Guide: The Importance of Online Security
This guide is brought to you by CashLady online loans in order to help you become more aware of the threats and challenges our modern day holds. The risks of information loss, private information theft and misuse of your personal data is growing as more and more of our lives become digital.
Staying safe online means protecting your accounts, personal details and finances from cybercriminals. As cyber theft is more and more common, online security is becoming increasingly important, both for individuals and for companies. Most of us use the internet in some form or other, whether that’s online banking, buying products or goods, or even just to send emails – as cybercriminals become increasingly more sophisticated it’s important to make sure that the information you use online is properly protected.
What are the risks?
There are different types of risks to consider when looking at online security. Fraud, for example, is one of the most serious, whether that is identity fraud or credit card fraud. Viruses and malware pose a significant threat to hardware and can infect a laptop or desktop, corrupting files and making personal information available to someone else. Hacking is another risk – where passwords are either stolen or guessed at by cybercriminals and personal information, from bank details to email accounts, can be accessed as a result.
We use passwords for almost everything that we access online and these open the door to a vast array of personal data. Passwords are probably the most important security measure that we have and yet a report by the regulator Ofcom has revealed that more than half of us will use the same password for just about every online account. This means that, should a hacker be able to correctly guess – or steal – a password for one account, all they would have to do would be to try that password in each online account in order to gain access to all of them. Many of us also use easy to remember details for passwords – such as birthdays, parents’ maiden names and pet’s names – and a huge number of people opt for ‘password’ or ‘1234,’ which are two of the most hacked passwords in history.
An easy first step towards upping the levels of your online security is to go through anything that you access online and change your passwords. Make them ‘un-guessable’ i.e. choose something that doesn’t obviously relate to you, and then mix up letters, numbers and capitals so as to ensure that the password isn’t easy to take a stab at. It might be harder to remember a password that doesn’t make sense but that also makes it more difficult to hack.
Using your publicly available information for Identity fraud
We hear of a lot of cases where someones identity is stolen and then used top open bank accounts, fake internet accounts or used to apply for credit cards. You should always be careful on what you reveal online and protect your privacy. Some social media accounts, depending on your choice, should be made private so your personal data isn’t exposed. The less you reveal the harder it is for criminals to fake your identity and commit fraud.
Public social media accounts can reveal a lot of information about you such as where you live, where you hang out, who your friends and relatives are, whether you are abroad at the moment and so on… Don’t make it easy for criminals to know all about you and better be safe than sorry in this case.
When you deal with social media accounts or even a credit provider, make sure you are dealing with someone reputable and approachable, should you need to contact them. Here at Cashlady we take information security very seriously and protect your information using the highest standards.
Downloading and Phishing
Downloaded files are one of the main ways that viruses spread and yet many of us will still click on a link, regardless of the potential threat. If you don’t trust a website then don’t download anything from it, you’re simply asking for trouble if you do. Phishing is the way that cybercriminals attempt to obtain personal information by sending communication that looks like it might be official, for example, an email from a bank or building society about an account. Again, this often uses links that will take the user to a new page requesting personal information – if the link isn’t genuine then the information that is being input is going directly to the cybercriminal and can then be used to access bank accounts etc. It is always a good idea to check the validity of an email your receive that is requesting bank details or account details. Most companies and banks won’t ask you to provide your personal information in this way so emails of this type are often fraudulent.
Safe internet use
Safely navigating websites is a lot about using your own common sense, particularly when it comes to trying to determine whether a site is genuine. Before you put any information into a website check the site out thoroughly – look for contact information, Google the name of the site to see if it’s mentioned in any conversations as fraudulent and look closely at the content. Is it badly spelled, not really saying anything, or inaccurate? If that’s the case then it’s more than likely to be a fake site. Look out for the padlock symbol, which usually appears in the browser window – if it is not there then don’t put any personal details or bank information into the site. The padlock indicates that you are using a secure link and so if it’s not there, any information you input is at risk.
There are several risks when using Wi-Fi to go online. The first is having Wi-Fi at home that isn’t properly secured. This can result in other people, who are within range, being able to access your Wi-Fi network. They can then use up your download allowance, access sensitive information being sent or received online, download inappropriate material and take up bandwidth, resulting in slower service for you. In order to avoid issues like this, simply make sure your Wi-Fi is secure – you can check this by searching for networks to see whether yours comes up with a padlock symbol next to it.
The second major risk with Wi-Fi is that, if you’re using a public network, someone unauthorised could intercept your information online, from passwords to email content. To avoid issues like this, make sure you have anti-spyware, anti-virus programs on the device you are using to access Wi-Fi and, on a public network, don’t send or receive any private information. It’s also worth steering clear of any networks that don’t require an encryption key or a password – although these don’t guarantee security, if they are not required then you are far more at risk.
Downloading Apps on your Computer or Phone
Apps that you download and install on your phone or computer could gain access to your personal data and even scan your images if you allow them to. Some applications can gain lower level access to the OS and essentially do whatever they wish. Malicious software and viruses could trace and monitor your traffic for passwords or anything that is of interest to fraudsters.
It is essential you only download apps you fully trust and know their origin. It is unwise to install an application from an unknown provider or that is has very few installs. Potentially even well know apps could be hacked by hackers who then gain access to your data. Always maintain a backup of your files and try to keep passwords different across the platforms you use for either work or social needs.
Since most of our lives are now online or in the cloud, being careful online is more important than ever.