Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

How to stay safe online on Safer Internet Day and beyond

February 8, 2022 is Safer Internet Day, and while you should definitely think about being safe on this day, you should always keep it front of mind.

The internet can be a delightful and fun place, but it can also be overwhelming, and at times, it can feel as though things aren’t what they seem. Between the scams and spam and plenty of messages sent meant to coerce you into clicking, it seems there are so many ways to fall down a rabbit hole of deceit.

Fortunately, there are quick tips that can prevent that fall, and aim to stay Earth-side, hopefully preventing cybercriminals and other online nefarious individuals from going after your information.

Before you click on a link, question the legitimacy of where it goes. Remember that not every link is going to go to a good place, and even if you get a message specifically for you, take it with a grain of salt.

Your email isn’t sacred, and neither is your phone number. Whether leaked or guessed, it’s entirely possible a scammer and cybercriminal is waiting on the other end of an email or SMS, and not giving them the ammunition they need to trick you is the goal.

Always remember to think before you touch or click on a link, be it on your phone, tablet, or computer. Read the message carefully and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this message real?
  • Does the website address look legit?
  • Could this be a scam?

If the answers aren’t enough to convince you of the click, just don’t do it, and save yourself the trouble and risk.

Make passwords strong (and don’t give them to people)

You should also think about those passwords, especially if they’re not at all secure.

The world’s worst passwords regularly come out, and you’d be surprised how often a sequence of predictable numbers make it there, with “123456” and the like always part of the list. Clearly, that’s not going to be a secure password, and neither is your name and the year you were born.

In fact, there are lots of ways to work out what is secure and what isn’t, but if your password can be guessed by anyone who knows you, you owe it to yourself to change it to keep your data safe.

While staying safe on the internet can be as much about the things you shouldn’t be doing (like clicking dodgy links), if you’re not in control of a good set of passwords, you should remedy that as soon as you can.

Passwords protect our accounts, and our accounts provide the access to change things important in our lives. Your banking details, email, and other important logins all typically have passwords, and making sure they’re good is one way you can help keep your data safe, and out of the hands of criminals.

A password is also only one way, because while you’re at it, see if you can switch on Multi-Factor Authentication. An extra step, it means a message will be sent to another app or device, such as an email to you or an SMS to your phone, with that code being used alongside your password.

It’s one step on the road to a world without passwords, where different techniques in authentication are used instead of the old standard we’re used to. Passwordless logins are coming, but until everyone has them, do what you can to fix your passwords and make your web activity that much more secure and safe.

Be aware of what you do on work time if you work from home

While everyone needs to be aware of potential problems like dodgy links and bad passwords, if you’re working from home, some of these issues have the potential to turn into something else.

Clicking on a dodgy link on a work computer while you’re at home could have repercussions, and between the various types of malware and scams, those unaware could see an otherwise unintentional action turn into a bigger problem for both the company and a security team later on. Entering a work password in a phishing website could see external forces use it and create a huge problem, as well.

They’re just two examples of how being unaware of your actions could affect your work, and that could be an issue not just for the company, but for keeping your job.

“The initial cybersecurity scramble caused by the pandemic is now a thing of the past, and businesses and employees everywhere have successfully adapted to the changes it brought,” said OpenText’s Anthony Di Bello, who noted a new problem for this year, “remaining secure while hybrid working becomes increasingly more prevalent in our professional lives.”

“Employees will continue to connect to corporate networks from a wide variety of devices, via various internet connections ranging from home networks, café Wi-Fi and offices,” he said.

“And so far, cybercriminals have been taking full advantage: with a triple digit increase in cyberattacks seen in the first half of last year alone. The threat of ransomware, impact of mis-information, and phishing scams should be top of mind for information security professionals, employees, and consumers alike.”

It means being safe on the internet isn’t just something you’ll want to do at home for your personal activities, but for everywhere, as well, applying the learnings to your work email and activities, too.

Stay aware

Being aware is one part of staying safe on the internet, but staying aware is important, as well. The web is ever-changing, and there is lots happening, with millions lost to scams regularly and new vectors for criminals to try and force the message.

Staying aware of what’s going on keeps you smart and aware of any potential problems, even if it’s only a check every so often at your favourite technology website.

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