A guide to online security

With passwords acting as the digital keys to our virtual kingdoms, it's crucial that we all know how to combat fraud and protect ourselves. Keep reading as we unravel the intricacies of secure passwords, safe internet browsing and red flags to watch out for.

What's in this guide?

Q1: What is online security?

Online security refers to the measures we take to ensure the security of our online activities like browsing, emailing, and shopping. It is basically the practice of protecting your identity and privacy from unauthorised access, data breaches and other cyber threats.

This means setting up security measures like passwords, firewalls, and anti-virus software – all of which we'll explore in more detail in this guide.

Q2: Why online security matters

The short answer: because hackers and cybercriminals are out there, constantly trying to gain access to your personal information. And let's face it, no one wants their identity stolen or their life savings drained by some anonymous hacker. 

Your personal information, such as passwords, financial details, and personal data, can all be targeted by cybercriminals. That’s why it’s important to implement online security measures to safeguard your digital identity and online interactions.

Q3: What are common online threats?

Sadly, there are more than a few. 

Malware, phishing scams, and identity theft all top the list. Malware is a type of software that can infect your device and steal your information, spy on your activity, or even lock you out of your device. Phishing scams try to trick you into giving up your sensitive information like your bank account details by posing as legitimate companies or institutions. Identity theft is when your personal information is stolen and used to commit fraud – scary stuff. 

Being aware of these threats and staying vigilant can help you mitigate risks.

  • Malware

    Malicious software that includes viruses, worms, Trojans and ransomware.

  • Phishing

    Deceptive emails or websites that trick you into revealing personal information.

  • Identity Theft

    Stealing personal information to commit fraud or other criminal activities.

  • Data Breaches

    Unauthorised access to databases containing sensitive information.

  • Unsecured Wi-Fi

    Connecting to unsecured networks puts your data at risk.

Tips for protecting yourself online

  • Use strong passwords: Create unique and complex passwords for each online account.

  • Two-Factor Authentication 2FA: Enable 2FA whenever possible for an extra layer of security.

  • Secure browsing: Look for HTTPS and padlock symbols in your browser's address bar.

  • Use reliable security software: Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software.

  • Be cautious with links: Only click on links and download files from trusted sources.

  • Monitor your bank statements: Regularly review your financial and online accounts for suspicious activity.

  • Check your credit scores: Monitor your credit report at least once a month for any suspicious activity.

Q3: How do I create a secure password?

To create strong and secure passwords, remember a few simple rules.

First, use a combination of both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or common names. 

Never reuse passwords across different accounts, as this can make you vulnerable. 

You can read our blog post on how to create secure passwords here.

Lastly, it's a good idea to use a password manager to safely store and manage all your passwords, making it easier to keep track of them and stay protected online.

Q4: Do I need Two-Factor Authentication 2FA?

Two-factor authentication 2FA adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts by demanding a second form of verification. This second factor could come in the form of a text message, an authentication app, or even a hardware token. 

Here's the key benefit: Even if someone somehow gets hold of your password, they won't be able to access your account without that crucial second factor. 

It's like having an extra lock on your digital front door to keep your information safe.

Tips for safe internet browsing

Be careful with downloads

Stick to well-known and trustworthy websites when downloading or making online transactions. Always exercise caution when encountering pop-ups and ads, as some could redirect you to harmful websites. It's also wise to steer clear of downloading software or files from unofficial or dubious sources. By adhering to these practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of encountering security issues while browsing and downloading online

Keep your software up to date

One of the simplest yet most effective measures is to keep your software up to date. This means regularly checking for and installing updates for your operating system, web browsers, and apps. Why is this so important? Well, these updates often include vital security improvements that patch up any weaknesses in your software. Think of it as closing the doors that hackers might try to sneak through.

Use antivirus software on your computer

While viruses may not appear as prevalent as they were a decade ago, they haven't disappeared entirely. There's still malicious software out there that can cause various issues on your computer, ranging from irritating pop-up ads to surreptitious Bitcoin mining and even scanning for your personal information. 

If you're someone who frequently clicks on risky links or shares a computer with multiple household members, it's a smart move to install antivirus software, particularly if you're using a Windows computer. 

This extra layer of protection can help safeguard your digital world from potential threats.

Q5: How do I recognise phishing attempts?

Spotting phishing attempts is a critical skill to protect yourself online. 

Here's how you can do it:

  • Stay wary of unsolicited emails: If you receive an email out of the blue that asks for your personal information or seems fishy, be sceptical. Legitimate organisations typically won't ask for sensitive info via email.

  • Check for red flags: Pay attention to details. Look for misspelt words, suspicious email addresses, or overly generic greetings. These can be signs of a phishing attempt.

  • Hover before you click: Before clicking on any links in an email, hover your mouse cursor over them. This action reveals the actual URL. If it doesn't match the expected website, think twice about clicking.

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, online security is paramount. By implementing the practices outlined in this guide, you're taking proactive steps to protect your digital identity and personal data. Stay informed, stay cautious, and make online security a priority in your digital life.

Did you find this content helpful?

Disclaimer: This article contains general information only, and is not general advice or personal advice. Wisr Services does not recommend any product or service discussed in this article. You must get your own financial, taxation, or legal advice, and understand any risks before considering whether a product or service discussed in this article may be appropriate for you. We have taken reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but the information is subject to change. We may not update the article to reflect any change.

James is a marketing and communications professional with a passion for leading high-performance teams. He likes what he does… a lot.

James, Chief Growth Officer

Level Up Your Finance Game

Be the first to know our hints, tricks and handy finance tips.