Install a personal firewall product
Hackers can infect home computers by connecting to your computer while you’re surfing the internet. The best way to protect your computer from unauthorised connections from the internet is to install a personal firewall. There are several options on the market, some of which are free.
The firewall sits between your computer and the internet and acts as a security guard, restricting what can enter and leave your computer.
At first, the firewall may ask you what you want to allow in or out of your computer. However, it soon learns to make these decisions independently, based on the decisions you make early on. The most important point is never to allow anyone else to connect to your computer.
Regularly use an antivirus product, and keep it updated
The most common way to receive a virus is through an attachment to an email. Attachments may appear to be word documents, spreadsheets or pictures but often contain malicious viruses. If you use email at home, you should use an anti-virus product to protect yourself and never open an attachment that has not come from a trusted source.
With any anti-virus product, it’s important to keep it up to date, so to protect against new viruses that are released. Most commercial products have a mechanism to update themselves automatically. The free products typically need to be updated manually.
The anti-virus product should also be scheduled to scan your computer regularly in order to detect and clean out any viruses.
Do not open unsolicited emails with attachments
These may contain a virus. Also, if you receive an unwanted email saying “reply to unsubscribe”, ignore it. Senders can use this to confirm your email address is valid – and are then likely to send you more emails.
Review your “Sent items” folder
If it contains messages that have been sent without your knowledge, your computer may have a virus or may have been compromised
Update your operating system (Windows, Mac) and browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari)
Make sure your computer software has all the necessary security updates available from the vendor. It’s best to ensure this is done automatically.
Never email, write down or tell someone your security information or logon details.
Do not save login details or passwords on your computer
Disable, refuse or decline any on-screen prompt on your computer which asks if you wish the computer to remember any of your security information or logon details.
Avoid reusing the same security information
You should create and use different passwords for each service provided.
Don’t leave a computer unattended while logged on to Online Banking
Change your passwords regularly
Avoid familiar names, numbers and places (such as birthdays and phone numbers).
Protect your printed or physical information just as you would protect your valuables.
This includes statements from financial institutions, shops and utility bills. Shred or destroy any personal documents you don’t need to keep.
Always log off from Online Banking
It’s important to always end your session by clicking on the Log off menu item before closing the browser.
Protect your email account from hacking and fraud
To protect your email account from being stolen, you can take some simple steps:
- Use a strong password
A dictionary word used for a password can be ‘brute forced’ in seconds. Ideally, make it a phrase (ILikeIceCream) and then add some numbers (19ILikeIceCream76). This would be nearly impossible for the criminals to guess (and easier for you to remember).
- Don’t trust unsolicited emails and don’t click on the links in unsolicited emails.
Criminals often send out emails that look like they came from your Bank, SARS or Professional Institutions with links to fake websites where they capture your passwords as you try to log in.
- If your email provider supports strong or two-factor authentication, make sure you use it. Enable second-factor authentication for as many online accounts as possible. When you enter your username and password, you will get a one-time PIN on your phone to log into your account.
- If you suspect that your email account has been compromised, change your password immediately (from a known and trusted PC).
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).