We are all connected to the online world in some way, be it through our home computers, laptops, mobile phones and tablets. Before you hand over your details to any organisation or company on the internet there are steps you can take to make sure that you are staying safe online.
Take a look at our top facts and tips on about safety to help you surf, shop and stay in touch securely.
Keeping each of your accounts secure is your first line of protection for your personal data online. Whilst some sites have restrictions for the kind of password you can use, there are still plenty of sites that will let you use any old password without character of numerical restrictions.
Google recommend using a long password, made up of a mixture of numbers, letters and symbols. Think outside of the box, passwords where numbers are substituted for letters are still easy for hackers to guess – eg. C4URCH1LL.
Each year SplashData compile a list of the most common passwords from the millions of stolen passwords that are made public each year. If your most frequently used password is in the below top five from 2014 – it’s definitely time to change it!
Try to use a different password for each website you sign it to. Think of each password as having a different key to unlock each different website – you wouldn’t want to let a thief get their hands on one key that could unlock your house, car and shed! It may be helpful to write down your passwords in a notepad to keep track of them, but be sure to store your notes in a safe place, away from the computer.
Stopping Email Scams
Email fraudsters are constantly developing new ways to coax you in to parting with your personal details. Whilst some scams are obvious, there have been high profile cases of online criminals masquerading as trusted brands like PayPal, eBay and even banks like NatWest, by sending bogus emails requesting that users update their passwords – giving the criminals access to their accounts.
Be sure to check over emails fully before clicking any links or completing any of the actions the email has requested. Watch out for the following red flags;
- Is the email from a sender with a recognisable domain name? For example emails from PayPal will be from @Paypal.com rather than @paypal1.net or @Paypol.com.
- Is the email asking for personal information or payment? It is highly unlikely a reputable company or financial institution would ever ask for you to hand over additional details or request money to be transferred immediately.
- Does the content feature incorrect grammar or spelling errors? Professional hackers use this as a tactic to spot less savvy internet users. Those who respond to emails with errors are more susceptible to multiple scams.
- Are there any suspicious attachments? It is highly unusual to receive attachments from retailers or banks. Do not open them unless you are 100% certain that they are safe, files ending in .exe, .scr, .zip files are deemed as high risk. You can always telephone the customer care team at the retailer to the bank to check whether the email you have been sent is an official one.
You can help to stop others from being targeted by reporting the email address the scam was sent from to the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre. If you don’t trust an email you’ve been sent, delete it.
Invest in Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus software will operate in the background whilst you use your computer, scanning incoming emails for dangerous attachments, monitoring files as they are opened to ensure they are not infected, and periodically scanning your whole computer to keep your details and documents safe.
You won’t need to break the bank investing in an anti-virus software. For a home PC or laptop you can buy a simple program for around £20. You will however need to keep this software up to date as scammers, hackers and online criminals are constantly coming up with new viruses and software.
Take a look at the reviews on the software reviews on Which.co.uk to help find the best package for you.