How To...Stay Safe Online


Last month eBay announced a major cyber-attack on their system and have since forced users to update their passwords. Following on, alarming news from the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) told us that a major cyber-threat was discovered by the FBI, in which it estimated that approximately 15,000 computers may have been hacked in the UK alone, and this number reaches millions when they look worldwide. While the immediate threat has been prevented no one has been arrested and so it is likely that the threat has not passed permanently.This poses the questions:Do I need to do more to protect myself online?The simple answer to this question is yes. The majority of us could do more to protect our systems from online attacks not just from the current cyber-threat but permanently. Barely a week goes by without some sort of cyber-attack being threatened or uncovered so maintaining your online security is fast becoming a constant requirement.How can I protect myself?How do I write a strong password?The easiest way is to look at the do's and don'ts of writing a passwordDODON'TUse a combination of letters, numbers and symbolsUse your own name or nicknameIf using a real word, follow it with an additional unrelated wordUse your own username or email addressUse both uppercase and lower case lettersUse your own phone number or licence plate numberWhen replacing letters with special characters be creative i.e. do not only replace 'a' with '@' and 's' with '$'Use personal information e.g. birthdays, children's names, petsUse a different password for each important place that you log in toUse a combination of personal information e.g. Sarah1976Never write down your password (especially as a document on your computer)Use common words or numbers e.g. password, 123456, manchesterNever share your password with anyone, or allow anyone to watch as you key it inUse unmodified words from the dictionary i.e. without numbers or special charactersChange your password periodically in addition to when you suspect you may have been hacked.When your password is complete it should look like a random collection of letters, numbers and symbols rather than an identifiable word. If you are struggling to remember all of the different complex passwords you can try using a password manager system. A simple online search will bring up dozens of solutions for you to use.If you follow these do's and don'ts, in addition to being careful with the emails you open and keeping your antivirus software up to date, you are in the best position possible to stay safe online.

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