Top 5 tips for being cyber aware

Top 5 tips for being cyber aware

With cyberattacks increasing year-on-year, it is more important than ever to keep your wits about you in our technology-infused world and to stay up to date with the latest cyber threats. We are sharing more of our personal data online than ever before and relying on internet connected devices and cloud storage for day-to-day activities such as banking and shopping to name a few. As companies and businesses choose to move data over to mobile apps for the convenience of consumers, it makes our data more vulnerable to cyber criminals. Therefore we would like to share with you five top tips to help you keep your personal data secure and increase your cyber awareness.

Keep your software up to date

According to the FBI, an average of 4,000 ransomware attacks occur every day. It is important to always update your technical devices and apps as these updates contain vital security patches, to stop hackers from infiltrating the software. If a hacker does gain access to your device they can potentially access your personal data and encrypt your files. After gaining access to your computer you can then put friends, family and possibly business associates at risk. It is therefore also important to have a trusted antivirus software installed to keep your devices secure in case the hackers do gain entry. Some devices, such as Mac IOS and Windows, already have built-in firewalls which work to ‘screen out’ malicious activity.

Authentication – multifactor/ strong passwords

Having strong separate passwords, especially for important things like your main email account, is vital. A hacker can gain access to an email account by guessing simple or commonly used passwords, ‘123456’ (used by 23.2m accounts), ‘QWERTY’ or Premier League football teams such as ‘Liverpool’ (280,723 accounts in the UK alone).  Once in they have the ability to gain access to most of your online accounts and limit your access to them. Here are our tips for a strong password:

  • Random – combining 2 words unrelated
  • No hints
  • At least one of each: UPPERCASE, lowercase, number, symbol
  • Change password at least once a year

Another way to make sure your data is secure is to use a multi-factor authentication process. This will prompt you to provide another form of identification such as a secondary password, an answer to a security question or personal identification code etc. Your mobile could also be used to authenticate your access, with a code sent to your device or via an app such as ‘Duo’ which requires you to approve the login.

Know your enemy

By keeping up to date with the commonly used hacking techniques, you will be more likely to spot and identify a potential attack when it happens to you. Phishing emails are a simple way that a hacker can gain access to your data and/or unleash malware on your device, encrypting your data. Usually these emails will come from an unknown sender, the first warning sign, but they can also come from friends or family if their emails have already been compromised. Be vigilant, avoid clicking on links, if something seems off, it probably is.

Mobile security – on the go

Many believe that public WiFi is safe but hackers can set up public WiFi hotspots allowing them to intercept your personal data. Be wary using public data and leave your mobile shopping and online banking for when you are on a known secure network. If you can’t wait, then it is better to use your mobile data as it has the added protection from your mobile network.

Review statements – catch it

With busy day to day lives it is easy to neglect to check our accounts but it is important to keep up to date with what is going in and out as hackers become more sophisticated. Mobile banking makes it quick and easy for you to identify unusual purchases or new account transfers and notify your bank to stop them before large sums of money are taken from your bank account.

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