There are many ways to stay safe online and protect yourself, here are some straightforward tips that can save you from falling into the hands of cyber criminals.
Be selective about what you share on social media, sharing phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses for example could help to build a profile of you by a hacker. A combination of the aforementioned details and say that you share information about the company that you work for, your position and your work email address would be a big mistake. It is possible to share these sorts of details over a period of months or even years without even realizing that you have done it, hackers look for this to prey on the people who use social media too casually.
Only share what you are happy to share and always remember that unscrupulous hackers and cyber criminals can see what you post. As your posts can be seen not only by your friends, but friends of friends too, many 'friends' on Facebook are completely unknown to the person, people will accept friend requests from strangers to boost their popularity after all who doesn't want to be more popular. You can never be sure who is watching your posts and viewing your newsfeeds so always bear that in mind.
Other social networks are also vulnerable in the same sort of way, watch what you share and be wary of responding to anyone asking for personal details or odd requests on any of the social media websites especially from people that you don't know. If in doubt don't respond or share anything that you feel uncomfortable with, however persuasive or innocent the request may seem.
The threat does not necessarily come from some hacker from the other side of the world, it can be far closer than you think. Always lock your computer when you are leaving it unattended. To lock your PC or laptop simply press the 'windows key' then the 'L' key.
Friends or colleagues could quite innocently open suspicious emails, open dangerous attachments or send less than savory emails from your email address. They could share sensitive personal information especially if you are still connected to social media websites, leaving your system open is never a good idea. Always try to remember 'lock and leave'.
Monitor Your Accounts
Whether it is your email accounts, your social media accounts or general website browsing of your online accounts, be wary of anything suspicious. Never open an email attachment that looks suspicious or from someone you don't know unless you are sure of its authenticity, if you receive an email with content that sounds too good to be true it probably is!
Look for strange requests for your account details, never give out your password unless you can be 100% sure it is from a legitimate source. Look for information on your accounts that you know wasn't there before or information that has been added/removed without your knowledge.
If you are concerned about your accounts at all, contact the company directly if you use email ensure it is their own email address that can be found on their website that you use, do not respond to any other type of email address as this could be a potential hacker trying to force you to download obtrusive files or attachments that could compromise your accounts and leave you vulnerable.
So many times backups are an after though or something you will do later, 'yes I will definitely do it before I finish today, oh no I haven't got the time I'll do it tomorrow definitely'. This can and does end in tears, the vast majority of the time you should be safe, but you should always expect the unexpected.
So much of your work or personal files, pictures and videos etc. can be there one minute and gone the next. I am not trying to scare you but to make you aware that no matter how long you have had your computer, no matter how reliable it has been, nothing is bulletproof.
There is not an operating system out there that is perfect or hardware that never fails. All systems are vulnerable to one degree or another, don't leave it until tomorrow as tomorrow could be too late!
At one time you could choose very simple passwords without the need to worry about them, but as time has gone on more complicated minimum password requirements have become essential because of the risks of being hacked. Most systems today require a minimum of 8 characters including upper case, lower case and special characters, one of the reasons for this is that hardware, software and network speeds have increased dramatically.
This means that hacking simple passwords can be done extremely quickly with hacking tools that can guess 1000's or even 10000's of thousand of passwords per second. Even more complicated passwords can be vulnerable, it is always a good idea to change your passwords on a regular basis to help to protect yourself.
One common vulnerability is using the same passwords on multiple sites, this is understandable as it is difficult to remember a whole host of different passwords and it is an easy option. However if your password is compromised on one website it means that your other website logons could be compromised to, needless to say this is not advisable.
These are straightforward tips that will help to keep you safer in the cyber connected world, many people will not use these steps to protect themselves and they will be more at risk. Don't get caught out, common sense and a little thought will go a long way to making your online experiences safer and more secure.