10 simple steps to home Cyber Security

Follow these useful tips to keep your 'Smart Home' safe

Smart devices are becoming increasingly popular in households, a smart device is an electronic mechanism that is connected to the internet. Smart devices in households are also referred to as the ‘connected home’ meaning you can control various household appliances using your smartphone or smart devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa. Smart devices could be temperature controls, air conditioning, lighting, security locks, cameras and many more.

10 simple steps for home cyber security

  1. Enable security protections

Wireless routers are known as the ‘digital doorway’ to a home. Invest in a router with strong security features from a trusted vendor. Ensure that all built-in security protections on your devices are enabled. For example, restrict Wi-Fi access to known devices only, or make your network non-discoverable so that devices need to know your network name in order to connect to it.

For households with children/teenagers, enable built-in parental controls on your computers/devices to prevent them from inadvertently accessing unverified websites that may harm your home network. You may also consider installing trusted third-party parental control software/apps.

  1. Install anti-virus software

Ensure you install anti-virus software on all devices where possible and always keep them updated. Enable automatic scans and software updates. Leading developers of anti-virus software work tirelessly to track developments of viruses and malware to keep their software current, but this is only effective if users install the latest updates.

  1. Create secure passwords

Ensure you create strong, complex passwords and change them frequently. The UK Government recommends using three random words to create a strong password.Short and weak passwords with personal details (such as names) are relatively easy for attackers to determine and use to their advantage.

Create different passwords for different accounts. Using the same password for different applications is like having one key that unlocks all of the doors in your house.

  1. Back-up your data

Ransomware works by locking your data, following which the cyber criminal demands a ransom to unlock that data. If you regularly back-up your data, you can easily restore your systems and avoid being held to ransom. Back-up your data regularly, and also disconnect the back-up device from your computer so that virus and malware infections cannot spread to your back-up files.

  1. Install the latest operating system updates

Ensure that you install the latest updates for all operating systems on your computers and devices. Never procrastinate: updates should be installed as soon as they are made available. Where possible, enable automatic updates on your devices.

  1. Only download legitimate software and apps

Only download ‘apps’ and software from trusted sources (e.g. authenticated app stores such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store). This does not only apply to mobile phone apps – Microsoft and Apple have both introduced ‘app stores’ for PCs and Macs.

Never download unknown software, and always be wary of ‘free’ software offered through email or websites. Sites that offer free software or downloadable material that is usually not available for free should raise your suspicion.

  1. Protect your online privacy

Be aware of the kind of information and opinions you are posting on social media platforms and websites. Your innocent post may potentially expose you to the threat of social engineering fraud.

  1. Be vigilant

Remain vigilant and suspicious of unexpected phone calls or emails requesting confidential information (e.g. bank account details). Do not click on email attachments or links unless you are sure that it has been sent from a trustworthy source.

Even if the email looks like it came from a legitimate source, contact the alleged source directly and not through the links or phone numbers in the email. Remember: banks and other similar organisation will never ask for your PIN numbers or full passwords.

  1. Monitor your various accounts

Monitor your bank accounts and emails regularly for any suspicious activity. If you spot unfamiliar activity, it could be a sign that your personal information has been compromised. Time is of the essence; the earlier you identify an incident, the faster you can respond to, and limit, the damage.

  1. Be prepared

Be prepared for when a cyber incident occurs. For example, have you considered how you would continue to operate if you could not use your computer systems?

Take the time to plan ahead and make contingency plans so that you know who to contact and how to respond quickly to an incident. This can reduce the impact of financial losses and also help you get your systems back up and running faster.

Information source: HSB Engineering Insurance




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