Cyber Security and How To Stay Safe Online

Learning about cyber security and how to keep yourself safe online is extremely important in this day and age with the increased number of users, devices and programmes being used. The growing volume and sophistication of cyber attackers as well as their techniques amplify the concern further.

What is cyber security?

Cyber security is how organisations and individuals reduce the risk of a cyber attack, and it is about preventing unauthorised access to our personal information, including addresses, contacts, name and more.

Using our smartphones, computers, applications and the internet is such a fundamental part of life these days and it hard to imagine our lives without them. From online banking, social media, emails and credit card information, our phones store a lot therefore it is more important than ever to take the necessary steps to prevent cyber attacks on our devices and data.

How can I stay safe online?

There are a number of ways you can protect your personal information including:

  • Secure your smartphones, tablets, computers and laptops with a screen lock. Having a passcode on your phone provides that extra layer of security on your device and it also means if you do happen to lose or misplace your device, it will be hard for someone to get access to it.
  • Always back up your important data. You can make sure your most important data such as passwords, photos or key documents are kept safe by backing them up to an external hard driver or cloud based storage system. Important data can be lost as a result of a security breach, so backing your data up ensures you are prepared to restore it once it’s lost.
  • Keep your software up to date. Software companies often provide software updates to upgrade their security, fix any current bugs and to add new features. The same can be said about keeping your hardware up to date. Outdated hardware might not support the most recent software security updates, and having old hardware can often make it slower to respond to cyber attacks if they do happen.
  • Check links before you click them. Links can easily be disguised as something they are not and if you make the split decision to click a link without checking first – you may live to regret it. On most browsers and email softwares, you can see the URL of the link before clicking it by hovering your mouse over it. Make sure you do this on every link you come across to check the target URL before you click on them.
  • Put some effort into creating your passwords. Don’t use your name or anything to do with your personal information in your passwords as these can make it easy to guess. There are plenty of tools out there to check how strong your password is.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-malware. Once you are connected to the internet, it becomes very difficult to have complete and total protection from malware. However if you are using anti-virus and at least one anti-malware installed on your computer, it can significantly reduce your vulnerability.
  • Avoid opening suspicious emails. This may seem like an obvious one, however you would be surprised at how many people open a dodgy email without realising it first. If an email does look suspicious, don’t open it because it might be a scam. Someone may be impersonating another individual or company to gain access to your personal information, and they can also include attachments and links that can infect your devices.
  • Enable two factor authentication. Most platforms now allow you to enable a two factor authentication which keeps your accounts more secure. It provides that extra little layer of protection that helps you to verify it is actually you that is trying to access your account and not someone who is not authorised. You can add your mobile number which will send you a code or have an automated system call you, and this can also be used to tell you that someone has tried accessing your account.
  • Use TryHackMe. TryHackMe offers cyber security training to both individuals and businesses, and they currently have over 700,000 users. Learning cyber security on TryHackMe is fun and addictive and you can earn points by answering questions, taking on challenges and maintain your hacking streak through short lessons. It is beginner friendly for all skill levels, and you can join their community over on the TryHackMe blog and share knowledge, ask questions and meet people on the same journey as you.

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