Given the large amount of money people keep online, it is no wonder that there are criminals trying to get their hands on it. Online fraud costs individuals and businesses billions of dollars per year. It pays to be careful when using the Internet in order to ensure your money is kept safe. You wouldn’t hand out your card, bank details and PIN to someone on the street, so don’t make it easy for cyber-criminals either. Follow these important tips to make sure your online money is secure:
Use passwords that are a mixture of numbers and letters, that are not easy to guess. For example “ik691hx90” is a much better password than “nynicks.” Furthermore, don’t use passwords that would be easy to guess if the person trying to hack your account knows something about you. The name of your dog or your favourite sports team does not make for a good password. It is also important to have different passwords for different sites, so that if your password is cracked, only one site is compromised. For extra security make sure you change your passwords every couple of months.
Secure Internet Connection
If using a router, make sure your broadcasted signal is sufficiently encrypted. If you don’t understand how, then ask someone who does. New routers are generally not secured, so if it has not been set up correctly anyone in the area can potentially gain access to you computer and its files. Make sure encryption is enabled and that SSID broadcasting is turned off. Finally, make sure your router is updated with the latest firmware, fixing any security flaws.
Be Aware of What You are Downloading
Do not accept files from people or sites you do not fully trust. Many viruses and spyware programs are sent through email systems and Internet Messaging (IM). Especially when talking to people on messaging programs, do not accept unknown files, especially .exe and .zip files. Even harmless looking files can contain hidden spyware (such as keyloggers) which can lead to your passwords being stolen. Only download files from sources you trust, namely reputable websites, and make sure you know what you are receiving.
Have a Powerful Anti-Virus & Spyware Package
One of the best means of protection in keeping your personal details secure is to have a paid, quality internet anti-virus suite. There are many relatively cheap packages that include anti-virus and anti-spyware, like System Optimizer Pro, to help protect your machine from the countless online threats. It is really worth investing a small amount of money to ensure your much larger sums of online money are secure.
Avoid Using Public Computers to Access Your Financial Accounts
It is generally a good policy not to access any important monetary sites on public computers. They are generally unsafe as the security of the machine is never clear. Keyloggers (spyware that records your keystrokes) can be physically attached and connections can generally be insecure – it just isn’t really worth the risk. If you have no choice, make sure you sign out and don’t check any “remember me” boxes. Better yet, don’t use public computers to access sensitive financial information. Wait until you get home.
Don’t visit pornography or torrent sites
These sites are notoriously laden with spyware and viruses and you are generally asking for trouble. If you must, then visit well-recognised, market-leading sites and at least make sure you have a robust security package. Internet fraudsters target and work with these sites to infect your machine with spyware and gain access to your passwords and sensitive information.