PROTECTING YOUR DATA

The risks are clear, but you can take simple actions to protect yourself online:  

ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR FILES

When malware erases files from your device or network, those files are often unrecoverable. So, ensure files are always securely saved on a file hosting site such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive etc .

KEEP SOFTWARE UP-TO-DATE

Does your computer or smartphone notify you when you need a software update? As cumbersome as they may seem, updates protect against potential security breaches by addressing vulnerabilities. The next time you get a notification, install the update as soon as possible.

USE STRONG PASSWORD

Account passwords serve as the first line of defence against fraud. Don’t hand the keys to hackers by using easy-to-guess passwords – or the same password for multiple accounts.

Keep reading below for our Essentials password tips…


ENABLE MULTIFACTOR aUTHENTIFICATION

Multifactor authentication (MFA) allows you to protect your data through various layers. Instead of merely protecting your account with a password, you also obtain verification through your smartphone. So, even if someone obtains your password, they still won’t be able to access the account without also having access to your phone or email.

CHECK THE SOURCE

Malicious links are one of the most common ways hackers manipulate victims into downloading malware. Cybercriminals disguise their intent by posing as a friend, trusted business, or new opportunity.  

Check URL SECURITY

A quick, simple way to tell whether a website you’re visiting is secure is to check its digital certificate. A certificate, issued by a trusted third party, confirms a website’s contents are encrypted and protected from outsiders as you visit the site. That ensures a secure information exchange between you and the website.

We’ll show you how to do this below.

Essentials PASSWORD GUIDANCE

Create a unique password for every account. 

Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. 

Choose long passwords, ideally eight characters or more. 

Don’t use generic phrases or personal information as your password (such as your last name, birthday, street address, or “abc12345”). 

Use a password manager such as LastPass or Dashline to keep track of your passwords.

Check THE sOURCE

In the movies, hackers spend hours trying to guess the password to hack into a supposedly supersecure database. They have that EUREKA! moment, tap away at the keyboard and… a green tick flashes up on the screen and they’re in.

In reality, hackers prefer that you give them your details or download their viruses onto your devices. It’s so much easier for them if you do the hard work.

They clone the website of a brand that you trust or mock up an urgent email or text message purporting to be from your bank, mobile or utility bill, or send urgent message from your boss, parent or children asking you to download a file or send money.

So what can you do to protect yourself from these scams? Here are our top tips:

  • Never open email file attachments sent by someone you don’t know
  • Even if you know the sender, confirm that their email address matches the real deal before opening a file. A hacker’s email may look similar to a real person or business
  • Beware of generic but enticing messages like “Check this out,” “Is this you?” or “You’ve got to try this”
  • When in doubt, check with the sender to verify the link’s authenticity before clicking

Check THE URL SECURITY

How can you tell, at a glance, whether a website is secure?

Before you start thinking that this is something only web developers can spot, think again. There are two easy-to-spot things that will tell you that the site you’re on is safe:

  • Check that the website URL starts with HTTPS. The “s” stands for “secure.” Websites that start with HTTP cannot be trusted to encrypt data and protect your information
  • Look for a padlock symbol. Find this in the URL address bar to the left of the URL. The padlock shows that the website has a digital security certificate
Essentials peace of mind

These extra steps can seem hard or unnecessary, but skipping them is like leaving your door unlocked when you’re not home. You wouldn’t put your physical valuables at risk, and you shouldn’t put your data at risk either.

Many of these solutions don’t take much maintenance once you’ve set them up, so it’s best to begin the practices as soon as possible. Then, you can sleep better knowing your data is safe.