IFA Rural Crime Prevention Executive Colin Connolly gives some advice on keeping your phone and computer safe and improving your cyber security.
In recent weeks I have been traveling the country talking to farmers and rural communities about the importance of security marking their property with a Theft Stop I.D. I have been heartened by the genuine support for the initiative and the continuing requests for more crime prevention advice across a wide range of topics. One such topic, is the area of phones, laptops and such devices.
I have enlisted the support of IFA’s Head of IT strategy Ethan Cleary to outline the areas to be careful of with regard to your online and personal information.
- Know your phone’s make, model and colour
- Record your IMEI number – to access this, dial *#06#.
- A 15 digit number will appear on your screen
- Take a screen shot of this number and save it, perhaps text it to a family member or note it down somewhere
- This number is essential in tracing your phone in the event of a loss or theft
Laptops and tablets
Laptops and tablets are expensive items that can contain sensitive and sentimental information. Treat them accordingly and make sure they are secure. These items along with cash and jewellery are some of the items most often stolen, simply because they are easy to move on the black market.
- Make sure that you have these items marked with a security I.D.
- Record all details of serial numbers and model
- Consider using TheftStop for this – it’s free and easy to use.
- Perhaps consider carrying your laptop in something other than a laptop case and when using in public areas be aware of possible snatchers
- Never give out login credentials, over the phone, in person, or by email. Any competent service provider or customer care department would never ask for your full login credentials in any circumstance.
- Roll the mouse pointer over links to reveal their actual destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of the browser or in Microsoft Outlook above the link.
- When using public Wi-Fi, refrain from sending or receiving private information.
- If you are using devices issued by your employer, report any loss or theft immediately to IT
- Be wary of items from unknown sources or even suspicious links from trusted sources.
- Stop. Think. Click – think twice before clicking links
- Check for ‘https:’ before the address in your browser address bar when visiting sites that require you to enter security or password info.
- Use a different password for every website; if you only have one password, a criminal simply has to break a single password to gain access to all your information and accounts. An alternative is to look at password managers such as ‘1Password’, which uses virtual vault technology.
- If you have difficulty remembering complex passwords, try using a passphrase like “I love getting to work at 7:00!” Longer passwords are harder to crack than shorter complex passwords.
- Never leave your smartphone, tablet, or laptop unattended in a public place.
Finally please be aware of bogus sellers of these products. Too often I have encountered people purchasing what they thought to be a top quality product from a guy that seemed decent, only to discover they had just purchased a laptop case with two bags of sugar or a bag of flour. Be careful. Only buy from a reputable outlet. Ask questions, inspect the product and get advice from a friend of family member