This month marks National Internet Safety month, where the goal is to raise awareness about online safety and how we can reduce risks online.
There are several key security practices you should keep in mind when using your smartphone, PC, tablet, and other connected devices that should by now be as instinctual as looking both ways before crossing the street.
Here are WOT’s top 6 Internet safety tips that everyone can benefit from and that will help keep your information and devices safe.
Update your Antivirus
Regardless of your internet usage you should always use an antivirus to protect your data and devices. That being said, it’s not enough to simply have an antivirus installed and forget about it. As time goes by, software needs updates, just as tires in a car need to be refilled with air. For your first layer of active protection, use an updated antivirus app that constantly searches for the latest viruses and vulnerabilities on a daily basis. This, combined with using WOT will make sure you’re protected online and don’t run into any trouble with viruses, phishing or unsafe links.
Windows, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Adobe, and other software should always be updated, which will patch new security vulnerabilities and include fixes to software as needed. If you’re using Windows, you can turn automatic updates on or set alerts to prompt you when new updates are available so you can install them at a time convenient to you.
Install with Caution
While it may seem obvious, it’s important to remind yourself that any application can contain malware, and Windows is the most vulnerable OS. Remember when downloading apps or new software, to only download from a software developer’s official site.
Never open executable files sent to you via email even if it comes from a friend, colleague, or family member, as their accounts could have been hacked without their knowledge and then these could be used to spread malware. Always make sure to verify the authenticity of a file before you run it.
Protect your Passwords
With the benefit of technology constantly improving and becoming faster and smarter everyday, also come various risks, many of which surround your passwords and how you operate with them.
Hackers nowadays have a much easier time cracking a password than they did just a few years ago. The longer and more complex your password is, the harder it is to be cracked. While it may seem challenging, you should always use a password at least 12-15 characters in length with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
Never use a password containing any proper name or word from the dictionary, and never use the same password for multiple accounts. Check out our infographic on how vulnerable your password probably is and see how to tighten it up
Additionally, to keep things extra safe, always deny your browser from remembering your username and password when you log in to any site. If an attacker gains access to your device, your accounts could be compromised, simply because your passwords are safe and without realising it, you just gave them free access to your account.
Always enter your login and password manually regardless of the device you are using, remember, attackers do not need physical access to your device in order to gain access to the information on it. The extra step it takes you to log in to an account each time, while inconvenient, can do a great deal to keep out intruders.
Never Share Accounts
In a survey carried out last year by Survey Monkey and then posted to Tech Radar they found that of 1,507 U.S. adults, one third (34%) said they share passwords or accounts with their coworkers. Meaning that, upwards of 30 million of the 95 million American knowledge workers may be sharing passwords. Almost 22% of the people they surveyed also admitted to reusing the same password on multiple work accounts.
Password-sharing at work carries huge risk for organizations. Eight in ten (81%) hacking-related breaches are achieved with stolen or weak passwords, and if hackers gain entry to your system, shared passwords make it easier to access other parts of your network.
A hacker discovering a document full of shared passwords in one employee’s Google account can turn a single security incident into a full-blown breach, potentially opening your organization to legal issues if customers’ privacy rights are violated.
Therefore, it is important to always keep online accounts private and secure. You may think it harmless to set up and share a photo sharing account, however; users are still vulnerable to social engineering tactics, which can put shared accounts at risk.
Always use your best judgment on what you share, post, and like online. Instead of sharing accounts, you can use shared folders on the Cloud such as Google Drive or Dropbox, with constant control over who has permission to access specific files, that way you are still connected and still have access to other people’s accounts – just in a much safer way.
Protect your Mobile Devices
Today, our mobile devices are a one-stop shop for making payments, our personal health, work, gaming, productivity, texting, tweeting, and everything in between. We use them to do just about everything, from mobile banking to navigating new places, and to emailing. But whether it’s hacked browsers, petty thieves at the coffee shop, or your own tendency to lose devices, using your smartphone as a centralized source for all of your information comes with big risks, and the more you’ve connected and stored, the more you stand to lose.
Therefore, it has become crucially important to take mobile security measures seriously. Keeping your mobile and personal data secure on your mobile device can be done in a few simple steps.
Firstly, make sure you have a passcode on your device. To some of you, this may sound obvious however according to a Consumer Reports survey, 64% of us don’t use our passcodes. Not using a passcode is not a good idea. You’re essentially handing over all of your personal information to anyone who swipes your phone.
When you set up your passcode, use the same security measures you would on any other device, such as not using your birthday or social security number for your passcode, and definitely not any obvious series of numbers that are easy to guess.
Additionally, when downloading apps to your device, make sure you do so from a trusted store such as the App store or Google Play. Make sure you backup your mobile device regularly to avoid any mishaps should your device become lost or stolen and stay off open WIFI networks that could be harmful to your device. WOT is now able to help you check which WIFI networks are secure and which ones may be dangerous so make sure you download the WOT app to your device and check this before connecting.
Overall it’s important to have your mobile and computer security measures in place throughout the year. National Internet Safety Month brings this to your attention so we wanted to remind you of the most vital security measures to have in place. Happy browsing!