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Six cybersecurity tips to keep you safe online

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The City of London Police recently revealed that it received 3,916 reports of cybercrime during the first month of lockdown alone, an increase of almost 72% compared to the previous month.

With cybercriminals hard at work to take advantage of the pandemic, it’s crucial to take a few preventative steps to protect your information so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Here are a few straightforward tips to help reduce your cybersecurity risk, whether you’re online or offline.

1. Always be wary of any unexpected contact. If your bank, or any organisation you have dealings with, gets in touch out of the blue, treat it with caution. If you receive any emails that ask you to confirm personal information, assume it is a scam. Don’t click on any links and don’t provide any of your personal details. Instead, call the company that the communication claims to be from using a recognised telephone number and make sure that you’re dealing directly with them before sharing any of your details or responding to any requests.

2. Safeguard yourself against identity theft by making sure you never give out personal information to an unrecognised party. This can be used to steal your identity and access your accounts, so keep it safe. Don’t confirm any details to cold callers, even if they’re just asking you to verify information they claim to already have on file, and avoid entering your details into any promotional emails.

3. Keep operating systems and virus protection software up-to-date. Don’t ignore software updates on your mobile phone, computer and other devices, as these can often include measures to protect against new kinds of scams, viruses and ransomware.

4. Make sure all your accounts have a strong password using a mixture of letters (lower and upper case), numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts and try and get into the habit of changing them regularly as this helps to reduce the risk of a cyber security attack.

5. Ensure all payment requests are authorised. Don’t make any advanced payments until you are sure the company you’re dealing with is legitimate.

6. Be careful when using public WiFi. Use safe and secure WiFi connections and avoid public WiFi when you can. Your standard 3G or 4G connection will usually be a lot more secure than the one in the coffee shop or restaurant.

By following these six, simple cybersecurity steps you’ll be going a long way to helping keep your information safe online. An important rule to live by is that prevention is usually better than the cure! So, if you’re unsure about a potential risk, it’s better to proceed with caution rather than potentially put yourself in a compromising position.

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Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551