The internet now pervades many areas of life, and whether you are communicating, doing business or social interaction, used wisely, it can be an essential and beneficial tool for modern living.
However, the downside is that the internet is also used for a variety of criminal acts with fraud being the most prevalent. Following the advice below should help you and your family to keep safe online.
Protect your PC
- Source good anti-virus/anti-spyware software and a firewall.
- Use an up-to-date web browser
- Keep your computer up to date i.e run ‘windows updates’
- Block spam emails
- Beware bogus emails and attachments - don’t open emails from people you don’t know
- Regularly back-up your information on discs or an external hard drive
- Secure your Wi-Fi using the encryption option. If you can access it without entering security data so can someone else in the vicinity
- 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
- Use your computer in administrator mode. Create a user account and use that on a day to day basis
- Set security levels so that just your friends can view your profile
- Pick a username that doesn’t include your real name
- 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 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 or pre-pay credit card for all online purchases
- Be aware that sponsored links at the top or side of search page pay to be there. 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)
Making sure that your children are safe online
- Get to know your child’s online habits. Children are inquisitive. They will look to explore the internet as much as they do the real world. Knowing the sites they go to, the people they meet there and what they do will help to keep them safe
- Stay alert to any sudden changes in mood or appearance, or to any major change in habits or to increased secretiveness. These are often tell-tale signs that something is not right
- Keep lines of communication open - tell your child they can always talk to you or another trusted adult, such as a teacher, if they do end up in some sort of trouble on the internet
- Make children aware that there are things on the internet, which may distress them
- Spend some time surfing the internet yourself. The more that you know about the internet, the better able you are, in turn, to help your child navigate around it without coming to any harm
- Install internet-filtering software showing a Child Safety Online Kitemark on your computer. These have been independently tested to provide a simple and effective means of support to parents, helping to ensure that a child’s online experience is a safe one.
- Get Safe Online