Everyday actions you can implement to stay cyber safe

In a world where we’re constantly connected, you can’t be too careful when it comes to your safety online. Cybercrime has become even more of an alarming threat over recent years and with scam statistics on the rise, it’s important to be aware of the risks and what to look out for.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, an event that recognises the importance of staying safe online. To support this, we’re sharing simple yet effective measures you can consider implementing in your everyday life to protect yourself from cybercrime.

Set strong and unique passwords

Setting secure and unique passwords is paramount to keeping yourself safe online. It’s recommended you avoid using personal or common information as a password as this can be easier for people to guess. It’s also best to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts, as this will minimise risk in the event you are hacked.

Aim to create complex passwords that incorporate a longer combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. The Australian Cyber Security Centre also recommends using passphrases, which are a more secure version of passwords. Passphrases are made up of multiple words which makes them longer than a usual password, harder to guess but still easy enough for you to remember.   

Use multi-factor authentication

Adding multi-factor authentication where you can and having to prove your identity will ensure important accounts have an additional layer of security. This makes your accounts more secure and significantly harder for people to access. When logging into an account, multi-factor authentication can verify your identity by prompting a PIN, using biometrics, or you can often set this up through apps on your devices.  

Avoid using public Wi-Fi for business and sensitive activities

Public Wi-Fi is often unsecured, which means there’s more risk of your data being compromised. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to avoid using public or unsecure networks for sensitive activities, such as banking or purchasing, sending emails, and logging into your accounts.

Add security to your devices

Always ensure your devices, such as mobile phone and laptop, have security measures in place so people can’t access them. For example, use a passcode or biometric authenticator for each device. When you’re not using your devices, ensure they’re locked and kept in a secure location, so they can’t be accessed.

Be smart with information you share on social media

Most people use social media and it’s a place where we share an endless amount of personal information. By sharing information online, such as your birthday, where you work, and information about family and friends, scammers can use this to guess your passwords or even steal your identity. It’s worthwhile to be cautious and make your accounts private to limit what information about you can be accessed.

Back up devices regularly and ensure software is up to date

Updated devices have newer security features and improved software, making it harder for cybercriminals to hack them. When your phone or laptop has a new software update available, it’s recommended to install this. It’s also important to regularly back up your devices to ensure you can recover data in the event your device fails, or you’re hacked. Cloud based services are a great way to back up data or you can use an external hard drive.

Be wary of emails and phishing

Scammers use phishing as way to target you and get personal information, such as log in, password and credit card details. Usually received by text or email, scammers pretend to be trusted organisations, such as banks. You can often identify if a communication is phishing, however it can also be difficult to recognise due to how cunning scammers can be. If you’re in doubt, don’t open or click on anything.

Report scams if you come across them

Being a victim of a scam can be an incredibly distressing and vulnerable time. Whether you’ve been targeted by a scam or fall victim to one, it’s important to report them as soon as possible. Reporting scams can help raise awareness to others and it can help you stay protected in the future.  

Educate yourself and your loved ones

Living in a digital world, most households and age groups have access to multiple smart devices, therefore it’s important to raise awareness about the possibility of scams and what to look out for. This will help people be more prepared in the event they are targeted. No matter our age, we all have the potential to be a victim of scams due to how convincing they can appear. The elderly in particular are vulnerable when it comes to hackers and scamming.

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