Browsing the Internet these days can be a minefield. With increasing numbers of data breaches from major companies like Facebook and even video game phenomenon, Fortnite, protecting yourself online has never been so important. And now, more than ever, with so many of us online during lockdown – protecting your data has never been so important.
Here are our top tips for protecting your online data.
AVOIDING CLICKING UNKNOWN LINKS
Cybercriminals are masters of trickery so you always need to think before you click. Hackers create legitimate-looking emails from companies like, banks, electric or gas operators, HM Revenue and Customs and even Apple. Remember, these companies would likely never email you to request you update your information, so 9 times out of 10, assume this is a scam.
Check for spelling mistakes, copy the URL from the email and enter it into the address bar to see if it’s legit first and always click to check the full email address. If it’s from a business, the address will always be @apple.com or @scottishpower.co.uk or similar.
Similarly, if you receive an email from a friend requesting you to click a link, it could be a phishing email or virus.
CHOOSE UNIQUE AND COMPLEX PASSWORDS
Passwords are the keys to your online data, so protect it! Don’t use the same password across multiple accounts. Once hackers have access to one password, it’s likely they will try it across multiple sites and apps to try and gain access.
Use complex passwords with a combination of lower and upper-case letters, numbers and symbols to keep your password as secure as possible. If you struggle to remember lots of different passwords, there are plenty of tech options to help, or good old-fashioned pen and paper.
KEEP YOUR IDENTITY SAFE
Don’t ever share you password and ensure you change your password often. Where possible, use two-factor or strong authentication which combines something you know e.g. a username and password, with something you have e.g. a mobile phone. This allows you to verify yourself via a passcode or something similar and is a great way to ensure hackers can’t get in.
It’s essentially an extra layer of security and helps ensure that nobody can access your accounts, even if they got hold of your password.
DONT’ CONNECT TO UNTRUSTED NETWORKS
We’ve all been there, wanting to use a Wi-Fi while we’re out and about. But the problem with some of these networks is that they have very low security meaning, while you’re online and surfing, your data can be intercepted and stolen.
Avoid connecting to Wi-Fi that isn’t home-based, even café and restaurant networks can be dangerous given they can be interfered with. Opt for 4G while out and about and avoid browsing and completing transactions while out and about on 4G or a WiFi network that isn’t your own.
USE AN AD BLOCKER
In 2018, an estimated 41% of people in the UK were using an ad blocker in some capacity. There are plenty of ad blockers plugins and extensions available for you to block ads, trackers and malware sites.
Not only does this mean you won’t be bombarded with ads as you search but it also means you’ll be much safer surfing online.
CHECK YOU’RE ON A VERIFIED SITE
If you’re purchasing something online, always check the site is secure. Before you enter any payment details, check that the URL begins with ‘https’ – the ‘s’ stands for “secure”. It will also usually display a lock sign on the left side of the URL bar.
Always double check this on the payment page as it is possible for a company’s payment page to be redirected to a false page.