6 Cyber hygiene tips to safeguard your data

We’re taking greater care to sanitize our hands and be hygienic during these times, but are we doing enough in terms of cyber hygiene too? Here are some things to do to prevent ourselves from falling prey to scams, online theft and more.

1) Change your password regularly

Did you know that the most common password used worldwide is ‘123456’, and the second most common one is ‘123456789’[i]? If any of your important accounts use this numeric combination, change your password to something safer ASAP!

A good, strong password is important as it’s tougher to crack, and so is changing it every so often. There are many free-to-use password generators out there—one of them being the LastPass password generator tool.

Why not use a password manager app if you find it troublesome to remember so many different passwords? You can use Google Smart Lock on your PC or any Android device, and Apple devices come with iCloud Keychain.

You’ll still need to exercise caution even with such measures, however; losing your phone or master password will be highly inconvenient and risky. If possible, try memorising a few key passwords; chances are you’re already halfway there if you’re entering them every other day!

2) Enable 2RFA

Enabling 2RFA, or two-factor authentication is more important than ever in today’s increasingly connected world. We’re sure you’ve already enabled SMS OTPs for most of your important accounts, but don’t stop there and enable alternative options such as authenticator app verification too; SMS OTPs can sometimes be intercepted without our knowledge!

Accounts you should set 2RFA for include social media accounts, accounts with recurring subscriptions, cashback accounts, bank accounts, and utility accounts amongst others. Take some time during the weekend to all the 2RFA measures put in place.

3) Delete or deactivate any unused accounts       

Chances are, you have at least one unused game/service/credit card/email account.

Deactivate or delete them instead of leaving it sitting around, believing that you’ll have use for it someday—if you’ve left it untouched for this long, that likelihood is low.

Take it from me: I left an unused credit card account open because there wasn’t any annual charge, and if not for random balance checks would have missed a fraudulent transaction. Thankfully, I caught it in time before interest began to collect, and the bank was kind enough to offer a goodwill waiver while they looked into the matter.

You don’t want to find yourself in the same situation, as it can be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming to settle. Neither would you want your unused accounts to be hacked into, and any sensitive information within to be retrieved and used.

4) Be hyperalert about phishing scams

We’re all familiar with phishing scams and are savvy enough to spot them, but it still pays off to stay on guard. They’ve been on the rise and coming in all sorts of formats, from delivery failure notices to robocalls and bank SMS ‘alerts’.

The number of traps that we could fall into is mind-blowing: there are thousands of phishing sites online, for example, and this number only keeps growing[ii]. Apart from not clicking suspicious links or downloading apps/programmes from legitimate sources, here’s what you can do:

  • Download ScamShield, an app that helps to filter spam calls and messages by comparing the former against a list maintained by the Singapore Police Force and putting the latter through an on-device algorithm. While the app won’t be able to eliminate phishing, it will help reduce it!
  • Take the time to report scam calls or messages. Most email services have a specific button/link for you to do so. You can also report phishing emails to the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore.

5) Look into AdBlock and antivirus software

Our laptops and desktops often come bundled with a complimentary one or two-year subscription to antivirus software that many often choose not to renew, due to added costs and suspicions about their usefulness.

Do your research and decide from there, but it’s better to be safe than sorry! A reputable anti-virus programme will be able to offer you added features like VPN services and anti-spam filters, which will boost your digital security.

Don’t overlook your mobile devices too!

6) Review your app permissions

Does XX app really need access to your health information? Review what information your apps are allowed access to, just in case. Be mindful about what you share online and consider the extent of what you want to share on social media, too! Nothing online ever truly goes away, and much of your lifestyle can be gleaned from the little clues in what you post.

We often end off our articles telling you guys to take care and stay safe (from COVID-19), but do take care and stay safe online as well!

[i] https://www.straitstimes.com/tech/tech-news/123456-is-still-top-password-worldwide-after-10-years-singapore-fares-better-in
[ii] https://www.statista.com/statistics/266155/number-of-phishing-domain-names-worldwide/


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