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Top Tips for Staying Safe Online

12/04/2019

The internet can be a wonderful place, where you have unlimited information at your fingertips, can talk to loved ones around the world and watch funny cat videos to your hearts content! However, there are always going to be people out there trying to take advantage of the personal data you leave behind. Here are our top tips for keeping your data safe online:

Use a password manager

Password managers create complex passwords and then store them for you securely. This means you can have a different password for every website without having to try and remember them all. If one of your passwords should become compromised by a data leak, you can then update that password and rest assured that no other accounts can be logged into using the same credentials.

Create strong passcodes for your devices

Ensuring you have a strong passcode on your mobile device and a strong password to access any laptops or PC's is important too in the event that they are stolen or hackers try to access them remotely. A good mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols is recommended, while making sure you don’t include personal information in your passwords such as childrens' names or birthdays, as these could be easily found with little digging. Try to also avoid common password combinations such as ‘Password123’ or ‘Pa55w0rd!”.

Use a browser that puts your privacy first

Some browsers are better at keeping your data private than others. Google Chrome is the most popular browser out there, but being owned by Google, it sends some of your data back to be analysed. Alternative browsers such as Firefox, Safari, Brave and Vivaldi don’t store or share any of your personal data. Nowadays, the noticeable differences between browsers from a user-perspective is relatively small, so if you wanted to make the change, it should be easy enough to do. 

Check your camera, location and other permissions

Whilst you browse, you sometimes will receive popups asking for your permission to know your location or even access your webcam. Typically this might occur because you're trying to order a takeaway or find your nearest store, but you may also have accepted one of these requests by accident. It's important to remember that you can review which websites you have given permissions to from within your browser settings, and you can revoke permissions from there.

Keep your devices up to date.

It might feel inconvenient to put your phone or tablet down while it updates, but it’s very important to do so! These updates will regularly include enhanced security features, and many data breaches take place when software is out-of-date and prone to vulnerabilities.

Learn about phishing scams.

We all receive spam emails. Most of the time they filter through to our junk folder, but sometimes they slip the net and arrive in the inbox. Often, these emails are scams designed to collect your data - usually usernames and passwords - or to get money from you. They can look very convincing and disguise themselves as emails from your bank or Paypal, saying something has gone wrong with your account and you need to sign in to resolve the issue. The goal of these 'phishing' scams is to get you to 'take the bait' and click on the link they provide, which will typically re-direct you to a fake log in page where they capture the genuine log-in information you provide them.

A good general rule to remember when trying to determine if an email is a scam or not is to bear in mind that banks and companies who hold sensitive data about you wouldn’t usually email you about a critical issue with your account and ask you to click on a link to log in and resolve it. If you are worried or confused however, call the company first (avoiding any phone numbers in the email, as they may be fake) and try to resolve the issue over the phone instead.

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