Four ways to make yourself a harder target for cybercriminals

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All of us rely on at least one device in order to go about our daily lives. Our smartphones help us get from A to B, connect us with friends and manage our bank accounts, our work laptops allow us to earn an income, our home laptops allow us to play games and stream entertainment. So how would you feel if they were all taken away? 


With our reliance on technology increasing, so too does our level of risk when it comes to cybercrime. You might not think about it this way, but your smartphone, for example, holds the key to multiple accounts which store your personal information – yet most of us don’t have security software installed, or even a hugely secure password.
 

In this post, we explore four ways to keep your devices and information secure.

Use a password generator
Whilst many mobile apps now utilize biometric logins, passwords are still the dominant form of security for most websites. Using the same one, or even a slight variation for each site means that if a cybercriminal gets hold of your information, they have access to almost everything. 

Most people don’t have the headspace to think of a variety of long, varied passwords and then keep that information in their brain for whenever they need it. Fortunately, secure, encrypted password generator programs allow you to create a unique password, made up of letters, symbols and numbers, and save it in a digital ‘vault’. You then only need to remember the master password, or use a biometric login to access this. The app will allow you to directly copy your password over, so you don’t even need to see what it is – heavily reducing the risk that someone will be able to crack it.

 

Setup multi-factor authentication

Most of us will be logged into our accounts in multiple places – for example, emails on your phone and on your laptop – as well as staying permanently logged in to social media apps. It’s quick and convenient, and you can get real-time notifications that allow you to stay connected and informed. Unfortunately, this practice means that it’s harder to notice if anything suspicious is happening on your accounts, as multiple people could be logged in, using your credentials, without you even realizing it.
 

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds another layer of security, requiring you to enter extra information such as an authentication code for any new login attempts. The chances are, a criminal would log in on a device that is unrecognized by your account, and so it would prompt an authorization check on your primary device, keeping your information secure. With many major social media sites and cloud providers now offering MFA, this is an easy, no-cost solution to make yourself a harder target for cybercriminals.

 

Keep your software updated

Do you regularly hit ‘install later’ on the software update pop ups on your computer? If so, you could be putting your information at risk. With cyber threats regularly evolving, having the latest technology installed on your device can help tackle any new attacks that come your way. Whilst updates do often include layout changes or new features that you don’t necessarily want or need, they also offer vital additions to your computer’s defenses.

Be more cautious

The final step towards making it harder for cybercriminals to target you is to stay vigilant, and challenge any suspicious behavior. Scammers tend to target people who aren’t that cyber-savvy, so even a basic understanding of what to look out for can help protect your money and information.

 

For example, if a company calls you and asks for your details to solve a problem you’ve reported, you’re well within your rights to say that you’ll call them back. This way, you can make sure that you’re dialing the official phone number from your previous correspondence or their website, and haven’t been caught out by an impersonation scam.


Phishing emails are also an incredibly popular way for scammers to get hold of sensitive information or gain control over people in order to extort money. Research estimates that
3.4 billion spam emails are sent every day, so the chances are that all of us will see them in our inbox at some point. Don’t click on any links that you’re not sure about, open unusual attachments, or reply to any unknown senders. Criminals are also increasingly impersonating legitimate email accounts too, so look out for typos or other features that may suggest something isn’t quite right.

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