Staying safe online

The internet is, without doubt, a modern wonder of the world and has transformed the way we communicate but, as it’s relatively new, we’re still discovering the true extent of some of its biggest dangers. The rise of cyber crime in recent times, for one, has been alarming. The prospect of having your personal information published online is incredibly distressing and the feeling of being left vulnerable as a result is something that up to 1.2 million people are experiencing right now in the aftermath of the TalkTalk data breach.

There are several measures you can take to reduce the risk of being hacked – here are some principles I stick to for staying safe online…

Stay up to date

As well as keeping your anti-virus software up to date, make sure you’ve installed the most recent versions of everything else you use online. This includes browers and, if you use blogging software like WordPress, plugins. It’s logical really – the older software is, the more opportunity hackers have had to explore and exploit its weak spots.

Protect your passwords

This sounds obvious, but too many people still have a very basic approach to passwords. Change yours regularly and use strong ones that people or bots can’t guess easily. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters that doesn’t represent something personal to you. Also, use different ones for different websites and don’t store them anywhere on your computer.

Be cautious with email

Email is the Achilles heel of the internet as it enables anyone to send you anything. Again, this may seem a little basic, but phishing scams must work otherwise they wouldn’t be sent. Don’t visit links if you don’t trust them. Similarly, never open attachments unless you’re sure they’re safe – even if they’re from someone you know as they could have been hacked. Phishing scams are getting more convincing so, if you’re in doubt about an email, contact the organisation or person it’s from to make sure. It’s well worth the extra couple of minutes this will take.

This is all very well, but what about when you’re using the internet via a mobile device? To help people make sure their personal data is secure online, Dell has created the following infographic about mobile security…

An animated infographic showing stats about mobile malware.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.

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