7 Security Habits To Keep You Safe Online

Whether it be social media interaction, online shopping, or everyday corporate web use; you are the first line of defense against a potential security breach when browsing the internet. A safer user means a safer workforce – you and your colleagues will benefit from having a more robust online business network.

The following 7 PC habits take only minutes to learn but will quickly be established as part of your everyday online routine.

1. Create Solid Passwords

Passwords are the virtual key to your online world – and only you should be able to open the door. They are the primary, and often sole, security measure to prevent unauthorized access.

  • The majority of websites will advise you whether or not the password you have chosen is a strong one at the time of creation: ensure that a weak password is disregarded and create a solid passcode to give yourself the best possible start regarding online protection.
  • Do not chose a password consisting of your name, age, common words, or acronyms – even if in a foreign language.
  • Do not prefix or suffix passwords with numbers or recognized keyboard patterns, e.g., ‘QWERTY9’.
  • Choose nonsensical words or phrases. Make it as difficult as possible for a potential cyber hacker or password-cracking system to compromise your online information and use lesser known letters and characters wherever possible.
  • The use of a random password generator such as 1Password is advised for both the choosing and storing of unique passwords.

2. Lock Your Computer Screen

Many people forget to disable their PC when they leave the terminal,and it takes only seconds for your online information to be compromised.

To prevent private information becoming public, simply press CRTL+ALT and DELETE buttons and choose the option ‘Lock This Computer’. The passcode feature should be employed on smartphones and other technical devices – it isn’t solely computers that are vulnerable to prying eyes.

3. Ensure The Safety Of Portable Devices

Tablets, phones, and laptops are all designed with convenience in mind; however, it is these portable devices which are prone to being misplaced or stolen.

To minimize the security risk, ensure that you do the following:

  • Take note of all phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses required in order to report any loss or theft. –For Example, if using our Email Hosting Service, you’ll want to give us a call if you lose your phone so we can remotely wipe your phone, protecting your confidential emails and other phone data.
  • Use a hardware cable lock to secure laptops; alternatively, keep in a locked draw.
  • Always keep smartphones and tablets on your person when in public.
  • When checking in baggage, keep devices close to you by storing them in hand luggage.

4. Protect information on mobile devices and removable data

Portable devices and removable data (such as USB drives) are a convenient way of transporting information; however, it is this convenience that makes them vulnerable. It is equally as important to protect information on these devices as it is the devices themselves. Always do the following:

  • Enabling and accepting software updates.
  • Regularly backing up information.
  • Erasing all data prior to disposing of, or giving away, a mobile device.
  • Encrypting data wherever possible.
  • Ensuring anti-virus software is installed and up-to-date.

5. Identify URL’s before clicking on them

Criminals commonly disguise a malicious link with a seemingly legitimate URL. Hover your cursor over the URL and a pop-up will activate showing the real destination – never click on a URL without checking its legitimacy.

For URL shorteners, simply add a + sign at the end of the URL to check it’s destination. For QR codes, use a reader app that allows you to view the true source before clicking on the link. When downloading mobile apps and software, always use a reliable source such as Google Play, Java, or Microsoft.

6. Ensure The Safety Of Public Wi-Fi Use

Use extra precautions when using public wi-fi. It is far riskier than using personal or business use wireless internet as you cannot determine its security set-up.

  • Do not access sensitive business or personal accounts.
  • Be mindful of ‘shoulder surfing’ – be it from a person or security camera.
  • Ensure that the websites you use begin HTTPS and have a lock icon.
  • Do not use public computers to access personal accounts.
  • Use only for general web browsing – checking restaurant menus or weather forecasts, for example.

7. Be Mindful When Posting To Social Media

Social media is a fun and convenient way of staying in touch with loved ones and friends, but be cautious about what you post on these sites. Always take the following precautions:

  • Comply with any business rules of conduct regarding social media access and usage.
  • Keep personal information private – ensure that your friends, colleagues, and family do the same.
  • Be careful when asked to play games or complete online surveys – there may be an element of risk, particularly if they have been suggested by other people.
  • Review and maintain the highest possible security settings on your social media account.

Criminal tactics are becoming more an more sophisticated, so it is important to ensure the highest level of cyber security now more than ever. Bad habits are hard to break; but good habits, used daily, quickly become part of your everyday routine. Always take responsibility for protecting yourself and your colleagues from online security threats, and for establishing a safer, happier workplace.

Have any other good suggestions? Comment below and share your best security habits with us!

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