6 areas to consider when improving your online security
With more and more of our daily lives being online, it has never been more important to ensure we are keeping our personal and financial details secure. It is expected that by 2023 ecommerce sales in the US alone will exceed US$740 billion, and increasingly people use the online world for entertainment, gaming, meeting people, working, and even finding love! This ever-growing world is hugely convenient, allowing people to access what they want, when they want, from the comfort of their own home.
However, with this huge revenue stream, scammers and hackers are developing smarter and smarter ways to help divest the everyday consumer from their cash. There are many things that people can do to make sure they stay safe online.
- Make your account (any account) secure
Step 1: Create a strong password
Most sites will have certain password requirements, such as minimum length, use of uppercase and lowercase letters, and special characters. This will help force a strong(er) password. It is advisable to choose a combination of characters that are memorable, so they password won’t be easily forgotten, but random enough that it cannot be guessed.
Passwords that can be easily guessed include place of birth, birthdates, favourite films and so on, so should be avoided. Common phrases like ‘letmein1234’ or ‘password’ should never be used.
Step 2: Add recovery details
If for any reason someone did gain access to the account, having recovery information linked will enable the legitimate owner to regain control and reset the password. Linking a different email address and a phone number will help with this.
Step 3: Additional Security
Tw-factor Authentication is a great way to ensure that even if someone gets access to a password, they cannot actually access the account. 2FA can be a text message to a nominated phone number, or even one of any number of apps that continuously refresh an access code.
- Protect your finances
Online banking is highly convenient and has been getting safer by the day, with numerous authentication methods such as fingerprints, facial recognition and passwords to protect users from fraud. However, there is still the threat of being hacked or compromising sensitive financial data which could compromise an account. There is plenty of software out there to help keep accounts secure in the online world. Even when using off-line banking, there is plenty of technology that helps guarantee security.
- Protect your personal information
One of the main ways people get hacked is by providing too much information in public forums, like social media. Answering questions about first cars, favourite colours, and engaging in seemingly innocent games on Facebook can compromise the security of an account. One way to reduce the risk is not to engage in these games, or even set social media accounts to private.
- Use a secure network
Whenever accessing the internet, it is important to be sure of the security of the network. Insecure public networks can be easily accessed by hackers and information being transmitted over these networks may not always be safe.
- Check a website is secure
When entering any personal details, billing information, or address information, it is wise to check the site is legitimate and safe. This can be checked by looking at the URL (an ‘s’ in ‘https’ can indicate it is ‘secure’), or the little padlock in front of the URL. Additional sense checks include checking for poor grammar and spelling, lack of contact details, checking social media presence and reviews online.
- Keep anti-virus software up to date
Anti-virus software will run regularly in the background checking for any threats and will go a long way to protect individuals and their forays into the online world. We know that they will not be able to identify and deal with every threat, but in combination with the other hints and tips will provide a barrier to most things.