This, rightly, a really hot topic and it’s essential for novice users to understand the risks, and have simple ways to protect themselves without feeling that they have no control over their safety.
Most people can take very simple precautions to keep themselves pretty safe online, and there are many sources of really good, thorough advice.
TechResort recommends the UK Government’s Cyber Aware website because it’s kept up to date, has UK relevant advice and it’s a known, reliable source.
This site also allows you to report any suspicious emails you receive. By doing this, cyber protection teams can identify patterns in suspicious activity and potentially shut down phishing scams.
We’ve also got some specific pointers for you. Scroll down for more, and please do post your tips and thoughts in the comments.
Use strong passwords for online accounts
Keep different passwords (usernames, too, if you can) for different platforms – especially financial ones. This way one breach of password doesn’t lead straight to all the others.
There are other ways of storing passwords safely in the cloud. Apple owners can use iCloud for example.
Use 'Two Factor Authentication'
…or ‘2FA’ for short. This is where, once you’ve added your username and password to a log in, you’re sent a unique passcode to a different device or dedicated application, for example to your phone or an app. Typing in this second code gives you access.
If you’ve used online banking, you’ll be asked to generate a code with a card reader or similar. Other providers, such as Paypal, challenge their users at intervals by sending a unique code by text message, or over the phone.
If the software you’re using has a 2FA option, switch it on. Don’t share 2FA codes with anyone, in any way.
Use extra security measures when shopping online
Keeping a separate shopping email account is a good way to spot problem emails if they arrive.
If at all possible, use a Credit card rather than a debit card for your shopping. Or choose secure payment services like PayPal, ApplePay or GooglePay to pay online.
Credit cards have protection against fraud, and it’s easier to appeal a transaction before money comes out of your bank account.
Secure payment services have additional security measures such as 2FA. Paypal is a good example of this.
Be healthily sceptical!
- If an offer sounds too good to be true – whether by email or on a website – it probably is
- If you receive an email you’re not expecting, don’t click on links until you’ve double checked who it came from
- Emails from services you use – like banks, or utilities – will quote personal information like your name and account number in their emails. If they don’t – they may not be genuine – phone the organisation using a number on one your bills to check whether it was genuine
- If you receive invoices by email – check who they really came from and check that the amount matches your accounts with that company
- Banks and other official bodies will NEVER ask you for the pin number for your payment cards, or for your full password when they phone
Keep children safe online
As parents with children of different ages, we can confidently tell you that keeping them safe online is a whole different ball game!
We’re planning a separate article about this, but can recommend these sites in the meantime.