Tips to staying safe online
Research suggests that as many as 70 percent of people don’t know how to identify a safe website, showing they may not know how to use the internet safely. Thankfully, being secure online isn’t complex, and simply requires that you adopt a couple of best practices when you’re using the internet.
Some of the most straightforward things you can do online to stay safe include:
1) Use different, complex passwords
This might seem obvious, but the most commonly used password in the world is ‘123456’, followed by ‘123456789’, ‘qwerty’ and ‘password’ to round out the top 4 .
Yes, it can be a pain to come up with really strong passwords, but if you cut corners here, you’re at risk of hackers having access to your most private information.
There are two steps to make sure that somebody can’t guess your password. The first is to use a password that’s algorithmically hard to catch out.
A strong password is something that is easy to remember and hard to guess, and that means that a string of random words is perfect.
So instead of ‘sarah’ or ‘matt1991’, you should instead be switching to something more along the lines of ‘wheelsharkwood’ or ‘cowboys12tigers18’. These random phrases are difficult to guess, and have no connection to your everyday life or habits.
The second step towards having safe and secure passwords is not to use the same one for multiple things. If someone manages to get into one account, the first thing they’ll do is then check your other accounts (such as your bank, or email, from which they can sometimes recover passwords for other accounts). If you have different passwords for important things, you’ll be best set up to prevent multiple intrusions.
2) Use two-factor authentication
In addition to having a strong password, you should make sure that you’ve got two-factor authentication turned on wherever possible. Two-factor authentication sounds technical, but it’s not. All it means is that whenever you try and log into an account, a code is sent to a second device (usually your mobile phone). From there, you just need to put that code in to finish signing in.
In other words, even if a hacker guesses your password, they would need to have your mobile phone before they can get access to your account.
Most important services – including banking and email – allow two-factor authentication, so try to use it if possible.
3) Install antivirus software and make sure you have a firewall
Do you have a current and up-to-date antivirus and firewall installed on your computer? If you don’t, you should look into it because it is another piece of the how to stay safe online puzzle.
Modern Windows-based PCs and Macs have inbuilt antivirus and firewall software installed, which tends to be pretty effective. If you have one of those, you likely won’t need to go out and buy any software. However, if you do rely on these tools, make sure that you always keep your computer up-to-date. When there’s a new operating system update available, don’t ignore it – download and install it as soon as possible. The fight against viruses never ends, and each update includes protection against the most recent viruses so don’t put them off.
4) Pay close attention to the emails that you get
Hackers love to imitate respected brands, and send emails that look like they come from a bank, or other business that you use. They do this to try and get you to click on a link, fill out your password, or download a piece of software.
Once you’ve done that, the hackers can get access to all of your data, or infect your computer with malicious software.
When an email comes in, read it carefully, looking out for tell-tale signs that it might not be legitimate. Perhaps the email has spelling errors, or the email address that it has come from looks off. Some even send out offers that look outdated.
If there is any doubt, ring the bank or business it concerns, and they’ll tell you instantly if the email is genuine or not.
5) Don’t assume that you’re safe if you’re a Mac user
It’s a popular belief that Macs don’t get viruses. This is a very nice piece of marketing on Apple’s end, but unfortunately it just isn’t true.
When the initial claim was made, Macs accounted for a tiny amount of the computer market. This meant that a hacker could spend hours and hours working on breaking a system that might affect a handful of people; or instead they could go for the larger, juicier PC market.
Nowadays Macs and iPhones comprise a much larger share of the market, and therefore there are a few more nasty viruses around designed to attack Mac technology. The end result is that now Macs are every bit as vulnerable as any PC.
6) Talk to your experts
It’s very difficult for hackers to break into computers, regardless of what the movies want you to believe. In most cases, it’s small mistakes made by a user that leads to a hacker getting access.
The solution is simple; learn to be cautious and conservative online. If a link looks too good to be true, it probably is. If an email looks suspicious, then it probably is. If you ever have any concerns, there is a wealth of resources that you can access to answer any questions you might have.
Government, businesses and technology companies often provide free advice and support around securely using the internet, so if you’ve ever got a question, don’t hesitate to ask them.
If you’re looking for a reliable and fast internet connection, contact Aussie Broadband today.
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