With cyber-attacks on the rise, it is vitally important that we all do everything we can to reduce our risk of becoming a victim and protect ourselves. Here we’ve listed ten simple steps everyone can take to stay safe online:
1. Install a trusted firewall/antivirus solution
Antivirus solutions are vital for security but it is important to make sure you are downloading a solution from a trusted source. A virus can be extremely harmful to your computer, as it can compromise important information and documents - they can become corrupted or deleted completely. Mac and Windows come with a built-in firewall system, but there are lots of other systems available.
2. Run regular software updates
As well as ensuring firewall and antivirus solutions are installed, it is important to keep them up to date. Updates ensure the software is protected against new and emerging threats, as well as offering new services to detect and deal with malware. The best thing to do is make sure you have automatic updates switched on and that you run regular updates on your Internet browser when they become available.
3. Be careful what you download
You can download any form of media on the Internet, but not all sites are what they seem. For every legitimate site, ten clones are there waiting to con unsuspecting users out of personal details and private information. Make sure you check for a padlock next to the web address in your search bar or https:// at the start of the address. This will ensure the website is safe and secure. Do not click on any links sent to you by email if you are unsure about them.
4. Be careful of suspect email links and attachments
Carrying on from the previous point, it is vitally important to be cautious when it comes to links and attachments in emails. Cyber criminals often make email addresses and content look very convincing. Be very careful when opening links and attachments. The key thing to remember is if you are at all unsure, delete the email immediately.
5. Make sure you have proper web protection
Investing in proper web protection is vital to the security of your computers in order to stop personal or financial information being compromised. Making sure you have the proper facilities in place will reduce the risk of users accidentally visiting malicious websites pushing malware, phishing, proxies, spyware, adware, botnets and SPAM.
6. Ensure you have secure passwords
As simple as it sounds, not everybody follows this tip. The Ashley Madison hack of 2015 revealed that the top three passwords were 123456, 12345 and password. You might want to consider using a password management system which can create passwords for you, so you don’t use the same password twice. These systems can also store and enter the right password automatically for you.
7. Protect sensitive data
Try to keep all sensitive data off your workstation and don’t store reminders in notes on computers, mobile devices or tablets - this includes passwords and credit or debit card information. Best practice for protecting your data is to delete any files once they are outdated or no longer needed and ensure all devices require a password to login.
8. Backup your data
This is so important because having backups of your files means lost data can be recovered in the event of a security breach or any other disaster. Backup all your important data and files on to external hard drives, USBs, servers or cloud storage. This should be done regularly to make sure everything you are backing up is up to date.
9. Only use trusted public WiFi connections
Not everything is always as it seems when it comes to public WiFi. It’s easy for scammers to set up a WiFi source with the name of a nearby venue or even ‘Free WiFi’ and then steal your personal information. Do your research and make sure you only connect to legitimate, secure WiFi hot spots. If you’re unsure which one to use, ask someone who works at the venue and they will be able to point you in the right direction.
10. Be careful what you share on social media
Finally, be very careful with what you put on your social media. You don’t want to be sharing any information that could potentially help someone steal your identity. It’s not unknown for criminals to befriend people online in order to gain personal information that will help in their quest to commit cyber crimes.
We hope these tips help you stay safe online. If you need someone to look after your IT for you, we offer a wide range of support services - including Public WiFi, Web Protection, Backup Solutions and Antivirus Software. Find out more about our services.