We spend more and more of our lives studying, socialising and shopping online. Criminals spend a lot of time online as well, trying to get users personal information for fraudulent purposes. Here are some tips on how to stay safe online.
Protect your PC
- Get good anti-virus/anti-spyware software and a firewall.
- Use an up-to-date web browser.
- Keep your computer software and security up-to-date.
- Beware of bogus emails, spam and attachments - don’t open emails from people you don’t know.
- Choose strong passwords which use a mixture of numbers, upper-case and lowercase letters and symbols. Don't pick obvious passwords e.g birthdays or names and make sure you use different passwords for different sites.
- Secure your Wi-Fi using the encryption option. If you can access it without entering security data so can someone else in the vicinity.
- Set security levels so that only your friends can view your profile.
- Keep your personal information hidden.
- Be very cautious about posting identifying information about yourself or your family: e.g your address, phone number or mothers maiden name, pets name or date of birth that could be used to identify your security passwords.
- Remember what goes online stays online. Don’t say or publish anything that you may regret later.
- Don't arrange to meet someone that you have only met online - some people lie online and may not be who they say they are.
- If someone contacts you with weird or nasty messages, don't reply to them. Save the messages and contact the forum administrator.
Online finance and shopping
- When shopping online always use your common sense - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Use secure websites. Look for "https://" and the padlock image to show that the site is secure.
- Use a secure payment option such as PayPal or a dedicated pre-pay credit card for all online purchases.
- Beware of sponsored links at the top or side of search page. These are not always reliable and can be used by criminals.
- Remember banks and financial institutions do not send emails asking you to verify your bank details by clicking on a link. Do not trust such emails, no matter how authentic they appear. You can always call your bank using the phone number on a genuine piece of correspondence, website (typed directly into the address bar)
You can find more information about online safety on the CiCS website.