Christmas is a time for caring and sharing with everyone. But don't be fooled, it's never a time for sharing valuable information with cyber criminals. Here’s our Christmas gift to you… Cyber security tips!

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1) Create Strong Passwords:

One of the best ways to protect your online security is to use strong passwords. Password strength is based on length, complexity, and unpredictability. Remember that the longer the password, the harder it is to crack. Ideally, your password should be 16-20 characters long and include a range of capitalised letters, numbers, symbols, and lowercase letters to increase the complexity. It's also important to choose a password that isn't linked to anything personal or often used, such as names, places, sports, etc. 


2) Use Multiple Passwords:

Using a variety of passwords is also essential in protecting your online security. By having various passwords, if a breach occurs with one of your passwords, the hackers don't have access to every account you have since they require a different password. 


 3) Update your Software:

It's also crucial to keep your software updated. Developers often update applications due to security breaches. By not updating your software, you could be exposing yourself to threats that updates have repaired. 


4) Take Precaution with Public Wi-Fi:

When using public Wi-Fi, be cautious as it is notorious for lacking adequate protection from cybercrime. Public Wi-Fi is more vulnerable as it is an unencrypted, open network, meaning hackers can view information transmitted. It is recommended to use a VPN (virtual private network) as this encrypts your data and hides your IP address or your mobile hotspot. 

Lady drinking coffee whilst using laptop in coffee shop


5) Check your Links:

Cybercriminals are taking advantage of people who do not thoroughly check links before opening them. This form of cyber-attack is called phishing. Criminals send deceptive emails, seemingly from reliable sources, tricking you into sending personal/financial details. They can then use this information for fraud or identity theft. Always double-check links before opening them and ensure you check that the email has been sent from a verified sender/email domain that you recognise. 


6) Use Multi-Factor Authentication:

Another way to enhance your online security is to use multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA adds extra layers of security to prevent unauthorised access. This can include verifying your login by gaining approval from a text message, or phone call, or using an application like Microsoft Authenticator that utilises numerical codes and/or facial recognition. 


7) Stay Vigilant:

When in a public place, like a coffee shop, it is crucial to remain alert and mindful of your surroundings. Other people may attempt to look over your shoulder to catch confidential information. Furthermore, never leave your laptop unattended as someone may not physically steal it but obtain access to the data stored on it. Hackers can insert a USB stick into your computer that contains a virus, then infect your device without you knowing. 


8) Fake Accounts:

Be wary of online conversations, as cybercriminals can create fake social media accounts, pretending to be someone they aren't, like the owner of a business. They will try to befriend you, deceiving you into leaking private information, which they could then use against you or your organisation. 

Suspicious man wearing balaclava, sunglasses and hoodie using a laptop


9) Social Engineering:

Social engineering is often a long process. A criminal will unknowingly hack into your email, study your emails, learn your vocabulary, who you interact with, and when you undertake certain actions such as sending monthly invoices. Once they gain an understanding of the above, they are likely to send an invoice to one of your clients (in the same format you would send) but change the billing information to their details. As this email has come from your email address, the client is likely to pay, believing it's you. Senior staff in the organisation are often the targets, however, this does not mean everyone can let their guard down! 


10) Data Breaches:

To have your data compromised, you don't have to be directly hacked. Some credentials you input into a site (email/password) could be leaked if the website is hacked. Hackers gain access to your information and then can sell it or try to use it. Always be aware of data breaches on sites you use and update your password if and when prompted, for example, Apple often notify users via Settings when their credentials have been involved in a data leak. 


11) Malicious Applications:

Be careful when downloading applications from the internet. While many apps are created with good intentions, some are created with malicious intent. Ensure you are getting the application from a trusted source. 


12) Protect your Data:

Lastly, make sure to back up your data. In the event of losing your data, having a reserve that includes your valuable data is essential. The Cloud is a must due to the increased security benefits and greater architecture.

Person touching a padlock icon with surrounding online sectors that could use protection


It's important to remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing effort that requires your attention year-round. The measures outlined here are just the basics - there's more you can do to protect yourself and your business from cybercrime. If you're interested in learning more about how to stay safe and the services offered by ITRM to protect you, don't hesitate to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members here

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