8 Tips for Keeping Your Digital Estate Safe

Your digital estate is the sum of all your digital photos, videos, documents, email messages, and other records that contain your personal information. It’s your entire digital profile, including all your digital files, photos, videos, and other records, plus login information for your email account and social networking sites.

Since your digital estate will live on long after you’re gone, you need to plan for the eventuality of its safekeeping. Just as we have life insurance policies and wills that help secure our actual estates for our loved ones, we also need to secure our digital estates. Your digital estate contains personal information that can be abused, including financial accounts, medical histories and information about your circle of friends and relatives, and even access credentials to critical systems. Think about all the private stuff that you might have or haven’t backed up properly on your computer.

The trouble is that someone could break into your computer account by guessing your password or bypass it altogether and access any data stored in the cloud. This will enable them to gain firsthand to your entire digital estate. So, if you haven’t made preparations yet, then you need to start securing yourself as soon as possible. Here are some tips to get you started.

1) Begin Planning Your Digital Estate

It’s time to create your very own digital estate planning checklist because you’ll have a far easier time navigating planned estates. Taking some time to get your digital estate in order will pay off tremendously down the road. Start with the financials. In many ways, your digital assets are even more vulnerable than traditional ones because you can lose them easily.

2) Beware Of Passwords

To begin with, make sure you aren’t using the same password for everything. We often do it because we think it’s convenient, but it is risky. Using the same password for many accounts makes them vulnerable and makes access to any one of them much easier, which is just plain dangerous online. The National Cyber Security Alliance suggests making your passwords long, difficult to guess, and as unique as possible for every account you have. They also suggest changing them regularly. Another good tip is to use a password manager if you don’t want to end up forgetting any of those tough new passwords or if you tend to use easy-to-guess ones.

3) Consider Your Digital Estate

One way to keep your sensitive personal information off the internet is to make sure you never log in to a site or join any social networking services that require you to use your real name. As long as you’re using a screen name or a fictitious one, no one will be able to tell who you are. Another helpful step would be moving all of your personal information into a secure, offline space and away from the internet. So, even if it somehow falls into someone else’s hands, there’s nothing for them to access.

4) Use Encryption Software

You might not think things through when transmitting sensitive information online or over email. But using encryption software, such as the encryption software that comes with your operating system, can ensure that you’re sharing sensitive data only with those who are supposed to have it. If you don’t have the encryption software pre-installed on your platform, it’s best to install it immediately. Just be careful about choosing an unsecured type of encryption like someone else’s public key or a weak application.

5) Consider Commercial Services

A second way to deal with sensitive information is by paying for professional services and keeping your digital estate safe from prying eyes. If you have sensitive information that needs to be secure, consider paying a professional to make it such. These kinds of professionals can help you “encrypt” your information so that no one but your intended recipient will be able to read it. They can also help you store your sensitive information, store it offline in a secure place and even encrypt the security files themselves so only you have access to them.

6) Protect Your Privacy

When it comes to protecting your digital estate, there are some things we have control over and things we don’t. One thing we do have control over is privacy. While you won’t be able to control how others use your social ties, you can control your actions. For example, on Facebook, you can prevent people from tagging you in photos by changing who’s allowed to tag you and who isn’t. Not only that but if you don’t want your personal information to be put up on the internet for everyone to see and share, then it’s wise not to upload it to begin with.

7) Regularly Backup Your Data

If a file is worth keeping, it’s worth backing up! With the advent of cloud computing and ever-expanding storage options in data centers around the world, there has never been a better time to get serious about backing up all your important documents. But if you’re looking for something beyond just a cloud backup solution, there are plenty of options out there. If you can afford it, you might even want to consider using multiple backup solutions so that no single point of failure could compromise your data.

8) Have a Disaster Plan In Place

Even though you can take precautions to protect your digital estate, there’s no way to completely guarantee that the data will never fall into the wrong hands. That’s why you should have a disaster plan ready in case of a hack or something similar. Consider what kind of data you need to keep secure and have that information ready when an incident occurs.

The digital world is complex, and we’re still discovering new ways to leverage it for our benefit. It’s never been easier for us to connect and share information with ease, but it’s also never been easier for others to do us harm as well. Since there are two sides to every coin, all we can do is make sure we remain safe on our side against any possible threat and brace for impact.