The internet can be a big and scary place – we put a lot of information out into ‘the cloud’ and hope it’s safe, and looked after well. We store so much information when you think about it – photos, contact details, calendars, heck even lighting controls and home CCTV systems are often just pumped into the ether. When everything works and is secure, there’s nothing to worry about, however, when a server that holds your information is breached – potentially a lot of your digital world could end up in the wrong hands.

In this vlog I’ll discuss a few simple steps and ideas that will ensure your accounts are harder to get into. You might of already had some data leaked and not even know it, and I can help you find that out too! This is just a quick guide, and in no means comprehensive. If you want to find out more with a festive spin on things (it is December after all!) check out the Advent of Cyber on the TryHackMe blog.

Check if your data has been leaked already.

As I mentioned above, you might have already been the victim of a data breach. A really simple way to find out is use an online tool like Have I Been Pwned. If you enter your email address or phone number in international format (so if you’re in the UK remove the first 0 and add +44) it will search through varies data leaks and breaches to see if your information is in included. You might be lucky, and find it hasn’t. I’m not so lucky (see the picture below!)

I have been pwned!

If you find you have been ‘pwned’ it will tell you the companies involved and the data that could have been leaked. Sometimes it’s just usernames and passwords – other times it can be addresses, credit details, even images. If you’re on the lists, make sure you change your password ASAP – because if you don’t someone else could do it for you! Even if you’re not on the lists – this next tip is really important..

Don’t use the same passwords everywhere.

I know that sounds obvious, but so many people have the same passwords for everything. I know a few of mine overlap, but generally I used a Password Manager for mine. I use the Strong passwords that are suggested by Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari Browser – these are often gibberish with capitals, numbers and symbols dotted all over the place. VERY hard to remember admittedly, but super secure. If you save the passwords within your Google account or Apple account, the browsers and apps you use will have access to the passwords when you login with a Face ID or Fingerprint (or password). This means you don’t have to remember a string of digits for every account – your face is your password – and there’s only one of those!

Use 2FA – Two Factor Authentication

A lot of social networks and banking apps have the option of Two Factor Authentication. If they do – then please turn it on – it’s another way of keeping you safe. When you switch this on, whenever you try to login on a different device it will ask you for the password and then a second form of authentication. This could be a text message with a code number inside it, or a separate App like Google’s Authenticator that will generate a code for you. You’ll have to input this before you can access your account or app. So essentially your details are secured behind two layers of security (one where YOU don’t even know the code until you ask for it). Even if a password of yours is revealed, it’s useless without the additional code.

Be wary of unsecured WiFi

WiFi seems to be all around us now – pull out your phone and search for WiFi, generally you’re near some. But – be wary. Unsecured WiFi looks appealing – but sometimes, those ‘Free’ hotspots can be dubious. It’s pretty easy for a hacker to create a WiFI network that looks legit, but could be reading and storing every packet of data you send through it. If there’s no Padlock or key symbol next to the WiFi name – just be wary of what you use it for. Firing off a social media post is fine, but looking at your online banking might not be a great idea!

So.. There we go, a few little ideas and suggestions on how to keep your data secure – there is a whole world of more comprehensive information out there – you can even get cyber security training too. The internet is big and vast, but it doesn’t need to be scary – just keep these few ideas in mind, and you’ll be absolutely fine!

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