Over the last couple of decades, we have become an internet-based world. From shopping to banking, buying houses and more, almost everything we do is online, and it is only set to grow. Sadly, this also means that there is more cybercrime, so it is imperative we remember the basics of online safety and don’t get complacent with the advice as it really is there to keep us safe. Here are ten of the top internet safety rules and things we must and must not do to protect ourselves.
1.Keep Your Tech Up to Date
The prompt to update your computer or phone always seems to pop up at the most inconvenient moments, meaning most of us hit the ‘later’ button. This is a really bad habit to get into; the updates include safety patches and upgrades and need to be installed as soon as possible, so if you really have to press the later button make sure you go back and let them update as quickly as you have time, preferably the same day.
2.Take Advantage of Privacy Settings
Social sites and other websites offer users the ability to customise privacy settings, and you must take advantage of these. It is a shame that they are not implemented as standard but instead rely on users turning them on. Be sure to check out all safety setting options; ensure you are posting things to friends not publicly and don’t let companies get away with making them hard to find just because they want to collect as much data as possible.
3.Download with Care
Only download the things you need. From apps to weather and traffic information, cyber thieves will hide malware anywhere they can and hope it gets downloaded. That is why a good virus software is also vital as this will help catch anything dubious and quarantine it so it cannot get to your hard drive. The app store is your best bet for getting apps, either Apple’s App Store or Google Play as these have been checked for you.
4.Don’t Say Too Much
Be careful not to give away too much information. During COVID, there was a very realistic invitation from the NHS for vaccine appointments, but users quickly discovered that they were being asked for bank details. This was quickly picked up on, and the NHS confirmed they would never need bank details, and therefore, this was a scam. Only give the information you need to complete a shopping transaction and don’t answer optional marketing questions asking for irrelevant details.
5.Find the Padlock
Safe internet sites have a padlock in the top corner of the address. Stay off sites that do not have this. Use common sense and gut feeling when browsing, and if you stumble on a site that seems dubious, leave. Remember the adage that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Incredible prices, a free giveaway of a campervan, most of these things are scams trying to get personal information. When a Facebook page claims a celebrity is giving away £2000 to everyone one responds, think again. Is that likely?
6.Purchase with Care
So, following on, try and make purchases from sites that are well known and offer adequate levels of security. Criminals are interested in financial information, so use your debit or credit card with care. Third-party sites like PayPal mean you purchase without the company ever getting or handling your bank details, and only PayPal holds sensitive information.
It is essential you choose your passwords with care. They need to be healthy and not easily guessed. Many phones and computers can remember passwords securely for you, so the problem of remembering them is less. Names, real words and number sequences are all easy to guess, and therefore strong passwords are random characters, letters and symbols that make it much harder to hack.
8.Post with Care
Telling your friends on social media that you are going on holiday for two weeks may seem innocent enough, but it also means you have just told the world your house will be empty. You can also never be sure things are entirely removed, and you may post something you later regret, and it stays on the internet forever.
9.Don’t Click Links
If you get an email from your bank, or a website you use asking you to change your password or informing you a payment failed, never click the link shown. Use your browser to navigate to the home page of the site and go from there. Cybercrime is easy if you clone a site and get people to enter information because they panic and think something is wrong.
10.Careful When Meeting
From dating to buying and selling, be careful who you meet in person after talking to them online.