Continuous cyber-attacks on a plethora of well-known businesses that compromise customers personal and financial data serves as a pertinent reminder of the risk of putting our data online and the sophisticated measures today’s criminals are taking.
Cybercriminals can operate with impunity anywhere in the world
The risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime have never been greater so it’s more important than ever to protect yourself. The following article provides the 14 best ways to protect yourself from cybercriminals.
Prevent becoming a victim of cybercrime
99% of us become a victim of cybercrime because we do not take basic steps to protect ourselves
Following some relatively straightforward steps can dramatically reduce the chances of becoming another victim to cyber gangs and fraudsters.
Backup your data regularly
For additional peace of mind and to protect yourself from cybercriminals, regularly back up your data up to an external hard drive or a trusted cloud-based secure storage system. This will dramatically reduce the chances of your personal, or sensitive date being lost to malware such as Ransomware.
You may consider making regular backups to different locations for extra security
Your home broadband router
Your home broadband router is commonly the single access point to the Internet from your home.
But when was the last time you updated it, or checked who has access to it via Wi-Fi?
Follow these simple steps to protect your access to the Internet:
– Change the default broadband router password
– Check to see who is connected to your broadband router via Wi-Fi or better still change your Wi-Fi password every 12 months, you would be surprised who has been given access since it was installed
– Update the firmware, if this is not an automatic option. Internet connected devices are vulnerable to attack and your broadband router is no exception
– Look to replace your broadband router if it is more than 5 years old, this could offer better security and speed-up your Internet connection
Be suspicious of any unsolicited messages/calls
If you receive an email that has been sent from an organisation you know or trust, do your own independent research to determine if itis legitimate.
Check the company’s website, or a phone directory to find their phone
number and call them to verify.
Here are some tips on spotting phishing emails:
– Many phishing emails have
poor grammar, punctuation and spelling
– Is the design and overall quality what you expect from the organisation the email is supposed to come from?
– Is it addressed to you by name,
or does it refer to ‘valued customer’ or ‘friend’? This can be a sign that the sender does not actually know you.
– Does the email contain a veiled threat that asks you to act urgently. Be suspicious of words like ‘send these details within 24 hours’ or ‘you have been a victim of crime
– Look at the sender’s name. Does it sound legitimate, or is it trying to mimic someone you know?
– Your bank, or any other official source, should never ask you to supply personal or sensitive information from an email
– If in doubt always check via an independent method
Protect your email and online accounts
by using a strong and separate
As cyber criminals can use your email to access many of your personal accounts, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft or a target of fraud. Install the latest software and app updates, which contain vital security updates to help protect your devices from cyber criminals.
Ensure your home computer system is still supported
Microsoft have now ceased support for Windows XP and 7, so pcs running these older, unsupported Operating Systems are susceptible to viruses and malware. Turn on two-factor authentication
To protect yourself from cybercriminals, ensure all your devices (Personal Computers, Laptops, Smartphones and Tablets) has industry recognised Anti-Malware software loaded into it, this includes Mac computers!
Yes, Mac’s do require Anti-Malware (Anti-Virus) software as they are just as vulnerable as Windows computers.
Password Vault, or managers take the stress out of remembering complex passwords
Use a password manager to help you create and remember strong and secure passwords and protect yourself from cybercriminals
Smartphones such as the iPhone or Android devices can offer very high levels of Secuity, especially for banking or finance applications.
However, it is important to regularly upgrade or patch the Operating System and to always use the legitimate associated App (downloaded from the App Store/Play Store).
Never trust an unsolicited download. If you do not know the sender and you are not expecting a file, never open or download it
Do not use the same password across multiple online accounts
Cyber criminals can use a compromised account such as email to access many of your other personal online accounts, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft or a target of fraud.
Chose a method such as three random words such as Chair, Curtains, Walking. Then combine them with a number (preferably not a date) at the beginning or the middle, with two special characters after the 1st word.
For Example: 2290Chair$CurtainsWalking
Don’t worry if you can’t remember this, that’s why you use a password vault/manager. This is the single most important step you can make to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime
Link within an email or text
Never follow a link within an email or text message. Always be in control of where you are directed online by verifying the organisation
Sound too good to be true
Sound too good to be true? If you
receive an unsolicited email, or call from a lottery syndicate, inheritance from a distant or unknown relative, or maybe a request to transfer funds for a share of a bounty, it is almost certainly a scam.
Cyber-criminals want you to act first and think later. If the message conveys a sense of urgency or uses high pressure tactics be very sceptical. You must never let urgency influence your careful review
Trust but verify
It is in our human nature to want to trust, there isn’t anything wrong with this approach but always verify, especially when being asked to offer information that could be used for malicious purposes, or anything that involves your finances