Malware - or malicious software - can be inadvertently downloaded from websites by users and harm the devices and information in your business. Dramatically reduce your exposure to malware by securing your devices, keeping your operating system, security software, web browser and add-ons up-to-date. A convenient way to do this is to ensure automatic updates are enabled or installed as soon as they are available.

By observing some simple advice when browsing the web, you and your staff can further reduce your exposure to online risks.

Before making a transaction or entering sensitive information on a web site, check that your browser address window is green, the URL (web address) has changed from 'http' to 'https' and that a closed padlock icon is present. If your browser is up to date, it should support these features.

The safest way to access any web site is to type its web address directly into the browser and bookmark it. Hover over web links with your cursor to check for spelling errors or unexpected web addresses before you click. Phishing emails often contain links to dangerous sites.

Choose passwords for your online services that are difficult for anyone else to guess. A strong password is long and complex (a variety of letters, numbers and other characters), unique (not re-used for other services or apps), current (changed at least every 90 days) and not obvious (avoid dictionary words, dates, names etc.).

Take care with what you or your staff reveal about your company online. Think twice if the information you are handing over is sensitive or considered valuable intellectual property for your business.

It's important that staff also recognise that in many circumstances, they are representing your business when interacting online.  Both business leaders and staff should ultimately feel a sense of collective responsibility about their reputation and what sorts of online activities are in line with the values of the business. Devising a clear IT policy that is regularly kept up-to-date ensures everyone is on the same page.

Social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube are a great way to connect with customers, colleagues and industry peers. They can help you build your brand and customer base, gain valuable insights and support recruitment.

The way you and your staff use social networks can have security and reputational impacts for both employees and the broader business. In some cases, staff may even use a social network for both their personal lives and to support your business' objectives.

Be mindful about whether the information you or your staff post on social networks, and who you interact with, is in line with the way you want your brand represented and the detail about your business you want revealed.

If you or your staff regularly make online purchases or perform financial transactions, there are important security precautions to observe. Learn more about safer online shopping and banking.

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  • Check that the address (URL) of a website is authentic before completing any online forms
  • Keep your operating system, security software and web browser up to date
  • Be wary of pop-up windows that are different from the website design
  • Be selective about what you share on social networks.