Cyber security month: tips and tricks to stay safe online

October is a dedicated cyber security month, spurred on by the government of Canada and it’s public safety notification. It’s a month focused on helping people stay safe online and making them aware of things they can do to protect themselves. Here at Canadian Fraud News we feel it’s our responsibility to not only report on fraud and scam related news, but to help you find ways to keep your private information just that, private. This, as many Canadians have been made painfully aware of through situations like Equifax and Yahoo, it isn’t always easy.

So with this CFN original we decided to list out a few different tips and tricks that you can use to keep yourself safe when surfing the almighty web, using the ATM or deciding whether or not to answer that fishy sounding text message from your local bank branch (Hint: please don’t).

 

Check if your accounts have been hacked

The website Have I Been Pwned? Sounds silly and illegitimate but it’s actually the exact opposite. Created by Microsoft Regional Director Troy Hunt, Have I Been Pwned? Allows you to enter you email address or social media handle and the website lets you know if those accounts have been compromised.

Hunt is also a Cyber Security Developer and blogger and created the website in the aftermath of the Adobe hack, the biggest customer account breach at the time. Completely free and easy to use Have I Been Pwned is a great way to quickly check if your internet presence has been compromised

 

Utilize A Password Manager

Password managers seem complicated and annoying but they’re incredibly versatile and important. Basically, a good password manager acts as a vault for all of your other passwords, and therefore you only have to remember the single password to access the manager. But the other great thing they can do, is create strong logins, remembers them for you, but also changes them on a weekly basis.

There’s a lot of great paid password managers, but we aim to save you money here at CFN, so look at DashLanefor all your privacy needs. It works on both mobile and desktop, IOS and Android. Not only does it prompt you when it’s time to change old passwords but it also has a private wallet feature, letting you do your banking and shopping securely. 

 

Clear your cache regularly and turn off saved passwords in browsers

Your cookies, history and browser cache acts as a virtual pattern of your internet surfing habits. If you aren’t careful these habits can reveal sensitive information. Your home address, family information, all of it can be up for grabs if you leave your cache stagnant for too long.

While it’s fairly easy to do it yourself, there are tons of clean up utility programs that have options for tidying up your internet history. And when it comes to password management, don’t rely on the built in options that your browser offer. While it’s a great temporary solution, leave password protection up to those who offer professional services. The reason being is that if passwords are saved within your browser platform and you haven’t cleared your data history recently, it could be a goldmine for potential fraudsters.

 

Consider using a SSL connection for public wifi

a secure sockets layer might sound daunting but really it’s just an  layer of security between you and the server that you’re trying to connect with. Many of your daily use websites (think Facebook, Twitter, Google) will allow you to connect to their services via a SSL connection. What you’re looking for in an SSL connection is that green padlock at the beginning of a website url in your search bar. If you notice that, along with http(s) before the website name, you should be good to go. 

This type of security is especially good when using public wifi that isn’t password protected. But even when at a coffee shop with protected wifi, always assume that you’re information is much easier to grab just to the public nature of your situation. Using a VPN will also help protect your identity when using public wifi by creating a private network that only you or whoever has the login information, can access. While most credible VPNs aren’t free, they are a great investment for staying private online. 

Common sense wins every time

No, Toronto police will never text you about outstanding parking tickets and no your bank won’t text you about a $20 bill that hasn’t been paid. It’s important to trust your gut when it comes to suspicious activity towards your account.

Even if something seems harmless, if you don’t know the sender of the latest email in your inbox, and the subject line is sketchy or non-existent, don’t open it. Yes of course, mistakes happen and things don’t always as appear as they seem. But if you remain diligent about your accounts and social media then you’ll be okay. 

 

Stay tuned throughout October as we’ll have more stories dedicated to cyber security month.

Devin Jones is the head writer and social media producer at Canadian Fraud News. Devin was raised in Toronto and is a graduate of the Ryerson University journalism program. As a former Digital Media editor at the Ryerson Review of Journalism, you can find Devin camera and coffee in hand, at his home photo studio.

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