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DON’T GET HACKED! Follow this advice for security online

With more people than ever going online due to lockdown, this also means there are more criminal scammers looking to take advantage of the situation. Here’s a quick list of steps you can take to help you avoid being hacked.

ANTI-VIRUS

Get a good anti-virus and firewall software but, don’t forget to turn it on and make sure you OK any updates. Insurance companies and banks may only pay up if you can prove that you had up-to date security. There are some good free anti-virus software, and you can always go for an established one like Norton or McAfee.

COPY STUFF

If you had your laptop stolen or disabled with a virus, what would you lose? If it’s anything important, then keep copies of it on a USB stick or frequently email any important documents to yourself, to be on the safe side.

PERSONAL INFORMATION

We’ve probably all been a bit slack when it comes to our personal data – but we mustn’t forget the lengths criminals will go to get our valuable information.

The best advice is: Never fall for emails or messages which ask you for your login or account info and be extra careful when clicking on links. You should know who you shop with so don’t fall for fake links. Watch for similar spelling of things: Eg. Amazn.co.uk instead of the correct spelling of ‘Amazon.’ This is known as phishing and is one of the most common ways for scammers to get your personal details.

THE CLOUD ISN’T PERFECT

Most storage in the cloud is accessible. It will help if you encrypt the content or think about Dropbox which claims to encrypt every file which is stored there.

Learn how to encrypt a file…it’s not difficult!

USE YOUR CREDIT CARD

If you get scammed or lose money through fraud you have a much better chance of getting your money back if you’ve used your credit card to pay for your goods or services. If you don’t have a credit card, then a pre-paid card will also work, though this won’t insure stolen cash. What it will do, is make sure that hackers can only access the amount you’ve topped up, rather than your actual bank balance itself.

COMMON SENSE

If you have information or details that you don’t want people to know, or get hold of – then why put it online in the first place? Common sense is required on a regular basis.

CREATE A STRONG PASSWORD

Many people use the same password for everything – and many others use the word ‘password’ as their actual password so that they don’t forget it. Hmmm. You must create a strong password to deter hackers. Check out our blog on how to create a strong password.

All the experts say that you shouldn’t use the same password for multiple accounts, and you shouldn’t writer them down either! What are you supposed to do then?

Well, you could get ‘LastPass.’ This is the most popular free solution for storing all your passwords. It also integrates easily as a browser extension and app. Check it out.

TWO-STEP VERIFICATION

Always use two-step verification if you can. If someone signs in from a new or unauthorised device, they’ll have to provide a code which will only be sent to your mobile or email address. This is simple and secure.

USE AN ALIAS EMAIL

You should always use an alias email for all your online activity – personal and work. Set up another email address and have it forwarded to your main account. This will definitely limit what information hackers can get and it will also greatly reduce the amount of spam you receive – which has to be a good thing!

DID YOU KNOW?

Did you know that you can create a temporary email that will combust after use? Yeah, it all sounds very ‘James Bond’, but you can do this easily on guerillamail.com. Imagine you are required to enter an email address for something, but concerned about the amount of spam it might send your way? Well, now you can rest easy!

SECURE SITES

When surfing, ensure you only visit secure sites. To do this, check for the padlock icon and ‘https’ in the address bar. All these little things may seem fiddly and a bit annoying, but it’s better than having all your money stolen or your private and personal information used by criminals for illegal purposes.

ROGUE TRADER

Here’s another thing you might not be aware of. Does your email account display the location of the last login? If you have Gmail, check out the bottom of your screen. If you take a look every so often, you can check to see if there’s any rogue folk using your email.

DATE OF BIRTH

It’s worth not drawing too much attention to your date of birth on social media – and, in fact, any information that banks may use to verify accounts or lost passwords.

SOCIAL MEDIA

People love to broadcast their lives on social media, yet how many times has a home been broken into because people have posted that they’re on holiday?

If you get a friend request from someone you don’t know – don’t accept them.

On Facebook you can enable a login alert. This means you’ll get notified when someone signs into your account. Go to the Security Settings and approve your own devices so you don’t get alerted needlessly.

MOBILE STUFF

Here’s a quick list of things you can do to keep your mobile AND your data safe.

  • Learn how to wipe your gadgets if they’re lost or fall into the wrong hands.
  • Use fingerprint recognition to lock your phone. Alternatively, a secure pin number/code or unique gesture.
  • To prevent hackers watching you, cover unused webcams with a sticker.
  • Take a few moments to read all app permissions. Then you can see exactly what data you are allowing them before you install. If in doubt, don’t install them.
  • Here’s a really important one: Install Find My iPhone (Apple) or Find My Device if you’re on Android. For tracking and wiping lost or stolen phones and laptops you can use an online tracking platform called ‘Prey’.

HOME HELP!

You should ALWAYS password-protect your home WiFi network. Additionally, you must also change the default admin password on internet routers.

FREE NETWORKS

Setting up a fake free network is a common scam, so only use well-known and trusted WiFi hotspots.

VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides private internet access to ensure your data remains secure. A VPN is easy to set up, has excellent privacy settings and security features.

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