Staying safe online – the basics
This, rightly, is a really hot topic and it’s essential for less experienced users to understand the risks. It is also important for people to 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. 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
- it’s a known and 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 (used to steal data) 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
People should 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.
It’s also worth looking at a secure password manager. Our team uses 1Password and LastPass. You have to pay for either, but we think it’s worth it for the extra peace of mind.
There are other ways of storing passwords safely in the cloud. Apple owners can use iCloud for example.
Use 'Two Factor Authentication'
This is known as ‘2FA’ for short. This is where, once someone has added their username and password to a log in, they are sent a unique passcode to a different device or dedicated application, for example to their phone or an app. Typing in this second code gives them access.
If they have used online banking, they will 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 they are using has a 2FA option, they should switch it on. They should not 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, someone should use a credit card rather than a debit card for their shopping. Or they should 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 a bank account.
Secure payment services have additional security measures such as 2FA. Paypal is a good example of this.
Be healthily sceptical!
Here are a few tips to keep someone healthily sceptical:
- if an offer sounds too good to be true, whether by email or on a website, it probably is
- if someone receives an email they are not expecting, they should not click on links until they have double checked who it came from
- emails from services, like banks, or utilities, will quote personal information like someone’s name and account number in their emails. If they don’t, they may not be genuine, so someone should phone the organisation using a number on one of their bills to check whether it was genuine
- if someone receives invoices by email, they should check who they really came from and check that the amount matches the accounts with that company
- banks and other official bodies will never ask someone for the PIN of their payment cards, or for their 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.