Don’t think you’re at risk from a cyber attack? Make sure of it.
More than just few of our favourite things are stored, shared and displayed online. Photos, emails, documents and the things you post on social media — they’re all alive and (mostly) well on the internet. But, let’s face it, we’re generally not as careful about keeping those things as safe and secure in our online world as we are in our ‘real’ world.
This could be because the risks we take online are not all that obvious, making them easier to ignore. Also, many of us think we wouldn’t be targeted as we’ve got nothing of interest or value to attackers.
Regardless of the why, it’s important to be aware that cyber attacks are becoming more frequent and that anyone can be a target. It’s not just large organisations and businesses who are vulnerable — small businesses and everyday Kiwis are also at risk.
We’re not wanting to worry you (well, maybe just a bit) but your personal information is highly valuable to attackers who are looking for easy ways to get information to use to their advantage, often to get money. Imagine the damage that could be done if an attacker accessed your bank account and helped themselves to your savings, or signed in to your social media account and pretended to be you.
Given that the impact of a cyber attack can be life-changing, it’s definitely worth setting aside a bit of time to get the basic safeguards in place.
So, while you might not think of yourself as a likely target of a cyber attack, how about taking these four simple practical steps to ‘make sure of it’?
1. Use a password manager
It’s really important that each of your online accounts has a different password – but remembering unique passwords for the numerous apps and online accounts we hold sounds like a challenge.
The easiest way to both remember them, and secure them safely, is to use a password manager. It’s like an online safe that stores and manages your passwords for you and keeps them safe using strong encryption. You’ll only have to remember the one strong password for your password manager, and it’ll do the rest.
2. Turn on two-factor authentication
Adding two-factor authentication (2FA) to your login is a simple way to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
It’s an easy extra step after you log in, like entering a code from an app on your phone.
Take some time this week to enable 2FA on your apps and accounts. You’ll usually find the option to turn it on in the privacy settings of the app or account.
3. Update your devices
When you’re alerted to an update for your device, don’t ignore it — install it as soon as possible. As well as adding new features, updates fix any issues or weaknesses that have been found. Updating software prevents attackers from using these vulnerabilities to gain access to your information.
If you can, set the updates to happen automatically whenever a new version is available. That way, you don’t have to think about it.
4. Check your privacy
It’s important to know how much of your information you’re sharing, and who you’re sharing it with. We’re so used to sharing things online that we don’t always think about how it affects our privacy. But, the information you share can enable attackers to access your data or steal your identity.
Check that any requests for personal information are legitimate before you share your details. If a company or business asks you for information, think about why they might need it. If you’re not sure, don’t give the information.
If you, your friend, or your business experiences an online incident, report it to CERT NZ.
CERT NZ is a government agency that helps New Zealanders identify cyber security issues and guides them in resolving them.
Want to find out more about getting cyber smart? Check out http://www.cert.govt.nz/cybersmart