Stay Secure Online – Cyber Legion Information & Advice

Staying Secure  Online

From banking to shopping, and streaming to social media, people are spending more time than ever online.

Cyber security is important because smartphones, computers and the internet are now such a fundamental part of modern life, that it’s difficult to imagine how we’d function without them.

Cyber security is the way we reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cyber crime. Cyber crime is criminal activity that either targets or uses digital technology, like a computer, a computer network or a mobile device, in order to steal money or information to sell on.

For example:

● Hacking to get information, including social media and email password

● Phishing, where bogus emails asking for security information and personal details

● Malicious software, through which criminals hijack files and hold them to ransom

Cyber security is about protecting the devices we use and the services we access online.  It’s also about preventing unauthorized access to the personal information we store on these devices, and online.

Cyber Aware Tips

Protect your email account with a separate password

Your email account contains lots of information about you and is the gateway to all your other online accounts. If you think about it, if someone gets into your email, they could potentially reset the password on all your online accounts. That’s why it’s so important to keep it secure by protecting it with a strong password that is different to all your others.

Create a strong password using three random words

Essentially the longer and more unusual your password is, the stronger it becomes and the harder it is for a criminal to hack or guess. The best way to make your password hard to hack is by using a sequence of three random – but memorable words. For example, “BeachTarantulaOranges” (don’t copy this one though…).

Save your passwords in your browser 

You and your family probably have more online accounts than you can keep track of, from banking to shopping to social media to tv streaming services. You should avoid using the same password for different websites and do this by finding a way to remember passwords that works for you.

Saving your passwords in your browser (for example, Google or Bing) is a great way to do this. You might recall seeing a pop up box when you log into a new website from your phone, tablet or laptop, that says “would you like to save this password?” – saying “yes” will take the burden away from you.

Some people think saving your passwords in your browser isn’t a very secure thing to do, however the big technology companies have invested a lot of time and money in the security of their browsers. Its more important to have strong separate passwords on your accounts, saving them in your browser helps you remember them.

Turn on two factor authentication

For an added layer of security on your important accounts, such as email, social media and banking, turn on two-factor authentication (2FA). This is a free security feature that’s available on many popular services and helps to prevent criminals accessing your accounts even if they have your password.

What happens is after you have entered your password, you are also sent a text or code when you log in, to check you are who you say you are. So if another person tries to access your account, they can’t even if they have your password.

Turn on automatic backup

If you’ve ever left your phone in your pocket and not realized until you heard it bouncing round the washing machine, your first two thoughts were probably ‘that’s going to be expensive’ and ‘I hope I haven’t lost all my photos’.

We can’t help with the first thought, but the second one is easy to prepare for, just turn on automatic backup on your device. Not only will it help keep those treasured memories safe so you can access them again when you get a new device; it will also mean that if your phone, tablet or laptop is hacked you can recover quickly from your backup.

Use a strong and separate password for your email

Always use a strong and separate password for your email; that is, a password that you don’t use for any of your other accounts, either at home or at work.

If a criminal can access your email account, they could:

  • access private information about you (including your banking details)
  • post emails and messages pretending to be from you (and use this to trick other people)
  • reset all your other account passwords (and get access to all your other online accounts)

Install the latest software and app updates

You should apply updates to your apps and your device’s software as soon as they are available. Updates include protection from viruses and other kinds of malware, and will often include improvements and new features.

If you receive a prompt to update your device (or apps), don’t ignore it. Applying these updates is one of the most important (and quickest) things you can do to keep yourself safe online.

You should also turn on ‘automatic updates’ in your device’s settings, if available. This will mean you do not have to remember to apply updates.

Cyber criminals exploit weaknesses in software and apps to access your sensitive personal data, but providers are continually working to keep you secure by releasing regular updates. We’d encourage you to regularly check for updates on your devices and apps or set them to automatically update so you don’t have to think about it anymore.

Password managers: using browsers and apps to safely store your passwords

We’re often told that the passwords for our online accounts should be really strong, and to not use the same password anywhere else. Especially for those important accounts like email, banking, shopping and social media.

The trouble is, most of us have lots of online accounts, so creating different passwords for all of them (and remembering them) is hard.

This is where a password manager can help. A password manager (or a web browser) can store all your passwords securely, so you don’t have to worry about remembering them. This allows you to use unique, strong passwords for all your important accounts (rather than using the same password for all of them, which you should never do).

Backing up your data

How to make sure you can recover your important photos, documents, and other personal data stored on your IT equipment.

Most of us at some point have been unable to access important data, whether it’s work documents, photos, videos, contact details or other personal information.

