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Five top tips for staying safe online

With an increasing number of people connecting online, cyber security is becoming more prominent as an issue.

Technology has progressed immensely over the last 10 years or so and it is vital that businesses, the public sector and individuals are up to date with the latest developments so they can mitigate the risks of security breaches.

Whilst 100 per cent security can never be ensured as hackers develop new techniques – the recent cyber-attack on TalkTalk has demonstrated this – there are some simple tips that individuals can follow to enhance their security and feel comfortable online. Here are my top 5:

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication on all your online accounts that support it – this is the single biggest improvement you can make and is almost always free of charge and don’t reuse passwords – if one account appears in a leak, all your accounts are wide open. Set individually and use a password manager to help you manage them.
  2. Learn to recognise phishing scams and social engineering, never email passwords or credit card details. No one doing good is ever going to ask you to “Send them your password." Also bear in mind how easy it is to find out identifiable info from Facebook and Google, e.g. Facebook happily hands out your date of birth and mother’s maiden name given half a chance.
  3. Don’t illegally download books, music, software – the sites and the packages are usually crawling with malware, the goodies people are looking for are more often than not just scammers bait. Even when downloading apps (especially smartphone) that looks legitimate make sure you check the author of the application. Many apps have clones that may seem similar but could be using your data and device without you knowing.
  4. Run reputable and updated virus/firewall software and keep your computer/device bang up to date with security updates and software. Don’t pay attention to popups that tell you your computer/device is infected; if you suspect you’ve been compromised then run a check with your reputable virus checker.
  5. Perform complete system backups regularly. This will help you recover any lost or compromised files in case of either a system failure or an attack such as ransomware.

Jonny Voon, Innovate UK’s lead expert on internet technology.

Jonny will be attending Innovate 2015 in London, where he will meet some of the most exciting innovators, international investors and buyers, government officials, and academics in the internet technology sector.