SNAPSHOT2 min read

5 top tips to protect your data online

Protect your privacy and stay safe online with our top cyber security tips.

09/01/2023
Tier 1_Customer

Cyber security is there to protect the devices we use and the services we access online - both at home and work - from theft or damage. It also helps prevent unauthorised access to the vast amounts of personal information we store on these devices, and online. With smartphones, computers and the internet being an integral part of life, it’s more important than ever to take steps to prevent cyber criminals getting hold of our data.

1. Use strong, unique passwords for important accounts

If you have used the same password across different accounts, cyber criminals only need one password to access all of them. Use strong and separate passwords for your important accounts, such as financial services, social media and email. Try a 15 character combination of three random words, such as RocketBookPenny as these can be more difficult for criminals to crack.

2. Turn on two-step verification (2SV)

Also known as two-factor authentication (2FA), 2SV is the most powerful tool you have to protect your digital accounts. It helps keep cyber criminals out even if they know your password. 2SV requires two separate steps for you to access to your accounts, instead of just one. This could be a combination of a password and a one-time code, or a password and an authentication app prompt, fingerprint, or facial scan on your phone or computer. If 2SV is available, the option to switch it on is usually found in your account’s security settings.

3. Use a password manager

A password manager can generate and securely store strong and unique passwords for your important accounts, so you don’t need to remember them. Password managers are available as desktop apps, browser plug-ins and mobile apps, and can synchronise across all your devices, to ensure you have access to all your passwords no matter where you are. The password manager will need to be protected with a strong, unique “master” password such as the “three random words” option explained in point 1, and with 2SV where possible.

4. Be careful what you share and who you trust online

Do not share anything via social media or email you would not want the whole world to see. It is impossible to control how far information travels, once shared online. Be mindful of social media: never share sensitive information like credit card details, when you will be away from home, or where your children go to school. When interacting with people online, be cautious and ask for additional verification (e.g. a phone call) before taking actions such as transferring money or signing contracts.

5. Check if your accounts have been compromised

Check if your email account and password has been leaked as part of any known data breaches via haveibeenpwned.com. If you do find that your email address was exposed, you should urgently change your passwords on all accounts that use that email and/or use the same password.

If you'd like to download a pdf version of this article, please visit our resources page.

We will never ask you for your password, or pressure you into transferring money to us or to another account. If in doubt, call us on 01403 331 400.

Important information

The views and opinions contained herein are those of Benchmark Financial Planning. They do not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Benchmark Financial Planning communications, strategies or funds and are subject to change. This document is intended to be for information purposes only and it is not intended as promotional material in any respect. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Information herein is believed to be reliable, but Benchmark Financial Planning does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. The data has been sourced by Benchmark Financial Planning and should be independently verified before further publication or use. No responsibility can be accepted for error of fact or opinion. Benchmark Financial Planning is not responsible for the accuracy of the information contained within linked sites. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in the document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions. Past Performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested.

Issued by Benchmark Financial Planning Limited. An Appointed Representative of Best Practice IFA Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, the registration number is 223112. Registered office: Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurst Wood Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4QP. Registered in England and Wales No 07572431.

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Benchmark Financial Planning is an Appointed Representative of Best Practice IFA Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, the registration number is 223112. Registered office: Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurst Wood Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4QP. Registered in England and Wales No 07572431.

The Financial Ombudsman Service is available to sort out individual complaints that clients and financial services businesses aren't able to resolve themselves. To contact the Financial Ombudsman Service, please visit www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk

The guidance and/or advice contained within this website are subject to the UK regulatory regime and are therefore targeted at consumers based in the UK.