It doesn’t matter if you use your computer for work-related tasks or if you use it for leisure, you’ll want to do what you can to keep your sensitive information safe. Here are 5 data protection tips that’ll give you the peace of mind in knowing hackers won’t be able to steal your sensitive info.

If it feels like you’re hearing about data breaches a lot more these days, it’s because you are. Last year, the U.S. had a record number 1,579 breaches, close to a 45% increase from 2016.

Scary, right?

But, there are steps to take so you’re not part of the statistic this year. We’ve got five simple data protection tips that will save you money, time, and a whole lot of headaches.

cyber security internet and networking concept.Businessman hand working with VR screen padlock icon mobile phone on laptop computer and digital tabletMost people follow steps like changing the passwords to your social media and online banking accounts often. Even if you forget, the login page will remind you every few months.

Others, like being wary of gas station pump skimmers and paying inside go ignored because paying at the pump is convenient.

You may know some of the data protection tips below and have implemented them. If this is the case, you’re ahead of the game. If you don’t know some of these, put them in place to better protect your data and your identity.

1. Beware of Phishing

The infamous “Nigerian prince” isn’t sending emails anymore but there are others like him trying to take your information. Phishing emails will include a link to a fake site where you’re asked to input your personal info.

1.4 million phishing sites get created every month. But you can avoid becoming a victim by not opening an email that has a suspicious sender. Common company names get misspelled in the address to trick you. Sometimes, the subject line has characters in place of letters.

Immediately report it as spam then delete it without opening it.

2. Use Passphrases Instead of Passwords

Instead of using a password that includes a number and symbol, use a passphrase instead. For example, replace F00tball! with footballfieldsaregreen or something easy to remember but hard to hack. If the technology policies need you to have a number and symbol, add them in.

3. Create a Backup

A simple step in protecting your information is creating a backup. Use an external hard drive or another device to back up your files so you can recover them if your data gets compromised.

4. Encrypt Your Files

Encryption sounds complicated but it’s easier than you think. There are software, apps, and plug-ins that will encrypt your data so only the people you want to read it can.

5. Install Anti-Malware

Another one of the easy data security methods is installing an anti-malware program. Malware is software that sneaks into your system without your knowledge and consent. Those phishing emails? Some are malware.

Malware infects your computer with viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, ransomware, and others. This malicious software damages or destroys your files or system. Find a reputable anti-malware program and run the scan every week or two.

Get Access to a Friendly Computer Wiz

Sometimes, even following the best data protection tips isn’t enough to protect your information and your computer. If you find yourself in this situation, call a friend.

Friendly Computers is Spokane’s #1 computer repair shop. We’ve served more than 30,000 customers in the past eight years. We stand behind our work and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

We offer consumer support for your personal devices and business support that includes maintaining your business’ technology.

Pulling out your hair doesn’t fix broken computers but we do! Contact us today and let us help you the Friendly way.