By Ben Halpert

Legend has it that the famous bank robber Willie Sutton answered the question, “Why do you rob banks?” with “That’s where the money is.” While that statement is actually a simplification of his longer answer, that was the jist of it. Today’s cyber criminals focus on stealing something more valuable than paper or coin money. Company and personal data are more valuable to thieves than money sitting in a bank.

We see headlines of data breaches on an almost daily basis. And worse yet, we have all received a breach notification letter (or more than one!) in the physical mail or via email. From a family perspective, we can all do our part to protect our own personal data. From a company perspective, there are additional steps that can be taken to help safeguard customer confidential data from cyber criminals.

When protecting information is discussed, it is usually described as protecting data at rest, in motion, and in use. The “how” of data protection is beyond the scope of this article, but know that the protection relies on cryptographic systems which allows for the encryption and decryption of information.

Enough of the background, let’s discuss how you can protect your families personal information and your customer’s data if you run a business.

Data at Rest

In order to protect the information that is stored on your computer or mobile devices, you need to turn on device (also called Hard Drive) encryption. This only protects the data if your device is stolen or lost. When you back-up your data to the cloud or another device, make sure you enable encryption for the backups as well. Here are the step-by-step instructions for enabling:

Data in Motion

As information moves through wireless or wired networks, it can be intercepted. The way to protect information as it is being sent and received is to utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN). If you work for a company that already provides a VPN solution and they allow using it for personal use, you can leverage that. If you don’t currently have a VPN or prefer to not use a VPN monitored by your company, there are many options to choose from. Here are a few to look at:

Data in Use

If you own a business and need to protect client confidential information, the best method is to make sure that only authorized individuals at the right time, right location, and on the right device can access specific data. And by the way, if you protect for Data in Use, then you are also protecting for Data at Rest and Data in Transit.

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