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How to stay safe and secure online in 2018

One of the few industries in the world that will never see budget cuts is security. As the world grows ever more complex and connected, our valuable information is increasingly exposed to malicious actors around the world.

However, there are experts around the world working behind the scenes to fight the good fight, thwarting the hackers with ingenious new technologies such as the self-healing BIOS, self-encrypting drives and pre-boot authentication.

But while these guardians are feverishly battling on our behalf, all too often we turn out to be own worst enemy. Cutting corners, clicking suspect dodgy links and downloading untrustworthy materials – we honestly do bring it on ourselves.

So, here are a few good habits that will help prevent you from falling prey to today’s cyber-villains:

  1. Mum’s the word: Good, strong passwords. We’re all too familiar with the concept, but the truth is it can’t be understated and a couple of tweaks can turn an easy password into a tough nut to crack. Try adding a few numeric characters into a favourite phrase (like turning DangerZone into d@ng3rz0n3).
  2. Never too much: Two-step verification is fast becoming the new standard for security, and that’s a good thing. With a simple tap on your phone or ‘yes’ on your email you can ensure it’s really you. Also, always use a VPN when in public places – it encrypts all incoming and outgoing data.
  3. Locked up tight: Many people use the same password or a slight variation on it for multiple accounts, meaning one breach can leave all your accounts open. Try using a secure password manager (such as LastPass) to create unique passwords for each account – and keep track of them.
  4. Go ahead, make my day: Those with nothing to lose have nothing to steal. Ransomware is one of the most prevalent and profitable forms of cybercrime out there right now, but it can be circumvented very easily – with backups. Ransomware works by holding your valuable data to ransom, but if your files are securely backed up they don’t have a lot of value to a hacker.
  5. Click in haste, repent at leisure: Lots of malware requires users to open files or follow links, so users should always take care what they click on – if a link or file looks suspect, it probably is.
  6. In this season: And finally, perhaps the most obvious – keep your software up-to-date. Software providers are continually patching new bugs in their systems as they appear, but these fixes can only help if you let them in.