Scarcely a month goes by these days without at least one story of a major security breach involving one organisation or another, and it’s becoming very clear that cyber security is paramount for everyone. Nevertheless, a surprising number of people are still unaware of the steps they should be taking to stay safe online.
With that in mind, here are our top 10 cyber security tips.
1. Make Complex Passwords
Perhaps the most obvious thing you can do to protect yourself online is to choose complex passwords. Avoid using anything that could be easily guessed such as your child’s name or birthday, and use at least 8 characters. Make sure to add in capitals, numbers and symbols for the safest and most secure passwords.
2. Employ 2 Factor Authentication
2 factor authentication adds an additional layer of security to your account. The first step involves using a password that you have already set up while the second step requires you to use a code sent to your smartphone.
3. Turn On Your Firewall
Switching on your PC’s firewall will protect you from many of the dangers of the internet. Screening out many worms, viruses and hackers, a firewall is your first line of defence.
4. Install Anti-Virus Software
You can use either a paid anti-virus software or one of the free versions available for download online. These will scan your PC and files to weed out any potentially harmful viruses, trojans or worms. They will also warn you before you open any potentially dangerous websites to keep you safe.
5. HTTP vs HTTPS
If you’re making a payment or entering personal details online, always make sure that the website address begins with HTTPS rather than just HTTP. The “S” on the end stands for “secure” and gives you peace of mind that any additional layer of security is protecting your sensitive information.
6. Use A Password Manager
Remembering your complex passwords can be difficult, but it’s important to resist the temptation to write them down. Doing this just puts you at risk. Instead, use a password manager to store this information. Otherwise known as a password vault, password managers can remember all those symbols and numbers for you so you’ll never need to jot them down again.
7. Remember The Dangers Of AutoFill
It’s very tempting to set up your system to remember all your passwords and personal information and automatically fill them in for you to save time. However, there are a couple of hidden dangers if you opt for this convenience. Firstly, if someone gains access to your smartphone or PC they can access all that sensitive information. Secondly, hackers can add hidden boxes on screen to obtain information from you that you didn’t realise you were entering.
8. Download Dangers
We all love to get something for free, however you should, always be wary of free downloads. They could contain viruses, spyware and adware which could pose some serious dangers to your computer and also to your personal data. Avoid downloading anything from a website that you don’t trust completely and make sure to install anti-virus software to weed out potentially dangerous websites.
9. Lock Your Computer
If you wander off leaving your computer unlocked, you’re running the risk of someone using your accounts without your knowledge. Unauthorised access to your PC can allow people to send emails from your account, access sensitive information or tamper with your files. It takes seconds to prevent this by locking your PC whenever you walk away.
10. Be Wary Of Email Links
Clicking on links in bogus emails is one of the main phishing scams. Emails which purport to be from a bank or other reliable institution tell you to click on a link and enter personal information but if you do so, you could be giving sensitive data to cybercriminals. Sometimes, clicking on a link in an email will download viruses or other malware onto your computer which could cause damage or record your keystrokes. Either way, it’s important to never click on a link in any email that you don’t trust 100%.
Follow these top ten tips and you’ll have the best chance of staying safe whenever you go online.