While most of us can’t wait to see the back of 2020, it’s been a good year for some. Food delivery companies, streaming services and PPE suppliers are all doing a roaring trade. It’s also been a fruitful year for cyber criminals with reports of online fraud up some 30 per cent according to Action Fraud.
With COVID-19 increasing our reliance on digital services, including consumers with previously limited online experience, staying safe online has never been more important. Here are six simple things you can do to protect yourself and stop your money ending up in a criminal’s wallet.
Use complex and unique passwords
When it comes to cyber security getting the basics right matters, and this starts with creating strong passwords for each online account you have. While most online accounts enforce an eight-character minimum password this may not be sufficient. Jason Johnson, cyber security expert at Predatech cautions that, “many passwords can be cracked in just seconds. My top tip is to create a passphrase with multiple unrelated but memorable words that also includes upper case, numeric and special characters. Security.org’s Password Strength Tool can also be used to better understand how strong a password really is by estimating how long it would take to be cracked.”
You should also enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever there is an option to do so. This typically involves sending a text to your phone when you attempt to login and therefore makes it a lot harder for criminals to access your account.
Use a free password manager
It can be tempting to reuse passwords across multiple accounts, or even to write them down, particularly if they’re complex — but this should be avoided. My own email and password were leaked in 2016 when a website I used to buy gym passes while travelling for work suffered a data breach. This breached data remains accessible to cyber criminals to this very day. Had I used the same password for other accounts, I’d have made it easy for cyber criminials to gain access to them.
An in-built password manager like Keychain (Apple devices) or Credential Manager (Microsoft devices) will help you to manage your complex and unique…