How to keep safe online?

 

With the New York Times reporting last week that a ring of Russian criminals acquired 1.2 billion username and password combinations, as well as credentials for over 500 million email addresses, there has never been a more appropriate time to ensure you are not putting yourself at risk online.

On top of that, a recent global study by EMC showed that more than half (52%) of UK respondents reported experiencing a data breach (email account hacked; mobile device lost or stolen; social media account hacked), with many still not taking measures to protect themselves such as changing passwords regularly (67%), customising privacy settings (37%) and password-protecting mobile devices (43%).

This needs to change! And it can – it doesn’t take much effort to ensure you stay safe online. Martin Brown, EMC Country Manager in Scotland outlines his top tips for staying ahead of cyber criminals:

  1. Don’t link everything to the same account – Use multiple email accounts to keep your ‘business’ transactions such as banking and online payments separate from your Facebook, Twitter and other social transactions. 
  2. Use longer, complicated passwords – Better still use phrases. Too many of us are guilty of using the same password for everything – just don’t do it!
  3. Keep a clean machine – Having the latest operating system, software, web browsers, anti-virus protection and apps is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  4. Keep personal information personal – Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email and don’t respond to email solicitations for this information. If you’re unsure if a request is legitimate, verify it by contacting the company directly by using information provided on an account statement, not information provided in the email.
  5. Pay attention to URLs – Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (eg .com versus .net).
  6. When in doubt, throw it out – Links in emails, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete.
  7. Think before you act – Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately – if it sounds too good to be true, it is!
  8. Pay with credit card – Only purchase online via stores that accept credit cards, and also ensure the shop has a physical address, preferably UK-based.
  9. Be wary of public networks – It sounds obvious, but don’t carry out financial transactions over a public network – use one you know to be secure. So that rules out internet cafes, hotel receptions, airport kiosks and the like.
  10. Don’t let your guard down on Facebook – Or any other social networks for that matter. Make sure you set up your security settings correctly, and don’t give away confidential information through your posts and messages!

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