Did you know that February 7th is Safer Internet Day? This worldwide event, which celebrates its 20th anniversary, aims to help create safer online spaces. This year’s theme, “Connect, Reflect, Protect‘’, focuses on the dramatic evolution of technology which has exposed us to many risks with real-world impacts, making online safety even more important. By connecting safely and with purpose, reflecting before we act, and protecting ourselves and others by acting, we can work towards making every day a Safer Internet Day.
To pitch in on this day, we’ve put together some tips for you to consider on digital safety and how to keep sensitive information secure.
So, what can you do to keep your data safe?
It all starts with passwords.
Passwords are the bread and butter of security, and it’s important that the passwords you use for all accounts and devices are not only secure but updated regularly. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Use a password wherever possible – including your computers, smartphones, digital accounts, and the WiFi connection used at your workplace.
Now that your passwords are secure, it’s time to take it up a notch with Multi-Factor Authentication, also known as MFA. You may already have MFA in use with your banking institution. To log in successfully, you’ll not only need a password – you’ll also need to confirm a second authentication factor, such as a unique code sent via SMS to a mobile listed on your account.
You should aim to use MFA wherever it is available, particularly for bank accounts, cloud services, and social media profiles. The Australian Cyber Security Centre has a range of how-to guides for turning on MFA here.
Data loss isn’t just potential fallout from a security incident: it could also happen from power loss or other software/hardware malfunctions. That’s why it’s important to back up your data regularly so you can revert to the most recently saved data and minimise your losses. If you’re not sure where to start on backups, check out this guide from How-To Geek.
Of course, your backed-up data needs to be protected, too – if you’re backing up to a physical hard drive, keep the hard drive somewhere secure, like a safe. Always do your research to ensure you’re using a reputable cloud storage company.
Public Wi-Fi ‘hotspots’ like cafes, airports, hotels, and libraries are convenient, but they can be risky. It’s easy for information sent using public Wi-Fi to be intercepted, so you should be careful about what information you send or receive while connected. Ideally, use cellular data when not connected to your personal Wi-Fi network.
Do not let your device automatically connect to public Wi-Fi networks. You can turn this off in your phone’s Wi-Fi settings.
To keep your information and device secure, consider using a VPN on your phone when using public Wi-Fi. Otherwise, use your mobile data connection or wait until you’re on a trusted Wi-Fi network.
If you’re using public WiFi regularly, one way you can protect yourself is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while browsing the internet. Using a VPN means there will be stronger encryption on the data flowing through your internet connection, which means that even if your data is accessed, a hacker may simply not bother with the lengthy decryption process to make it useable. Check out this list of VPN recommendations from Comparitech to learn which VPN services perform well in Australia.
Remember to disconnect from any public Wi-Fi networks and clear them from your phone after you have finished using them.
While we have covered most of the information to consider for digital safety it helps to educate yourself on the basics so here are some great resources:
Australian Cyber Security Centre – Personal Security Guides
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