Cyber Aware is the government’s advice on staying secure during the COVID-19 lockdown. Our guest from the National Cyber Security Centre explains the campaign.
This is a guest post by Kate Sinnott of the National Cyber Security Centre. All views expressed are her own, and not necessarily shared by Which?.
The last few weeks have changed the way we use technology in ways we probably never imagined.
It’s important to make sure that you are doing this securely to protect yourself from cybercrime. To help, the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) Cyber Aware campaign gives you six important steps to stay secure online.
Six NCSC tips for staying secure
1. Create a separate password for your email: your personal email account contains lots of important information about you and is the gateway to all your other online accounts. Protecting it with a strong password that is different to all your others will help keep it secure.
2. Create a strong password using three random words: weak passwords can be hacked in seconds. The longer and more unusual your password is, the stronger it becomes and the harder it is to hack. The best way to make your password long and difficult to hack is by using a sequence of three random – but memorable words.
3. Save your passwords in your browser: using the same passwords for all your accounts makes you vulnerable – if that one password is stolen all your accounts can be accessed. We know it can be difficult to remember lots of different passwords, so to help make it easier you should store your passwords in your browser when prompted to; it’s quick, convenient and safer than re-using the same password.
4. Turn on two-factor authentication: two-factor authentication (2FA) is a free security feature that gives you an extra layer of protection online and stops cyber criminals getting into your accounts – even if they have your password. It does this by sending you a text message or code to check you are who you say you are. During this extended time at home, why not check which online accounts you use offer 2FA and turn it on where available.
5. Update your devices: using the latest versions of software, apps and operating system on your phone or tablet can immediately improve your security. Remember to update regularly, or set your phone or tablet to automatically update so you don’t have to think about it.
6. Turn on backup: If your phone, tablet or laptop is hacked, your sensitive personal data could be lost, damaged or stolen. Make sure you keep a copy of all your important information by backing it up. It will also mean you can recover your important information if you break your device or accidentally put it through the washing machine.
Reporting scams and protecting others
Cyber criminals are preying on fears of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and sending scam emails that try to trick people into clicking through to fraudulent websites.
You may have received an email that claims to have a ‘cure’ for the virus or encourages you to donate. Like many scams, these emails are preying on real-world concerns and trying to trick you into clicking on a link.
If you receive an email that you’re not quite sure about, you can forward it to the NCSC’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service by forwarding it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If anything is found to be malicious, the NCSC will take it down and you will have helped protect others from falling victim to scams.
Which? is now also warning of scams like this with its scam alert service.
This was a guest post by Kate Sinnott of the National Cyber Security Centre. All views expressed were her own, and not necessarily shared by Which?.