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Practice safe social networking

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are a great way to stay in touch with family, reconnect with friends, share news and photos and broadcast what's on your mind.

They're also a great way for cyber criminals to find out information about you. After all, most people provide a lot of personal details like where they work, who they're related to, when they're on holiday, their address and so on without giving it much thought – making it easy for just about anyone to learn what they want to know about you. 

Tips to keep your private information private

Fortunately, it's just as easy for you to protect yourself and enjoy the experience by keeping these social networking safety tips in mind:

  • Check out the privacy and security settings of your social network and use them to control who sees what. Most have default settings which likely provide more access than you'd like. You can adjust settings to the highest possible level to protect your information and control who can see personal details (rather than "everyone" or "friends of friends").
  • Read the privacy policy carefully. Sometimes the wording can be confusing and you may allow the site to use your information without realizing it.
  • Never include your phone numbers, email address, home address, work details, your child's school or any other personal information on your profile page.
  • If someone you don't know tries to "friend" you, ignore it. There's no way to be sure they are who they say they are.
  • Before you post pictures, think about whether or not they're appropriate or give away too much information about you. For example, does that shot of the family barbeque show your street name in the background? Can you see your car's licence plate in the photo of you beside it?
  • Avoid geotagging photos. Most smartphones and many digital cameras automatically attach the exact location where a photo was taken – and when you share it online, the geotag can give away your address or let criminals know that you're on vacation, which could make your home a target for break-in. Check the manual of your device to turn off geotagging, and remove geotags from older photos with photo editing software.
  • Remember the more personal information you provide, the easier it is for a hacker to access it and potentially steal your identity (or for other criminals, like stalkers or sexual predators, to learn more about you). It's always a good idea to be discreet.
  • Ignore links that look suspicious, even if they're from friends. Your friend may not be aware of it, which means the link could be part of a phishing scam or contain malicious software.
  • About those suspicious links – don't be fooled by links that say things like, "You have to see this!" Chances are it's a hoax and you'll probably spam your entire friend list.
  • Don't mention things like going away on vacation, big purchases or events that include your address in your status updates. You may also want to delete messages from friends who mention these things to avoid the possibility of someone robbing your home while you're away.
  • Always log out at the end of a session, close your browser and clear your cache. Here are examples of how to do this:
    • In Firefox, go to Tools > Clear Recent History
    • In Internet Explorer, Go to Tools > Delete Browsing History
    • In Chrome, go to the wrench icon in the top right hand corner. Under the Bonnet > Clear Browsing Data
  • Never include banking information – not even the name of your bank.
  • The only one who should know your username and password is you. Once you give them to someone, they have total control of your account and can say and do things that could impact you.
  • Set up a separate email address just for your social networks, and use unique passwords.

Kinds of scams on social networks

New scams pop up on social networking sites every day, promising easy money, freedom from a 9 to 5 job, and amazing boosts to your social status. While they look tempting, many of these offers turn out to be schemes to spread viruses and spyware. The best advice? Click with caution.

Here are some of the most popular scams to be aware of:

  • Clickjacking – using catchy headlines like "find out who's looking at your profile" to get you to cut and paste a link into your browser, which then infects your computer and spreads spam to your contact list.
  • Fake polls – links that take you to a page outside of the social network and often ask for your mobile number. These are probably scams. (Check your bill for racked up charges!).
  • Phishing – attempts to get your username and password and may even set up fake pages to get you to sign in.
  • Phony message – often messages from the social network that say "urgent".
  • Money transfer – requests to wire money to someone you may or may not know.
  • Fake friend request – accounts that are set up just to send out spam.
  • Fake page – sometimes set up as a front for clickjacking and phishing, offering prizes for forwarding to friends.
  • Fake apps – often a cover for phishing, malware, clickjacking or money transfer schemes. When you "Allow", spam is spread through your network.
  • Popular scams – contain a link with a fake software update that downloads malware that infects your computer, hijacks your online profile and spams your friends. Lottery scams and "Nigerian 419" are popular examples.

While all of these scams exist, it doesn't mean you have to be nervous about social networking. The most important thing is that you think things through and use your intuition when it comes to anything suspicious.

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What is the IoT?

Many devices you use daily are connected to the internet. Not just smartphones and computers, but home appliances and systems, vehicles, TVs, portable electronics, and even wearable technology.

How the IoT affects your personal security

Many things connected to the internet send information about their use back to the manufacturer. They can also be hacked by outside parties. It's important to understand how to use the IoT without compromising your privacy or security.

Types of IoT technology

IoT in your home

Your entertainment, heating and cooling, and security systems (including baby monitors and toys) can be part of the IoT. But so can “smart” appliances in the kitchen, etc.

IoT on the move

It's not just smart phones. Wearable technology, like smart watches and fitness trackers, are common IoT wearables. Connected clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, and more may be coming soon.

