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John Prescott, head of technology at Activ Technology shares some top tips when it comes to remaining safe online.

Data and security protection is critical and when under threat can leave a business in a very vulnerable position.

Here are some top tips to help you remain safe online.

Create complex passwords – It goes without saying but users often don’t do this. Creating unique passwords for all of your critical accounts is one of the best ways to keep your data safe. Remembering them all is a challenge, so I would advise you to use a password manager for example: LastPass (www.lastpass.com) to help you store and create strong passwords for all of your accounts.

Passwords should be 8 digits long, a combination of uppercase and lowercase as well as characters and numbers and, where available, use multi-factor authentication. Most importantly, use a password that you will not forget!

Network Security – Having secured your logins, ensure you have a safe connection. Be mindful that when away from the office and using public WI-FI, this can often be unsecure and your login information can be tracked putting you at risk of fraud. If you can use the data on your mobile then use it as it is generally more secure and faster too.

Use a Firewall – Despite the fact your network may be secure, I would advise you still use a desktop firewall. Using a firewall ensures that all of the devices connected to your network are secured, including Internet of Things (IOT) devices like thermostats and webcams. This is crucial, as many IOT devices are not equipped with built-in security measures. Hackers can be provided with entry points to your network.

Be Smart when clicking – Careless clicking can invite unwanted threats. Watch out for spam emails, ‘free’ offers, click bait, online quizzes and many more tactics to entice you to click on harmful links.

If you do suspect your PC has a virus, we advise you contact Activ Technology and don’t use the PC to log onto secure sites until we have advised you.

Be a selective sharer – Keep thinking and be selective who you share your personal information with as this can lead to people impersonating you. Be very careful on social media sites with posts that entice you into revealing security information like your first pet’s name, or where you were born.

Protect your mobile life – Our mobile devices can be just as vulnerable to online threats as our laptops and PCs. Risks such as unverified apps and unreliable links can be sent across via text message.

Practice safe surfing and shopping – Always make sure a website you are browsing starts with the address ‘https’ instead of just ‘http’ and has a padlock icon in its URL field. This is a sign the website is secure and encryption is used to gather your data making sure it is not used by others.

Keep up-to-date with software – Keeping all your software updated so you have the latest security patches. I recommend you turn on automatic updates. Set your security software to run regular scheduled scans and try not to delay restarts when requested.

Be alert to the latest scams – Online threats are a regular occurrence, so be alert! Here at Activ Technology we have had calls claiming to be from BT and Microsoft who say we have a virus on our computer system. In the interest of research with our last call, we played along as they claimed to know about our computer by taking us through a series of tests designed to make us think our computer had a virus. What some users may not realise is that they get you to install a “fix” which is actually malicious software designed to obtain information, logins and passwords. I recently spoke to someone who had their bank account cleared doing this. My advice would always be that a legitimate company would not call you claiming that you have a virus on your PC.

Finally, always err on the side of caution with your online activity via the sites you visit and share. It is crucial to use comprehensive security software and make sure to back up your data on a regular basis.

 

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