Top 5 tips to stay safe online and avoid cyber attacks

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we engage with our family, friends, and businesses. In this intense digital age, it’s more important than ever to take precautions when online. We’ve got five top tips to browse the web safely and avoid cyber-attacks:

1. Use strong passwords

A strong password will keep you safe from opportunist hackers and will ultimately protect your data and identity. Stay away from obvious passwords that include your name, email address, a sequence of numbers and letters, the word ‘password’ or sequential keyboard paths. Make sure your password is long – nothing shorter than 15 characters and use a mixture of letters, numbers and characters. You could even use an online password generator tool such as Last Pass.

2. Use two-factor authentication when available

Many websites and apps now use something called ‘two-factor authentication.’ This is where they will ask you to provide your mobile number or email address as a secondary log in step. You will log into a website or app with your usual credentials and then a passcode will be sent to you via your chosen method. You will then have to enter this passcode before you can complete your log in. If a website or app offers this to you, we recommend you enable it.

3. Beware of email phishing scams

‘Phishing’ email scams are becoming more common and sadly, more convincing. Hackers are now using from names, email subjects and email addresses that could easily be mistaken as genuine. Always ask yourself the following questions if you suspect an email may not be genuine:

  • Is the email addressed to you personally or does it say something like ‘Dear friend,’ ‘colleague’ or ‘customer?’ If so, it’s probably not genuine.
  • Is the email branded? If so, does the branding look the same as emails you would receive from a genuine sender?
  • Does the email contain a threat prompting you to act urgently with the prospect of a fine if you do not?
  • Does the email ask you to click a link to provide personal information?
  • Does the email state that you need to send money to someone?

4. Use your mobile devices securely

Mobile devices are just as vulnerable as computers and laptops. Beware what information you hold on your mobile device. Do not save passwords as notes or text messages and do not store pictures of confidential information. Use a secure and complex pin code, make sure all your information is backed up to cloud storage and download a free malware or antivirus scanner from the app store, such as McAfee.

 5. Avoid public Wi-Fi

When you’re out and about, avoid using a public Wi-Fi network. If you absolutely need to, then we recommend avoiding logging into any accounts that would release personally identifiable information such as bank accounts or mobile phone accounts. If you’re short of data, there are plenty of network providers who offer unlimited data plans so it’s worth contacting your provider and upgrading your account for that extra layer of security.

Remember, at the Scottish Nursing Guild, we’d never ask you to confirm personal information via email or text, nor would we ask you to provide passwords to systems you use with us. If you have been contacted by someone asking for personal information relating to the work you do for the Scottish Nursing Guild, please call us immediately.

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