made visible to unwanted viewers?

The reality is that there are many ways your sensitive files can be lost, damaged or exposed. Let’s take a look at some of the most common threats to your data, and how you can step up your protection today.

1. Cybercrime

You’ve almost certainly seen the headlines: ransomware and other cyberattacks have been making big waves in the last couple of years. But most of these news-dominating attacks were against large corporations and government agencies.

Think you’re “too small to target”? Sadly, there’s no such thing anymore.

Today’s cybercriminals use automation and other advanced technologies to launch widespread attacks against thousands or even millions of users at a time. While they will sometimes target a specific individual or company, the biggest threats don’t discriminate.

No matter who you are, advanced anti-malware protection has become critical for keeping your important files, photos, applications and settings safe from encryption — and from prying eyes.

2. Social media mining

Social media platforms are a prime target for cybercriminals. Thousands of accounts are inappropriately accessed every day. If your Facebook or Twitter account is compromised, and you use the same credentials to sign into your bank or email, that data is also at risk — criminals can use automated programs to rapidly try logging into many other websites with a given username/password combination.

Even if your accounts aren’t compromised directly, cybercriminals can use public-facing data — about your friends, your employer, your interests — to create convincing phishing messages. These threats might eventually cause you to click on a malicious link or unintentionally download malware.

It’s best to use different passwords for each of your accounts, to minimize the potential damage from a data leak.

Password managers — popular ones include Bitwarden, LastPass and 1Password — can help you keep track of your credentials.

Stay alert for any emails or other messages that seem out of the ordinary, especially if they ask you to click a link or open an attachment. And always remember to be careful about what you post in a public setting!

3. Missing software updates

Your operating system (like Windows or macOS) and favorite applications are highly complex pieces of software. Cybercriminals are always searching for new and unexpected ways to exploit these programs. Sometimes, they find flaws in the existing code; other times, a newly introduced feature might break compatibility with other software and open up a loophole.

Software companies usually release updates to fix security issues as they’re discovered — but those updates won’t help until they’re actually installed on your computer. And time is of the essence: one recent report found that cybercriminals start searching for vulnerable users just 15 minutes after a new security bug is publicly disclosed.

Just the other week, Apple publicly urged users of most of its devices to update their software. The company had discovered a vulnerability affecting many new and old models of iPhone, iPad and even some iPods — one that could let hackers take total control. Installing software updates can be a minor annoyance, but it’s very important to make these a priority.

4. Hard drive failure

Any piece of hardware is susceptible to failure, and the disks that store your data are no exception. Storage drives (especially hard disk drives, or HDDs) have a limited lifespan. When they do fail, it’s often without warning — one day, your computer simply fails to boot up.

If you’ve set up a regular data backup schedule, you’ll always have a recent copy of your important files, one which can be restored to a new storage drive or even an entirely different computer in a flash.

We recommend a combination of both local and online, cloud-based backup to ensure that your data is readily available and accessible from anywhere.

5. Losing your devices

It’s one thing to have your hard drive fail — but what if your entire device is lost or stolen? Laptops and smartphones, chock-full of valuable data, are prime targets for thieves (the hardware itself is usually worth a lot, too). And we take them everywhere, making them easy to misplace.

By one estimate, 8.7 million phones were lost or stolen in 2021 — that’s more than 24,000 per day.

This is another scenario where cloud-based backups of your entire system can save you a huge amount of grief. Set them to run on a regular basis, and you’ll be able to access the latest copies of your files online and recover personal data to a new or temporary device.

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office provides complete protection for your digital life. It’s the only personal solution with a unique integration of cybersecurity and backup technologies.

Safeguard your sensitive data against all modern threats — like cutting-edge cyberattacks, accidental deletion, disk failure, or device loss. Learn more on our website, or simply start your free 30-day trial today.

Sponsored by Acronis

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