What is cyber security?


We spend more time online than ever before – so it’s important to make sure we’re keeping ourselves safe. Cyber security refers to the ways we can protect ourselves against malicious attacks by an organisation or individual. The aim of cyber criminals is to steal confidential data and possibly commit identity theft.

Why is cyber security important?

Cyber security is important for keeping ourselves safe, but it is also vital for organisations that hold our personal and private data. We trust that organisations will keep our data – such as bank card information, passport numbers, and addresses – protected from cybercriminals. If this information gets into the wrong hands, it creates a data breach that could result in identity theft. Organisations can face significant fines if data breaches happen – alongside financial loss and a disruption of their operations. For both individuals and organisations, having strong security measures reduces the risk of being affected or targeted by cybercriminals.

Top causes of security breaches

The most common cause of a security breach is a weak or stolen password. More websites are now using two-factor authentication, which adds an additional step to your log-in to help prevent criminals from accessing your information. It’s important to never share your password, even with friends.

Other causes of data breaches include malware (software downloaded often accidentally) and social engineering (this can be through a scam or impersonation).

Use antivirus protection

Antivirus protection software provides real-time malware protection for your device. Malicious software, also known as malware, can be accidentally downloaded through a file or by visiting an untrustworthy website.

Here are some benefits of using antivirus protection:

  • Protection from adware, viruses, and malware

  • Protection of your data, files, and passwords

  • Blocks spam and pop-up adverts which could contain malware

  • Firewall protection from viruses

  • Limits your web access, blocking potentially dangerous websites

  • Automatically updates software to make sure you’re protected

At Vodafone, we offer McAfee Total Protection to customers who have both mobile and broadband agreements with us. McAfee includes premium antivirus and privacy protection with parental controls. Learn more about Vodafone Together

Keep your software up to date

It’s important to keep your software up to date, here are our top tips:

  • Turn on automatic updates if available, so you never miss anything crucial. This means you’ll never forget to update your apps or software.

  • Regularly update your devices, including laptops. Updates should happen automatically unless you have turned this option off.

  • If you have an older device that cannot be updated, this could be a security risk. Where possible, consider avoiding buying devices that are no longer supported.

Password and password management tools tips

It can be hard to remember all your passwords which is where password management tools come in. This software can store all your passwords securely, which you can access with one passcode. Password managers store, generate, and update passwords for you. They can be an online or offline tool, depending on your preference - both have pros and cons. Popular password managers include NordPass, Dashline, or Bitwarden.

More generally for passwords, think about increasing their length so they’re harder to guess. It is recommended to not store passwords in your web browser as hackers can manipulate cookies (which hold your personal data) or, in a more unfortunate case; steal your device, having complete access to your browser. Also importantly, don't reuse the same password for everything.

Authentication tips

Two-factor or multi-factor is a great way to secure your device or applications, both at work and at home. As well as using a password to log in, you’ll also need one or more possible methods of verification.

For two-factor authentication, you’ll need two types of authentication and for multi-factor, you’ll need at least two types, if not more.

Examples of authentication to confirm your identity:

  • Receiving a One Time Passcode (OTP) texted to your mobile phone

  • Opening your authentication app for a One Time Passcode (OTP)

  • Using your fingerprint or face verification

  • Using your voice

Use mobile devices safely

Like your laptop, your mobile phone device can be at risk from malware. Whether it’s opening a suspicious email or receiving a voicemail from someone impersonating your bank asking for personal information – it’s important to be aware and protect yourself.

Our top tips for your mobile device:

  • Only download apps from your phone’s official app store

  • Turn on automatic updates to make sure your software is up to date

  • Be sceptical of any unexpected texts or emails asking for your bank details

  • Don’t share sensitive information on social media, like your phone number or address

  • Use a complex password for your phone (for extra security, enable Face ID or fingerprint access)

  • Don’t connect to unknown or unsecured WiFi networks

As a Vodafone customer, you can get access to Secure Net for an additional monthly fee. It provides you with mobile antivirus protection and many additional features including: online protection, 24/7 ID monitoring, and advanced parental controls. If you’re not sure if it’s right for you, a free three-month trial is available. Learn more about Secure Net

How to use public WiFi securely

Public WiFi spots can be very convenient if you’re low on data or are struggling to get signal. Generally, they’re safe. However, if they are not properly secure, someone could potentially see the data that is being transmitted.

Some tips to consider:

  • Avoid accessing sensitive information (for example, logging into your bank account)

  • Stick to websites with ‘https’ if entering personal details or online shopping

  • Use a VPN to encrypt your data and hide your IP address

  • Log out of your accounts after you have used them

Using the above tips will help you browse online safely when using public WiFi. Generally, using secure websites (ones that use ‘https’) will make sure your data is encrypted either at home or in public.

Back-up your data

Have you ever lost or had your device stolen? Backing up files and important information can help you re-access your data. A backup is a copy of what is on your device, stored on either the internet or a removable device like an external hard drive.

Internet solutions, like cloud storage, are increasingly popular. Think Apple’s iCloud or Google Drive, both of which allow you to back up as little or as much as you want. Cloud storage is also great if you need to save space on your device or you’re transferring files between devices. In the unfortunate case that your phone is broken, you'll still have access to your information.

Don’t leave your devices unattended

Working remotely in a café or a public area? It’s important to be mindful of where your devices are. Thieves and cybercriminals will be watching for devices which have been left unattended – even if you’ve quickly gone to use the bathroom.

If you use an internet browser with your passwords stored, a hacker could briefly access your accounts if you leave your laptop unattended and unlocked. You should treat your devices like you would your purse or keys – you wouldn’t want to risk losing them. It can be tempting to ask a stranger to watch over your possessions, but this is a risk as you can’t always trust the generosity of strangers.

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