1. Change Default Passwords
When you buy a new device, the chances are that it comes with a ‘default’ password. It is trivial for criminals to find out what these passwords are. Whether it’s a smart lightbulb or a new router, check for a default password and ensure that you change it.
2. Use a Passphrase
Stop thinking about passwords, start thinking longer. A nine-character password can be brute forced in around 2 hours. A 12-character password? That would take about 2 centuries. Use three or four words to create a passphrase. Separate the words with numbers or special characters. Don't use obvious terms in your password such as names or dates of birth, make it random!
3. Use unique passphrases for every account.
You need to use a unique passphrase for every service. Why? If a criminal knows one of your passphrases, they will then try that password on as many services and websites available. Using a unique passphrase for every service ensures that criminals gain as little information about you as possible.
4. Use a Password Manager
Are you struggling to remember all your unique passphrases? This is where a password manager can help. TA password manager can help you create long and secure passphrases. All you need to remember is the one password to get in to your password manager.
5. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
Sometimes a passphrase just isn’t enough. Two-factor authentication means that once you have entered your password, you need to enter another code before you can get access to your account. This code is delivered to you either by a text message or an app on your device. Only once this has verified can you get in to your account. Does it slow the signing in process? Yes, but only a little and it means if you lose your password then the chances of someone else gaining access to your account is reduced.
6. Update devices and apps regularly
It can be frustrating when a device or an app you are using pops up and says that an update is available, and the temptation is to ask it to install later. This can be dangerous. Take five and let the app or device update, the chances are that this update includes a fix to a security problem. If a window in your house is broken you’d replace it as soon as possible. These updates may well be replacing a broken window somewhere in your system.
7. Be careful on Public Wi-Fi
The temptation when you are out and about is to log on to the free Wi-Fi that is everywhere. Before you do though, ask yourself what’s so important that you need to risk your security for. Criminals can do lots of things with public Wi-Fi from capturing the data that is being sent on the network to trick you into joining a malicious network.
If you have no choice but to use public Wi-Fi, make sure that you are using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
8. Be careful with Location Settings
Are you on holiday or out doing some Christmas shopping? Check the ‘location’ settings of your devices and social networks. Do people really need to know where you are? Criminals can use this information to build a picture of your daily habits. Many social media sites can ‘geotag’ your posts, so even if you are careful about not posting where you are, these sites may be betraying your location. A criminal may use your location to break into your house when you're not there, or use it to steal more information about you.
9. Check your Privacy Settings
Check the privacy settings, not just on your social media profiles but on all of your devices. Find out how much information they are sharing with third parties and change the settings to only share what you are comfortable with.
Back-up all your data and do it regularly. Check that you are backing up the important information and data like photos and music.
11. Selling a device?
It’s always good to get some money for an old phone or laptop when you are finished with it. Before you do sell it, make sure that you have not left anything on it. Deleting the files is not enough - make sure you do a factory reset before handing it over.
12. You are a target
The most important tip to remember is that you are a target. Everyone has something of value to a cyber-criminal. Even if you don’t think you do.
To stay safe, follow our Top 12 Cyber Security Tips and share with your friends!
- Gerry Grant, Chief Ethical Hacker
For more information and advice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on our website!