Cyber security has been receiving a lot more attention in the press of late. Some large and well-known corporations have been affected by breaches and data loss but cyber security is something we all need to consider. Personal breaches can cause loss of our personal information or cause financial loss.
The following steps will help you improve you security and assist with spotting a potential hack or scam.
1. Turn on multifactor or two factor systems if possible
An example of multifactor (or two factor authentication) is when you login to do some online banking and to transfer money or pay bills your bank may request you to enter a code that has been sent to you via SMS.
It’s also recommended you use multifactor when logging into any system if its available. For example you can enable this on your Facebook account by:
- Clicking the Account down arrow on the top right corner of the website
- Click the Security and Login section on the left
- Then enable Use Two Factor authentication and follow the steps to setup.
- Use SMS if you don’t have a smart phone or use both SMS and an authenticator app if you have a smart phone.
If you use other services like Online Banking, Hotmail, Microsoft Office Online, Gmail or Google Services such as YouTube, you should also enable these features in the account settings provided they’re available.
2. Use a password manager
The Apple and Google password managers are quite good, FREE and built into most major systems (MacOs\IOS and Android\Chrome).
The good thing about these is they usually work automatically, suggest strong passwords, and remember them for you!
If you want more features you could look at a paid subscription to LastPass or Dashlane. When you use these systems it’s much easier to use a different password for different systems preventing hackers who might have access your Facebook account, from accessing your Twitter account as well.
3. Passwords – the bigger the better
Twelve-character passwords or more are recommended, but you can really improve your password strength by using two word passwords.
A password such as “Tuesday24” isn’t strong and would be at risk. However if you change your method just a little and consider using numbers and a phrase or two words that have meaning you are hardening your password security significantly. This is also going to improve your protection if you aren’t able to enable two factor or multifactor options.
An example of a great password might be a mixture of things you love and can remember. Pet names, with favourite colours, hobbies, sports and dates are perfect. Eg Rover8myFootball82.
4. Don’t click!
Links that are delivered via email, sometimes called hyperlinks are also quite risky.
Emails are easy to hack, impersonate and infiltrate for the purposes of fraud, username and password theft.
If you receive an email requesting you to click a link, avoid it unless you are able to confirm it really is from the source. Hyperlinks in email often carry what is called a “phishing” link which might request you to enter your username and password which would then capture this for use by a hacker to infiltrate a system. They can be hard to spot, so be really cautious of any links in email even if you think its from someone you know.
A quick call or text to a mate to confirm could make all the difference.
5. Phone scams and identity theft
Phone scams and identity theft can be hard to identify but if someone has called you from overseas or from an unfamiliar number and you don’t know them, or the company they’re from, then it’s likely to be a scam.
We can only really suggest being careful giving anyone on the phone your personal details unless you are familiar with them or the verification processes the company use. If it seems strange, then that’s when you might want to just hang up especially if they start asking for your personal details and logon information.
A good way to verify someone is from the company they say they’re from is to politely say I will call you back in a few minutes, hang up and call back via their hotline or contact centre numbers published on there website, bills or other documentation you have.
Anyone can say they’re from anywhere!
Want to really test your password strength?
We typed in the following password combinations to see how long it would take to crack them.
You can see it really pays to be a bit creative with your passwords.
|The time it would take a computer to crack this password
|1 trillion years
|3 sextillion years