Computing devices are an essential part of modern life. We use smart phones, tablets and computers to work, play, organise and communicate – with a vast array of functionality at our fingertips whenever we need it, no matter where we are.

Easy targets

Aside from the financial value, these devices are also precious to us because they store so much of our personal data – such as online account information, social media messages, emails, media (pictures, videos and audio) and important personal and work-related documents.

But whenever something is valuable, there are always people out there looking to steal it. With today's electronic devices being so light and portable, criminals view them as ideal targets. And chances are that you may be a victim of theft at some point in your life.

But even if a thief doesn't physically steal your device, modern criminals can attack you in other ways – stealing your data, breaking into your online accounts and even using your credit card to make fraudulent purchases in your name.

Protect your online presence

  • Use passwords wisely: Before you do anything else, make sure you're using strong passwords to lock your devices and online accounts. But passwords won't help if you store them on your device, so don't keep them in a document on the device and resist the urge to select the "Keep me logged in" option in your web browser.
  • Be smart about your data: It's always a good idea to back up your data, so do it regularly. Also, try not to store scans of sensitive documents (e.g. ID, passport) and information (credit card statements, etc.) on your device, on the internet or in cloud-based storage.
  • Protect yourself against identity theft: Keen on sharing your identity with a criminal? If not, guard against identity theft by disposing of sensitive paperwork safely, enabling SMS alerts on your bank account activities and take other important steps to protect yourself against this scourge.
  • Tighten up your social media settings: You know how important social media is to you. Your accounts are also pretty important to cyber criminals, so lock down your security and privacy settings to avoid data breaches.
  • Be cautious with apps: Smartphone and tablet apps are awesome, but not when they're riddled with malware. Before you download anything, exercise caution to avoid malicious apps.
  • Watch out for phishing: Criminals often use email, SMS or other means to send you unsolicited messages asking for personal or sensitive information. You're smarter than they are, so be suspicious and check whether it's a phishing attempt.
  • Protect your finances online: If you're a billionaire with no concern about losing money, then bank and buy online without any worries. But if you're like the rest of us, remember to protect your finances by applying some basic safety techniques.
  • Protect yourself when using public facilities: When using public computers, take precautions to protect your privacy.
  • Dispose of your device properly: Make sure you log out of all accounts, clear all passwords and remove all your data from it by doing a factory reset. And if you'll be disposing of a sim card, destroy it before throwing it away.