Cyber Security: Tips for staying safe online

Cyber attacks are a stressful for business owners. As most of us are aware, cyber criminals are becoming more active with new, more sophisticated ways to target businesses and individuals.

Everyone is susceptible to these cyber attacks but there are steps you can take to stay more protected.

A great way to keep on top of your cyber security is to take note of larger companies and copy their strategy. Companies that hold very sensitive user information like Betway, have invested heavily in cyber security to keep online gamers safe and global banks such as ANZ take every precaution to safeguard their customers from scams and fraud. Cyber criminals can be outplayed.  Another good way to protect your business or your individual accounts from cyber attacks is to stay on top of the latest cyber security threats, so you can better understand and protect yourself and your business.

Below, we’ve outlined the top 10 steps we recommend you take to help prevent cyber attacks.

Stay up to date

Keep your applications and operating system (e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux) current with the latest system updates. You’ll notice you regularly get alerted to an update for your device or one of your apps. Most people ignore these alerts, but don’t – install these updates as soon as possible.

New updates aren’t just about adding new features. One of the main functions of a system update is to fix vulnerabilities in a device or an app that attackers could find and use to gain access to your system. It’s recommended to turn on automatic updates to prevent potential attacks on older software. If your device won’t allow system updates anymore, we recommend that you upgrade to a newer model.

Strong Passwords

Are you finding it hard to keep track of all your online passwords? You’re not alone. Many of us use the same password for all of our accounts or stick to two or three different ones. By doing this, it will make you more susceptible to hackers. If a cyber attacker gets access to one of your account passwords, it often gives them access to many of your other accounts as well.

Use different user ID and password combinations for your different accounts and avoid writing them down. Try using a password manager, such as 1password which will store and manage your passwords for you. The password manager will be the only account you need to remember login details for. Think about using a short phrase or add a few random words together to create a passphrase, rather than a password. Passphrases are usually stronger and easier to remember than passwords. You can add a mix of letters, numbers and symbols to make your passphrase more complex.

Review the passwords for some of the accounts you’ve had for a while and change them on a regular basis.

Install security systems

Every online user will benefit from using Firewalls. They’re your first line of defence as they block connections to unknown, often dangerous sites. Firewalls will keep out some viruses and hackers – so make sure your Firewall is activated. Use anti-virus/malware software, this will help you detect and remove malware/viruses from your computer system.

If you don’t have antivirus installed already, consider investing in it. Check out this article by antivirusguide for the best software to use. Purchase a legitimate antivirus from a well-known, trusted company and avoid downloading any free antivirus software online, as many of the ones you see advertised for free are fake. Take it a step further by installing anti-spyware software to block and prevent spyware from infiltrating your computer.

Note: anti-virus software must be regularly updated.

Back-up your data

This may be the easiest way to help secure your online activities, by backing-up the data on your devices.

Simply copying your data to a separate location is one of the most important things you can do. If you do fall to a cyber attack you may not be able to access or use your computer, phone, or any of your other devices. Fortunately, if you’ve backed your data up you won’t lose any of it.

You can either get an external hard-drive and do an ‘offline’ or ‘cold’ backup, or sign up to a cloud based service like Dropbox and do a cloud backup. It is recommended to back-up your files regularly, at least every week. Take a look at this article by CNET to figure out the best hard-drive for you.

Wifi can be vulnerable

Wi-Fi (wireless) networks at home are vulnerable to intrusion if they are not properly secured. Review and modify default settings. Public Wi-Fi, known as “Hot Spots”, are also vulnerable. Avoid conducting financial or corporate transactions on these networks. It’s good to be careful about what you do online when you’re using a hotspot or free wifi. If you’re logging on at a cafe – these networks are often unsecure, when a network’s unsecure, anyone can access it and get hold of your data.

Going online in public also means you’re at risk of people ‘shoulder surfing’ – looking over your shoulder to try and see the login details for your online accounts.

Social media stalking

Most of the world spends time on social network platforms and it’s become very normal to share/display personal information for others to see. The information you post on your Facebook profile, your Twitter feed or your Instagram account can be used to steal your identity or hack into your online accounts.

First, think about all the seemingly insignificant pieces of information that you’ve shared on your Facebook feed or profile, such as your dog’s name … and now think about some of the passwords you’ve created. This window into your life not only lets your friends and family know what you’re up to, it also gives cyber criminals information that they can use to access your data or steal your identity.

Check the security settings of your social media accounts and make sure you set them to ‘private’.

Protect your e-identity

Be cautious when giving out personal information such as your name, address, phone number or financial information – some websites are secure and some are dangerous, so make sure that when you’re making online purchases you’re not walking into a scam.

Scams, fraud and phishing emails all attempt to trick you into giving away your personal information or your financial details — often by pretending to be a legitimate business, like a bank. It’s good to be aware of this so you can work out what’s a genuine request and what isn’t. A recent story involving malicious apps sheds some light on understanding this world and avoiding becoming a victim.

Organisation’s that handle sensitive information such as customer monetary details like Betway can’t take any risks and use encryption technology to protect electronic data. You too can encrypt sensitive files.

Check your bank statements

Regularly check your bank statements for suspicious activity, such as purchases or transfers between accounts that you aren’t expecting. If you see any unusual activity, contact your bank immediately. Seeing someone else transfer funds in your bank account or making unexpected charges to your credit card could be the first tip-off you get that someone has access to your accounts or credit card information.

Think before you click

Avoid being scammed by understanding what you click on. Think twice before clicking a link or file of unknown origin.

Don’t feel pressured by any emails. Check the source of the message and when in doubt, verify the source. Never reply to emails that ask you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password. Read the latest articles on phishing attacks to understand the modern ways cyber criminals can trick you into clicking a dangerous link .

Contact the correct people to help

If you are a victim of a cyber attack, if you encounter illegal Internet content, or if you suspect identity theft or a commercial scam – report this to your local police.

If you need help with maintenance or software installation on your computer, consult your service provider or a certified computer technician.


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