More than 50% of people in the UK have been targeted online by criminals. Approximately £70 million a year is stolen in online scams and it's almost doubling annually. Criminals are thinking of new ways to trick you, and they sweep social media looking for personal information to:
- Identify if you could be conned into giving them money
- Copy your details for opening ‘shadow accounts’ online
- Identify if you might be susceptible to ‘traditional’ crimes like burglary
Everyone is at risk. Whatever you do online, take precautions.
Here are seven tips to help protect you online.
One - Protect Your Device
Make sure you update your computer regularly. Ensure you have some anti-virus and anti-malware defence. Software is available free and The Services Family have listed some on their security page.
Back up your information. Using the cloud is a great way to save all your documents, photos, music, emails and other irreplaceable files.
Two - Passwords
Everyone expects you to have a username and a password and it is essential to use strong and different passwords.
Don’t use words and phrases that can identify you like birthdays, relative’s names or football teams. Use a strong password that employs keys from the whole keypad. Instead of 26 letters you have more than 40 keys. To learn more about strong passwords read these online tips.
Rather than write down passwords, you can use password keepers on your computer which are encrypted or specialist ‘safes’ from the Apple or Microsoft stores. They only need one strong password to access, generate and remember strong passwords and autofill forms. Read more here
Three - Surfing
Free Wi-Fi is ‘open’ and criminals can use it to hack your device. It is safer to use your phone as a personal hotspot. Your phone company can tell you how to set up your phone as a hotspot and any data restrictions which may apply in your contract.
You should always watch for the security or ‘lock code’ in your browser. Use HTTPS:// before the web address or use a private browsing window – What is private browsing?
Four - Safety Online
Social media is perhaps one of the biggest contradictions in our lives. 'Social' suggests a personal level of interaction with friends and colleagues. 'Media' is universal, and the world can watch: Yet, we use social media and surf the internet like it’s a private playground.
It’s more like living in a village where everyone will find out about everyone’s business sooner or later.
Use the privacy features in Facebook, Twitter andLinkedInto restrict access to your profile and, if in any doubt, always choose the most restricted setting. Be guarded about who you let join your network – make sure you know them or, they have a legitimate reason for joining your network.
Your personal posts and Tweets can have wider implications. You’ve seen it in the papers and don’t think it can’t happen to you. Offensive and obscene remarks or pictures, flaunting wealth or lifestyle can end up in public and attract unwanted attention.
DO NOT CLICK ON EMAIL LINKS unless you know where the link came from and was expecting it.
53% of people have received fraudulent emails or messages which have attempted to direct them to websites where their personal information could have been stolen.
Five - Identity Theft
NEVER share your personal information, such as government-issued ID numbers, birth date, credit card or bank account numbers on social media or unsecured websites. Think twice about it on private emails.
Six – Safeguard Yourself
Try your best not to use social media when you are under the influence and keep your profile closed. Don’t let your life into the world or the world may come into your life. Be aware of what friends post about you and think before you retweet a friend’s post or comment, it may get them into trouble. By re-posting or re-tweeting, you may be seen as supporting remarks which could come back to bite you.
Seven - Think Something Is Odd?
Have you noticed unexpected activity from and on your accounts? Have you received a notification stating that any account information has changed, and you didn't change it? Suspect a hack and change your passwords.
You should take extra care if people have received emails from you which you didn't send. If that happens, you should look on the internet for solutions to resolve an address book hack.
If you are, or suspect you may be, a victim of fraud or theft contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime.
You are entitled to a private life but ‘living’ on social media isn’t going to help that, is it?
This article is by Services Family Ltd a veteran’s insurance business helping support our community.
Read more about online security:
Our website your online security page.
Get safe online – a government-supported site.
Download Met Police’s Little Book of Cyber Scams
Remember, you should also physically protect your laptops, phones and devices against theft, loss or damage. This can be a part of your home and contents insurance or through specialist gadget insurance.
For gadget and business insurance and more helpful blogs visit our website.