6 Useful Ways To Protect Your Data From Leakage The first and the most vital step towards protecting data is regular back up

By Baishali Mukherjee

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In an interview with TechRepublic, Limor Kessem, Executive Security Advisor at IBM Security, said, "A lot of personal data is no longer private and consumers are finding it a lot harder to protect themselves when their data is out in the open."

With Facebook admitting that data on most of its 2 billion users is vulnerable, Kessem's claim is now official. Recent media reports also confirmed that a quarter of a billion FB accounts are forged and Russian disinformation operations generated billions of shares. Moreover, on April 11, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg made history testifying before the US Congress about the data leakage.

We cannot deny that the most important thing on our computers is our data that we gather or create. While operating-systems and applications can be easily reinstalled, it is the data which is exclusive and if gone, could result in irreparable loss. Data is often classified and confidential and we do not want others to even see it without approval as revelation of our credit card and bank account info could result in identity theft. Besides, our business documents often include trade secrets, information about our workers or clients and organization's monetary files.

However, with cautious measures and precautions it is now very easy to keep our data safe. Scroll down as experts opine their views about the ways to shield your critical user data from loss and/or unauthorized access-

#1: Back-up is Critical

The first and the most vital step towards protecting data is regular back up. Your frequency of back up will depend on the amount of data can you afford to lose if your system is hacked or if it crashes.

"One can either use backup utility integrated to Windows to carry out basic backup exercises or use Wizard Mode to make the process of creating and restoring backups easier or configure the backup settings manually and set-up automatic backup routines. Many other third-party backup programs offer for more refined options. Irrespective of the program in use, you must store a copy of your backup at some other place in case of natural disasters which can destroy or damage your backup data along with the original one," notified Sushobhan Mukherjee, Chairman of Infosec Foundation and CEO of Prime Infoserv LLP.

#2: Use Permission for Security

To keep your data safe from others, the best step forward is to put in place permissions on the data files and folders. The data present in network shares must have share permissions to manage which accounts can or cannot access the files via the network.

"Share-level permissions are of no use for those using the computer on which the data is kept. Those sharing their systems with others must use file-level permissions. These are set by using the Security tab on the properties section and are much more granular than share-level permissions," informed Mukherjee.

However, in either case, ensure permissions for either user accounts or groups and allow or reject multiple level of access from read-only to full control.

#3: Use Steganography

A steganography program is a great method of hiding data inside another data. For instance, one can conceal a text message within JPG files, MP3 music files, or even within another text file.

According to Saurav Jhawar, Founder, OBO Delivery, a logistics company - steganography does not encrypt messages, hence, it's widely used in combination with encryption software. "The data is first encrypted and then concealed inside another document or file using steganography software. StegoMagic is well known steganography software," he added.

#4: Protect Data in Transit

One with sniffer software can hack your data while it is travelling over the network. In order to save your data while it is in transit apply Internet Protocol Security (IPsec)—however, both the sending as well as the receiving systems must support it.

#5: Secure Wireless Transmissions

Data transmitted over wireless networks is more exposed to interception than the one sent through Ethernet network.

"One does not require direct access to network or device and armed with just a wireless-enabled portable computer and a high gain antenna a hacker can capture data and enter the network to access data provided the wireless access point isn't configured strongly and safely. Data should be stored or sent solely on wireless networks with encryption, if possible with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), as it is tougher than Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP)," recommended Jhawar.

#6: Use Rights Management to Retain Control

If concerned about protecting data after it leaves the computer, employ Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) to have control over the recipients in their handling of the data. "It is possible to set rights which enable the recipient only to read the document but not change, copy, or save it. Restrictions on forwarding emails can also be put and documents or messages can be made to expire after a specified time-period stopping the recipient from accessing it any further," notified Anuj Dhawan, Founder, Ridenest.

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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