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Most of us use technology much more now than we ever have done before and with it becoming so much a part of our lives there is a real possibility that we may become complacent about guarding against the potential risks from internet or mobile phone based fraud.

Here are 5 things that you should bear in mind to try and stay as safe as possible when using on-line facilities.

Guard your personal information

You may think that there is not very much information about you available on the internet but you would probably be wrong. It does not take very long for an expert to find details about you, your partner and even your children particularly if you or your partner are active on Facebook or Twitter. Make sure your privacy settings are activated so that only people you know and trust are able to find out those personal bits of information that fraudsters can use to attack you

Passwords

Incredibly the use of insecure passwords is widespread and the more information that is available about you the easier it is for a fraudster to crack your password. People frequently use the name of their pet or child in the belief that that will be secure but that is simply not the case. The most secure passwords are those generated at random however these are extremely difficult to remember. An alternative could be to use a short phrase with alternating lower and upper case, for example MyDoGiSrOvEr! or MyD0G1Sr0v3r! still not easy to remember but very secure.

Backup

Criminals gain access to and attack businesses by sending messages containing software known as “ransomware”. This encrypts data on a computer and demands a ransom from the business owner to release the data. If you have a daily backup that is not connected to your server then this can be used to restore data and avoid a ransom. It might also be good practice to backup to the Cloud in case both your computer and normal backup are hit by a disaster. Never run your data off your backup as this makes it vulnerable to corruption or attack. Just restore and remove.

Software and updates

Always make sure that your anti-virus software and operating system software have the latest updates installed for them, it is a good idea to have the automatic update function switched on and don’t be tempted to put off the update. Most of the time the regularly issued updates are to protect against newly discovered security issues. Is it worth the risk of attack just to save a little time?

Scepticism

One of the best means of protection is the human interface. Were you expecting something? Does it look just too good? Do you need to be that trusting? Ask those sorts of questions and if you are in doubt proceed with great caution. Don’t click on the link in the e-mail, don’t open the unusual attachment and never give any confidential information or part with any money unless you have instigated the transaction no matter how plausible the contact may seem.

Thanks to South West Regional Crime Squad – Cyber Crime Division and Barclays Bank for their input to this article.