Most of us use the internet every day in order to access social media, do personal or business banking, book a holiday, and get the latest updates on news and sporting events. We perform so many tasks using the internet, believing that it is safe, that many people don’t take the same precautionary measures to protect their person and property that they do when they walk out of the front door. This has left many people open to identity theft, financial fraud or worse.
Brian Mathew, Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Wiltshire and Swindon, has put together a useful list of things to remember when going online:
Update your password
It's understandable that you want your passwords to be easy to remember, but that's putting your computer and possibly your finances at risk. Passwords should be at least eight characters; include a combination of numbers, letters and symbols; and not be words related to you.
Instead, use a memory device. Use the first letter of each word and include a date. "Tom was born in Chippingham in 1978." This might make your password "TwbiCi1978£" (add a symbol of your choice at the end). Hackers usually enter secured websites by exploiting people's weak passwords – don’t let it be you!
Keep your password safe
Always keep your passwords private, and if someone else needs to access a site that requires your password (such as a family member) remember to change your password afterwards. Even the most well-meaning person could accidently leave you open to cybercrime if they can access your account without your knowledge. Just as you keep your PIN private, make sure you keep your passwords private too.
Keep your passwords separate
If you have a spreadsheet of passwords or other digital files that are highly sensitive, consider encrypting the files using one of the many free file encryption tools found online. Alternatively, you can save them onto CD/DVD in order to help keep them safe from hackers.
Be careful where you go
We know that doing some actions or going to some places at certain times put us at greater risk of being victims of a crime and on the internet the same rules apply. Going to unsecured sites, viewing adult content or going to unregulated gambling sites (to name a few) put you at higher risk of being a victim of cybercrime than staying with more trusted and secure sites.
Don't fall for pop-ups
If an e-mail or pop-up window asks you to enter your username or password, don't do it. Instead, open your browser and go to the site directly. If you're still not convinced, call the company. Reputable companies will never ask you for your login information through an e-mail. If someone slipped a piece of paper under your door asking for the pin-code to the house alarm you wouldn’t tell them, so why do it online? If in doubt, log out!
Get to know your bank account
If you're worried about your bank or credit card company making you susceptible to cybercrime, it's more likely that your actions will make you a victim. Concentrate on what you can do to protect yourself and your computer. Check your financial accounts regularly to ensure no fraudulent activity has taken place. When making purchases, try and use secure third-party payment services like PayPal to add an extra layer of security to your transactions.
Tackling cybercrime is one of Brian’s five ways to help create a safer Wiltshire & Swindon
- Brian will work to cut "management" and create more "coppers", free to do their work in the best way they know how - out on the beat.
- Brian wants crime designed-out of neighbourhoods. He wants to rejuvenate Neighbourhood Watch and Farm Watch, making them central to happier, healthier communities that look out for each other, with more "Street Pastors" keeping our town centres safe at night.
- Brian knows drug laws need reform based on science, not political prejudice.
- Brian understands that criminals need to confront the impacts of their crimes through restorative justice with proceeds from their crimes returned to victims and communities that they wreck.
- Brian says we need to prioritise cybercrime: protecting children, combating identity theft and fraud.
Let’s be tough on criminals, kind to victims and communities.
Vote for Dr Brian Mathew to be the Police and Crime Commissioner on 5th May!