We all take many precautions to keep ourselves, our possessions, and our cash safe. We ensure our home security is good, we lock our doors and our windows. Maybe we have home security systems; alarms, lighting, cameras, a safe. We keep our important documents secure, we don’t leave them lying around. We certainly wouldn’t share the content of our wallets and our financial and personal documents with just anyone.
Similarly, we don’t open our doors to just anyone. We put on the security chain, we ask to see I.D, if in doubt we turn people away. However, in the online world, we don’t always take the same level of precautions; to our cost and cybercriminals gain.
Technology moves fast, it is difficult to keep up with all the new security precautions that we should all have in place. What’s more, as cybercriminals’ tactics evolve so must our security measures and our online behavior.
The following tips and hints will help you to put in place some security measures that should enable you to stop leaving your cyber doors and windows wide open. This makes it harder for online thieves and scammers to access your private information, your cash, and your identity.
- Make full use of the security your devices offer you. If they use fingerprint recognition, use it. If they have pin or security codes either instead of or as well as fingerprints use them and choose your numbers carefully – don’t use birthdays or anything easy to guess (please, please, please do not use ‘123456’ etc.). These days many of us use our phones to pay for things. We have online banking apps, leave shopping apps like Amazon, Apple Store, or eBay. And we often leave them open. We also have social media on our phones, again often left open. So, if you leave your phone somewhere, or someone takes it out of your bag or pocket what will they have access to? Have a really good think about this and make the changes you can to ensure a better level of security.
- In the same way that you would check someone’s ID if they knocked on your door, you should perform similar checks when you receive emails and phone calls. Are you expecting a call or email from this person/company? Is the logo right? Are there spelling mistakes? Have they referred to you by your full name? Is the address that the email is being sent from right? Or is it too long? Have other people been included in the ‘To’ section? Are you being asked to provide information such as bank or card details, or personal information? Are you being warned that you only have a limited time to provide such information before you get fined, or your account is closed? All or any of these inconsistencies are a red flag that all is not as it should be and that you might be being ‘phished’. Do not click on links in emails, do not provide details to anyone in an email or over the phone. Instead, do not act straight away. Stop. Think. Re-read the email. Or consider the phone call. If you want to double-check then find your own paperwork for the company in question or search for them using your regular search engine and contact them that way to ask and to report the questionable email or call.
These simple steps are basic, but so is locking your front door.