13 ways to stay ‘Cyber Safe’- Alfred Rolington, author of Strategic Intelligence for the 21st Century: The Mosaic Method and CEO of Cyber Security Intelligence shares his top hints and tips about staying safe online.

In the last twenty years the Internet has exploded globally to become a massive current of electronic information offering huge opportunities but is also an ever-expanding crime arena. The term Cyber security has come into use to denote information security as applied to computers, electronic systems and the Internet.

The Internet is like a series of layered computers or webs if you will that can join and connect different electronic systems. This is similar to other electronic networks that are controlling or that monitor other systems from databases to electric networks. To send messages through these systems the package of information is first broken into tiny pieces, then sent on different journeys until finally they are delivered to their final address and can again be connected back together to form the original ‘letter’ or email or parcels of data. The Internet can be used to send or post pieces of information from one computer in New Zealand, for example via hundreds of other computers in different parts of the world, to the message’s final destination in Chile.

Within this new cyber agenda there are growing opportunities to educate and learn about new information and conduct new global business, or get entertained.

But along side the positives there are some growing negatives that you need to be aware of. Unfortunately full government reaction to these negatives may require some serious attacks, such as a massive electricity system close down, which affects both the public and corporations, before an extended response is played out. Specific Cyber attacks on governments like the Stuxnet attack on Iran which is thought to have been created by the US and attacks on corporations like the one on the New York Times, have already been well publicised in the press and on Western television. Recently Cyber has been defined as the next military force to be connected to the Army, Navy and Air force. We will soon have Cyber as the fourth part of the modern military complex.

Currently personal Cyber security tries to ensure that your packages are not read until they are delivered to you, or that the information is not changed, substituted, stolen in transit, or a fake message sent as if it were real, also that you are not sent abusive remarks by someone you don’t know.

From an individual level there are many sides to this issue and one that needs everyone’s attention is the growth of electronic hackers.  Hackers are individuals who wish to explore, attack other people’s systems, change and steal personal data or assets from them. They either work independently or with criminal gangs. Recently these groups have grown in their specialization and capability faster than most police and government intelligence organisations would have believed possible. Many of these hackers have kept themselves up-to-date with the changes in technology and now are focusing attacks on particular types of individuals in order to steal or influence their electronic assets. This potentially gives them opportunities to steal money, information, ideas, copyright, Patents, identity and to impose sexual harassment on some children and individuals.

With millions of new electronic devices connecting to the Internet every day, hackers are increasingly targeting mobile and embedded individuals systems. Such systems include point-of-sale terminals, wireless routers, and smart phones.

Private protection has now become very necessary and important to your own and your family’s financial protection and personal safety.

As we move from 2013 into 2014 here are 13 Tips for Cyber Protection which are grouped by areas of concern:

Day-to-day use of the Web:

1. You should never let yourself be led to a website from a link within an email. It may look as though it is from your bank or even someone you know but be very wary and check the data if you have not asked for the link. If you didn’t enter the site address yourself or pick it from a personal favoured site do not use it. It could be part of a sophisticated scam to steal your identity information.

2. Limit the amount of personal information you post on social media sites. Do not include information that you would not wish a stranger to use, such as your address, phone number or information about your work, home or routine as this can make you vulnerable to phishing (fishing web) scams. If a friend or co-worker posts information about you, make sure you are happy that the world knows this data.

3. Disconnect your Laptop or computer from the Web when you are not using it. This means disabling your Internet connection or turning off your computer or mobile. Many of us do not realise that staying connected all the time comes with risks, and can increase viruses or attacks that are used to scan and target you.

Technical issue:

4. Use more sophisticated passwords to encrypt personal and sensitive files that you have on your mobile or Laptop. Most of us have to input a password to log into our computers, but passwords can also be used to add a layer of security to sensitive documents you have on your computer, including Microsoft Office and Adobe files. Use more complicated passwords and try to memorize them. For instance remember a sentence such as ‘There are 500 in a batch of 30’ and create Ta5iabo3, from the first letters and numbers of each part of the sentence.

Family issues:

Cyber Bullying is a real threat to the game play and happiness of our children. For all the positive advancements of electronics, mobile phones and computers bring there is also a dark side to this technology that you should not ignore. These devices, in the hands of some adolescents, can become serious threats and have driven some children into depression and suicide.

Therefore here are 4 child safety Tips:

5. Have some conversations with your children. During these talks explain that you can be trusted to be told about any bullying emails, texts and statements they might receive. Show them some of your more interesting and brief emails and texts and ask to see some of theirs. Have regular conversations about this subject.

6. Remember your children’s passwords and computer names for their computer applications, and electronic devices. On social networks allow your children to have access only if you can also be a friend on their account.

7. Discuss and listen to the current terminology used by your children.

8. Explain to your children that they should treat others the way they would like to be treated. Teach your children not to write anything about another person that he or she would not be willing or comfortable to say to that person’s face. Remember that texts posted on the Internet do not go away.

Individual safety Tips:

9.Try to avoid spam and scams by continually questioning the legitimacy of texts, emails and social networking messages, especially ones that ask for money or personal information or tell you that you have just inherited a lot of money that someone has won or has named you as the beneficiary. Spear phishing attacks, which is a method of putting deviant software into your cyber system, copies business messages with the aim of persuading you to share private data and information. Authentic corporate business would not email you asking you to verify your data and account numbers.

10. Shop electronically with care. Before submitting credit card information online, look at the Internet address (URL) to ensure you’re on the correct site. Be very wary if a site asks for information that is not needed for a particular transaction.

11. To be clear never open unknown attachments that has been sent to you and don’t click on links that you do not know and try not to share much personal data and information online.

12. And just to be very clear you may receive a counterfeit email message that appears to be from a legitimate bank or credit card company asking you verify your account information. Do not respond to these emails and if you are unsure, check with your bank or credit card company.

13. Download data and information with caution. Mobile phones can do more and be more personalised than ever before. Just be wary that you might pay the price when you download or purchase applications, as these may have a virus loaded that attempts to steals your personal data.

In Conclusion:

The Internet is an amazing, engaging and very useful system and should not be avoided – it should be used for news, information, learning, business, entertainment, shopping and education, but it should, as with any new adventure, be used with understanding, adequate security and care.

By: Alfred Rolington the author of Strategic Intelligence for the 21st Century: The Mosaic Method published by Oxford University Press. Formerly CEO of Jane’s Information Group and Oxford Analytica, has written about and gives lectures/presentations on intelligence and strategic planning to organisations such as Thomson Reuters, Gartner Group, the CIA, NATO Headquarters, GCHQ, and SIS (MI6) and to Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard Universities.

Alfred is now joint CEO of Cyber Security Intelligence a detailed database and Cyber Information/Intelligence Media Company. Please contact him for more Cyber information at: