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How to stay safe online

24 August, 2021

The internet has become a foundational element of our daily lives. From work lives which increasingly demand constant internet access to leisure time which leans on streaming, browsing and gaming, living online is more common than ever.

However, it’s not without risk.

A report by CNBC revealed that hackers targeted small businesses 43% of the time, trying to take advantage of the fact that they are often more vulnerable due to the lack of security measures and IT security knowledge within the company.

Online threats come in a wide variety of formats, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify the threats, as cybercriminals invent more sophisticated attacks to outsmart security software and unsuspecting employees.

That's why we've put together this essential guide to staying safe online with simple, actionable and effective tips. Let's get started.

Our top tips for staying safe online

Protect your emails by using a strong and separate password

Your email account should have a strong password that is not easy to guess, but is easy to remember

Avoid using personal information such as your name, birthday or username. The longer the password, the stronger it will be, and you should try to include numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters. The simplest method is to pick three unique, unconnected words and combine them with characters and numbers, like “Fan5Field3Shock!”. It’s easy to remember and virtually impossible to crack.

It’s also important to have unique passwords for different logins. That way, if one account is compromised, you aren’t susceptible to a chain reaction of breaches that expose your online presence.

Install the latest software and app updates

Software developers work tirelessly to patch security holes in their products, so don’t let their efforts go to waste, make sure that apps and web plugins are always up to date.

Additionally, install effective security software such as antivirus protection, firewalls and network security. They won’t stop you making a mistake, but they can sometimes offer a layer of protection against known malware.

Turn on two-factor authentication

Having two-factor authentication helps to protect your accounts from unauthorised access by strengthening your online accounts with an added layer of protection in addition to a username and password.

This often takes the form of a code texted to your phone, or sent to your email address, that confirms you are who you say you are. It’s a quick, simple and effective way to help protect your accounts - even if your password is compromised.

Use a password manager

Using a free or paid for password manager is one of the safest ways to manage multiple passwords and make sure you do not end up locked out of your account if you forget a password.

The problem with having a unique password for each service you use (and you definitely should have a unique password for each) is that it quickly means remembering hundreds of passwords.

That’s why you should be using a dedicated password manager, not only do these tools remember all your passwords for you, they can even suggest a strong password automatically on new websites.

Secure smartphones and tablets with a screen lock

Smartphones and tablets are convenient to carry around, but they are also more likely to get lost or stolen than larger devices. It is therefore imperative that you use a screen lock on smartphones and tablets to prevent people from being able to access apps you have on your phone.

If you have Apple Pay or a similar smartphone payment app that you use, a screen lock can stop people from using it before you have a chance to contact the bank to cancel the card it is linked to.

Always backup your most important data

If you lose a device or it gets damaged, backups ensure that you don’t lose all of your data.

There are lots of different ways to do this, depending on the size of data you are backing up and your preference for how often you want to back up. For example, you can perform physical backups by plugging in an external hard drive and backing up your data there. Alternatively, you can use cloud storage to back up data. The choice is yours!

Stay up to date with online security training

Regularly training yourself and your team on online security can ensure that you’re all aware of the latest cyber threats and understand the actions and measures that you can take to stay protected.

Bob’s Compliance from Bob’s Business gives you and your team full access to our 50+ strong catalogue of cybersecurity and compliance eLearning courses, including Web Woes, from just £1.39 per month. Learn more here.

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