Staying safe online should be a concern for all internet users. Here is a list of 10 simple ways you can improve your online security and stay safe online.
- Never share your personal details online:
I am always amazed that users of sites like Gumtree and Craigslist continue to share their personal mobile phone numbers openly when selling stuff online. These sites allow anonymous emailing so why not anonymous calling and texting? Scammers and nuisance callers can mine your details and quickly add you to lists and sell your data to other companies.
- Don’t use lazy passwords:
Even after the numerous, high profile attacks on some of the world’s most popular websites (Linkedin, Ashley Madison, Sony, etc) and general security issues like heartbleed, internet users continue to use lazy passwords. According to Splashdata, the top three most common passwords in 2014 were ‘123456’, ‘password’ and ‘12345’! We all have too many passwords to remember but surely we are better than this? As a general rule passwords should be unique combinations of words, numbers, symbols, and both upper and lower case letters. And don’t use the same password for everything.
- Set up parental controls:
Microsoft and other OS makers offer parents the opportunity to add control to how children use the internet. For example, you can set limits on the hours that children can use your computer, the games they play, the programs they can run and even the websites they visit. Parental controls are simple to set up, for Windows and Mac.
- Report spam:
Whether you use Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail or any other email client, some spam will inevitably creep into your inbox. When this happens you should report the spam to your provider as this will help them identify future spam emails and protect you and other email users from viruses and hacks.
- Be careful what you sign up for:
We all fill out online forms and sign up on various sites on a daily basis but how can you be sure you can trust a particular website? Websites do sell your personal information. A simple google search should uncover more information about a website and its trust level. You can also view which sites publish your data online and opt out using http://www.stopdatamining.me/.
- Social privacy:
We provide a lot of personal information to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. All of these sites offer control around what information is publicly available and we should all take more notice of what information is visible. Prospective employers, dates and even identity thieves will look at your social media, so manage your privacy as best you can.
- Be careful who you connect with:
It seems obvious to only connect with people you know but there are still tons of stories about internet users being duped by connecting with the wrong people on Skype and Facebook or replying to the wrong email. Dating sites and Twitter encourage us to engage with strangers but we should always control what information we share. I have a friend who still gets late night phone calls from an online date she went on in 2008, while Tinder is rife with horror stories and scammers trying to get your personal details.
- Use Paypal:
Paypal is safer than sharing your credit card details. Owned by Ebay, Paypal uses encryption and the person you are buying from cannot access any of your personal information. Paypal also has a buyer protection feature, whereby you can claim for goods that don’t arrive or match the seller’s description. Other secure payment providers are available!
- Get a Vyke number:
Keep your main number private and get a Vyke number you can use online for dating, buying & selling, online sign ups or even a second business line.
- Beware of the sites you visit:
As with online sign ups you can control which sites you visit. Browsers do a pretty good job of identifying threats but never visit sites without security certificates or where your browser identifies a threat.