Top 12 tips for stay­ing safe on­line

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

As the pop­u­lar­ity of on­line shop­ping in­creases in Kuwait, so does the like­li­hood of fall­ing foul of cy­ber crooks, not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause they are putting in ex­tra effort dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son, but sim­ply be­cause more of us are do­ing more on­line shop­ping at this time of the year, and we’re on the look­out for the hottest deals.

Sophos has put to­gether the fol­low­ing cy­ber se­cu­rity tips to help you fo­cus on fam­ily, food and fun over dur­ing this sea­son, rather than deal­ing with the headache of stolen credit card de­tails or im­por­tant doc­u­ments lost to ran­som ware.

1) Clean up your pass­words be­fore you start shop­ping

Don’t use the same pass­word on more than one web­site. If the crooks get one pass­word, they’ll im­me­di­ately try it on all your other ac­counts. Make your pass­words as long and com­plex as you can; in fact, con­sider us­ing a pass­word man­ager, which will come up with a unique pass­word for each web­site au­to­mat­i­cally. 2) Up­date your de­vices When patches come out, most of them fix se­cu­rity holes that the crooks ei­ther al­ready know about or will find out about soon. Don’t put off se­cu­rity up­dates be­cause “later will be fine”. Fol­low our ad­vice: patch early, patch of­ten. 3) Back up your files Whether you’re tak­ing your lap­top on hol­i­day, or stay­ing at home with your faith­ful desk­top this fes­tive sea­son, don’t for­get to back up your pre­cious doc­u­ments on all of your de­vices. That way if your files are lost, stolen, “re­con­fig­ured” by a teenaged “ex­pert”, or, worst of all, held for ex­tor­tion by ran­som ware, you can still get your data back.

4) Watch out for booby-trapped ATMs when shop­ping on the High Street

Watch out for mod­i­fied ATMs when you with­draw money. Crooks of­ten glue fake parts onto or around ATMs in the hope of covertly read­ing both your card data and your PIN. If you see an ATM with any com­po­nents that look as though they don’t be­long, re­port it to the bank and the po­lice. That way you pro­tect your­self and every­one else too. 5) Be­ware of lo­gin links in emails With so many emails flying around over the fes­tive shop­ping pe­riod, it’s a pop­u­lar time for cy­ber crooks to use fake ‘phish­ing’ emails to trick you into hand­ing over per­sonal data. When an email urges you to click on a link to lo­gin to your ac­count and change your pass­word, or some sim­i­lar sort of sub­terfuge, it’s prob­a­bly crooks try­ing to trick you onto a fake site that will look ex­actly like the real thing, ex­cept that the crooks get your pass­word, not the real web­site. If you want to check a trans­ac­tion on one of your ac­counts, open your browser and browse to the web­site your­self.

6) Look for the pad­lock in the URL bar when shop­ping on­line

A pad­lock in the ad­dress bar and a URL that starts with “HTTPS” means the web­site uses an en­crypted or se­cure con­nec­tion. All ma­jor web­sites, not just fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, use HTTPS these days, so if you see a site that’s ask­ing for per­sonal in­for­ma­tion but doesn’t have the pad­lock, you can be sure it’s a fake. 7) Watch out for bo­gus courier emails Dur­ing this time, you may very well get prod­ucts de­liv­ered to your home, so you’ll be ex­pect­ing a visit from a courier com­pany. Crooks know this and send fake emails about bo­gus de­liv­ery prob­lems, hop­ing to draw you into their web. If you want to con­tact a courier com­pany to check on a de­liv­ery, look up their phone num­ber or email ad­dress your­self - don’t use any links or in­for­ma­tion 9) Turn off Flash on your de­vices Want to do one sin­gle, sim­ple thing to im­prove your se­cu­rity, now and for­ever? Turn off Flash, or unin­stall it al­to­gether if you can. Booby-trapped Flash files are still a pop­u­lar way of spread­ing mal­ware, and with fewer That could be you, your house, your baby, or some­thing else that you’d pre­fer to keep away from pry­ing eyes. 11) Think be­fore you share on so­cial me­dia Maybe it sounds ob­vi­ous, but over shar­ing on so­cial me­dia is a bad idea, and there is no bet­ter time to re­mind you of this than the party sea­son. Whether it’s photos of other peo­ple, your credit card de­tails, the fact that you’re hold­ing a re­ally amaz­ing party on Fri­day night or any­thing else, stop and think be­fore you share. Once you post it, you’ll never be able to take it back.

12) Up­grade the soft­ware on any new de­vices be­fore us­ing them

Even “new” com­put­ers and hard­ware de­vices usu­ally need up­dates right away. Af­ter all, be­tween when they were made and when you first use them, the crooks have had time to find new se­cu­rity holes to at­tack. If you want to pro­tect your new de­vices, al­ways patch be­fore us­ing them, even if it’s Christ­mas Day and you’re dy­ing to try out your brand new present.

Fi­nally, make sure your com­put­ers at home are se­cure. Sophos Home is free and al­lows you to pro­tect up to 10 Win­dows and Mac com­put­ers from mal­ware, ran­som ware, phish­ing and more. You can have dif­fer­ent set­tings for adults and kids, and the web fil­ter lets you block ads. It’s an easy-to-use so­lu­tion that takes min­utes to down­load and get started. And re­mem­ber, when 2017 comes around, all of these tips will still be valid. In other words, as much as we’re urg­ing you not to let your com­puter se­cu­rity guard down over the fes­tive sea­son, we’re also en­cour­ag­ing you to keep your se­cu­rity guard up ev­ery day. Cy­ber se­cu­rity is for life, not just for this sea­son.

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