6 Essential Cybersecurity Tips to Protect Yourself Online

6 Essential Cybersecurity Tips to Protect Yourself Online

Whether you’re protecting yourself or your business, implementing cybersecurity practices is vital.

Nowadays, our data – including our personal and financial information – is our most precious commodity, and hackers and bad actors online seek to exploit this at every opportunity.

With this in mind, here are 6 essential cybersecurity tips to help you stay safe online.

1. Learn to recognise phishing.

Countless have fallen prey to phishing; even those who consider themselves cybersecurity savvy are vulnerable to the super-sophisticated tactics of the modern-day email phisher.

Online phishers typically target their victims via social media, scannable QR codes (more recently) and – most commonly – through email to steal personal information and access individual accounts.

Often, phishing emails contain links that, when clicked, direct the user to a malicious website or download malignant software. Other links can take you to a copycat version of a trusted website and convince you to log in using your details, giving the bad actor access to your accounts (and probably locking you out of them in the process).

Frequently, phishers will use an email similar to that of a trusted website, brand or organisation so that the person receiving the email mistakes it as being from a trusted source. 

If you have any doubt about an email you’ve received, search for the email/phone number of the organisation emailing online and get in touch to check if the email is really from them – and remember, no legitimate organisation will ask you to send personal details over email.

Recently, phishers have been using ‘unsubscribe’ email scams, sending victims emails and offering the option to ‘click unsubscribe’ to stop receiving these emails. However, these links let scammers know that your email is active, and the links can be used to achieve a number of the phishing goals outlined above.

2. Use a password manager.

Too many of us use the same passwords for multiple accounts, meaning that if a hacker or phisher manages to take hold of one account, they’re more than likely to access your others, too.

What’s more, many of us don’t make our passwords complex enough – and they usually have a particular significance to us, rather than random, making them more easily guessed.

Consider using a password manager to keep all your accounts secure and protect your personal and financial information. Password managers store unique, complex passwords for your different online accounts, so the only login details you need to remember are to the password manager itself.

3. Opt-in to two-factor authentication.

As mentioned above, bad actors’ online passwords are too easily stolen.

For this reason, many online accounts offer the option to enforce 2-step verification. An additional code, a piece of information, or even a fingerprint can be used to verify that you are trying to access your account.

This prevents hackers from stealing your accounts and personal info – even if they manage to get their hands on your password(s).

4. Keep your software updated.

Whether it’s your computer software or the apps you use on your phone, to ensure your devices stay secure, you should update your software whenever there are new updates. 

More than adding new features and improving the software’s function, updates contain extra security features that rectify any vulnerabilities that were there previously. By not updating your software, you make it vulnerable to interference – and, resultantly, put your whole device at risk.

So, whenever there are new software updates, download them as soon as possible. Or, better yet, set your device settings to download updates when they’re released automatically.

5. Install antivirus & anti-malware.

A cybersecurity tip dating back to the dawn of the internet, downloading antivirus and anti-malware software is essential to keep your devices and personal data secure.

It’s a good idea to run your antivirus/anti-malware regularly to detect any malicious software that may have found its way onto your computer to remove it before it can compromise your device or personal accounts.

However, always ensure that the antivirus software you use is from a trusted and reputable company – several programs advertised for free online are viruses and not something you want to download onto your computer.

6. Back up your data.

Even if you’re incredibly careful, your device or accounts may become compromised by hackers, viruses or other bad actors.

To prevent losing important data and information from your devices and accounts, make sure to back up your data often – ideally, each week – either on physical storage devices, a cloud-based storage service, or both.

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