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5 Ways to Protect Yourself Online

5 Ways to Protect Yourself Online

A lock on a blue door.

Launching over 10 years ago, Safer Internet Day has become a globally celebrated event providing information, tips and knowledge to students, adults and web users worldwide. The campaign for this year’s Safer Internet Day is ‘Together for a Better Internet’ which is a call to action for all stakeholders to come together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, especially younger users. With technology being the building foundation at FDM, we support Safer Internet Day each year, and to celebrate this year, we have compiled our top-five steps you should follow when it comes to keeping yourself safe online, how to find out if your details have been compromised, and what to do.

Launching over 10 years ago, Safer Internet Day has become a globally celebrated event providing information, tips and knowledge to students, adults and web users worldwide. The campaign for this year’s Safer Internet Day is ‘Together for a Better Internet’ which is a call to action for all stakeholders to come together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, especially younger users.
With technology being the building foundation at FDM, we support Safer Internet Day each year, and to celebrate this year, we have compiled our top-five steps you should follow when it comes to keeping yourself safe online, how to find out if your details have been compromised, and what to do.

1. Verifying Email Senders
This technique is one you should always follow when receiving email correspondence. Sender Verification can be used to check incoming emails are from reliable sources and mail senders. The aim is to block spam emails and this will clean up your inbox from unnecessary or potentially dangerous emails. Hackers and virus’ have found new ways over the years to worm their way into your personal data and mislead consumers into believing they are sending legit emails and correspondence. It is important to always check a sender is legitimate when clicking on any form of an email. Falling for an email scam can happen to anybody, a scam involves using email and fraudulent websites to steal sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, account data, addresses and more.

2. Be wary of what you’re downloading
It’s one thing to be aware of how to avoid phishing scams and to make sure you’re safe online, but do you know what you’re REALLY downloading? Downloading apps on your phone has become a normal everyday activity, and despite the rules and regulations that appear before your app downloads to your tablet, iPad or phone, do you ever read what the app will have access to on your device? It was recently discovered by Android that over 1.5 million people had downloaded certain Flashlight apps on Google Play which were infested with adware. The malware generated ad revenue by repeatedly displaying pop-up adverts which forced the user to click before they could continue using their device. Many other apps will ask for access to your internet history, call list, contacts and other areas of your phone which you may not want to share.

3. Use a Firewall
You may have heard of a firewall, but do you know what one is and why it is essential to have on your PC? Computers, laptops and other devices that have internet access become a target for malicious virus', Trojans and hackers that can access your information through untreated security holes and portals. This can lead you to fall into the issue of identity theft and other unnecessary attacks on your personal and financial information. A firewall will monitor incoming and outgoing information traffic, as well as blocking outside threats and keep you updated about any harmful applications and sites.

4. Password vs Passphrase
Creating a strong password is an absolute must when it comes to internet and online security. Passwords under 10 characters can easily be broken by tools. It is important to consider going for a passphrase rather than a password. A passphrase can contain symbols and doesn’t have to be a proper sentence or grammatically correct. The main difference is that passwords don’t have spaces while passphrases have spaces, that are longer than any random string of letters, making it harder for hackers or unwanted people accessing your account.

5. If you think you may have fallen for a scam here are four points to follow:

  • Change your passwords – If you’ve accidentally clicked the wrong link or entered personal information into a phishing scam, be sure to change your passwords immediately. From PIN codes to email accounts, look at creating a strong 10+ character long passphrase.
  • Alert your bank – No matter how small you think the situation may have been, it’s better to be safe than sorry and contact your bank to let them know about the breach.
  • Back up your software – Run a comprehensive virus scan if you think you’ve infected your system with a virus or other malware. For future use, regularly back up personal information on an external hard drive.
  • Contact the organisation – If you receive a suspicious email that looks like it came from a company that you know and trust, report the email to the proper organisation (not the email address you received) i.e. HSBC, PayPal, Visa by visiting your local branch or contacting the official phone number. They will be able to advise whether the email was legitimate or not.

Get clued up on what is coming up in the next year with our Tech Trends of 2019 blog

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Featured image credit: Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash


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