Online Security Tips
General Online security
Install internet security software
When installed, the software should be set to scan your files and update your virus definitions on a regular basis.
Use Strong passwords
With uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters to create a mental image or an acronym that is easy for you to remember. Create a different password for each important account, and change passwords regularly.
Never use the same password twice
Consider using a password manager such as KeePass which can store all your credentials for you, leaving you with just one master password to remember.
Backing up your machine regularly can protect you from the unexpected. Keep a few months’ worth of backups and make sure the files can be retrieved if needed.
Control access to your machine
Don’t leave your computer in an unsecured area, or unattended and logged on, especially in public. The physical security of your machine is just as important as its technical security. Set your smartphone to lock after a short idle time, and set it to require authentication for unlocking. If at all possible, use something stronger than a simple-minded four-digit PIN
Use email and the Internet safely
Ignore unsolicited emails, and be wary of attachments, links and forms in emails that come from people you don’t know, or which seem “phishy.” Avoid untrustworthy (often free) downloads from freeware or shareware sites.
Use secure connections
When connected to the Internet, your data can be vulnerable while in transit. Use remote connectivity and secure file transfer options when off site.
Protect sensitive data
Reduce the risk of identity theft. Securely remove sensitive data files from your hard drive, which is also recommended when recycling or repurposing your computer. Use the encryption tools built into your operating system to protect sensitive files you need to retain.
Use desktop firewalls
Macintosh and Windows computers have basic desktop firewalls as part of their operating systems. When set up properly, these firewalls protect your computer files from being scanned. Keep all applications up-to-date with the latest patches, and use a less-targeted browser such as Chrome or Firefox. Be careful what you download, and ask questions about the site you are downloading from.
Think twice and remain suspicious when opening attachments in e-mails or files downloaded from the Internet.
Keep your computer up-to-date with antivirus software, operating system patches, firewalls and ensure your browser is set to the highest level of security.
Be wary of unsolicited emails or phone calls asking you for PINs or passwords – your bank or the police would never ask for these in full.
Always type your bank’s address into your web browser – never follow a link in an email and then enter personal details.
A locked padlock or unbroken key symbol should always appear in your browser window when banking online. The ‘http’ at the beginning of the website address will change to ‘https’ when a secure connection is made.
When making a payment, always double check that you have entered the correct account number and sort code.
Never leave your computer unattended when logged in and log off as soon as you’re finished, especially on any public computer
Check your statements regularly – if you notice anything strange, contact your bank immediately.
Be wary of any unexpected or suspicious looking ‘pop-up’ windows that appear during your online banking session.
Stop and think about the process you normally go through to make a payment to someone – be suspicious if it differs from the last time you used it.
Fraudsters sometimes try to trick people into making a real payment by claiming “it’s just a test”.
Never give anyone login details in full either by email or over the phone – your bank will never request these
Check the online banking security options your bank provides, some offer free anti-virus and browser security software
Make sure your bank has your up to date contact details
Make sure that your password is 8 or more characters and combines letters, numerals and symbols. Don’t use the same user ID and password for your financial accounts as you do for other sites.
Don’t use your mobile device to store sensitive personal information or bank account numbers.
Never respond to urgent email claiming to be from a bank or any company that requests your account information or personal details.
Limit the amount of personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a criminal to use that information to steal your identity, access your data or commit other crimes.
Be cautious about messages you receive on social networking sites that contain links. Even links that look like they come from friends can sometimes be harmful or fraudulent – and in fact may be attempts to gain control of your computer or steal your personal information. If you’re suspicious, don’t click the link. Contact your friend or the business directly to verify the validity of the email.
Verify your privacy settings on mobile devices and social media. Make sure you’re not over-sharing information with the world that could potentially be used against you.
Wifi Network Security
Change Default Administrator Passwords (and Usernames) At the core of most Wi-Fi home networks is an access point or router. To set up these pieces of equipment, manufacturers provide Web pages that allow owners to enter their network address and account information. These Web tools are protected with a login screen (username and password) so that only the rightful owner can do this. However, for any given piece of equipment, the logins provided are simple and very well-known to hackers on the Internet. Change these settings immediately.
Turn on (Compatible) WPA / WEP Encryption All Wi-Fi equipment supports some form of encryption. Several encryption technologies exist for Wi-Fi today. Naturally you will want to pick the strongest form of encryption that works with your wireless network. However, the way these technologies work, all Wi-Fi devices on your network must share the identical encryption settings. Therefore you may need to find a “lowest common denominator” setting.
Change the Default SSID Access points and routers all use a network name called the SSID. Manufacturers normally ship their products with the same SSID set. When someone finds a default SSID, they see it is a poorly configured network and are much more likely to attack it. Change the default SSID immediately when configuring wireless security on your network.
Enable MAC Address Filtering Each piece of Wi-Fi gear possesses a unique identifier called the physical address or MAC address. Access points and routers keep track of the MAC addresses of all devices that connect to them. Many such products offer the owner an option to key in the MAC addresses of their home equipment, that restricts the network to only allow connections from those devices. Do this, but also know that the feature is not so powerful as it may seem. Hackers and their software programs can fake MAC addresses easily.
Assign Static IP Addresses to Devices Most home networkers gravitate toward using dynamic IP addresses. DHCP technology is indeed easy to set up. Unfortunately, this convenience also works to the advantage of network attackers, who can easily obtain valid IP addresses from your network’s DHCP pool. Turn off DHCP on the router or access point, set a fixed IP address range instead, then configure each connected device to match. Use a private IP address range (like 10.0.0.x) to prevent computers from being directly reached from the Internet.
Enable Firewalls On Each Computer and the Router Modern network routers contain built-in firewall capability, but the option also exists to disable them. Ensure that your router’s firewall is turned on. For extra protection, consider installing and running personal firewall software on each computer connected to the router.
Position the Router or Access Point Safely Wi-Fi signals normally reach to the exterior of a building. A small amount of signal leakage outdoors is not a problem, but the further this signal reaches, the easier it is for others to detect and exploit. Wi-Fi signals often reach through buildings and into streets. When installing a wireless home network, the position of the access point or router determines its reach. Try to position these devices near the centre of the home rather than near windows to minimize leakage.
Turn Off the Network During Extended Periods of Non-Use The ultimate in wireless security measures. While impractical to turn off and on the devices frequently, at least consider doing so during travel or extended periods offline. Computer disk drives have been known to suffer from power cycle wear-and-tear, but this is a secondary concern for broadband modems and routers.
If you have any queries or would like help setting up these security features please get in touch.