In a world where cyber crime is not only a rising threat but one faced by millions of the world’s citizens on a daily basis, it’s important to know how to defend yourself and how to prevent this happening in the future.
Here’s our techie’s top 10 for avoiding hacking and phishing for the average human on a daily basis.
1. Check The Lock
Websites that use encryption will show HTTPS: in green before the website URL. This is how you know the authentication is validated and truly secure. If it’s not, it appears as red text with a line through the https and a cross through the lock. If a website is missing this, you should not be putting in any of your personal details and should get out of there right away. Some companies also go the extra mile with extended validation so you know the website is coming from their servers and is legitimate, most banks will have this enabled.
2. Create Secure Passwords and Change Them Often
Create secure passwords, don’t use family and pet names or your date of birth and especially not 123456. Websites like https://entima.net/diceware/ will help you create a random passphrase which you can amend and use to secure your data.
3. Watch out app permissions
Almost everyone now has a smartphone. These phones contain a variety of applications that do everything from your personal banking to posting holiday photos and communicating with friends. Every application has to ask for certain permissions before it can be used and installed. You are always prompted to check these before installation but the reality is, that few of us do. By going into app settings on your phone you can see which app has requested which permissions. It’s the same if you check your apps on Facebook. You can deny or allow or revoke certain permissions, preventing unsolicited data access.
4. Watch out for unsecured Wifi networks
There are open networks all over the place these days, some like the one’s in coffee shops require a sign in with an email, others are totally free and unsecured by any kind of encryption. It’s best to avoid these all together if possible. Public networks aren’t really up to standard when it comes to preventing hacks and identity theft.
5. Install software updates
Pretty much every bit of tech you own will get software updates, your PC’s get Microsoft Updates, phones and tablets and even smartwatches get OS updates. It’s important to stay on top of these at all times, they aren’t just there to improve stability or to allow more things to run efficiently, most of the time they contain important security patches that prevent the latest breaches from affecting you or leaving you open to an attack.
6. Have a good firewall and antivirus software
Invest the £30 it takes to secure yourself for a year, you’d be surprised at the work that software like AVG and Avast do for your security and protection, collectively stopping millions of attacks across the globe on a daily basis across millions of PCs.
7. Delete unknown emails
Whether emails at work or at home, we’ve all seen the “congratulations you’re a winner” or “your auntie twice removed, nephew’s, sister’s dog died in sub-Saharan Africa and left you $500,000,000” which are obvious enough to avoid for most, but cyber-criminals are getting smarter. They lure you in by masking email addresses of people you know and get you to open attachments marked “invoice. It’s about being aware that these threats are out there, never open an email from someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting, and, definitely don’t open any attachments unless you are 100% sure that it’s legitimate.
8. Two-part authentication
Most websites, like Facebook or your bank, will offer two-part authentication. For example, HSBC send you a code generator which creates a unique access code whenever you are logging into your account. Facebook offers unique activation through a code sent to your phone when you log into new location. A vast majority of the sites we use daily, as well as our PC’s. Phones offer this option too and should you want to stay secure, an extra 10 seconds logging in could save you months of data recovery, security, court battles and more.
9. Check your online privacy settings
We’ve all got some kind of online presence, usually provided to us by social media sites. These sites spread throughout your life and you don’t even realise. On Facebook you can see every location you’re currently logged-in onto, which applications have which permissions and more. Most importantly, you can set what other users can see on your profile from outside and inside the site. You store your mobile number, email, date of birth and more on a public profile that is viewable to the entire internet. Lock this down! Check out this blog for more info on that.
10. Be cautious and aware
Educate yourself on what’s out there. You’ve already made the first step by reading this article! Take care over what you put out into the web, keep your personal details… personal! And most of all use common sense. All of our tips and tricks for avoiding hacks and recovering from them are available at our helpdesk, advice is free – 01425 600700