Changing your phone for the latest model has become an almost instinctive action for many of us and the same holds true for countless other electrical devices.

We have all become increasingly reliant on technology (perhaps more so during 2020 than ever before) and as the things we use are developed at an ever-faster pace, so too are the efforts of the criminals who seek to access our personal data.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has recently published its first article giving advice and guidance to help you keep your personal information secure when upgrading or selling your electrical devices.

Whilst January is traditionally a time when many people seek bargains, we think that the advice is relevant all year round so with this in mind, we thought that it was a very good idea to begin 2021 by reminding you of some of these measures.

  • When disposing of a device, always reset to factory settings. This will remove all saved data including passwords. For phones, this will also remove all photographs and apps so ensure that your device is backed up before resetting. Most devices will have instructions as to how to factory reset.
  • The above is also relevant for computer equipment, whether PC, laptop or tablet and also smart TV's and fitness trackers & smart watches.
  • Some information from computer hard drives can be retrieved if an attacker is determined: there is a profitable market on the dark web for this information. Hard drives can be destroyed to reduce this risk. They can be sent away for certified destruction if you are not able to carry this out yourself.
  • Make sure that you know the passwords you use to access websites and apps before you erase them.
  • When selling your car, erase all synched contact data (including downloaded phone books)  and remove addresses from the satnav, including your home location if programmed.

It's commonly thought that our children are more tech savvy than their parents. Whilst this may be true in terms of use and familiarity with the nuances of the latest gadgets, it's worth emphasising to them the importance of cyber security and making sure that when the inevitable request for an upgrade to a new phone or tablet comes, that the old device is backed up and reset.

By following these simple steps, you can reduce your exposure to cybercrime (including identity theft, or theft of payment cards details, passwords etc) but in the unfortunate event that something does go wrong, there are policies which can provide you with some cover. Those provided by household policies tends to vary but there are standalone options with limits starting at £25,000 for claims arising from the following incidents:

  • Cyber monetary theft – usually, your bank will reimburse you but in rare cases this might not happen (where for example they believe that you have acted negligently).
  • Hacker damage – where your system is damaged, including both hardware and programmes.
  • Social engineering – where criminals fool you into giving them your passwords. Fake emails are one example of this, where clicking on a link allows them access to your accounts and data.
  • Malware – where malware is sent which, once opened, corrupts your system and may require payment to restore normal access.
  • Extortion – where you are held “at ransom” due to the threatened compromise of personal details obtained via a hack into your system.

You can read more about the NCSC's advice here and Lockton Private Clients are ready to help and advise you on both your cyber security and how to protect yourself in the event of a problem.