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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Think before you act – Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately – if it sounds too good to be true, it is!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!