Secure your online accounts
We’re often told to use different, complex passwords, yet almost 60% of us mostly or always use the same password. Whilst there’s a real fear of forgetting the scores of passwords we have, there are other ways to secure your internet logins.
Many sites and services give you the option of using two-factor authentication (where, for example, you have to enter a code sent as an SMS to your phone to log in), which means if your login details are compromised, they won’t be able to access your account without this extra layer of protection.
If you just want to remember one password, a password manager might be the solution for you. Apps like Dashlane, 1Password and Lastpass can create unique, secure passwords for each site and securely store them so you just have to remember one master password. That way, if a single website is compromised your other logins are still secure. If keeping all your password eggs in one basket sounds less secure, rest assured that these three companies don’t know your master password and never send it over the internet, so if they get hacked, your logins are generally still secure.
You could even take it one step further and use a physical authentication key like the YubiKey. These act as a tangible password that is kept on your person, allowing you to log in to your apps and accounts only when the key is plugged in.
Practice safe internet browsing
You may have noticed a few years ago that all sites started using “https” at the start of their web address in place of “http”. The added “s” stands for “secure”, meaning any of the information you input there is encrypted, making it much more difficult for your personal information to get stolen. To keep your browsing safe, make sure the sites you visit are “https” sites.
You could also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) like CyberGhost or ExpressVPN. This allows you to communicate over public or unsecured networks privately. By passing your internet traffic entirely through the VPN’s connection, your private information is cloaked and mixed with other users of the VPN, making it much harder for hackers to get access to your internet activity.
Update your apps and operating system
Hackers are always discovering new ways to breach your devices and connections, so it’s crucial to keep your software up to date with the latest security. Often your apps will prompt you to update them when a new version is out, so take the time to actually do this, and periodically check the App Store or Google Play store or wherever you get your apps to see if there are any updates. The same can be said for your operating system – is Windows or macOS telling you it’s got an update for you? It’s probably wise to install it. Keeping your software up-to-date will help keep you protected.
Be prepared for when your device goes missing
Whilst it’s important to make sure the way you use your devices is protecting your data, losing your device can be just as dangerous.
The first and most obvious way is to make sure your device is password, passcode or biometrically protected. As convenient as it is to use your device without the extra step of entering a passcode, the reality is anyone can get access to your messages, emails and social media if you accidentally leave your device somewhere.
Next, make sure you back your data up. If those precious photos and documents only exist on your phone, you’re only one mishap away from never seeing them again. Google and Apple both offer their own cloud storage options, but there are also others like Microsoft’s OneDrive and Dropbox, or ones that offer unlimited storage options like Backblaze.
Lastly, make sure you’ve set up your phone to be able to remotely erase it, just in case. Both Apple and Android phones have this option if your phone (or Mac) is ever gone for good (and is still powered on and connected to the internet).
For more information or to report a cyber-crime, head to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Scamwatch and Stay Smart Online.
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