It’s Stay Smart Online week but here are the best tips to protect yourself all year
It’s Stay Smart Online week – a time raise awareness about cyber safety – but staying safe online should be a daily exercise and here are some tips to help protect yourself.
Staying safe online includes having strong passwords, protecting your privacy and identifying threats and dangers.
Don’t think you’re not important enough to be hacked.
Cyber criminals don’t discriminate when it comes to targeting their victims. Everyone is a target.
To make yourself more conscious of online dangers, assume it’s not a matter of if you will be hacked but rather when you will be targeted.
Those who don’t take an active role in their online security are usually the ones who end up becoming victims.
Passwords are the keys to the lock on our security door – the stronger the password the stronger the lock.
The Global Password Security Report released by LastPass shows password sharing and password re-use remains pretty common.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is also on the rise to add extra layers of protection to your password and the log-in process.
The number of passwords a person has to remember is increasing.
The average Australian employee has 66 passwords and very few of these passwords are unique.
It’s almost impossible to remember so many different passwords and people use the same one on multiple accounts for that very reason.
But a hacker knows this and chances are, if they can crack one of your accounts – they will use that same password to crack others.
The adoption of password managers like LastPass has increased.
LastPass allows users to create strong and unique passwords for all their accounts and to remember them across all the devices.
So in the end, you only need to remember one master password.
Privacy is another huge security concern with identity theft still a major online danger.
Check the privacy settings on your devices, apps and social media so you are only sharing information with people you know rather than random strangers lurking on the web.
Other things like shredding bank statements before throwing them out, for example, is another way of protecting your privacy off-line as well.
You can run a privacy checkup by checking your social media settings, limiting who can see you’re contacted bio information, disable location sharing on social media platforms and do a stock-take of your social media friends and remove anyone you don’t know.
In the online world we also need to identify the dangers.
It is common practice for cyber criminals to try and trick you to share your personal and financial information.
This is done with phishing scams which can come from several directions including email, social media and even online gaming.
One common scam is receiving an email which is disguised to look like it came from your bank, the post office, utility or even Netflix.
Usually it asks you to click on a link to fix a bank account, re-route a parcel, pay a bill or unlock a subscription.
Many victims have gone on to share all their personal and financial information with these criminals after thinking these emails are real.
A phishing email is not hard to spot.
Firstly, check if you have been addressed to you by name. Often these types of emails are sent out en-masse and are usually addressed to “dear customer”.
But even if you are identified by name, be wary of the emails contents and what it asks of you.
A quick check of the email header will reveal the email address which is usually long and complicated.
Another dead giveaway is poor grammar and spelling mistakes in the email.
The biggest red flag will be some kind of call to action to restore an account or redirect a package or unlock your subscription.
And if you do happen to do business with the company impersonated in the email – go directly to that company’s website and login to your account there to check if everything is in order.
Other scams can come through social media.
Recently we saw Instagram users targeted with emails telling them they had breached copyright and that their accounts had been suspended.
These were phishing emails and many users, who curiously wanted to see what copyright they had breached and to urgently restore their accounts, inadvertently handed over their account name and password to a cyber criminal.
Social media accounts have become new target because if a user is compromised, the cyber criminal then has access to all of their friends and followers.
Gaming has become one of the most highly targeted communities for cyber criminals.
And with two thirds of the population playing video games, it has become a target rich environment.
Norton’s Digital Wellness Report revealed hackers are coming up with scams to capitalise on players’ temptation to spend money and buy in game add-ons.
Norton recommends parents educate their children about online safety and avoid opening suspicious links.