Some cars and other vehicles are now connected to the internet. As well, cameras, gaming systems, pet trackers, and more.

How to recognize IoT devices

Many connected devices and appliances need to be set up using your phone or computer, and connected through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Electronics that send you notifications for software updates are connected to the internet. As is anything that you can track or control through your smartphone or computer.

How to safely use the IoT

  • Understand what personal information is being collected and why it's needed before you buy IoT devices or download apps. 
  • Put IoT devices offline when not in use, particularly anything with a camera or microphone
  • If you can, set the privacy controls so you aren't sharing information you don't want to
  • Change the default username & password of your smart devices to secure your home network.

Learn to #ConnectSmarter with the IoT at

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Banking and Finance


A lot of people now choose to skip bank lines and opt for the convenience of banking online. After all, you can pay bills, check payments and transfer funds from anywhere – even on your mobile phone.

While the benefits outweigh the risks, you can never be too safe when it comes to your financial information and protecting everything you've worked hard for.

How cyber criminals get your information

The most likely place a cyber criminal can get your financial information is from you. That's right – you may hand it right to an identity thief without even knowing it.

Cyber criminals know banks go to extreme measures to protect your financial information, and their chances of getting into these systems are slim. So they phish, spy and hack their way into your information from other sources, piecing together what they need to access your financial accounts. Once they're in, they can take out a loan, buy a car and even get a mortgage on a house.

How to ensure safe Internet banking and investing

Keep an eye on your accounts without worrying that anyone else is with these Internet banking safety tips:

  • Your first course of action is to choose strong passwords for your banking and online investing accounts and keep them private.
  • Look for the lock symbol on the website or "https://" at the beginning of the website address (the "s" means "secure") to be sure the site is encrypted.
  • Never allow "auto fill" or "auto-remember" of your password or personal information.
  • Double check that your anti-virus protection and web browser are both the latest versions. If your software offers the option of automatic updates, take it. It's the best way to keep up to date.
  • Use a firewall and make sure it's set to "on". For example, Windows Firewall is on by default on the latest version of Windows, but make sure it isn't turned off: open Windows Firewall by clicking the Start button then the Control Panel; in the search box type "firewall" then click Windows Firewall; in the left pane, click Turn Windows Firewall on or off.
  • As soon as you're done banking, close the browser window, clear the cache (delete your browser history) and disconnect from the Internet. Here are examples of how to do this:
    • In Firefox, go to Tools > Clear Recent History
    • In Internet Explorer, Go to Tools > Delete Browsing History
    • In Chrome, go to the wrench icon in the top right hand corner. Under the Bonnet > Clear Browsing Data
  • When you're banking online, never use public Wi-Fi or public computers
  • Remember that legitimate banks and businesses will never ask for your personal information in an email, so be suspicious if you get this request.
  • Beware of "packet sniffing" – if more than one browser tab is open at a time, packet sniffer programs can see all of the information passing over the network and can potentially monitor:
    • Which websites you visit;
    • What you look at on the site;
    • Who you send e-mail to;
    • What's in the e-mail you send;
    • What you download from a site;
    • What streaming events you use, such as audio, video and Internet telephony; and,
    • Who visits your site (if you have a website)
  • Always enter the website address in the browser yourself – never use a link.
  • Review your account activity regularly and get in touch with your financial institution right away if you notice anything strange.
  • Don't believe everything you read in online newsletters, investing blogs, or bulletin boards. Fraud artists often float false information and "hot tips" as part of their efforts to rip-off investors or manipulate the market for a particular security.
  • When in doubt, call your bank about suspicious messages. Some spammers use variations on a bank's name, so it may look legitimate even when it's not. Verify by phone and don't reply to a suspicious message or click on a link that's in it.
  • Read the Internet security guides offered by banks to stay up to date
  • Find out about phishing and be aware of the latest scams.
  • Always log out completely.
  • When disposing of an old computer or other device, be sure to erase all personal data.
  • Download software and erase the hard drive yourself or hire a professional to wipe the hard drive clean.

Things to keep in mind while banking on the go

Using your mobile phone to do your banking can be a convenient way to manage your finances from anywhere. Most banks now provide an app that makes it easy to access your information and complete transactions, but before you log on make certain of the following:

  • Is your wireless network secure? If you're picking up a wireless signal at a hotel for instance, you may not want to send sensitive information.
  • Is your mobile banking application actually from your bank? Be sure it's the real thing and not a copycat.
  • Have you installed anti-theft technology on your mobile device, and backed up your data?
  • Does your device automatically lock after a period of time? If not, it's a good idea to set this feature and use a strong password for your mobile device.
  • Have you stored your passwords and banking information (branch #, bank address) on your mobile device? If you lose your phone, this information would go with it.
  • Are all of your apps and device software current? Consider verifying an app's authenticity with your bank in person or on the phone.
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