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This Month’s Feature

Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day

A Better Internet Starts With You


Safer Internet Day is now celebrated globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology.

Here are some steps we can all take to stay safe online:

Create complex passwords – Create strong, unique passwords for all your critical accounts.  Corporate hacks are commonplace now.  One database breach can reveal tens of thousands of user passwords.  If you reuse your passwords, a hacker can take the leaked data from one attack and use it to log in to your other accounts.  The best advice is to use a password manager to help you create and store strong passwords for all your accounts.

Boost your network security – Now that your logins are safer, make sure that your connections are secure.  When you are at home or at work a password-protected router will encrypt your data.  When you are out and about you might be tempted to use free, public Wi-Fi.  But this is often unsecured, which means it’s relatively easy for a hacker to access your device or information.  If you access the internet a lot when you are away from home it’s worth investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN).  This is a piece of software that creates a secure connection over the internet, so you can safely connect from anywhere.

Use a firewall – This is an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorised access to your computers and devices.  It is often included with comprehensive security software.  A firewall ensures that all the devices connected to your network are secured, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart thermostats and webcams.  This is important since many IoT devices aren’t equipped with their own security measures, giving hackers a vulnerable point of entry to your entire network.

Watch what you click – Many of today’s online threats are based on phishing or social engineering, when you are tricked into revealing personal or sensitive information for fraudulent purposes.  Spam emails, phony “free” offers, online quizzes all use these tactics to entice you to click on dangerous links or give up your personal information.

Share selectively – Be cautious about what you share, particularly when it comes to your identity information.  Information could be used to impersonate you, or guess your passwords and logins.

Think mobile! – Mobile devices face new risks: dangerous apps and fraudulent links sent by text message.  Don’t respond to messages from strangers, and only download apps from official app stores after reading reviews first.  Make sure that your security software is enabled on your mobile, just like your computers and other devices.

By Ian McMullan