Top Tips to Staying Safe Online



Complex Passwords

Passwords are certainly an annoyance for most normal people. Having to remember which one is for which site and so on. However, in this day and age, it is more important than ever to ensure your passwords are as complex as possible. A recent study of compromised machines globally found that the top 5 passwords were:

  1. 123456

  2. password

  3. 12345678

  4. qwerty

  5. 11111

The rule of thumb for any password, particularly ones you use online is:

  1. At least 8 Characters containing a combination of Capital Letters, Lowercase Letters, Numbers and Symbols.

  2. Don’t use Names, dates of births, consecutive numbers or consecutive letters (be it alphabetical of on a keyboard).

Whilst this will certainly help you to maintain your Online Security, it probably won’t help your sanity in trying to remember every password. Which is where a Password Manager would come in very handy.

Password Managers are programs that can securely store all of your credentials (Usernames and corresponding Passwords) locally on a device such as a PC, Mac or Smartphone, or remotely through an online portal. The Password Manager is than accessible by one Master Password or in some cases by Face ID or Fingerprint recognition.

2 such recommended Password Managers are:

True Key

Supplied by McAfee, it is for free for up to 15 passwords or $19.95 per year for unlimited. Supports Windows, Mac, iOS and Android Devices

Norton Identity Safe

Supplied by Symantec, it is entirely free.

Also supports Windows, Mac, iOS and Android Devices

Trust no-one!!!

OK, this sounds a little drastic but, there are principles to bear in mind when dealing with people.

Don’t talk to strangers in the street!

I’m sure we all had this drummed into us as children, well the same principle applies to Technology today. The basics are as follows:

  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know on Social Networks (Facebook for example).

  • Don’t open attachments or click on links in an email unless you are 100% sure they are from someone you know.

  • Never give your personal details including banking details to anyone over email or by phone.

  • If you receive a phone call from anyone reporting that you have a problem with your PC or Mac and ask for remote access to resolve it, then it’s most likely a scam and you should hang up straight away. (Usually they would pretend to be from Telstra or similar)

  • Be wary of emails that are addressed indirectly. For example, “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Joebloggs@email.com” rather than Dear Joe.

  • Watch out for emails that report to be from a company such as a Bank, Government Organisation or Retailer and contain spelling mistakes. It’s more than likely a scam. Big Organisations employ copywriters to check e-mail content before they are sent out.

Use Anti-Virus software

This may sound like a no-brainer but, there are still many people that don’t use Anti-Virus Software on their Windows or Mac computers. Nowadays such software is not purely just to protect your computer from getting infected by a virus, they also protect against other forms of Malware that have the intent to either gain access or cause damage to a computer or Network. They can also protect against Ransomware, which is another form of Malware that has the intention of leaking personal data or blocking access to a person’s files unless a ransom is paid.

There are many free and paid AV programs that can be utilised. In no particular order, below are the ones we have used and recommend:

Malwarebytes

McAfee Total Protection

Symantec

All 3 support both Windows and Mac Computers, in addition to Smartphones in some cases.

Limit your Facebook profile visibility

It’s always a good idea to limit who can see what, when it comes to your Facebook profile. If you have certain things accessible to people that are not Friends or even Friends of Friends then, it’s very easy for people with a less than genuine reason to track your personal information, photos and posts. For example, you could be posting photos whilst you’re on holiday, which could inadvertently publicise that your home is empty.

There are privacy settings built into Facebook which can be configured accordingly. In your Facebook account go to:

Settings > Privacy Settings

We then recommend that you configure each setting as follows:


Or on your Smartphone:


Back-Up

As some might say, the Top rules to protecting your data:

  1. Back-up

  2. Back-up

  3. Back-up

We can't stress highly enough, how important it is to regularly back-up your computer and data. Not only in the case of if something should go wrong when online (Hackers, Virus…essentially anything mentioned before) but, also if something else should go wrong, such as a hardware failure.

Fortunately Apple has tools in-built to both Macs and the iOS devices. For Macs the utility is called Time Machine, which is used to back up the device to an External Drive and the iOS devices can back-up to iCloud and iTunes. In both cases, it’s highly recommended that these features are being utilised and utilised regularly.

In the case of Windows and Android phones, 3rd Party software is needed to back-up. It might be a case utilising a cloud storage provider, such as Dropbox or an External Drive from Seagate for example, which has backup software provided with the purchase of an External Drive. Again, it’s highly recommended that one of these methods is sought and are being utilised and utilised regularly.

nb. Tek Doctor has no commercial agreement with any of the vendors mentioned in this article.