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Check list for anyone who has someone invading their online privacy

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Domestic Abuse can manifest itself online. This could be monitoring your social media, your emails, in home devices, what you are searching online & location monitoring. Hacking is a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act and can be reported through Action Fraud. To help you through what may feel like a very scary situation we’ve pulled together some tips to help you become more secure. You can review these below and consider all points for you and your family.

Social Media: Ensure privacy settings are updated and maintained to the most secure option available, For example, if Only Me, Friends or Friends of Friends are the given options you’d opt for ‘Only me’.

Please see below for our top 10 social media checklist.

  1. Set-up a new email account if the old one is compromised: Update new email to your account removing the old email, old telephone numbers and old device log-ins. Action Tip-2 below.

  2. Hide: Make being found difficult, consider changing profile name ensuring removal of previous associated names

  3. Is it Public? Before joining seemingly “closed” groups, check if the group member’s details are open to public before joining. By ‘checking in’ you are making your ‘check in’ post public

  4. What are you sharing? Think about what personal information is stored within your account and what data you've historically shared.

  5. Approve who follows you and what you get tagged in

  6. Check contact details: Ensure these are set to the most secure option like ‘Only Me’ and that your email address or mobile number cannot be used to link to your account when searched within a search engine.

  7. Remove unused connected devices: All devices that aren’t required and do this prior to setting up 2FA

  8. Block contacts: All that link to the perpetrator. Hide friend lists to avoid fake friend requests and share privacy advice with friends as they could be a risk to your account if their security settings are set as ‘Public’.

  9. Communicate with caution through Facebook chat or messenger, should someone access this account.

  10. Review all above after each update and review

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): An extra layer of security. If someone were to try and login to your account, they would not be successful without having access to your trusted device or phone number. This is something you have (phone number and device) and something you know (password), here's how to set it up

Change security questions: Use strong security questions to protect the forgotten password facilities to your accounts Online and with your bank as the perpetrator is likely to know these.

  • STOP - Using facts about you & completing social engineering questionnaires.

  • START - Making up the answers, so long as you can remember them is all that matters!

Browsing without being seen: Think about using stealth mode (e.g. Chrome Incognito, Firefox Private Window). This won’t hide what you do from everyone including the other end of the connection. Use a private search engine such as DuckDuckGo and a Password Manager (not “AutoFill” options) to help hide what you’re browsing. You could also install a browser which is always incognito: Brave, Ghostery or Firefox Focus which are always in incognito mode, and quick and easy to delete history.

Passwords: Keep passwords separate and secure using 3 random words. For example: ‘SataliteScallopHope’ you can even mix this up with numbers ‘5aTalit5calLop4oPe!’ to strengthen this further.

Need help to remember passwords? Use a Password Manager

Antivirus: Ensure it’s installed, updated regularly & running for all devices you use.

Firewall & Antivirus:  A personal firewall protects your personal computer and private network from malicious mischief. Malware, malicious software, is the primary threat to your home computer. There are two ways a firewall can prevent this happening:

  • it can allow all traffic to pass through except data that meets a predetermined set of criteria, or
  • it can prohibit all traffic unless it meets a predetermined set of criteria.

Anti-virus software is a computer program that searches your hard disk for viruses and removes any that are found. It only protects against what it already knows about. New viruses spread very quickly so you must update your anti-virus software regularly, on a weekly basis at the very minimum.

There are many firewall and anti-virus products to choose from so it's best to do your research.

Ensure the Anti-Virus is installed, updated regularly & running for all devices you use.

Most anti-virus suppliers also offer a firewall product at little or no extra cost, and these can be set up at the same time.

Firewall products - Firewall software should be set up to automatically update. As a minimum, if you don't have this firewall or one as part of your Anti-Virus package, you should make sure that the Windows firewall is switched on (this is found in the Security Centre of the Control Panel).

You'll need to ensure your chosen product is set up to check for updates every time your computer is switched on, and runs a weekly scan. Typically updates take a couple of minutes and will happen in the background. Ideally it should also be set up to perform a full scan of the computer once a week.

If you keep getting pop-up windows all over your screen, you may have been infected with a virus. In addition to a virus scan you can also enable the pop-up blocker in Internet Explorer within your browser settings by selecting:

  1. Tools
  2. Internet Options
  3. Privacy tab
  4. Check the pop-up blocker box

Location Services/Sharing: Turn off location monitoring/GEO tagging on all apps/software/photos/devices/car used where this isn’t required including software like FindMyPhone. Delete Apps/software you don’t recognise. If you have a smart car, check with the manufacturer to ensure location monitoring is switched off. Here's how to do it for Andriod and Apple.

Wi-Fi: Turn off Wi-Fi & Bluetooth when not required & remove auto connect options. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or use your own internet connection to protect you on all public WIFI networks. Never use public WIFI to do anything confidential like using your email, banking or making a payment. If the perpetrator has previously been on the home WI-FI then they will automatically authenticate when in range of the home router. Ensure Router password is changed, previously connected devices removed & if possible a firewall installed.

Email: Create a new email account adding 2FA in its set-up, don’t reuse an old password and avoid facts (refer to password advice). Either update accounts with the new email account information (only after changing passwords/security questions and removing association of the old one) or for best security, set up new accounts with the new email account and delete the old ones.

Digital Footprint: Check to see what the internet knows about you by following your digital footprint: Google your name and city. Consider data that is contained within the internet and request removal where required. Other good places to check: UK Phonebook, Online Electoral Open Register, 192.com, Companies HouseTelephone Preference Service, Council Planning and property websites.

Contact your local council for further support getting hidden online with linked sites that they may link in to.

Protect your identity further:

Restore all devices to factory settings if you fear spyware on the device: Don’t back-up/link to your old Cloud accounts; this removes the risk of downloading previously installed Spyware. Alternatively gets a new device keeping the old one alive to prevent the perpetrator from trying to get access to the new one.

Get added to CIFAS: Call 0330 100 0180 (this will cost £25.00). Following specification by the Home Office under the Serious Crime Act 2007, public authorities are able to join CIFAS & share information to prevent fraud. This will ultimately offer protection from credit being taken out in your name.

Credit Reference Agency (CRA): A credit score is a tool used by lenders to help determine whether you qualify for credit. You can monitor your credit file activity or report any fraud to a CRA.

You can also ask for a ‘Password Notice of Correction’. This will put a password on your credit file. We would advise to add a password to all credit reference agencies and keep this password separate to others. Different lenders use different CRA’s for credit applications. This will help prevent credit being taken out in your name, but be aware this isn’t a 100% guarantee. Delete email’s sent/received requesting this.

Bank, Credit Cards, Loans & Phone providers: Alert them to being a survivor, they can potentially offer extra security and additional support with your accounts.

For further online security support visit: www.ncsc.gov.uk

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