There are many consumers who avoid working, shopping and banking online due to their fear of internet fraud or ID theft. While their fears may not be unfounded, there are ways to ensure that you are protecting yourself online while enjoying the experience of browsing from your armchair.
So how do you avoid leaving your keys in the virtual ignition? By educating yourself about the risks that come with ‘living’ online and understanding how to protect yourself and your family from any online goblins. We have pulled together a short guide that explains the difference between a virus and spyware and offers some basic tips of how to stay safe. It’s not exhaustive, and online security needs to be an ongoing project, but it’s a good start…
A Virus is a computer program that can infect other programs within your computer and ‘copy’ itself to infiltrate and spread across all software within an individual’s computer. The Virus can then further spread to others via email or the transference of USB sticks, DVDs, CDs or any other removable disk.
Spyware is unauthorised software that monitors individual internet habits. Observing and recording internet sites visited, and personal information shared.
Malware or Malicious Software are files or programs that are inadvertently downloaded from websites as file or from spam emails. This software is designed to cause disruption to the computer user and can use up memory and corrupt files.
Phishing refers to the sending of fraudulent emails requesting personal details and banking information from unauthorised individuals impersonating legitimate brands, banks and retailers.
A hacker is a person capable of computer programming. In contemporary language, we recognize the term as a description of someone who uses their computer programming skills to illegally access the computer systems of businesses or individuals in order to cause corruption of to gain information.
A Firewall is a virtual barrier between your computer and the rest of the internet. It offers protection from attacks in your computer and information stored there. Many operating systems and routers have Firewalls built in, but rather than assume you have this protection, always check when installing that you have this first line of defence.
How to stay safe
If you are using a shared computer then ensure you are logging out of all secure websites and don’t undertake any tasks that could put you at risk that online banking or using credit or debit cards. If you are working in a public space then be aware of who is around you and whether your personal information is on view or if your passwords are easily identifiable.
Anti-virus software/Mobile Security Software
Install anti-virus software on your computer and make sure all updates are regularly installed, it’s very easy to become complacent about updating this software – don’t be! It’s worth the effort or maintaining the software properly. If you conduct a lot of activity online, especially if you are running banking apps or purchasing via your smartphone then install specific mobile security. Banks can often advise on the best packages to download.
Over the years, email fraud or ‘phishing’ scams have become more sophisticated. Most brands will clearly state how they will correspond with you. If in doubt, don’t open the email and contact the brand directly using a tried and tested contact method to alert them to any potential scams.
There is conflicting advice when it comes to online passwords, but, you should try to vary the amount of passwords you use online as much as possible. This comes with its own challenges, especially if you have a large amount of sites you log in to and bad memory. If the last sentence describes you, then secure password manager sites like Lastpass could be helpful for you. Keep passwords varied and change them regularly to avoid being hacked.
Don’t be a Paranoid Android…
…but do have an appreciation for how quickly information you divulge online can spread. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your mother or boss to see. Know there are bad guys online wanting to exploit those who are nonchalant about their online security.
At iPEGS, we help individuals and business create and sign secure digital forms to ensure that their business can operate efficiently within the digital space. You can take a look at our product range or browse our video demos in our Media Library.
For more information about how iPEGS can help you and your business, please contact us.