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4 steps to being cyber wise

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, an annual reminder for all Australians to stay secure online.

Oct 16, 2023, updated Oct 16, 2023

As large-scale data breaches become more common, customers and consumers are increasingly aware of the fragility of their digital security.

Organisations of all sizes and industries across Australia are under increased pressure to improve the security of their information, technology and people.

There are countless solutions, activities and products designed to help organisations feel prepared. However, not all solutions are fit for purpose.

There are four steps you can take to boost your cyber security whilst online:

  1. Update your devices regularly
  2. Turn on multi-factor authentication
  3. Back up important files
  4. Use passphrases and password managers.

1. Update your devices regularly

In today’s digital age, maintaining the security and performance of your devices is non-negotiable.

Think of updating your software, like servicing your car – it keeps things running smoothly and safely.

Here’s why you should never delay those update notifications:

  • Maximising performance: Updates often come with performance improvements, making your device faster and more efficient.
  • Enhancing security: Cyber threats are real, and updates are your shield. They fix vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
  • Avoiding risks: Delaying updates leaves your device vulnerable to cyber-attacks and potential data breaches.
  • Go automated: To ensure you never miss an update, automate the process. Enable automatic updates on your device by following these steps.
  • Timing matters: Updates are released to patch known vulnerabilities. Installing them promptly is key to staying secure.

In a nutshell, updating your devices is simple but crucial. It’s like giving your digital life a tune-up, ensuring top-notch performance while keeping cybercriminals at bay.

Don’t wait: update today for a safer, smoother experience.

2. Turn on Multi-Factor Authentication

Boost Your Online Security by implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

MFA acts like an additional lock on your online accounts, making them significantly more secure. Here’s why it’s essential:

  • MFA Advantage: MFA requires more than just a password to access your accounts. It’s like having multiple keys for a vault. Even if a cyber-criminal gets one part of your login, they’ll need the others, making unauthorised access much harder.
  • Your MFA Choices
    1. ​SMS Code: Receive a one-time code via text message.
    2. Authenticator App: Generate time-sensitive codes for extra security.
    3. Biometrics: Unlock accounts with your fingerprint or face.
    4. Security Key: Physical devices add another layer of protection.

While determined cyber criminals may persist, MFA’s multiple layers make their task extremely challenging.

It’s a powerful defence against unauthorised access.

In a digital world, MFA is your virtual security screen, keeping intruders out. Activate it today for robust online protection.

3. Back up your important files

Performing a back up refers to making a copy of your important files and storing them in a secure location. It is like photocopying precious photos to keep in a safe place in case you lose the originals.

  • Data safety net: Backing up means making duplicates of your important files and storing them securely. It’s your insurance against device failures or cyberattacks.
  • Frequency matters: To keep your data safe, we recommend weekly backups. Regular backups ensure your files are up to date and reduce the risk of data loss.
  • How to backup: Most devices offer built-in backup options. Use iCloud or Google Drive for mobile devices and tools like File History (Windows) or Time Machine (macOS) for computers. Consider external drives for added security.

Backing up is your safety net in the digital age. Start today to safeguard your precious memories and critical data.

4. Use passphrases and password managers

In today’s digital age, safeguarding your online presence is crucial. One of the most effective ways to do this is by using passphrases – passwords made up of four or more random words.

But it’s not just about having a strong passphrase; it’s about adopting good password practices.

Here’s how to enhance your online security:

  • Maintain password confidentiality: Think of your passwords like your ATM card and PIN. You wouldn’t hand those over to anyone, right? The same goes for your email username and password. They protect valuable information, so keep them to yourself. If someone asks for your password, it’s almost certainly a scam.
  • Length trumps complexity: In the rapidly evolving landscape of cyber security, the significance of long passphrases cannot be overstated. While complexity is essential, the primary focus should be on length. Aim for a minimum of 16 characters in your passphrase. Longer passphrases are much harder to crack.
  • Don’t reuse passwords: Assume that at some point, one of your accounts will be compromised. To limit potential damage, avoid reusing passwords between accounts. This approach ensures that a breach in one account does not jeopardise the integrity of others.
  • Embrace strong passphrases and password managers: A Password Manager is an application that securely stores, generates and manages passwords for all your accounts. These tools are invaluable for maintaining an organised and secure repository of your passwords. By securely storing your passwords in a password manager, you can focus on making your passphrases more complex, longer, and diverse.

By following these practices, you’ll fortify your online security and reduce the risk of unauthorised access to your valuable accounts and information.

Leon Fouche, National Leader, Cyber Security at BDO.
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