Geraldine Strawbridge

Geraldine Strawbridge is a graduate from the University of Glasgow. As the Editor of Cyber Radio, Geraldine is focused on delivering the latest cyber security news whilst making cyber security more relatable to people in their everyday lives.

Cyber-crime is continuing to grow and evolve at a rapid rate. According to Trolls Annual Global fraud and risk survey, 86 % of companies around the world reported they had experienced at least one cyber incident in 2017. This massive rise in cyber-crime has made us all that bit more cautious about our online activities. Each week we hear about a new phishing scam or ransomware attack and this has made us think more carefully about the type of links and attachments we should or shouldn’t be opening.

Our growing reliance on the internet to carry out every-day tasks such as online banking, shopping, catching up with friends, has meant that the threat landscape online has dramatically increased. Cybercriminals have taken full advantage of this growth in the internet to scam us and launch highly targeted attacks. New Internet threats are appearing on a daily basis and we must do everything we can to protect ourselves from becoming the latest victim of the hackers.

Below are the top ten things that you should stop doing online

  1. Selecting the “Keep me signed in” box on Internet accounts and websites.

The best way to protect ourselves from being hacked online is to change our passwords on a regular basis and use separate passwords for multiple accounts.  It can sometimes be difficult to remember all these passwords, so people will stay signed in to avoid having to re-enter passwords. Despite the convenience of selecting the ‘keep me signed in box’ you should always avoid this option as makes it extremely easy for a hacker to steal our details or for someone to snoop at our browsing activity. Any malicious act or spending sprees could also be attributed to you if you were still signed in.


  1. Not using automatic updates or updating your software when notified

Software security exploits are responsible for a huge number of cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals will often attack weaknesses in software that have not been remedied by an update. The best way to ensure that you are protected is to turn on automatic updates or update software as soon as you are notified.


  1. Searching for the latest gossip or celebrity scandals

Cybercriminals know that individuals will often gravitate towards shocking or scandalous material online. They will use this information to lure us into clicking dodgy links, infect our device with malware or scam us out of money.


  1. Downloading from unofficial download or streaming websites

Downloading or streaming from untrusted websites can leave you vulnerable to malware. These streaming or movie download sites often host malware and may attempt to steal personal information or flood your screen with ads that may include inappropriate content. The best way to remain safe when downloading or streaming is to use a reputable site where you will normally pay a fee for membership. A rule of thumb on the Internet is that if it’s advertised as free, it usually has free malware as well.


  1. Free online games- usually found on Facebook and other social networking sites

Be extremely careful with these games as they may contain malware or have poor quality assurance which could leave your computer vulnerable. Games that ask for your social media log in details could be capturing these details for a fraudulent reason. Never enter your personal credentials into any game registration forms.


  1. Connecting to unknown wireless networks

Wireless networks in airports, hotels or cafes can put your computer at high risk of being hacked. Using an unknown wireless network can give anyone within range access to sensitive or personal information that you send across this network. Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid free Wi-Fi or at the very least make sure that it is requires a password for you to join.


  1. Leave Social Media Privacy settings wide open

It’s important to carefully review your privacy settings, ensuring that only trusted individuals can see your personal information such as your birthday or location. Hackers are increasingly turning to social media to research their victims. Once they have a better understanding of their target, they will start to send personalised emails which include links that once clicked will infect a computer with malware. Always take care before you share and remember that sensitive or damaging information should never be shared on these sites.


  1. Using the same password for all your online accounts

Stealing passwords is one of the oldest tricks in the book for hackers and unfortunately, we make it all too easy for them by using the same password for multiple accounts and choosing a word or numbers with a personal connection. Creating a unique password is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from being hacked online. A strong password should be between 8-15 characters long, a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters and include numbers or symbols. The longer and more obscure the password, the harder it is to crack.


  1. Entering online competitions

Competitions have been used for scams long before the growth of the internet, however they have become more sophisticated as time has moved on. Online competitions are usually scams, set up to gain personal information or may even be used for a phishing campaign. Only enter the competitions on websites of big name brands or reputable websites that you know and trust.


  1. Downloading and using Freeware or free software

The same rule applies as before, if something is advertised on the Internet as being free, it’s usually because it contains free malware. It is easy for less experienced users to be tricked into installing “bad” software and therefore it is vital to always use a trustworthy site.

For further information, on how you can protect yourself online, click here