Whether that’s staying in touch with friends and family, online shopping or internet banking, it pays to be safe. Help is at hand. Read our guide, follow the advice and you’ll be much safer – so you’ll be able to enjoy your time online feeling more secure.
Many of us live our lives on social media and, while it’s great to keep each other updated, be thoughtful about what and how much you share. Keep details like your home address or telephone number off your profile. Information like that can make you incredibly vulnerable to online criminals. If in doubt, make your account private – so the only people you know and trust can see it.
Choose strong passwords
It can be hard to remember all your passwords, so it’s understandable if you’re thinking of making them all simple and alike. But it pays to fight that temptation because it makes them too easy for cyber criminals to crack. And once someone has broken into one account, they can access others.
If you have trouble remembering secure passwords (Y6juu+>47mCk) doesn’t exactly trip the tongue) get yourself some password manager software. It keeps a log of all your different accounts and will automatically add new passwords for you. But it’s still secure. Plus, you only need to remember one password – the one to activate it at the start of every session.
Choose multi-factor authentication
Another secure way of logging into an account (usually without having to remember any passwords) is with multi-factor authentication. Even if you’ve never heard the term, you’ve probably been through the process. Generally, it’s where a code will be sent to your phone and you enter that code on the sign-in page.
If you use Gmail, you’ll probably have seen this already but lots of other brands are now using it too. So, make sure you turn it on where you can. Just sign in to your account and you should find it as an option to be activated in Settings.
Be wary of strangers
You probably wouldn’t trust just anyone you bump into on the street, so make sure you’re equally wary online. If someone you don’t know contacts you through social media or by email, assume they’re not genuine. Online scams are a billion-pound business – so always be sceptical.
Use a VPN
Virtual private networks (or VPNs) provide an extra layer of security between your device and the internet server. This is especially important if you’re using a public or shared network, like public Wi-Fi.
Even if you’re at home, it’s a good idea – especially when you’re doing online banking. So, be safe and make sure your VPN is on.
Be careful where you shop
Setting up an online shop and claiming you have unbeatable prices is something anyone can do – including cyber criminals. Even legitimate online shops can have poor cyber security. So, which sites should you trust?
Firstly, you can be confident in sites with addresses that start with ‘https:’ versus ‘http:’ ꟷ the ‘s’ stands for secure.
Secondly, if you don’t already know a particular online business, do your research. Use a site like Trustpilot to check that customers have had a good, safe experience.
Watch what you download
The easiest way for a hacker to access your computer is for you to download something. This is where it’s especially important that you’re being cautious. Avoid downloading software or files from unfamiliar or untrustworthy sites. Instead use sources like download.cnet.com.
And that’s true for your phone too. If you’re downloading mobile apps, don’t get them from websites. If it’s a legitimate app, it should be available on Google Play or the App Store.
Be careful what you click
There are plenty of things to click online – quizzes, “free” offers and other click bait. Don’t be tempted! These are often a way of accessing your personal details. This is especially true of the emails you get sent. Be extra careful when clicking on links as they could be part of a phishing scam.
Use antivirus software
It’s easy to forget about antivirus software, but it’s worth keeping it up to date and running properly. While it can’t stop you from taking unnecessary risks online, it’s really effective at detecting and removing malware and keeping you safe.
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Article was originally published by our partners at Currys PC World.