Facebook, emails, online banking… we all spend a large part of our day on the internet so it’s more important than ever to stay safe online.
Here are some simple steps you can take to protect your own personal details and devices, as well as top tips if you have young children or your child is heading to university.
Protecting your personal details
• Minimise the amount you share – Avoid connecting your phone number and other information to online accounts and be careful when sharing your location on social media – especially your home address!
• Make social media profiles private – This prevents people you don’t know viewing your details and what you’re doing.
• Create strong passwords – You can use an online password generator to create secure passwords. If you need help remembering them, using a password manager such as LastPass, is safer than writing them down.
• Keep transactions secure – Make purchases through trusted sites and look for the padlock symbol and ‘https://’ in the address bar to check the transaction is safe.
Protecting your devices
• Update your security software and spyware - Keeping your protection up-to-date is crucial to protect your computer from viruses and malware.
• Spam emails – Don’t download any files or click on any links that you’re not expecting to receive, even if they appear to be from family or friends.
• Download music, videos and apps safely – Choose reputable websites and app stores for your downloads so you don’t risk downloading spyware or viruses.
• Back up your files – Use cloud storage or an external hard drive to back up your files, photos and music regularly.
• Secure your Wi-Fi network – Keep your home Wi-Fi network protected with a strong password to prevent others joining and potentially accessing your personal files.
Security on the go
• Avoid unsecured public Wi-Fi connections – Opt for recognised providers like BT Openzone where possible. Alternatively, use 3G or 4G instead.
• Adjust your settings – Turn off file sharing settings on your device and turn on your firewall while using public networks.
• Be aware of those around you – Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder while you enter personal details or information in public.
Online safety at university – top tips for students:
• Avoid ‘checking in’ on social networks or sharing your address – Student houses are already a popular burglary target and this could make you more vulnerable.
• Think before you post – Protect your future self by considering what you put on the internet; don’t post things you might regret later!
• Regularly back up your work – Invest in an external hard drive or sign up to cloud storage to avoid losing an essay the day before deadline!
• Beware of public Wi-Fi – If you’re using devices around campus make sure you’re connected to a secure network. Remember to disable file sharing when you’re not using it.
Online safety for young children – top tips for parents:
• Enable safe browsing – Activate safe search settings on websites such as Google, Bing, YouTube and iTunes, to give peace of mind when browsing - and also avoid the little ones incurring big bills! Turn off in-app purchases and turn on password-protected downloads.
• Keep an eye on what children are doing – Familiarise yourself with the networks and websites your children are using, and consider adding them on social media so you can see what they’re sharing and who they’re speaking to.
• Keep communication open – Educate children early about the risks associated with the internet and how they should behave online and let them know they can always talk to you and ask you questions.