10 tips to stay safe online

Cyberspace is expanding rapidly, and so are the risks associated with it. The more we hear about scams, hacks, malware and other threats, the more the Internet feels like a dangerous place – which, to some extent, it is.

Cyber crimes not only target technological weaknesses in organisational procedures but also exploit users. It doesn’t matter if you’re employed in a mature organisation or still pursuing your studies – if you have access to the Internet, you are at risk. That’s why staying safe online is a major concern for Internet users.

Our book of the month for October, Security in the Digital World, offers indispensable personal digital security advice that can help you protect your privacy and stay safe online. Let’s look at the top 10 tips:

1.    Secure your device

Antivirus software can help you stay safe online by detecting malicious software and preventing it from infecting your machine. Remember to configure auto updates in your antivirus tool to make sure your settings are in line with your operating system’s updates and your browsing habits. You should also run regular scans on your devices.

2.    Manage your accounts

Password security is one of the most important – and yet most ignored – aspects of online safety. Simple passwords are easy to remember and easy to crack, so you should create bulletproof passwords that are difficult to guess. Ideally, your passwords should be strong and unique: at least 8-10 characters long with a mix of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Also, just as you wouldn’t use the same key for all your locks, you shouldn’t use the same password for all your accounts.

Multi-factor authentication can also come to your rescue. It provides an additional layer of security by verifying your identity via multiple channels; for instance, as well as your password, you may also be required to enter a verification code or a passphrase.

3.    Have a private life

While you may be tempted to share what’s going on in your life with everyone else, it’s better to keep some things to yourself. You should remain particularly cautious when it comes to sharing personal information online, as it can be used to impersonate you, conduct identity theft, or even expose you to physical danger.

4.    Be security aware

With new cyber crimes surfacing every day, it appears that the Internet is a fertile breeding ground for deception. You should keep yourself informed of the latest security threats and scams so that you can avoid falling victim.

5.    Manage your information

It’s entirely possible that someone might decide to impersonate you online for dubious purposes, so keep track of what happens under your name. Google can come in handy to help you manage your information: search your name at least once a month to keep tabs on the online content relating to you.

6.    Build a secure web browser

Securing your web browser will make sure you have additional protection while surfing the Internet. Using an ad blocker enhances your online experience by removing annoying advertisements that might be infected with malware. You can also set up a VPN (virtual private network) on your mobile devices to create a secure Internet connection. Avoid sharing personal details or financial data over public Wi-Fi networks, as they’re often unsecured.

7.    Manage home networks

Configure comprehensive security software to fortify your defences against criminal hackers. Security software often includes a firewall, which creates an electronic fence to block unauthorised access to your devices. This ensures that all the devices connected to your network are secure.

8.    Shop clever

Online fraud is a major concern for consumers in the Asia-Pacific region. Around 71% of individuals are now involved in e-commerce activities, with one in five customers already falling victim to online scams.

When shopping online or providing your credit card or bank account details to a website, check that the site address starts with ‘HTTPS’ (the ‘S’ stands for ‘secure’) or is marked by a padlock icon next to the address bar. This demonstrates that the website is secure and encrypted, so criminal hackers can’t intercept your information. Keep an eye out for anything suspicious, such as bad grammar or misspellings, to discern between scammers masquerading as retailers and legitimate websites.

9.    Regularly review your security

With cyber threats ever advancing, security does not stand still. You need to keep pace with the emerging security threats, scams and malware to effectively guard yourself against them. Update your security software regularly, and act quickly if you notice anything amiss.

10.Think twice before clicking

Remember, careless clicking can invite danger. From phishing emails to clickbait and “free” offers, criminals use a number of methods to entice you into clicking harmful links that can put your personal online security at risk.

Although technology helps filter out unsafe emails to some extent, 24% of all phishing emails can pass through spam filters, according to the Mimecast Email Security Risk Assessment. So, before clicking on anything online, you should evaluate its authenticity and consider the potential consequences, only proceeding when you have determined it is safe to do so.

Strengthen your defences against cyber criminals

This must-have guide features simple explanations, examples and advice to help you remain vigilant in the digital age.

Learn how to:

  • Protect your information;
  • Secure your home network and protect your family from cyber crime;
  • Prevent identity theft when shopping online or using contactless payment; and
  • Keep your children safe while surfing the Internet.

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