As more and more people all over the world increase their dependence on technology and the Internet, it’s important that we promote education for online safety. This article expands on the previous summary we shared, about reducing your risk to cyber attacks. Here are five categories of online safety guidelines to help you navigate cyberspace successfully and securely:
- Set strong passwords and manage these effectively
- Stay updated: follow the news about topics like Internet banking and software applications that you use
- Learn about, and update, your privacy and location settings for devices, user profiles and individual applications
- Block suspicious pop-ups, emails, download offers and SMS messages
- Think carefully about how you store, backup and restore your data.
Internet safety tip #1: strong well-managed passwords.
Your passwords are your private business: don’t share these with anyone. Avoid playing social media games which require information about you, that may be related to security questions. Examples of this include names of family members, addresses, your mum’s maiden name, your first school, the city you live in – if there’s no need to share this information, it’s best not to.
If you manually manage your passwords, avoid writing them down as complete passwords; use clues or coded language which can help you remember the actual passwords. A strong password will have numbers, letters of both upper and lower cases, as well as symbols.
HINT: Our Cyber Rescue product comes with a subscription to an antivirus software, for all your devices. The software includes a secure Password Manager to help you reduce the risk of personal cyber attacks.
Internet safety tip #2: check for online safety news updates.
Every credible device manufacturer and software application development team releases regular updates about safety and security in relation to their products. Subscribe to email newsletters, RSS feeds and blogs, or stay updated through the technology section of your local news app. Media houses often report major breaches within 24 hours of receiving press releases, and you can set Google Alerts to get notified about anything related to the apps you use, like your Internet banking app.
You can also find updates on the app store you use, to download your mobile apps. Our Bidvest Insurance blog is a great starting point. You can bookmark our website on your phone or laptop and check back every once in a while to learn more about online safety and other cyber-related issues. Or follow us on social media for the most up to date news.
Internet safety tip #3: change privacy and location settings.
Most smart phones and websites track your location and share it with businesses or online advertisers. Sometimes the reasons are legitimate, like your car insurance app which constantly updates your insurer about your location. If you’re involved in a collision, an alert and request for emergency medical assistance is automatically created.
Other apps, like games on your mobile phone, may be accessing your location information without your awareness. To check this, go into your device and/or application settings to make sure that each app only accesses the information it needs. It may seem unnecessary, but it’s really worth reading the terms and conditions of every app or social media platform you use.
It’s important that you understand what happens when you update profile information or share and engage with content. Social media, email and game applications will usually offer you various levels of privacy settings to control exactly how your data is seen, accessed and stored. Some bundle the process, and others encourage manual updates and reviews regularly.
Check your privacy settings every three to four months to reduce the risk of new apps going unchecked.
Internet safety tip #4: filter out suspicious communication.
You can prevent most cyber attacks by blocking suspicious callers and text message numbers on your devices. Update the settings on your Internet browser, to make sure that your device won’t fully load any unsecure websites. If messages or emails do come through from hidden or unknown numbers, delete these immediately and block the sender if you can.
If you suspect something sinister, after opening a message or email, clicking on a link or downloading a file, immediately check your device and application security settings; follow your personal cyber attack response plan, like we suggested in our previous article. (HINT: If you’re a Bidvest Insurance Cyber Rescue client, you can access a dedicated IT helpline to get advice on issues like this).
Internet safety tip #5: data management and handling.
A lot of countries are currently reviewing data privacy regulations, because COVID-19 has stimulated a mass movement toward working from home. With GDPR, POPIA and other localised laws, it becomes increasingly important to think about how you store, backup, transfer and restore data. Interestingly enough, the most overlooked data handling process is data erasure.
Your personal devices store photographs, videos, voice notes and audio recordings, artwork, messages and emails, documents, browsing history and activity logs. As an individual (not a company), you still need to make sure you’re abiding by the law. You can’t publish information or credentials of your friends, family members or colleagues without their respective permission to do so.
You must follow the rules for erasing data when someone asks you to, and you have to let people know about the progress and success or failure of the process. The website of the South African National Government enables you to access the Protection of Personal Information Act. It’s worth reading through the Act so that you know how to protect both yourself and the people you care about.
Kaspersky. 2020. Top 10 internet safety rules & what not to do online. Web page online. Available at: https://usa.kaspersky.com/resource-center/preemptive-safety/top-10-internet-safety-rules-and-what-not-to-do-online [Accessed 20 August 2020].
NortonLifeLock. 2020. Internet safety 101: 15 tips to keep your kids and family safe online. Web page online. Available at: https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-kids-safety-stop-stressing-10-internet-safety-rules-to-help-keep-your-family-safe-online.html [Accessed 20 August 2020].
Panda Security. 2020. World password day: online passwords as a security risk. Article online. 7 May. Available at: https://www.pandasecurity.com/mediacenter/press-releases/world-password-day/ [Accessed 20 August 2020].
The Protection of Personal Information Act No. 4 of 2013 (RSA). Available online at: https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201409/3706726-11act4of2013protectionofpersonalinforcorrect.pdf [Accessed 20 August 2020].