This page explains why you should make backups, and the types of backup techniques available. It also contains links to detailed backup instructions from Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Making backups doesn’t take very long, and can usually be set up to take place automatically. So a little planning in advance to make backups could save you a lot of stress should the worst happen.

Protect your home network security

  • Change the default name and password of your home network

The easiest thing you can do to secure your home internet connection is to change the default name. This name is also known as the SSID (Service Set Identifier), and you can alter it by following these steps:
  • Open Windows Command Prompt
  • Type in “ipconfig”
  • Locate your IP Address
  • Type your IP Address into your browser’s address box
  • Enter your router’s login credentials
  • Open WiFi settings
  • Change SSID and password
When changing your SSID and WiFi password, use a longer phrase that’s unique to that device. Don’t use any obvious or personal information, such as your name or birthday, during this process.

Limit access to your wireless network

This may seem obvious, but avoid giving people you don’t know access to your home network. The more people who have your wireless network credentials, the higher the risk of your data falling into the wrong hands.
For example, if a contractor is in your home to perform repairs, they don’t need access to your home WiFi network. While there are exceptions to this rule – such as someone from your internet provider’s company – avoid allowing unknown devices to connect to your home network unless there is an important reason to do so.

Create a home guest network

Instead of giving out your wireless credentials to anyone who needs it, let them connect to a guest WiFi network. The guest networking option allows you to set up a separate WiFi network that provides internet access but hides any shared folders, printers, storage devices, and network devices connected to your primary wireless network.
Most wireless routers have this feature, which you can access via the device settings. When you set up the guest network, create a separate guest SSID and guest WiFi password.

Turn on Wi-Fi network encryption

Most WPA2 and WPA3 routers offer an encryption option. You can turn on this feature in your router’s WiFi settings, which you can access with your IP address and router login credentials. When you enable encryption for your WiFi network, it encrypts any data sent between your wireless channel and your device.
This will prevent anyone from eavesdropping on your WiFi network without logging into your WiFi network. Just remember that you’ll need to manually reconnect all of your devices to your wireless network after you enable this.

Turn on your router firewall

Most wireless routers are preloaded with excellent hardware-based firewall options. A good firewall helps to prevent unwanted traffic from entering or leaving your wireless network without your knowledge.
Router firewalls are often not turned on by default, which means you need to activate yours. To do so, log into your router settings using your IP address to enable the option. You may need to look under your router’s advanced settings to find the firewall toggle.
Using your router’s firewall may slow down your internet speeds. As a workaround, you can turn off the firewall when you’re gaming or performing other tasks that require a faster connection. Once you’re done, just turn it back on.

Turn off your WiFi network when you leave home

It may be too much of a hassle to turn off your WiFi network every time you walk out the door, but it’s important to disable your home wireless network if you leave for any extended period of time. This will guarantee that your network is completely safe.

Update your router’s firmware

Your router’s firmware is an incredibly important piece of the secure network connection puzzle. Most wireless routers don’t auto-update their software, so you must do it manually.
To update your router’s firmware, visit the manufacturer’s website and download the firmware update file. Then, install it directly to your wireless router. Every router manufacturer has a slightly different process, so look for instructions on how to do it on their website.

Switch to a WPA3 router

WPA3 routers were first released in 2018, and they come with more robust security protocols to address many of the vulnerabilities found in WPA2 routers. If you rent your router from your ISP, chances are it may be a WPA2 device. In that case, you’ll have to purchase a separate WPA3 router.
While it may be an unplanned expense, a WPA3 router will enhance your home wireless network security. It will also likely increase the strength of your WiFi signal.

Disable remote access

Most routers have a remote access feature that allows you to access your WiFi network from anywhere you have an internet connection.
This may be a convenient way to manage your wireless network from another location, but it may also lead to network security issues. The potential for hacks only increases if you haven’t changed the default router credentials, which means anyone could access your wireless password and, as a result, your network.
Unless you absolutely must use the remote feature, it is best to turn it off. It’s simply too easy for hackers to potentially gain your legitimate credentials to access your wireless network. To disable this feature, look for the remote access settings in your router’s interface.

Place your router in the middle of your home

Most WiFi network signals are strong enough that someone outside of your home could “see” the connection on their device. To prevent this, you can simply move your router to a more central location in your home.
This is an easy, non-technical step to prevent unwanted access from someone sitting in a vehicle across the street from your home. As a bonus, it will provide better internet access in all areas of your home.
If you can’t move your router to a central area because of your home’s layout, you should at least move your wireless router away from windows. Windows don’t block the WiFi signal. Depending on the signal strength, it is possible someone could access your network from outside your property.
If you can’t realistically follow all of the tips we outlined above, at least try a couple of them to make small, simple changes.

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