24/7 connectivity means cybersecurity is an ongoing job that extends to the home, the office and everywhere in between.
It’s too easy to dismiss cybersecurity as something that we only have to worry about between 9 and 5. Ten years ago, we didn’t face the same, all-permeating levels of reliance on tech and connectivity we are seeing today. As a result, we’ve found ourselves face-to-face with a relatively new security problem that can potentially affect all aspects of our lives.
Our constant online shopping, social networking and browsing habits mean we are all subject to a hugely increased degree of digital threats. Some of these threats may seem trivial or straightforward, but they are exactly the ones we tend to overlook.
Something as simple as leaving your social profile logged in on a public computer could leave family and friends open to attack from someone pretending to be you, or worse. Maybe you have a debit or credit card associated with a social profile, which you left logged in at the library or airport. With just one moment of carelessness, you’ve given some stranger free reign over your most intimate messages and possibly your bank account too.
Cybersecurity is not just the domain of the IT department anymore. We are all responsible for our digital security. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that hard: a slight change in habits, a few common-sense precautions and a healthy dose of scepticism are all you really need to stay safe online.
For example, when you go online shopping on a public wifi connection, make sure you have valid certificates from sites you are using. It’s probably a good idea to avoid using banking apps or sharing sensitive information on a public wifi, just in case. You never know who might be snooping around.
If anything looks dodgy, do a quick check for website validation by using a site like URL Void. It can be a good idea to run a quick glance over a site to see if any potentially dangerous links or content have been reported on it. Scamwatch, an Australian Government website, is also a good place to check for scams of all types.
Unfortunately, we are still vulnerable when we’re out of the office. A data breach at home or a payment sent to the wrong place could have much greater personal consequences than if it happened at work. It’s imperative to protect ourselves wherever we are. Keep your webcams covered when not in use and stay away from pop up ads that could take you off the safe highways of the internet.
Some of the bigger dangers come from the simple mistakes we can make in our day-to-day tasks. My grandparents were recently scammed out of $160 when applying for an American visa. It should have cost them $14 each, but without thinking to check the validity of the site, they handed over the extra money to a third party process their request.
I just fell victim to a scam myself recently when I ordered a pet tag for our cat online. I didn’t even think to check the validity of the site as it looked perfectly legitimate to me. But a month later, with still no sign of the collar arriving, I checked their ratings. All were negative, pointing to the fact that the site was a scam.
The moral here is that if anything online doesn’t look legitimate, it’s worth doing your due diligence before sharing any personal details with it.
For me it was just a pet collar, for my grandparents it was ‘just’ $160. For you, it could be much, much worse. Stay safe out there.