Today the UK sees the start of the ninth annual Get Safe Online Week. The initiative is designed to raise awareness of all things ‘cyber’ in an effort to protect home users from the ever present online threats of fraud, identity theft, harassment and other equally serious issues.
During the week Get Safe Online will be issuing tips and advice on how to stay safe when using your computer, smartphone or other devices, as well as publishing new research on attitudes towards online crime and looking at the experiences of those who have fallen victim to the same.
In anticipation of what may be presented this week, we here at Security Watch hereby present our own quick tips which can help you beef your own security up in next to no time:
- Install security programs on all of your devices and keep them up to date at all times
- Never open email attachments if you are not 100% sure of who sent them and be careful even if you do.
- The same goes for clinking on links in emails, especially when the sender appears to be a trustworthy organisation such as your bank
- Maintain regular backups of all your data – you never know when disaster will strike
- Always update your operating system as soon as patches are released
- Think before you post anything on social networks – the information you give out can be used against you by thieves and online attackers. It could also get you into hot water if you say the wrong thing.
- Always create strong passwords and never share them with anyone under any circumstances
- Struggling to remember all of those passwords? Use a password manager and never be tempted to use the same login credentials across a number of sites
- Only connect to networks you can trust – public, insecure hotspots may allow an attacker to eavesdrop
- Always type web addresses into your browser instead of relying on links, especially for sites where you then have to enter data. Check your spelling and, for sites that ask for personal information, look for a padlock icon in the browser and a URL that begins with HTTPS rather than HTTP
- Only download new apps from the official stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App store – the apps found on third party sites may not be what they seem, or may contain nasty surprises
- Take advantage of two factor authentication where available to add an extra layer of security to all of your online accounts
- Secure you own network – make sure it is encrypted and hidden (not broadcasting its Service Set Identifier (SSID)) and that it is protected by a password (remember that many routers come with a widely known default username and password so change both if possible)
- Protect your kids – set up parental controls but remember there is never any substitute to taking a keen interest in what your children are doing online
- When shopping online always use a credit card where possible as it will offer a higher level of protection should anything go wrong
- Never leave mobile devices unattended and always protect them with a PIN number or passcode
- If you share a computer be extra careful about what you use it for and consider erasing your tracks when you have finished with it
- If you haven’t heard of Edward Snowden search now to find out what he has to say about government surveillance. Next, consider using a Virtual Private Network or a service such as TOR for all your future web surfing needs
- Get used to reading banking and credit card statements whenever they arrive – they can provide a heads up should someone have compromised your plastic or your identity
- Keep abreast of the latest security developments by staying on top of the news and adding some of the key industry websites to your reading list – many websites offer up lists of recommended security blogs and here are a couple to get you started – http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/technology/blog/top-cyber-security-blogs / http://www.securityinnovationeurope.com/blog/40-information-security-blogs-you-should-be-reading
And for those readers who are already doing all of the above (you’re an infosec professional, right?) here is a bonus tip: