Cyber Awareness Month, also known as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), is observed every October. It is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and promote good cybersecurity practices among individuals, businesses, and organisations.

Staying safe online can be straightforward if you follow some basic principles and maintain good cybersecurity practices. While it may not be “easy” in the sense of requiring constant vigilance and ongoing education, it’s certainly manageable with some effort and attention.

Here are some key steps to help you stay safe online:

Use strong, unique passwords

Create strong and unique passwords for each online account. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Consider using a reputable password manager to keep track of your passwords.

Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Whenever possible, enable MFA for your online accounts. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone.

Keep software and devices update

Regularly update your operating system, software applications and devices. Updates often include security patches to protect against known vulnerabilities.

Be cautious with email

Be sceptical of unsolicited emails, especially if they contain links or attachments. Don’t click on suspicious links or download attachments from unknown sources. Watch out for phishing attempts.

Use secure Wi-Fi

Use a secure and encrypted Wi-Fi connection. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions unless you’re using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for added security.

Secure your social media

Review your social media privacy settings and be mindful of what you share online. Avoid posting sensitive personal information.

Be careful with personal information

Don’t share personal information, such as your National Insurance Number or financial details, unless it’s necessary and with trusted sources.

Regularly backup data

Back up important data regularly to an external drive or cloud storage. This can help you recover your data in case of a cyberattack or hardware failure.

Educate yourself

Stay informed about current cybersecurity threats and best practices. Cyber threats evolve, so ongoing education is crucial.

Install antivirus software

Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software on your devices and keep it up to date. This helps protect against viruses, malware, and other threats.

Use secure websites

Look for “https://” in the website URL when making online transactions. This indicates a secure, encrypted connection.

Practice safe online shopping

Shop from reputable websites, use secure payment methods and be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true.

Limit personal information online

Minimise the personal information you share on websites and social media platforms. The less information available, the harder it is for cybercriminals to target you.

Report suspicious activity

If you encounter suspicious online activity or believe you’ve been a victim of cybercrime, report it to the appropriate authorities and organisations.

No one is immune to online threats, but by following these practices and staying vigilant, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is an ongoing process. It’s important to adapt to new threats as they emerge.

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