How Safe Is Your Online Life?

As the UK government launches a new charter allowing spies and police to snoop on computers, tablets and phones, how safe is your data?

Some people lives their lives online – banking, shopping, keeping in touch with friends and storing photographs.

But all that data is open to hackers and gaining access to your inner sanctum, the home network, is not as hard as you think.

Anyone with some specialist software knowledge can take over the camera in your phone or tablet, sneak a look at your bank account and any other personal data you have on a gadget.

The access comes from pings – the constant check-ins your gadgets are making with each other, the router and the cloud.

Each device that emits a ping is a potential doorway into your private life, so they need locking fast as if you were keeping burglars out.

Home invasions

“Home invasions by hackers are less common than those faced by businesses,” said a spokesman for software security firm Trustwave.

“Email is often the way in. You open a mail, some secret software downloads and then unlocks the network for intruders.”

You can take some steps to make accessing your network harder for hackers:

  • Switch on your firewall and antivirus software and make sure both are kept up to date
  • Don’t leave the passwords on routers and other gadgets on the factory default
  • Update firmware on routers and other hardware
  • Switch off or remove gadgets from the network that are not in use
  • Update operating systems on your technology – these are often patches for security holes

VPN as a network defence

Another suggestion for mobile workers is a virtual private network or VPN.

A VPN is still a network but it has encrypted peer-to-peer connections that are harder to piggyback than those of a normal home router.

A VPN is a like a tunnel between your tablet or computer and your network, whereas your home network is an open house.

The more secure VPN now protects any data passing around the network from hackers and is much harder to crack – even if you are miles away from home or the office.

Below is a list of some related articles, guides and insights that you may find of interest.

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