5 Tips to Stay Safe Online

The internet has the capabilities of enriching all of our lives, but it also has the capabilities to do quite the opposite. With hacks, scams, malware, and cybercriminals lurking dangerously in the shadows, you can never be too safe on the internet.

The recent hack of the HSE has highlighted that even the most robust layers of security can be penetrated. The good news is we have 5 tips for you today on how to stay safe online and greatly reduce exposure to the threats listed above.

1 – Create strong passwords

We know you’ve heard it all before, but creating strong, complex and unique passwords for all your accounts is probably the best way to keep all your personal information safe and secure.

One of the biggest concerns in the modern era for internet security is hackers. They tend to target companies and the Government and the subsequent data breach that may come from that could reveal hundreds of thousands of user passwords. If all your passwords are the same, across a host of websites and accounts, the hacker can take your leaked password(s) and access all your accounts. You can counter this by having different passwords for every account. A password book, where you physically have to write in your passwords, will assist you in not having to remember them all off the top of your head.

2 – Be careful what you download

Unfortunately, there is a significant number of malicious websites out there on the web. A malicious website is a site that seeks to install malware on your device. This malware can possibly gather your personal information and allow unauthorised access to the machine you are using.

Having anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your computer can defend against these kind of threats. There is free antivirus software available online, but truth be told they may not be as effective as one you pay for. You can get very good anti-virus software for less than €25 a year.

Some common malware symptoms include: strange ads or pop-up windows appearing on your computer and a sudden lack of storage space.

3 – Know how to spot phishing emails

I think we have all at some point in our life received an email claiming that if you reply or click a link, you will be instantly given €500,000 or some other ridiculous prize. Those are the easy to spot phishing emails.

Phishing emails have evolved over time and become far more sophisticated. Some phishing emails will be disguised as looking legitimate, may even come from a legitimate looking email address and have graphics corresponding to the company they are pretending to be.

Some tips to spot these kind of emails include:
• The sender’s email address doesn’t match the company
• Typos
• The email contains multiple requests to click on a link
• Requests for personal information

Banks, financial institutions and Government Departments will never ask for personal information such as bank details over email.

If you are unsure whether an email is phishing, simply call up the person or company that would be behind the email to confirm its legitimacy.

4 – Watch what you post on social media

We live in an age of social media where all major milestones in one’s life is posted online. However, its very easy to share personal information online unintentionally. It could be as simple as sharing a picture of your driver’s licence to show you passed your driving test or talking a picture of you working with personal information visible on the screen. Scan your eyes over any images before you upload them.

5 – Only shop on secure sites

Online shopping has taken major strides in recent times but that does not mean it’s always safe. One of the best indicators of a safe website is one that is running HTTPS, which means the site has a security certificate that safeguards visitors’ personal information by encrypting their data. You are able to check whether a side runs on HTTPS by double-clicking on the padlock in the top left corner beside the URL.

Article written by:

Peter Farrelly is part of the Digital Marketing team within Servisource Workforce Solutions.