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.
● 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
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
- 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
Limit access to your wireless network
Create a home guest network
Turn on Wi-Fi network encryption
Turn on your router firewall
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.