Tips on how to Protect Yourself Online

The advent of the internet has revolutionised our lives in ways we could never have imagined a few decades ago.  Despite its obvious benefits, it has also given cybercriminals access to our personal data.  In the same way that you’d never leave the door or the windows of your home unlocked, it’s very important that you protect yourself when you’re online.

How can you protect your electronic devices?

A firewall and software programs protect all of your electronic devices from malware like viruses.  Although you might ignore the notifications you receive to update software, it’s important that you regularly do so to ensure online safety. When you’re out and about, you might be tempted to use free Wi-Fi hotspots to remain connected at all times.  However, these public hotspots are easily hacked so you should avoid accessing sites and accounts which contain personal details since you could find yourself a victim of fraud and/or identity theft.

Access to mobile devices should always be password-protected in case of loss or theft.  A strong password for devices and online accounts should be at least 12 characters long and should contain a mixture of letters (including capitals), numbers and punctuation marks.  You should never use any names, dates, etc. which could be easily guessed from information on your social media account.  Each account you have should have a unique password.  In this way, if one account is hacked, you won’t inadvertently give cybercriminals access to all your other accounts.

If you find it difficult to remember all your different passwords, you could use a password manager.  For accounts involving money, ask if multi-factor authentication is possible.  This could involve a one-off password being sent to a mobile device and gives you an extra level of protection from fraudsters.

Online safety tips for online banking & shopping

Nowadays, it would be no exaggeration to say that you can do everything on the internet from booking a holiday to applying for a loan online.  If you access the site of the best direct lender, you’ll see that it has a padlock icon at the top of the page and begins with https/.  This ‘s’ stands for secure and means that your sensitive personal data is encrypted and protected from hackers.  When you’re shopping online, you should make sure that the websites where you shop are protected in the same way.

Before buying from an unfamiliar website, check online reviews to make sure that other buyers have had no complaints about non-delivery of goods or shoddy merchandise.  Also, double-check that the site is authentic –  especially if you’re accessing it through a link sent via an unsolicited email or social media.  Bad spelling and grammar are often the tell-tale signs that it is mimicking a well-known retailer or brand.

When it comes to online safety, preventative measures save you a lot of hassle, not to mention both time and money.  If you suspect you have become a victim of identity theft, it’s crucial that you notify the authorities in your country as soon as possible.

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