We live in an age now where we depend on the internet for so much. Whether it’s doing our shopping and banking online, being able to work from home as an independent business owner, gaming or simply keeping up with social media, there is no escaping the fact that using the internet has become an integral part of our livelihood.
So how can we stay safe online and have peace of mind that all our data is secure?
With the threat of email scams, fake websites, hacks and viruses, the thought of being affected by any of these could send you into a tail spin. The good news is that there are some simple strategies that you can put in place to keep you and your computer safe.
Here are Black Nova Designs 10 ways to stay safe online;
- Get creative with your passwords
With any password whether it’s to login to your PC, Tablet or Mobile Device, or an online account, we recommend you change them regularly i.e. once every 6 months, and get creative with them.
By this we mean create complex passwords or passphrases that are randomised and unique, not your pets name or a memorable date. Adding a symbol can make your password more secure, and you can often use spaces in passwords too.
- Storing your passwords
It’s not secure to use the same password on multiple sites, or save them in a document on your PC, but let’s face it remembering them all can be such a headache. Using a password management tool, such as Keepass can take away the stress of recalling them all. It’s free and secure, and allows you to keep all your passwords safe on one database. There are other tools available, so it’s worth having a look around for one that suits you.
- Keep your computer systems and software updated
It’s important to keep all of your operating systems and security (antivirus) software up to date, to keep you safe from harmful viruses, malware and other online threats. You can easily set your PC and other devices to install system updates automatically through your settings menu, this way all the hard work is done for you.
As well as your operating system i.e. Windows, make sure you have all the latest updates for the main programs and applications that you use as well, like Adobe Flash & Chrome for example.
- Network security
Always be sure to secure your home network so that you and your family can use the internet both safely and securely. As well as keeping your computer and other devices operating systems and software updated, it’s important to secure your wireless router too.
We recommend you change the name of your router to one that is unique, and not supplied by the manufacturer. We would also suggest changing the password on your router as well as use a firewall.
If you are out and about in a café or public space, be mindful about using public Wi-Fi or any unsecured Wi-Fi network especially if you making any transactions such online banking, shopping or any activity that requires you to disclose personal data, as you could be putting your private information at risk. Save this activity for when you are at home or in a place where you have access to a secure network.
- Cover up your camera
Covering up your webcam was a security measure that came to light in the press recently. The focus was more around celebrities and the possibility of hackers using footage as blackmail. Most of us aren’t celebrities; however it is always good to take online security seriously. Our advice would be to close your laptop when you’re not using it, or place a label across the camera so it can be easily removed when you want to use it in the future.
- Use secure websites
Browsing the internet you have access to any number of websites, but they may not always be secure. Look at the website address in your browser; it should start with ‘https.’ The‘s’ at the end stands for secure. A padlock symbol alongside the web address also demonstrates that the website has a current security certificate registered to that address. If at any time however you are not sure of the websites security then simply leave.
- Avoid having multiple tabs open
It is sensible not to have too many tabs open to multiple websites at any one time. Pop-ups can appear without you even realising, and this could invite unwanted downloads and possible viruses on to your computer.
- Shop safely online
Shopping online is so accessible and easy these days. You have much more choice, and you can browse and order at your leisure, with a cup of tea in hand. There is however some risks involved, and it’s important to be mindful of who you are buying from, and who you are sharing your personal data with.
We recommend using reputable retail sites, shop online at home where you can ensure you are on a secure network, and when making your payment check that you are using a secure payment option such as PayPal, Stripe or Worldpay.
Once you have made your purchase, remember to log out of the site, as just closing the browser is not enough to protect your personal privacy.
- Back it up
Having peace of mind that all your data is safe is important. Whether it is personal data such as photographs, health records, and all your home financials, or files relating to your own business, it’s important to protect yourself from any loss by backing up your files.
It’s entirely your choice how you back up your files, either on an external hard drive or up in the cloud, we recommend you always back up everything that is of value to you.
- Turn off your computer
Leaving your computer on and connected to the internet leaves the door open for unwanted guests to visit and cause unnecessary chaos. It’s a bit like leaving your house unlocked when you pop out to the shops; you wouldn’t do it, as you’re just not sure who might come calling.
If you’re not using your computer, it’s always best to log off and switch off.
Above all else, be naturally cautious. We always say the best anti-virus software is you. If in doubt don’t click to proceed or download anything if you are unsure of its origin.
If you think your lovely machine may have been infected with a virus, here at Black Nova Designs we can get our experts to remove it, and help you prevent it happening again.
If you need any help installing the latest security software or operating system updates to keep your PC safe, you can get in touch with us here at Black Nova Designs.