Security basics

The amount of security information available online can seem a little overwhelming. Fortunately, you don't have to be an expert to keep yourself safe from threats. If you and your business observe these basic rules, you can do a lot to protect yourself against digital threats.

  • Use strong passwords: A strong password is long, at least 8 characters, and unique. Good passwords are difficult for both people and programs to guess. Use a combination of numbers, symbols, upper, and lowercase letters. Never re-use passwords on different sites or programs, and never write them down.
  • Use antivirus software: Basic but reputable antivirus software is freely available and more advanced packages may be affordable for most businesses. Antivirus software is your main defence against malware.
  • Use a spam filter: A spam filter keeps spam emails to a minimum. This helps protect you against phishing. Many email programs have spam filters built in.
  • Use a firewall A firewall prevents unauthorized connections to your computer or server. This is often your first line of defence against cyberattacks. Your computer may have a firewall feature. Larger businesses may need more advanced protection and may want to consult an expert.
  • Don't open or install anything from an unknown source: Opening programs or links from unknown sources can be dangerous and compromise your online security. This includes email attachments, links and software you may be prompted to install.
  • Exercise caution before giving out personal information: Carelessness with personal information can put your digital security at risk and can lead to identity theft. Give only the minimum personal information to trusted organizations. 
  • Backup important data: Backups are extra copies of your data and help protect you against data loss.
  • Use encryption when sending or storing important data: This ensures that only you or someone you've authorized can access sensitive information.
  • Keep your software and operating system up-to-date: This will make your business less vulnerable.
  • Exercise caution: If you are suspicious of something, err on the side of caution.
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