5 ways to improve your online security
Don't know your VPNs from your VPLs? Mumsnet called
security expert Graham Cluley for a webchat, and we've pulled together his key recommendations. Stay safe,
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1. If you do just one thing - get a password
It'll stop you losing your mind trying to remember a bajillion
Graham says: "The truth is that [if left to our own devices] most of us would either
choose really dumb passwords (123456, password1, letmein, Orland0Bloom),
re-use the same passwords on multiple sites, or fail to remember them. None
of those are good options. Use a password manager to generate complex,
"It's technically possible for a password manager to be hacked, or for the
master password you chose to secure it to be cracked. But it's a much smaller risk
than a site you are a member of being attacked, or the very real human risk
that you will have accidentally slipped into poor password practices."
2. Writing down your password isn't actually the
worst thing you could do
Graham says: "Most people have the wrong idea about password security. The biggest
danger is that you re-use the same password on multiple websites.
"Picture this: if imaginary online store XYZ Inc gets hacked and their
customer database of passwords is stolen, the first thing that the hackers
will do is see if those same passwords will unlock victims' accounts on Amazon,
eBay, Gmail, etc etc. You MUST have different passwords for different
3. You can't rely completely on tech to keep
Graham says: "There's no such thing as foolproof protection.
"Everybody, sadly, needs to keep their wits about them and take some
responsibility for their online security, whether it be pausing before
clicking on a link in an unsolicited email, hesitating about opening the PDF
attachment you've just been sent out of the blue, or agreeing to let
Microsoft update Windows.
"The problem is, fundamentally, a human rather than a technological one.
And that's why it will never be solved. We can't roll out a security patch to
4. Can you trust apps? Depends what you're
Graham says: "Some apps are competently written; some have security holes. The challenge is
determining which are which.
"Before installing an app, always check its popularity by looking at the
number of reviews and rating. If it's a popular app, such as Instagram, but only
has three reviews, then you are right to be suspicious!
"An additional level of protection you can deploy is a VPN (Virtual Private
Network). This will encrypt all of your communications as they pass
over the internet - meaning that hackers will have a hard time snooping on
what you're doing when you use public Wi-Fi."
5. Go beyond parental controls to keep your kids
"It's possible to filter content at the DNS (Domain Name System) level, using
services such as OpenDNS
. The beauty of doing it at the router or DNS
level is that it will work not just for your desktops and smartphones, but
also for your game consoles, TVs and anything else net-connected."
Internet safety doesn't stop at your computer -
here are some golden rules for keeping your Apple device
- Apply iOS updates when they
- Don't jailbreak your iOS
device (Find out on Macworld what jailbreaking is, if you don't know)
- If the device is ever used on public Wi-Fi
hotspots, make sure that it has a VPN to encrypt any
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For more on Internet Safety go to Graham's website at grahamcluley.com
almost 3 years