Although National Internet Safety Day, 6th February, is key in highlighting this important issue, the exchange of personal data and interaction with others over the world wide web should be upper most in our mind every time we click that iconic blue “e”.
The development of the internet and social networking should be seen as a positive thing; where would we be without online purchasing or being able to keep in touch via Facebook? But with rapid growth we can sometime feel we are losing control of our own private data and the safety of our loved ones. So, how better to mark Internet Safety Day than to revisit some common dangers and tips to avoid the scammers?
Secure from the start
Even before you go on line, you need to think ahead and protect yourself. Make sure you firewall is set up and that it is on the highest setting possible. Also, download anti-virus and spyware software, such as McAfee or Norton. If you have this already, make sure you regularly update it for it to work most efficiently to protect your PC.
Make sure you have a strong password – Using a capital letter, numbers and other characters in a combination makes it harder to crack. Try not to use passwords other people could easily guess and definitely do not use PASSWORD or PASSWORD123. Use different passwords for different sites, but make sure you can remember them.
Phishing…Don’t get bitten by sharks
Criminal gangs send emails with the intent of gaining your bank account details or passwords. Common scams ask you to send money or receive money in a rush, meaning you make instinctive decisions. Sometimes fake emails are sent from genuine looking accounts, asking you to re-enter your password of account details. These are harder to spot, but before you act, double check. Poor spelling, expression, grammar and odd emails are a sign these are fake. If in doubt, delete and ring the company from a genuine number you have on a letter.
Pharming…A deliberate misspelling and a costly mistake
It’s all too easy to type Efsy or yagoo into your address bar but mistyping genuine website addresses can lead you to fake websites where the criminals will skim your passwords and access your real accounts, so double check before you hit enter. Also, if you find a website that you have never used before, double check its credentials. Have a look at in the address bar: is there a padlock symbol and does the address start with ‘https://’? If so, it’s ok. The ‘S’ stands for secure, this means the website has been verified by a third party and will encrypt any information sent through it. Remember, if a deal looks too good to be true – it is.
Content…See it, close it, report it…
The internet is an open source meaning anyone can put anything onto it. So, sometimes you can stumble on material that you could find distasteful, cause you distress or even be illegal. If you should encounter anything like this, see it, close it, report it – to the police, social media company or the relevant authority. Parental controls can be set on the internet and learning how to use the internet with a child or using it alongside them can help you to keep a tight hold of what parts of the internet they are seeing.
Social Media…Right people, right content, right future…
Social media has exploded over the past 15 years; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are all popular apps. Social media appeals to all but especially the younger generation, with youngsters connecting with these networks instantly. Young or old, digital footprints, instant access to strangers around the world and multimedia communications can cause new concerns. The NSPCC are currently running their TEAM campaign – https://www.nspcc.org.uk/ – but following these top tips on this website can help anyone of any age keep themselves safe on social media – https://www.getsafeonline.org/social-networking/social-networking-sites/
The internet has truly changed the world and the technology around it is developing at a pace, so being able to use it safely and help your loved ones use it safely is essential. Using the advice above can help you do just that.