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How To Stay Safe Online

As we venture further into the digital age, the security of personal data grows more and more important. That is why, for this blog, we have decided to delve into the world of online security.

Keep software up to date

Make sure to keep installing software updates for your devices and programs. You can turn on automatic updates for many devices and applications for those of you with busy schedules. Staying up to date with security updates helps to protect your data from the newest digital threats out there. 

Avoid phishing scams

Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain your sensitive data such as usernames, passwords or credit card information. They can be carried out by phone, text or through social media – but, most commonly, email. As a rule of thumb, financial institutions or governmental agencies will not ask for your personal passwords or credit card information via communications. Be suspicious of any official looking email, message or phone call that asks for personal or financial information.  

Practise good password management

Lots of us have many passwords to manage, so it is easy to cut corners by reusing the same password. However, it is best practice to have a different password for each account you have online and if you cannot remember them, password management software may be of use. 

Here are general rules it makes sense to follow when it comes to passwords: 

  • Use long passwords – 20 or more characters is recommended. 
  • Use a strong mix of characters, numbers, punctuation marks and letters. 
  • Do not share your passwords with anyone. 
  • Change your passwords periodically. 

Use mobile devices safely

Mobile devices have become an integral part of our lives and, more often than not, we use them regularly to communicate. A few tips for securing your mobile device include: 

  • Only install apps from trusted sources. 
  • Keep your device’s operating system updated.
  • Lock your device with a PIN or password.
  • Never leave it unprotected in public.

Be careful what you click

Avoid visiting unfamiliar websites or downloading software from untrusted sources. These sites often host malware that will automatically, and often subtly, compromise your computer or device. If attachments or links in an email are unexpected or suspicious for any reason, do not click. 

Install anti virus software

Only install an antivirus program from a known or trusted source and make sure to keep it up to date. There are plenty of anti-virus programs out there to choose from, so it is best to do some research in order to choose one that is right for you. 

Back up, back up and back up again

Back up your data regularly – if you are a victim of a security incident, sometimes the only way to repair your computer or device is to erase and reinstall the system. Many cloud based programmes will do this automatically but if you store everything on a local device, regular back-ups are very important.

Some additional tips 

  • Use public wireless hot-spots wisely – make sure to connect to trusted networks and not share any personal data. 
  • Be wary of what you plug into your device – flash drives and mobile devices sometimes may contain malware.
  • Be careful of what you share on social media websites. 
  • Monitor your accounts for suspicious activity. 
  • Use a firewall – Mac and Windows computers have basic firewalls installed as part of their operating system that can help to protect your computer from external attacks. 
  • Bank or shop online only on trusted devices and networks and log out of these websites when you have completed your transactions. 

21 August 2019

The views expressed in this blog do not in any way constitute advice and are specific to the date noted. As time passes the facts can change and readers should consult their adviser for up to date advice on any matters covered within the blog. Invest Southwest offers an initial review, which is free of charge, however long it takes. From this we will be able to confirm how we can help and give you an opportunity to decide if you would like us to. Thereafter, we will provide you with detailed recommendations and exact costs. Please note that we promise not to levy any kind of fee unless we can demonstrate a benefit to you.

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