Protect Your Device
- Install updates on your PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone as soon as possible after release, not only to enable new features but to address security issues.
- On PCs in particular run an antimalware product in conjunction with antivirus and turn your firewall on.
- Set passwords or passcodes to prevent others from using your device
- Set your device to auto lock after a period of inactivity.
Use Complex and Unique Passwords
A strong password should be hard to guess but easy to remember.
- Use a mix of characters – upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
- Use long passwords where possible. The longer the password the longer they take to crack.
- Use three or more random words together, using a mix of characters.
- Use different passwords for all of your accounts – if you struggle to remember passwords use a password manager to store your logins securely.
- Don’t share your passwords with anyone.
Protect Your Personal Data
What you disclose online can tell fraudsters all they need to know to use your personal information to gain access to your accounts or your money. Don’t become a victim of identity theft.
- Never share personal information on social media and check your privacy settings regularly.
- Don’t send personal information by email or text.
- Use 2 factor authentication wherever you can when using online services. This is an extra layer of security used to make sure that people trying to get into an account are who they say they are. First the person will enter their username and a password and then instead of immediately gaining access to the account they will be required to provide another piece of information, for example a code sent via text.
Protect Yourself from Phishing Scams
Phishing is a form of identity theft. Hackers may use spoof emails that appear to come from family, friends and reputable organisations. They may also use fake websites to trick you into divulging personal data or downloading malware. Malware is software designed to damage, or gain unauthorised access to your device. For example to spy on your online activity or access your webcam, steal passwords or files, encrypt the data on your device and demand a ransom to unlock it.
To protect yourself from scams stop and think, look for phishing clues even if you think you know who the email is from. Things like an impersonal greeting and not using your proper name, an alarmist subject line to persuade you to open the email, the message has a sense of urgency or threat of repercussions if you don’t act immediately to make you respond without thinking, use of scare tactics to intimidate you, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
- Don’t respond to an email from an unrecognised source. If in doubt try to verify the sender from other contact details and contact the sender in another way. If they are genuine they won’t mind.
- Be suspicious of any email that asks for confidential personal or financial information, such as your full name, address, passwords or card or bank details.
- Don’t open files attached to suspicious email messages or messages from an unknown sender.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited emails, emails you weren’t expecting or haven’t asked for. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
- Be suspicious of ‘call to action’ buttons or links such as ‘click me’ or ‘verify now’. Don’t click on a web link in suspicious email messages or messages from an unknown sender.
Back Up Your Data Regularly
Back up your data regularly and securely.
- Save the files you are working on regularly. Turn on auto-save or save your work whenever you make significant changes.
- As well as saving your work to your device backup your work to an external hard drive or to a cloud service such as Google Drive.
Your Digital Footprint
There are two types of digital footprint, passive and active. A passive footprint is the one you leave behind when using the internet, such as your internet service provider address, approximate location, or browser history. An active footprint is created when you deliberately submit information such as emails and posting on social media. Whether you leave data behind intentionally or unintentionally this can be collected by other people.
- Use privacy settings to control who sees what about you.
- Delete your old accounts that you no longer use.
- Don’t overshare on social media, think about the possible implications of what you are about to share. In particular don’t share confidential personal or financial information, such as your full name, address, passwords or card or bank details.
- Check your location settings. Turn them off if you don’t want to share your location with everyone.
- Check before you share information and headlines, don’t be responsible for spreading fake news.
- Don’t share or do anything online that you would not do in the ‘real’ world. Never cause offence or break the law.
- Be wary of clicking on links in posts, they may link to viruses or other malicious content.
Using a Webcam
While webcams can be a convenient way of chatting face-to-face with others wherever you, or they, may be there are risks attached to webcam use.
- Only use a webcam with people you know ‘offline’.
- Only use a webcam in a secure environment.
- Only switch on your webcam for scheduled webchats/conferences, do not set any applications that can access your webcam to auto-answer.
- Never use a webcam to do something that exposes you to danger or embarrassment.
- Do not share confidential personal or financial information, such as your full name, address, passwords or card or bank details during a video chat/conference.
- Do not record any part of a video chat, in any medium, without the consent of all those taking part.
- End a video call/conference if you become uncomfortable with either the content or another person in the call.
- When not using a webcam be sure it is switched off and close laptops or tablet/phone cases when not using your device.