Internet users must not become complacent amid an increasing range of threats, according to rural Essex full-fibre specialists County Broadband, which has issued five steps to improve online security on Safer Internet Day (February 11).
Seven in 10 people think they will become a victim of cybercrime in the next two years while one third believe losing money or personal details online is now unavoidable, the UK Cyber Survey 2019 found. Over half a million fraud reports were made to Action Fraud between 2017 and 2019, from online shopping fraud to scammers posing as IT specialists to fix computers.
Cybersecurity also cost large firms an average of £22,700 per incident last year according to the government’s Cyber Security Breach Survey 2019.
Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, which is building new Hyperfast full-fibre broadband networks in over 50 villages in Essex, said: “Safer Internet Day provides the perfect opportunity for all digital users, young and old, novices and experts, to review and improve their online security in the face of ever-increasing sophisticated threats.
“From installing the latest tools to help prevent identity theft and privacy breaches, to spotting the hallmarks of dirty tactics waged by savvy hackers, we cannot afford to get complacent in the perpetual tug-of-war to remain safe in the modern world of rapidly-evolving technology.
“We hope residents and businesses in Essex find our five quick steps helpful to strengthen their cyber-security in the ongoing battle to remain safe, vigilant and resilient online.”
5 Quick Tech Fixes to Improve Online Security
- Allen keys are great for IKEA projects but your passwords shouldn’t be treated like one. Having different passwords for all your accounts is now a necessity. If you’re breached once, it can’t be repeated. You can download a password manager to take the strain and keep safe (and not forgotten) all your passwords. And, don’t forget – your passwords must regularly change and have capital letters, symbols, numbers and nothing memorable.
- This popular approach adds a vital layer of protection to secure your accounts. The concept involves a master password or sign-in, followed by a one-off temporary code sent directly to the account holder. For example, some banks will only let customers sign in after sending an extra text message authentication that expires within a few minutes. Some services you access through smartphone apps are also now asking for fingerprint identification or iris scanning as the second gateway.
Clear your cache
- Reducing your online footprint should be a regular routine, as your multi-device, synced-up browsing history could reveal sensitive personal information such as your home address. You could download an app which does this for you automatically in the background – a fit and forget approach suited for busy modern life – such as Cookie AutoDelete for Google Chrome.
- You may have saved £67 on that indoor drone you’ve always wanted but cancel any orders right now from shopping websites, particularly obscure outlets, with URLs ending in .net. These are very rarely used by reputable retailers and are classic calling cards of illegitimate organisations. Plus – don’t save financial information. Make the effort each time to type out your details, no matter how tempting it might be to save your 16 digits.
- Find out now if you’re with one of the most, or least, secure banks in the country. Consumer watchdog Which? regularly keeps track of the league table, carried out by independent security experts. Your habits are important too – you shouldn’t be online banking via open public Wi-Fi networks or hotspots. These are insecure and prone to unencrypted data being seized upon by fraudsters. Use a trusted private connection or 4G/5G – both will be encrypted.
- Secure your browser. Consider adblocker apps and desktop plug-ins like HTTPS Everywhere.
- Back-up your data. Consider external hard disks or cloud-based software to keep your important files out of reach of hackers. Hard disks can be goldmines for personal, sensitive data. Apps like BitLocker and FileVault provide automatic encryption
- Operating system. Ensure automatic updates are enabled for your device.
Residents and businesses can find out if they’re in a village covered in the rollout by using our postcode checker here.