We’re always being warned of the dangers of identity theft, phishing and online card fraud, so what can you do to help protect yourself? Here are 15 tips to staying safe on the Internet.
1. The first and most basic tip would be to protect your computer. In order to do this you will need some Anti-virus software (to protect against viruses), anti-spyware software (to protect against people looking into your files) and a firewall (flags up possible unsafe data transmissions). Although you can get a programme for each, there are many programmes on the market that will do all three.
2. The above only work as long as you keep them updated as criminals are constantly coming up with new ways of hacking and bypassing security. Programmes normally give you a reminder when they need updating so don’t ignore it.
3. When shopping online, make sure that the site you are using displays the secure shopping logo and https:// preceding the web address. Payment over the Internet is more secure than using your card details over the phone, by post or in a restaurant. Here are some examples of safe shopping logos to look for:
4. Chat rooms are a great way to meet people and talk without ever having to meet face to face. However, this can cause all sorts of problems, as people do not have to give true information. Stay safe by not giving out any personal information and use a nickname instead of a real name so there is no chance of tracing you. Finally, never agree to meet someone you have met online before talking it through with someone else and letting him or her know where and when you are intending to meet. It’s always advisable to meet in a public place and, if possible, take a friend along with you too.
5. Social networking sites are somewhat similar to chat rooms. Remember that whatever information you put on these sites may be read by people who you don’t want to read them. This can lead to trouble at school, work or with friends and family. Always think about how well you know a person before accepting them as a friend and always remember to check and set-up any privacy settings available to you.
6. If you have young children using the internet, why not think about a programme like Net Nanny which allows you to set controls and websites which you deem to be suitable for your child. Programmes like this also allow you to set different controls for different children if they are different ages and look at different sites. Net Nanny is also developing software for iPhones, iPads and Android.
7. Emails are now the preferred way for scammers to contact you. Called phishing (pronounced fishing), emails generally look very professional and ask for you to confirm certain details. These fraudsters only need a few small pieces of information to then set up a fake identity in your name and apply for credit cards or loans. If you are unsure, always give the company a ring and they will be happy to clarify whether it was a genuine email or not.
You may also check our previous article, How to detect and prevent Phishing scam.
8. When setting up a new password, the stronger then better. The best passwords are those that contain letters and numbers. Don’t be tempted to use your birthday, address or mother’s maiden name as these details are easily retrieved from public records or sites like Facebook and Myspace.
9. As well as setting strong passwords, change them regularly. It might seem a bit of a pain to have to remember them all but it will be safer in the long run.
10. If you have a wireless (Wi-Fi) network, make sure that it is password protected. If it’s not and someone else uses it for illegal activity such as illegal file sharing you can be held responsible. Not only this but they could gain access to your computer and find passwords and personal information.
11. Don’t open an email if you don’t know the sender and even more importantly, don’t open any attachments unless you are 100% sure of the sender as these could download a virus which could steal personal information stored on your computer. This applies to email enabled phones as well.
12. If you are allowing your children to use the Internet. Give them time limits and make sure the computer/laptop is within your eyesight so you can keep an eye on what they are looking at.
Read more about it in this article: Setting up Computer for family internet safety.
13. When you join a new online community of social network site, make sure you find out as much as you can about its privacy settings. Change them to your specifications and make sure you check them regularly and sites can make updates and sometimes this means your settings are restored to the originals without your knowledge.
14. With the use of mobile phones to surf the web and check emails, these are no longer same from hackers and scammers either. People can access private information on your phone via hacking Bluetooth connections, send a smartphone virus via email, text message or bluetooth and access passwords for accounts used on device while using the Internet. This is why companies like Kaspersky have now produced an Internet mobile security programme available to purchase for approximately £20.00.
15. My final tip whether using your laptop, home computer or mobile to access the internet is, never use the remember me function as this stores passwords and usernames which in the event of the item being stolen or lost, the new “owner” would be able to access all your details. This is particularly important when using online banking.
Some Important Links:
AVG Antivirus 2011 Free Offline Setup Installer
Microsoft Security Essentials : Virus, Spyware and Malware Protection Software
Panda USB Vaccine : Block Viruses Spreading Through USB Drives
Free Online Armor Personal Firewall