It’s not for nothing that cyber crime and hacking was considered 2019’s number one “major risk” by the world’s largest insurer, Allianz, in their latest Risk Barometer Survey. These days, it’s not if the security of your electronic identity and assets will be tried by a criminal, it’s when.
While no one is completely guaranteed safe from a cyber attack, these seven habits will mean that you’ll be a harder target than someone else and so, by default, cyber secure.
1. Cyber secure people never use free WiFi
South African speaker and social media legal expert named Emma Sadleir has a wonderful saying: ‘when something is free, you are the product.’ Don’t ever use a network that you don’t need a password to log onto, or even one that’s free. Hackers often either set up their own (very legimate-seeming) hotspots or sit in an existing one waiting for prey.
2. Cyber secure people use two-bit encryption
The more encryption you can use, the better. People who are secure online use systems where they will be told of logging on to banking and all banking steps via email or SMS and get One Time PINS (OTPs) for everything. OTPs make use of two-bit encryption and if you don’t have the code, you can’t complete the transaction. This sort of security is far harder for a hacker to hack and so, usually, they won’t go near a bank account with two-bit encryption.
3. Cyber secure people never, ever, ever give someone else their login details
There is a chilling tale of a savvy business woman who was called by her ‘bank’. They had her ID number, they had her card number. They just needed her PIN, please. They even had a call-back mechanism which directed her to her bank’s authentic call centre. She almost fell for it. Here’s the thing – no bank will ever, ever ever EVER ask you to type in your PIN, say your PIN or write your PIN down. The same goes for your username and password. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the bank itself. Never write down, say or otherwise disclose those three things.
4. Passwords are never easily guessable with the cyber secure
Anything that could be guessed at by someone who isn’t your spouse or mother isn’t safe for a password or PIN, including your birthday, anniversary, year you were born, address or ‘1234’. That goes for your security questions that the bank asks you too. Don’t just put your high school or first job – someone could stalk you on Facebook and find that out. In fact, criminals use this trick all the time.
5. Cyber secure people have varying, different passwords
This one, many of us are guilty of. Not many of us have unsecure passwords like our birth dates, 1234 or the word ‘password’ anymore. We have one strong and hard-to-guess one with upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols in it – but only one. It’s so much easier to just remember one password, isn’t it? But cyber criminals know that too, and so they know that they just need to get your details off one not-so-secure site and then it’s open sesame for everything else. So, use different passwords – completely different.
6. Cyber secure people are wary of personal info on groups
Those not-too-safe sites we just mentioned? Well, few are as unsafe as groups on WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram. Especially not those really large ones where you don’t know each individual on there very well. We don’t care if it’s the church group or the over 70 year-olds’ group – don’t send any personal info including bank details and your address. You never know who is part of the group and looking for information.
7. … Or Gmail
This may come as a shock, but some cyber experts consider Gmail accounts easily hacked and not too safe. The extreme popularity of them might be one reason but, just to be safe, do not send sensitive information over Gmail if you can help it.
Remember, we can’t be 100% secure online as new hacking techniques are being unceasingly developed – but we can be mindful of our online security. If you are ever in doubt, update your passwords.