Kick off 2021 by staying safe online

Seven tips to help you work, shop and live life safely online in 2021!

2020 saw us spend more time online than ever before. The Covid-19 outbreak meant more of us shopped from home, worked from home and even socialised from home for months on end. Some lucky people even celebrated their work Christmas parties from home thanks to Zoom, Google Hangouts and Teams…

But while the internet has been such a useful tool over the past 12 months, are we taking enough steps to ensure we stay safe online? And do we really need to worry about cyber security? Well, the answer is that no, the vast majority of us aren’t taking the steps necessary to prevent cyber-attacks, and that yes, it really, really does matter. When we spend more time online, the more opportunities there are for hackers and scammers to take advantage of any chance we give them. If they gain access to your personal device or accounts, hackers could be able to access your money, personal information and information about your work or business.

Here at Black Nova Designs we have been officially recognised for our expertise in cyber security. We were awarded Cyber Essentials accreditation in 2020 as part of a Government-backed, industry-supported scheme to support businesses with their online security. That meant we applied to be officially tested and assessed to ensure our practices are up to date and we help our clients keep on top of their cyber security.

We’ve put together seven easy ways to improve your cyber security whether you surf for fun or for work which will help you to shop, run a business, communicate and socialise safely online this during 2021. Let’s get started:

  1. Have a separate password for your email account

Your email account is the hub of your online security, so it’s essential that you have a separate password for it. If a hacker gained access to your emails, they could change your passwords for other key apps and accounts. Treat your email account like it’s a safe with your most treasured possessions inside it. Be sure to choose a strong password and change it regularly.

  1. Back up your data

There are multiple reasons why it is important to back up your computer whenever you can, and you can add cyber security to that list. Regularly backing up to an external device (such as a USB stick or external hard drive) or to cloud storage means you should always have a recent version of your information saved. This means if there was a critical issue with your laptop, PC or Mac or if your computer is hacked, you can recover data. You can turn on automatic updates to the cloud, so you don’t even need to worry about remembering to do it.

  1. Create different passwords for all your apps and accounts

This one is important – please don’t use the same password for all your other accounts, such as internet banking, shopping, websites, social media and more! Pick a different one for each account so that if you are unlucky enough to be hacked then a hacker won’t suddenly be able to access lots of different types of your personal information. Not sure how to create a good password? A good tool is to combine three random short words together using letters, numbers and capital letters.

  1. Turn on two-factor authentication where possible

You might already have two-factor authentication for your online banking – that’s where it asks for a passcode and a pin or a password and a biometric input such as a thumbprint! But did you know that you can set up two-factor authentication for lots of other sites including Gmail, Facebook and Instagram? If you’re not sure how to set it up, then take a look at their help page and see if they have an online chat to help you. It’s well worth doing if your business relies totally on your email or on social media leads!

  1. Use a dedicated password manager

If having different passwords for all your different apps and accounts makes you worry that you’ll forget, why not use a password manager? Tools such as LastPass   allow you to save all your passwords in one easy to use place – just make sure you use a secure, unique password for that! Some people save all their passwords to their browser so that they can quickly log into different accounts. If you do this it is so important to have a strong password for the device itself, plus two-factor authentication and biometric security if possible. Otherwise, if someone stole your laptop they could log into your email, social media and more without needing to even hack your password.

  • Update your devices

Do you ignore those prompts to update your software, apps and operating systems? Maybe you’re always just a little bit too busy? Well, if you do, you’re making your information much easier for someone else to hack! Companies and app developers fix weaknesses in their code by releasing updates to help keep hackers out and make sure the app or programme runs as it should. Turn on automatic updates for everything you can, so you don’t have to remember. And please, please don’t ignore the manual updates as they will keep you safe online.

  • Watch out for phishing emails

Phishing emails and text messages are tools used by cyber criminals who contact you pretending to be a person or an organisation you can trust. The aim of a phishing email or text is normally to get you to click a link to a website or view an attachment, both actions which risk a virus or other malware being downloaded to your device. This could then allow criminals to access passwords and other private data. To avoid falling victim to a phishing scam, be very careful with emails from unknown people or organisations and be wary of emails which appear to be from big brands, but that look strange and/or contain spelling and grammatical errors. If you get a phishing email send it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at . Suspicious text messages can be forwarded to 7726 free-of-charge which enables your provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.

So, there you have them – 7 New Year tips and tricks to help you stay safe online whether you’re shopping, working or using tech to connect with friends. It looks as though we will be reliant on the internet for a good few more months yet (and our new online lives and ways of working could stick around forever) so these are all good habits to get into! If you would like more information about cyber security and the latest threads, this blog is an excellent resource:

If you want to add an extra layer of protection, why not explore our anti-virus software? Black Nova Designs is an authorized ESET reseller which means we can offer you total peace of mind thanks to their affordable cloud-based software. ESET Endpoint Protection is an advanced virus, malware and ransomware protection program that can be deployed onto Windows, Mac/Linux or Android devices to help safeguard your data, all for a low yearly cost. Take a look here:

If you would like to chat to the team about cyber security or any of our other services, why not get in touch by emailing or calling us on 01793 210045.

Happy New Year to all our customers, followers and network – here’s to a successful 2021.