Merseyside Police are advising internet users to create strong passwords to combat hackers.

As part of the Safer Internet Centre’s national awareness day, Merseyside Police are encouraging everyone to adopt safe passwords and, where available, two-factor authentication to help protect email, social media, and other accounts.

Every year, Safer Internet Day promotes the use of technology in a safe, responsible, and courteous manner in order to safeguard internet users from fraud, theft, abuse, and exploitation.

This year’s theme will celebrate young people’s contributions to making the internet a safer place: ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online.’

Young people use online platforms, such as social media, video streaming and video games, to connect with others.

Merseyside Police are highlighting the skills young people need to keep themselves safe.

This includes verifying that Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch and other online accounts are secure.

Criminals can use hacked accounts to extort money from users and buy goods online, meaning victims can be left both out of pocket and in a huge amount of distress.

Detective Inspector John Black, from Merseyside Police Cyber Unit, said: “People of all ages are increasingly using the internet to interact with each other, and during a period of lockdown when our ability to meet in person has been severely restricted, this has been more useful than ever.

“But with this increased use comes the increased threat of those who are prepared to ruthlessly exploit people online for their own financial gain.

“We have investigated a number of incidents of fraud online where offenders have used sophisticated technology to ‘guess’ passwords, and in many cases the victim had used the same password for multiple accounts, and would be exposed to greater risk as a result.

“Those offenders can then access those accounts to purchase goods or in some cases, to find information and images they then use to extort money.”

Detective Inspector John Black explained: “There are a range of password managers available, enabling you to securely store those difficult to remember passwords for different accounts so that the device you are using can make the process both simpler and safer.

“It is also recommended that you use three words that are easy to remember for you, but which would be difficult for a stranger to guess.

“Two factor authentication (2FA), or two-step verification, requires two pieces of evidence that you are who you say you are, such as a mobile number as well as an email address and password, which makes life even more difficult for scammers.”

Top tips for internet safety

Staying safe on the internet is a vital part of modern technology use. Here are our top tips for aiding you and your children in this process:

  • Monitor your child’s internet use and keep a track of their browser history.
  • Make sure you pick strong passwords for your secure information.
  • Keep your privacy settings high to ensure your security.
  • Ensure you’re up-to-date with all the latest security software.
  • Remember to be as vigilant on your mobile as on your desktop or laptop.
  • Don’t click on links you don’t trust.

For more information on setting up secure passwords, 2FA and more, visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware/home#section_4

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