We can now do pretty much anything online, from talking to friends and watching films to doing our shopping and online banking. But as we’re moving more and more of our lives online, we’re opening the door for cyber criminals to gain access to our personal information. Hackers can use this information to commit data and identity fraud which can cost you a lot of money, so keeping our personal data safe is extremely important. Even though online security has got better over the years, criminals are becoming more innovative and finding new ways to hack into our information and take our hard-earned cash. Follow these steps so you can stay as safe and secure as possible when using the internet.
Make sure that you keep your computer safe by installing the latest security software. Viruses are a form of malware that are designed to gain access to your computer. They will often slow down your device and can be used to delete important files. Spyware is another form of malware that is used by criminals to gain access to your personal information and data. It can record what you are typing and can also gain access to your webcam and microphone.
You can find anti-virus software available for free online, but you need to make sure that you regularly update it to make sure it’s working efficiently and is one step ahead of the hackers.
Although it’s much easier to remember one password than it is to remember a different one for each account you have, it is dangerous to do so and could lead yourself vulnerable to hackers. Not only should you use a different password for every account, but you should make sure your passwords are hard to crack. You should use big case and small case letters, numbers and special characters. In order to remember all your different passwords, write them down and keep them in a safe place so you can look them up when you need to.
A favourite technique of hackers is to send bogus emails that look like legitimate ones. They often pose as a well-known firm such as Apple, Microsoft or your bank, and will ask you to provide personal information. These companies will never ask for your details this way, so make sure you don’t fall for this trick. Another way to see if an email is fake is to look at the address of the sender. It’s also common for them to contain spelling mistakes – it’s highly unlikely that Apple will have any mistakes in their emails. These phishing emails will often contain a link that they want you to click on. Never do this, as it could open a virus or spyware that will attack your computer. If you suspect that an email is not legitimate, delete it immediately.
If you’re shopping online or booking tickets for an event or a flight, you will have to put in your bank details to make a purchase. If you’re buying from a legitimate company, these details will be secure, but how do you make sure? If a website is safe and secure, there will be a small icon of a padlock next to the URL. This is in the bar where you search for websites, not on the actual website itself.
Web addresses for legitimate websites and companies should normally be simple and not over-complicated. The URL of the website should also start with ‘https://’. If you’re shopping on a website that has a long and drawn out URL, or if it isn’t encoded with ‘https://’, you shouldn’t trust it so don’t give them your bank details.
Before you buy anything online you should always do a background check on the company you’re buying from, especially if you haven’t used them before or haven’t heard of them. There are some dodgy websites out there that will offer you a product and you either won’t receive anything, or if you do receive something it could be fake or well below the standard that was advertised to you. By conducting a quick Google search for reviews of the company or website, you will be able to work out if they’re worth trusting or not.
When you set up your Wi-Fi network at home, make sure you protect it from outsiders with a strong and secure password. Without this, anyone can access your Wi-Fi and connect to your network.
Your broadband router works like a gateway or security barrier to your network. If you leave it open or easy to get into, it allows hackers and viruses an easy route to take control of your devices.
You can now find free Wi-Fi connections in most cafes, bars, restaurants and even some trains and buses. And while it might be tempting to connect to these hotspots whenever you can to stop you from eating into your precious data and avoid the costly fees for going over your limit, you should always be wary of public Wi-Fi networks. It’s easy to set up a fake Wi-Fi hotspot that can be used to steal passwords and personal information once you connect. Even if you connect to a trusted network, for example at Starbucks, the data you use is often not encrypted and thus easier for hackers to access your details and cause problems.