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Cybersecurity anxious? It's not as scary as you may think



In the digital age, it's easy to feel a little bit jittery about the security of our online lives. We're constantly bombarded with headlines about data breaches, identity theft, and cyberattacks, leaving many of us feeling like we're just one click away from disaster.  

 

Understandably, this can put many of us off using technology altogether! While it's important to stay vigilant and take steps to protect ourselves, the world of cyber security isn't as intimidating as it may seem at first.  


Understanding the fear 

As people who work in the field, we understand the concerns that people have about technology. There's a lot of fear about what might go wrong, but it's essential to recognise that there are also plenty of security measures in place to keep us safe. So, while we should never drop our guard entirely, we also shouldn't let fear paralyse us into thinking that cyber-Armageddon is imminent! 

 

Take, for example, the increase of smart devices in our homes. It seems like everything these days is connected to the internet, from our thermostats to our refrigerators! And while this can certainly raise some eyebrows, it's essential to remember that not every device needs to be online. Before connecting a new gadget to your WiFi network, ask yourself if it's truly necessary – in the case of the refrigerator we’d argue it isn’t. The fewer entry points there are into your network, the harder it is for hackers to gain access. 

 

Practical cyber security tips 

Of course, even with the best intentions, no system is entirely foolproof. That's why it's important to follow some basic cybersecurity practices to help keep you safe and sound. For starters, change your WiFi password and make sure it's strong and unique. This simple step can go a long way in thwarting would-be attackers. 

 

Speaking of passwords, it's surprising how many people still use "password123" or "123456" to protect their accounts. To be blunt, these passwords are about as effective as leaving your front door unlocked!  

 

Instead, go for complex passwords that include a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. If you can, try to avoid writing them down too; the days of passwords on sticky notes stuck to monitors should definitely be left in the past! And don't forget to enable multi-factor authentication whenever possible for an added layer of security. 

 

Be careful what you share online 

But it's not just passwords you need to be careful about protecting. Hopefully by now it’s common sense that you should always think twice before sharing any sensitive information online.  

 

Posting about your upcoming vacation or your brand-new car might seem harmless, but it can provide valuable information to cybercriminals. They can use this knowledge to break into your home whilst you’re busy sunning yourself on your holiday or put a plan in place to swipe your vehicle. In fact, did you know that the Range Rover is one of the most stolen vehicles in Warwickshire and the UK? It's true – just check the data. By exercising caution on social media and being mindful of what you share, you can reduce your risk of becoming a target. 

 

But you don’t just need to be careful what you post online, you also need to be careful with what you interact with online. For example, you may choose to take part in one of those fun online quizzes, however, information put into these quizzes, for example, your favourite colour, favourite schoolteacher or books, etc., can be risky. This is because you may unknowingly give up the answer to online security questions you use on various platforms. So, be cautious about what personal information you reveal, even in seemingly harmless online interactions like these quizzes. 

 

Adapting to new cybersecurity threats 

You may only be worried about security when it comes to computers or smartphones, but it’s not just these devices that are vulnerable. As technology continues to evolve, so do the methods that hackers use to exploit it.  

 

Think about the humble photocopier for example. In the past, it was a simple way for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information. Today, with the rise of WiFi and Bluetooth-enabled devices, there are even more potential entry points into our systems. The rule of thumb is simple: if it's easy for you to log into, it's probably easy for a hacker too. 

 

But there is some good news; most cyberattacks can be prevented with some basic precautions. By staying vigilant, practicing good password hygiene, and being cautious about what you share online, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to cybercrime.  

 

In addition to these measures, consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring multiple forms of verification before granting access to an account. This could involve receiving a code on your phone or using biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition. By enabling MFA, you make it much harder for attackers to gain unauthorised access to your accounts, even if they manage to obtain your password through phishing or other means. 

 

Plus, it’s so important to keep track of what devices are logged into your Wi-Fi network. Many people overlook this aspect of cybersecurity, but it's essential for protecting your home network from unauthorised access. Regularly review the list of connected devices on your router's settings and ensure that you recognise each one. If you spot any unfamiliar devices, investigate immediately as they could be a sign of a potential security breach.  

 

Remember, the best way to stay safe is to be more aware and secure than the next person. Hackers thrive on exploiting vulnerabilities, so don't make it easy for them. 

 

 

Need some extra help with your cybersecurity? We have some resources you can access here and you can contact us to find out how we can offer you some more tailored help. 

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The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others.  Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.

 

The Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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