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Four ways to keep yourself safe online

Four ways to keep yourself safe online

Many New Zealanders use the same password for multiple accounts, accept friend requests from people they don’t even know and put off updating their phones and laptops for months on end. 

This week marks Cyber Smart Week across Aotearoa. Organised by CERT NZ, this week is all about promoting four simple ways we can all keep ourselves safe online. 

If you’ve been intending to tighten up your cyber security but just haven’t got around to it, this is the week to do it. Have a look at the four steps below and take a few minutes to help protect yourself online. 

Step 1 – Passwords, passwords, passwords

Good password hygiene is one of the best ways to protect yourself online. 

When creating a password, remember that:

  • Long and strong passwords are key. Make sure you’re using 12 or more characters with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Passphrases are an easy way of doing this. A passphrase is a string of four or more words that are easier to remember and stronger than a random mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Use different passwords for each of your accounts. This way, if an attacker gets ahold of one of your passwords, they can’t get access to all of your other accounts. It also means you only have to change the password for that one account.


  • Use a Password Manager. Websites and apps like LastPass help you keep your passwords safe and give you control over the autofill function.

Step 2 – Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is that simple, extra step after you log in, like answering a question or entering a code sent to your phone number. 

Adding 2FA to your online accounts is an easy way of adding another layer of security to your information. You can enable 2FA on most of your online accounts and your devices. You’ll usually find the option to turn it on in the privacy settings

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Step 3 – Privacy check up

As we spend more and more of our lives online, it’s important to keep an eye on what information you’re sharing online and who you’re sharing it with. 

We are so used to sharing things online that we don’t always think about how it affects our privacy. One easy check is to look over your privacy settings on your social media accounts. Make sure they are set to ‘Friends Only’ or ‘Private’ so only those you know can see what you’re up to.  

Remember something simple like posting holiday pictures on public profiles is an easy way of letting the wrong people know that you’re not at home and the perfect target for theft. 

Step 4 – Update your apps and devices 

When you’re alerted to an update for your device, don’t ignore it! As well as adding new features, these updates keep bugs and viruses out and fix security risks that attackers can use to gain access to your information.

Take a few minutes to update your devices to keep them running smoothlyYou can also set  your updates to automatically run whenever a new version is available if you’re prone to skipping over these. 

Report it

If something does happen and someone manages to access your data, you can report it to CERT NZ at www.cert.govt.nz/report. They’re the team of people helping protect New Zealand from cyber security threats and incidents. 

 

Let’s all do our part to up our online defences.

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