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Eight easy steps to keep your offline data safe

What is offline data?

We have previously discussed steps that can be taken to protect your online data. But why are we discussing ‘offline’ data? Aren’t these supposed to be safe because they are off the grid!

Let’s begin by explaining what is the offline data that we are referring to. Offline data is the digital data that resides on devices that are not connected to the internet, such as Hard Disks, CDs, DVDs, USBs and even physical cold crypto wallets. 

Does this data remain offline at all times though? Most certainly not, especially with the recent shifts that we have witnessed in technology, work and our lives.

Offline
Working in a coffee shop

People on the move

With the new work setup imposed on us by the COVID pandemic, a lot of us now work from co-working spaces and coffee shops. Emerging infectious diseases are further stressing the importance of retaining the flexibility of where and how we carry out our work. Advancements in the metaverse are anticipated to further change the way we live, do meetings, shop and work. At this stage, it seems unreasonable to expect to return back to the old setup where we mostly worked from offices and met face to face.

Consequently, at one point we’ll end up putting some of our offline data on the grid to carry out different transactions that are becoming increasingly online. Regardless of the work setup, whether working at home using our ‘secure’ WIFI or working at a public place using its ‘free’ WIFI, the data that was once offline and ‘secure’ will become susceptible to cyber risks once they are used online, even if it’s only for the short duration of the respective transaction.

measures to be taken

While there are common steps that can be taken to protect both online and offline data, there are additional recommendations that need to be taken into consideration for offline data. In this article, we focus on these recommendations to safeguard the data that we have kept off the grid but may occasionally use online or in public places. 

1) Use only applications that are safe and legit. 
It is always safer to use applications that are from known vendors. The last thing you want is an application that accesses and manipulates your files and data. If you are not careful about what you install, you could end up with applications infecting your files or locking you out and denying you access. Keep note of the type of permissions requested by applications (even legit ones) before installing them on your devices.

2) Use a privacy filter on your device while working in public places.
When working in a coffee shop or a co-working space, you are not necessarily connected to the internet. However, you might want to be aware of the people around you who might look over your shoulder to see what you are working on. If you are working on something confidential or if you simply don’t want anyone peeking at your personal data, then you might want to consider using a privacy filter on your screen. The filter allows viewing the contents of the screen only from a certain angle (while sitting directly in front of the screen) and blocks the view from other angles.

3) Install antivirus software and keep it up to date.
Whether using a PC, laptop or even a mobile phone, ensure you have installed an antivirus software to keep it protected. Moreover, keep the antivirus updated so that you get the latest patches with higher protection against emerging viruses and cyber attacks.

4) Never leave your devices unattended or unlocked.
This is perhaps stating the obvious, however, common knowledge is not necessarily common practice. If you need to leave your devices unattended, make sure you at least lock them. That is not to say that there isn’t a way to hack them while locked and unattended.

5) Never share your passwords with anyone.
You love and trust your family and friends but that shouldn’t make you feel compelled to share your passwords with any of them. If you do share a password, then it wouldn’t matter how strong the password is because it is no longer a secret.

6) Do not store your passwords in any written form.
The minute your passwords are written anywhere, they become susceptible to be found by unauthorized persons who you may not wish to access your accounts and devices. Try to come up with password formats that enable you to memorize them. 

Although there are applications that store all your passwords and spare you the hassle of remembering them, these applications themselves are susceptible to being hacked. If someone gets access to these applications, they have access to all other accounts stored on them.

7) Scan external devices with antivirus software before use.
Don’t skip this step when the antivirus software starts scanning installed USBs, Hard Disks or other external devices.

8) Turn off your Bluetooth.
Bluetooth technology provides back doors to hackers to access and control your devices even if you are not connected to the internet. Make sure you review your Bluetooth settings and turn it off when not needed.

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