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Blogs • Cyber security

Five ways you can Stay Smart Online

Published 18 October 2018

8-14 October 2018 is Stay Smart Online Week. We all have a role to play in keeping our information secure online. Staying smart online is just like locking your doors and securing your belongings. This week, take a look at your digital health from another perspective, and follow these tips to stay smart online.

We all understand the importance of health prevention activities – it’s better to avoid an illness than cure it. It’s the same with information technology – it’s better to use secure behaviours to stay smart online, than deal with the consequences of not having done so.

1. Be Wi-Fi wise

Wi-Fi isn’t always safe and secure. When you use public Wi-Fi networks, cybercriminals can intercept the information that you send, so take care not to send or receive any sensitive or valuable information via public Wi-Fi. Only use Wi-Fi networks run by people or organisations that you know and trust. If you decide to use a public Wi-Fi network, turn off any auto-connection settings on your device and avoid logging on to online accounts, accessing sensitive information or using your credit card.

2. Pick your passphrase

Passwords are the key to your online life. Create a strong password by using a string of words, called a passphrase. A strong passphrase is a combination of at least 12 upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. The hardest type of passphrase to crack is one that combines at least four words and is not related to you, your work or your immediate family (e.g. does not include their names and dates of birth). Once you have selected four or more words that you can remember, incorporate some numbers and symbols.

3. Think before you click

Phishing is when an attacker tries to trick you into sharing information, opening an infected attachment or clicking a malicious link. Attackers may then ask you to provide information that they can use to commit further crimes, such as theft or fraud. Always stop and think before you click on a link or open an attachment.

4. Stay updated

Did you know that 80% of Android users and 23% of iOS users haven’t installed the latest software update? Software updates often include changes that are there to protect you from attacks online. Continuing to use old software versions can leave you open to attacks through vulnerabilities in the system. Make sure to download and install updates on your phone, computer and apps as soon as they pop up.

5. Try multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication, is an extra layer of security that requires a username and password and at least one additional authentication method. There are a number of different types of MFA, common examples are a password, code or fingerprint. This is often done through a physical ‘hard’ token that generates random authentication codes, a ‘soft’ token (app) or text messaging. MyGov is an example that offers the option to use a soft token (myGov Access app) or SMS to verify your identity each time you log in. Look through the current online platforms that you use and see if they offer multi-factor authentication as an additional security measure.

Want to find out more ways to stay smart online?

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