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6 Simple ways to stay safer online

It’s remarkable that although the online safety message is banged on about on TV, radio and the printed media, there are a great many people who are still of the opinion that the message doesn’t apply to them. Sadly, whilst such people may have got away without incident so far, this is more by luck and limited online exposure, than by design. Even by doing everything right, there is a risk of your online safety being compromised by an attack on a third party.

It is therefore very sensible to take at least some basic precautions. To help, here are 6 very simple steps that you can use to limit your exposure to risk:

  1. Use a different password for every online site or account. No, really. – By doing this, if some website is compromised, and your password revealed, it cannot also be used on other sites. The hackers will try this, as it really is easy pickings.
  2. Change your passwords regularly. – Sometimes sites can be compromised, and passwords collected for later use. If you change your password in the meantime, you’ll avoid suffering.
  3. If a site offers 2-factor authentication, use it. – Many sites now offer this. If you try to login from an unrecognised computer, a code will be sent to your phone, and this must be entered to confirm that the login is authentic. A hacker will not receive this code, and access will be denied.
  4. Don’t post compromising information online. – If you are going on holiday for a time, don’t mention this on social media. Your friends may not be the only people interested in your home being unoccupied for a while.
  5. Beware of fake emails. – Many systems are compromised by people opening attachments or links contained in fake emails. These could be relating to deliveries, bank accounts, PayPal, or pretty much anything. If you receive such an email, assume it’s fake until you can confirm otherwise. It’s usually clear due to poor grammar, spelling and lack of personalisation. If in doubt, go to the alleged sender’s website directly, and check there.
  6. Always use a regularly updated anti-virus product (even on Apple kit). – This is an essential. Your computer can be compromised within seconds of being connected to the Internet. A good anti-virus product is a must. With regularly changing virus threats, regular updates to the anti-virus software are also essential. An old product is virtually no better than no product.

There’s plenty more information available online to help keep you safe, but please don’t think for one moment that it won’t happen to you. I hope that it doesn’t, but by taking some simple steps, you can reduce the risk.

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