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Scam alert

With scams on the rise, here's 4 easy steps to stay safe online

10 October 2022
Reading time: 4 minutes


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Cyber up, everyone! It’s so crucial when it comes to protecting our money.

CERT NZ’s latest data shows that online security incident reports are up 48% from this time last year. These incidents can be catastrophic for our finances, friends, family and workplaces.

It’s Cyber Smart Week, so now’s the time to level up your defences in the online world to stay safe.

With some easy tweaks, you can bring your chances of experiencing a security incident way down. Here are some simple tips to keep yourself safe from cyber threats.

Keep safe online with these steps

CERT recommends 4 steps to level-up your online defences:

1. Strengthen your password game

We all know that passwords need to be complex enough to protect us, but did you know we should have a unique password for each site we log in to? Most of us have got pretty good at creating long and complex passwords, but we tend to use them over and over as they can be hard to remember. Unfortunately, this puts all our accounts at risk if one is attacked. That’s where a password manager comes in – it's a vault that keeps track of your passwords and keeps them all safe. Here’s how to create a good password and store it safely.

2. Power up by turning on two-factor authentication

Sometimes called ‘2FA’, this is where as well as using a password, you enter a temporary code (usually from a phone app) – adding that extra layer of security. Here’s how to turn on 2FA.

3. Update to full strength

All those annoying updates don’t just get you the latest bells and whistles, they also fix the latest bugs and security gaps, and keep the viruses out. Making your updates automatic helps. Here’s how to stay up to date.

4. Boost your privacy defence

Be careful about the information you share about yourself online. We share so much of ourselves now – about our kids, our pets, our friends and family. It’s a great way to connect, but your information can be used to get access to your accounts. How often have you used the name of your pet as your password or security question? It’s a good strategy to lock down your social media account, so only those you know can see it, and to pause before you share things online. And every time you’re asked for your personal details, double-check it’s legit. Here’s more on how to protect your privacy.

It’s also important to be cautious when using a new website – cyber criminals are getting more and more advanced in their techniques, so it helps to stay on the lookout for any signs of trouble.

Make sure the website is secure

There are a couple of ways to check out if a website is secure.

These signify that the connection is secure, and any information sent between your browser and the web server is encrypted and can’t be copied.

It’s important to not buy anything or submit any personal information (like payment details, email, password or even your name) on a website that isn’t secure.

Where to report your cyber issues

When you come across something suspicious in the cyber world, be sure to report it to CERT NZ. They’re the government agency that helps us identify cyber security issues and get through when things go pear-shaped.

Find out more at cert.govt.nz/cybersmart.

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