As a Society we must be ever vigilant and informed on cyber security and the dangers of scams to protect us and our members. With this page you will find some information on how to better protect yourself online.
Creating a strong password
Creating a strong password is extremely important for online security. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recommends that you use three random but memorable words as a password including at least one; upper case letter, number and symbol where you can. For instance: Blu3-pap3r-plan3, Ph0neh0mefr1end or LakeJellyCar-954. You should be creative with your password, making it something only you would know in order to prevent anyone from guessing it. Cyber criminals are smart, organised and able to exploit weaker passwords. They know to try well used substitutes like “P4ssw0rd123”. The more difficult your password is to guess, the safer it is.
When creating a strong password, it is important that you also know what not to do. You should never use common forms of personal information in a password, such as your; pets name, place of birth, favourite sports team or child’s name. You must also make sure to never reuse the same password with different accounts. If you do, a cyber criminal would have access to multiple accounts by breaching just one.
If you need help remembering all your online passwords? A password manager can help you with this.
A password manager is an app which can be installed on your mobile device or computer which stores your passwords securely. Some password managers can synchronise your passwords across your different devices, making it easier to log on, wherever you are. Some can also create random, unique passwords for you, when you need to create a new password (or change an existing one).
Install the latest software & app updates
Weaknesses in software and apps can be used by cyber criminals to attack your devices and steal your identity. Software and app updates are designed to fix these weaknesses and installing them as soon as possible will keep your devices secure and protected against cyber crime.
You’ll often receive a prompt on your computer or mobile device to inform you that a software or app update is available. Don’t ignore this message, install the update.
The short time it takes to download and install the update will reduce the risk of you falling victim to identity theft and could save you a significant amount of time and trouble in the long run.
You can choose to install updates at night whilst you are asleep to keep disruption to a minimum.
Protecting your data
It is important that you keep your data safe, and backing it up is the best method of doing that. A very effective way of backing up your data is using the cloud. Hosted online by someone else, Cloud backups are away from your home and devices. Due to this, you will always have access to this data as long as you have an internet connection. Your data will all be there no matter what happens to your device.
You can protect your data when it is held on the cloud by using a strong password and enabling two-factor authentication.
Secure smartphones and tablets with a screen lock
Screen locks offer your devices an important extra layer of security. Each time you want to unlock your device or switch it on, you’ll be asked to enter a PIN, password, fingerprint or use facial recognition. This means that if someone gets hold of your device they can’t access the data stored on it without using one of these security methods.
Don’t use ‘1 2 3 4’ or an ‘L’ shaped pattern which are easy for other people to guess.
Scammers are always looking for new ways to defraud people, be that over the phone or online. These methods vary, but here are a few to look out for.
Phishing scams are a scam used to fake a site login page or similar to acquire your account details. In most cases these are sent via fake emails, asking you to login to a site you may or may not have an account with. These links lead to fake login pages, which will steal your login information when you use them. You can easily identify this scam from mistakes in the email address or by looking closer at the site URL. Secure websites will start with ‘https’ and have a padlock next to them in the search bar. In addition, it is important that if you receive an email like this that, if it can be helped, you never click any links they give you.
Money Mule scam
Money mule scams involve someone contacting you, claiming you are entitled to a large sum of money. This could be from a random lottery, or inheritance from a relative you’ve never heard of. Of course, this has a catch, you need to a pay a deposit before they send it to you. To avoid these just remember, no member of a legitimate company will ever ask for this. Similarly, you should never give your details to someone you don’t know or didn’t expect.
Authorised push payment scam
Authorised push payment or ‘APP’ scams involve getting contact from a scammer who will try to convince you to transfer money to a scammers account. Most cases involve a fake bank or building society representative contacting you and claiming you have a compromised account and to amend this is to transfer to a secure account. Above all, if you receive a call of this type contact your bank or building society immediately. Your bank or building society will never contact you asking you to make a transfer.
Tech support scam
Tech support scams normally show up as a random call or pop-up on your computer. In the case of the pop-up, it will tell you there is a problem with your computer and to call a tech support number. The random callers will generally tell you that your computer sent them a message. To avoid these, keep in mind that no legitimate tech support company will leave a phone number on a pop-up window, and your computer cannot send messages to tech support people unless you specifically permit it to.