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Cyber security: Keeping you and your family protected online


The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that we are spending more time online whether for work, entertainment or leisure purposes. Cyber criminals are exploiting this so having the tools to protect you and your family is vital.

Established in 2020 by the Department of Finance, The NI Cyber Security Centre works to make Northern Ireland cyber safe, secure and resilient for its citizens and businesses. Focused on building a better-informed society and business community to better protect technology, systems and data from cyber-attacks, you can learn more about how to protect yourself here.

Regardless of your level of understanding, there is a need to keep your online data secure from potential cyber-attacks. From basic steps such as adding an extra layer of protection to little tips and tricks to keep in mind, below we’ve got a few examples of how you can remember passwords, patch and repair.

Separate passwords

Updating your password is likely one of the first things that comes to mind, but there is more to it than that. Making sure you have unique passwords for different platforms/accounts is just as important, as it can make it much more difficult for a potential hacker to get through to your information.

Using random words

There is a reason why so many websites are now stopping people from using passwords such as “password1234” and so forth. These can be easily guessed by an individual trying to access the account, opening up the potential for them to reset it and block your access.

One way to approach this would be to create passwords that include seemingly unrelated words and numbers, such as “ChairTennisTorch187.” Considerably harder to guess than using the name of your home town or a beloved family pet, it’s a great way to add an extra layer of protection to your online account.

Save them on your browser

Web browsers such as Chrome or Edge are used every day, but you might not have known that they can also help you remember your passwords. By allowing your browser to store them securely for you, you no longer have to keep track of them yourself by doing something like writing them down on a piece of paper (risky in itself!).

This will make it easier for you to follow the advice we already provided about using different passwords. Once your main browser account (Google for Chrome, Outlook for Edge, etc.) has a strong password, it can take some of the pressure off your hands.

Two-factor authentication

Setting up two-factor authentication is quite simply a must for anyone using social media and email, be it for personal or business reasons. An additional safeguard to protect your account in the event of someone trying to gain access to it illegally, it means you don’t have to be entirely reliant on the password.

The additional step is that you have to enter in a code that is sent to you (often via email or text), to verify your identity. In short, this means that someone gaining access to your password would no longer automatically be able to take over control of the account.

Keep devices updated

If you don’t have your phone set to automatically download updates, also known as patches, there’s a chance that the list of apps that require updates will start to build up. While it might work perfectly fine and you might not notice anything different with it, this can leave you open to potential cyber attacks.

Online privacy is a top priority for a lot of the websites/apps we use on a daily basis, but the people running the apps have to constantly find new ways to protect your data. Using the latest version of the software (downloaded from trustworthy sources only), helps ensure you are getting the best protection possible.

Protect your data

While there is a lot you can do to help protect your data from being stolen, it is always worth being prepared for something to go wrong. If you were to end up losing files to a cyber attack or if your devices get damaged, having a backup can help ease the impact slightly.

Storing backups online with software such as Google Drive or Apple iCloud is one way to go. Setting up two-factor authentication with a strong password, it can offer more peace of mind should anything happen to your data.

If hackers get into your device or accounts, they could access your money, your personal information, or information about your business or steal your identity.

Protect yourself and your personal data from cyber criminals - Remember Passwords, Patch and Prepare. To find out more, visit the NI Cyber Security Centre website here.

If you’re a victim of a cyber attack report to Actionfraud or PSNI on 101.

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