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Cyber safety: 10 tips to protect your information and stay safe online

We increasingly live in an online world and while there are many benefits to this, (thank you Netflix, YouTube, and Google) there are also some dangers.

Many legitimate businesses require personal information such as your name, date of birth, address and more to communicate with you and provide a service.

There is always a risk however that providing your details online could lead to unlawful access of your information by hackers and criminals.

Be aware of the risks involved and follow the tips below to safeguard your information:

S stands for secure

Before you key in any personal information, have a look at the URL (website address). Does it start with ‘https’? If the answer is yes, chances are you’re providing your information in a secure environment. The ‘S’  in ‘https’ indicates a secure protocol is in place to help protect you.

Be aware of the scams floating around

Stay Smart Online Alert is a free service provided by the Australian Government delivering news and advice about the latest scams. Sign up for these email alerts and you’ll know what to keep a look out for.

Read the fine print

It may seem like a chore, but reading privacy policies will give you a good idea of how your information will be used. Many businesses use your information for marketing purposes. Some businesses though also sell your information to other agencies. If this happens, you might find yourself drowning under an influx of spam emails that aren’t only annoying but hard to get rid of.

Have a read of Kleenheat’s privacy policy here.

Check before you click

If you get a suspicious email with a funny looking URL or see big, blinking buttons that say “click here”, it’s probably best not to click. The best thing to do is report the email, and then immediately delete it. You don’t want ant dodgy emails floating around your inbox.

Only use secure WiFi networks

Using free public WiFi networks could end up costing you. If not secured, these networks can be a target for criminals looking to access information illegally. Err on the side of caution and avoid using public WiFi networks, especially if they aren’t secured by a password.

Read through your financial statements

Have a look at your bank or credit card statements every month to check for any unusual activity. If you suspect someone is accessing your account illegally, call your bank or financial institution and report it immediately.

Don’t be too ‘social’ on social media

Be aware of your security and privacy settings on your social media accounts. Sure, you want your friends and family to know how much fun you had on your birthday or how the party at your house was but if you’re not careful, this information could also be accessed by people you don’t trust. So before you tag yourself at a location or reveal details about yourself, make sure you know who has access to this information.

Choose a strong password

No, your birthday definitely isn’t a good password. You may not like revealing your age to people in person but as the point above has already covered, it’s pretty easy to find out someone’s birthday just by going to their social media accounts. Avoid the temptation to use your birthday as a password and choose something that can’t be linked back to you. Use a strong password with a mixture of letters, symbols and numbers and don’t use the same password for everything.

Protect your devices

Install security software on your devices that will protect you from viruses, malware and spyware. Choose software from a reputable company and keep the software and your devices updated. Updates aren’t just about new features, they also protect you from any weaknesses that have been identified. Have a search online for good security software or go to your local computer store for advice.

What to do if your details have been accessed

Report it to the police

Phone 13 14 44 to report it to the police. Get a copy of the police report, or a reference number for other organisations you may need to discuss your stolen identity with.

Change your passwords on all accounts

Immediately change all passwords on your accounts, following the tips above to choose a strong password.

Contact any organisations that may be affected

If you have suspicious activity on your bank account or credit card, be sure to contact the organisations you’ve provided these details to and let them know so you can stop any further damage. Also provide them with reference number from the police report.

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