Much like the police force that protect us in our day-to-day lives, cyber security protects us when we’re online. With the rapid expansion of technology, more people than ever before are live and active online – this gives computer hackers more incentive to steal data simply because there’s more of it around. As a result, it’s become more essential than ever to stay safe on the internet.
There’s so much media coverage about breach of data and hacking (just think back to last year’s NHS infrastructure hack…), and with claims being banded around, it can be difficult to know what’s fact and what’s fiction in the world of cyber security. We bust some myths to help you stay safe online!
A firewall is software that protects your computer from outside attacks.
There are two types of firewalls: hardware and software. To give you an idea of what these are, think of your computer set up at home – your router is the hardware device, while a PC running Windows will contain an integrated software firewall. While this typical set up may seem pretty secure at first… it isn’t necessarily the case. Most users don’t always install upgrades for the router that contain the security patches that manufacturers put out, which means you don’t have the full protection you think you have. So, when that little notification pops up in the corner of your screen asking you to update your software, make sure you click it!
Running a single antivirus software program is not enough to keep you protected – it’s a bit like expecting your winter flu jab to keep you protected from other illnesses when it only really covers you against the flu.
Although most antivirus programs do a decent job of protecting your computer against viruses, it can be a bit hit and miss against the many other malware threats out there, including adware, spyware, browser hijackers, trojans and ransomware – it all sounds pretty scary right?!
It’s not worth losing sleep over, so don’t worry too much! What you’ll need to ensure is that you regularly keep your antivirus program updated and install an anti-malware program too. Adware and spyware are becoming increasingly common, but as they don’t behave like a typical virus, they can escape detection from your usual antivirus software.
So, make sure you choose an anti-malware program that will keep a close eye on things lurking in the background and run a proper check once a week to stay fully protected.
We’ve all seen the movies where the computer hacker is a coding genius and after a quick bash on the keyboard, they easily gain entry into a locked down government network. Although Hollywood has made it look like you need to be a tech genius to hack, the reality is much more worrying! There are plenty of hackers out these days who only have basic computer skills, but a good understanding of code and how to use it can cause havoc!
But don’t worry – you can still protect yourself with the latest anti-hacking software which is designed to look for, and automatically guard you from, anything that seems a little fishy.
Using passwords is enough to keep you protected, but you must choose the right type
of password and update it when prompted so you’re not an easy target. These days everything online requires you to enter a password and it can be super annoying to have to think up a fresh one that’s clever enough to keep you protected.
Although you obviously want to keep your accounts safe, sometimes the password you are choosing can be causing the issue in itself. Using personal information that’s directly linked to you like your date of birth, your pet’s name or even worse – the dreaded ‘Password1’, can be easy for a hacker to crack and steal your information!
To help protect you from this, lots of companies now encourage users to enable two-factor-authentication (also known as 2FA) which requires you to sign in using a simple code that’s sent to an additional device (in most cases it’s your smart phone).
You can also use random password generators that would take the average bot years to crack – long enough for your password to have expired and for you to have already changed it! Alternatively, using three random and unrelated words is a strong way to make a password and keep your data secure!
If you’ve ever done your banking or shopping online, you’ve definitely come across a HTTPS site. HTTPS (or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) protects your data by encrypting it while it’s being transmitted. But remember, although HTTPS is pretty secure, it’s by no means perfect.
To stay safe, always check the security of the site you’re using. Hackers are smart and have created identical pages of your bank, PayPal and social media accounts that will say you’ve signed out unexpectedly and you’ll need to re-enter your details – these are fake and are designed to steal your log in information.
If you are ever worried that something doesn’t seem quite right, close the tab and go back through your usual routine to bring up the site that you trust.
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