Cyber experts have issued a new guide to help the public guard themselves against internet crime and mishaps.
The 10 points include varying passwords for different online accounts and a simple way to ensure contactless credit card users don't pay more than once for the same transaction.
Newcastle University's tips are as follows:
1 - Make sure your passwords aren’t easy to guess.
Hackers can use a “brute force” dictionary attack to crack short passwords in seconds so avoid your birthday, your names, proper words (even with replacements such as “5” in place of “s”) and sequences like ABC or 123. Longer passwords made up of several words are both easier to remember, and harder to break.
2 - Use a different email address which you can reserve exclusively for online shopping.
This means that if you are compromised, you can minimise the damage.
3 - Never click on a link in an email - even if it seems to come from someone you know.
Criminals are now getting cleverer and are spear phishing – using personal information to send individual targeted emails rather than “spamming” large numbers of people.
4 - Have one bank account which you can use exclusively for online shopping.
This means that if cyber thieves do get through your security, they can only access a relatively small amount of money.
5 - Don’t use the same password for more than one account.
If it’s easy to guess plus if you use the same one over and over again, it can be disastrous if you are the victim of a cyber attack.
6 - Never put your whole wallet on a contactless reader device on a bus or train.
There’s a chance it can read all of your credit and debit cards and you could end up paying more than you bargained for.
7 - Change your privacy settings on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
This ensures only people you know can find out information about you.
8 - Use an online wallet such as PayPay or Google Wallet to pay for items on line.
This means your credit card details won’t be sent to online retailers.
9 - Check out new online retailers before you make a purchase for the first time.
A quick internet search will highlight if anyone else has had a problem.
10 - Be careful about accepting cookies on websites.
They may personalise the online adverts you receive but can allow unscrupulous or bogus retailers to track you as you explore the internet.
The tips have been released by Dr Steve Riddle, from the university’s school of computing science, in advance of a free online course about the dangers of cyber crime..
The school is an acknowledged Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research and has created a course which is open to both academics and anyone interested in cyber security.
Called Cyber Security: Safety at Home, Online, In Life, it begins on Monday, March 20, Anyone interested can sign up at futurelearn.com/courses/cyber-security.