Online Safety Tips

Online Safety Tips

Technology has been advancing at a rapid rate over the last two decades. Today many of us carry a device in our pockets that gives us access to our family, friends and the whole of human knowledge. Granted many of us mostly use it for Facebook and cat videos, but the internet is a powerful tool that we share for better or for worse. While many of us use to learn new things, entertain ourselves or keep in touch with loved ones there are many who use the internet as a weapon against others and see it as their hunting ground.

Be careful with your personal information. This doesn’t just include your social security or credit card number, but also your name, phone number and address. Every time you sign up for a service that takes this information be aware that it may be used to gather more information about you. These sign-ups give scammers the first pieces of information they need about you to make you one of their victims in the future.

Be wary of emails that offer free gifts, say that you won something or offer you special discounts. These emails may be designed to gather information about you and responding can put you on a ‘sucker’s list’ for future scams. Other times such emails have links that download spy software to your computer and allow others to view your personal information. Don’t download any attachments on emails from people that you don’t know.

Make sure that you keep an active security software on your computer. You also want to make sure that it set to auto-update so the program keeps up with evolving viruses and malware. Such software doesn’t have to cost a lot and many professional companies offer good free versions if you are hesitant to spend money on a protective software.  Trustworthy ones include: AVG AntiVirus FREE and Avast Free. These programs will keep an eye on the security of your computer and warn you if you’ve gone to a potentially problematic website.

Be careful with your passwords and change them every so often. A good password should be unique and strong, ideally made up of upper and lower case letters with numbers thrown it. Never reveal your password online and avoid even sending it in an email to anyone.

Be cautious about what you put up on social media. Privacy settings are very important and are the difference between telling your friends and family about something that is going on and telling the world. Con artists are very happy to use your social media pages to gather information about you and your family that they can use to trick you.  On Facebook you can check this by clicking on the little padlock sign at the top right corner of the screen. This will show you who can see your information. Ideally you want to keep this set to friends only so strangers aren’t looking at your information and trying to contact you.

Pay attention to the website you use for purchasing or banking. You only want to enter sensitive information onto secure websites which have the special address beginning of https:// which means that your data is being protected. Never provide any back or credit card details on a website that only has the address http:// as it means there isn’t any special protection for your data. Many protected sites are also marked with a padlock sign by the address bar, but always check the address as well.

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