How can we stay safe online?

Date Published: 01/05/2021 09:51

With cyber crime increasing over the last year, our director of operations Keeley Woodcock looks at how you can stay safe online. 

The last year has been notable for many things, and one of them, sadly, has been the swift increase in cybercrime with criminals targeting the lonely and vulnerable.

 An example of this, the BBC reported recently that romance fraud – cheating someone out of money by pretending to want a relationship – had risen about 20 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year.

With technology changing all of the time we seem to be increasingly banking online – whether on our PCs, tablets or on our mobile phones. The ‘scams’ are getting increasingly complex and believable; the good old days when a general in an African army offered to deposit £30m in your bank account are long gone…

So, how can we protect ourselves? With online fraud now a recognised career path in most parts of the world, what simple steps can we take to make sure our data stays safe online?

 Here are my five simple tips to help our clients do just that:

  1. Do your online banking at home. Please do not trust wi-fi (whether secured or unsecured) in public places like airports or cafés. As one industry expert put it, there are certain things you should only do at home: wearing pyjamas, flossing your teeth and online banking.
  2. Ensure that you use a password management tool. The name of your pet followed by 99 is not an adequate password. KItu49yHD$*!834+= may not be the most memorable password in the world, but it is going to cause a hacker a few more problems than Rover99. With all of us now using multiple passwords, it makes sense to use a password management tool to keep your data secure.
  3. Always protect your devices. There are six easy steps you can take to protect your devices. First, install antivirus software and keep it updated. Make sure your firewall is turned on. Keep your operating software as up to date, where possible. Be careful about what you download and the sites you visit. Clear your cache and your browsing history and, finally, turn off your device when you’re not using it.  
  4. Keep your digital footprint to a bare minimum. It is becoming increasingly difficult but individuals and companies should try to keep exposure of their personal and financial data to a minimum. One expert recommends entering credit card details only once and activating two-factor authentication for all your online transactions and accounts.

Banks and financial institutions are doing their best to help – and yes, we all lose patience with their seemingly endless checks sometimes. But in the final conclusion, it is up to us to protect our online data. Hopefully the four points above will help you do that.

The last one! It’s simple. Common sense, constant attention – and remembering that if something looks too good to be true then it almost certainly is too good to be true. Which brings us full circle to the African general and his thirty million dollars…

 Take care and stay safe online. 

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