You may not know it, but sophisticated online hackers are trying to access your personal details every minute of the day. Cyber-attacks are the biggest threat currently facing businesses and individuals around the world, but we can do our bit by making it harder for them to succeed. Unfortunately, there are still millions of people and companies who are completely blasé about staying safe online.
With cybercriminals becoming more advanced and more determined to access your details, we have produced the 10 commandments of staying safe online.
Thou shall be smart with passwords
Passwords play an essential role in preventing cybercriminals from accessing our personal details. They are the keys that protect our emails and online banking data from being compromised by unscrupulous hackers. Unfortunately, far too many people continue to use ineffective and wafer-thin passwords, such as “password” and “123456”. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are still people who use the same password for every account!
It’s time to be smart with your passwords. Do not make it easy for the hackers. Ensure your password is tougher than a UFC fighter and that it’s unique to every account you have. If you have a memory like a sieve, empower yourself with a password manager like LastPass, which will keep all of your information safe and requires only one password to enter.
Thou shall not befriend strangers on social media
The internet has changed the world and brought people together like never before. It has allowed us to find love, catch up with old school friends and meet people with similar interests. However, it is also heavily used by scam artists desperate to fleece you out of your money.
There is an age-old adage that if something is too good to be true it probably is. So, if someone extremely good looking who you have never laid eyes on before suddenly pops up as a Facebook friend suggestion, our advice is clear. Although the temptation may be there to follow them back, just don’t. Delete their request straight away. They may be entirely innocent, but it’s highly likely that they are out to scam you.
Thou shall always shop securely
The internet has changed the way we shop forever. Why spend your weekends traipsing around the Bullring or Merry Hill when you can buy what you want, when you want, from the comfort of your own home? It’s quick, convenient and allows you to shop around for the best deal. However, shopping online means having to share your bank or credit card details – which is the Holy Grail for hackers.
Make sure your cash remains secure by using websites that are clearly labelled secure. Look out for a small padlock symbol in the address bar and that the web address starts with https. Google has stepped up its efforts to protect users by ensuring that websites without the correct SSL certificate are identified as “not secure”.
Thou shall not download strange files
Humans are almost as inquisitive as our feline friends. But we all know what curiosity did to the cat. Cybercriminals like to play on our emotions and tease us with links that we feel compelled to open. However, we must resist those urges to “find out how you can make £50,000 from the comfort of your home” as they are most likely scams designed to manipulate you into downloading damaging malware. These links could come in the form of an email, a social post or even a fake website. And just because the link has been sent by your uncle, don’t assume that it is true as their account may have been compromised.
Thou shall never reveal too much online
The rise of social media has made it easy for us to document every detail of our daily lives. From going to a festival, having drinks after work with colleagues or travelling abroad, there are numerous channels that allow us to share our stories with the world. While most of your followers will love to see you living your best life, there could be a few unsavoury characters in your followers’ list who may use that information to break into your house or even stalk you.
The message here is clear, make sure you are using your privacy settings correctly and think about the content you are posting.
Thou shall always keep my software up to date
We all live busy lives and that reminder to update your software can become a pain, but it’s crucial to protect your machine and personal information. Security flaws are continually being discovered, forcing web developers to create patches to minimise the risk from cybercriminals. However, there are still millions of people around the globe that put themselves at risk of an attack by not updating their systems promptly.
Updating your software only takes a couple of minutes and will enhance your protection online. Our advice is to enable automatic updates to keep you safe.
Thou shall never leave my device unlocked
You may only be popping out to the shops or going into a meeting, but it doesn’t take long for a shady individual to jump onto your machine and access important files and information. Leaving your machine unlocked also puts you at risk of pranks, being “set up” and having undetected malware installed on your machine. Lock your device whenever you leave your desk. This advice also applies to external hard drives and USB sticks too.
Thou shall always be vigilant online
Have you ever been working on a document and thought “I don’t remember seeing that before?” If the answer is yes then your device may have been compromised. Always keep your eyes open for any irregularities, however small they are.
Thou shall avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks
The digital revolution has enabled more and more people to work from home and on the go. It has allowed bosses to grow their business, perfect presentations and give workers the flexibility to work whenever they want. But remote working has also put workers at risk of having their personal details stolen. Wi-Fi has become an essential part of everyday life, but public Wi-Fi hotspots are not as secure as you would like to think. Unsecured public hotspots are, pardon the pun, hotspots for criminals to capture sensitive information, like emails and passwords. A good quality VPN should provide you with sufficient protection.
Thou shall always back up my files
Cybercriminals are smart. They are always hatching new ways of stealing our details and accessing our devices. That’s why it’s imperative to back up your files regularly to ensure minimum disruption if you do fall victim to a cyber-attack.
Of course, cyber threats change every day and there is a wealth of extra tips and advice we could give you. But these 10 commandments, along with your common sense, can keep you safe online and frustrate hackers.
For all of your online security needs, contact OmniCyber Security’s expert team today.