Staying Safe Online
In today’s world, we are becoming increasingly dependent on digital communication, Smart Phones, Tablets, Surfing the Internet, and using email is part of daily life. It is true that those with criminal intent will try to use cybercrime for many purposes including identity theft and scamming; there are many common sense steps that we can take to minimise being exposed to this form of crime.
The Tabs below will cover the measures all should take to stay safe on line, the old saying that "if it looks too good to be true it probably is" is a good maxim to employ.
Think of online crime as just another way that criminals try to gain access to what is ours, apply the same safety measures that you would in the offline world and the threat becomes a less frightening prospect.
The password is your first line of defence against online criminals, that said, it is also our first vulnerability. Most web access requires passwords, and it is quite a challenge to "think up" passwords that will be safe but at the same time, be easy for us to remember!
All is not lost however, there are many online password manager programmes out there where you only need to remember one password, the one you use to login to the programme, some are free to use such as Dashlane that can not only store your passwords but can generate strong passwords for you and from its console you can even go to the site and Dashlane will sign you in automatically. This programme works on almost all Internet Browsers although not on Windows browser EDGE, work is currently ongoing to integrate that browser into the programme.
Password protection however is not a perfect tool, you still need to be proactive, regularly changing passwords is key to keeping your information safe. If you are using a "password manager" then it is the master password you need to keep safe, the manager will keep the rest hidden from prying eyes. When choosing a master password, avoid using any personal terms that others could find (or guess) i.e. National Health or Insurance numbers, birthday dates etc. and just like your bank cards, never keep the password in a place that others can easily access it.
When setting passwords, you should use a combination of "Capital Letters" "Numbers" and "Keyboard Symbols", again try not to add capital letters at the start of the password or at the start of words within it. When placed randomly in the password it is far harder to crack, as is breaking up words by inserting numbers or symbols: "gO&Ngho^mE/" is an example, the base password being "going home". Another popular way to create a password is to use triptics, OHN_UPY_^5J, they may seem a bit complicated at first but if you are using a password manager then you only need to remember one however, you still need to change it from time to time.
We all use the internet, most daily, on our phones, tablets and computers and browsing the internet is a great place to get up to date information on the things that are important to us. Unfortunately, it is also where the cybercriminal resides waiting for the unwary fly to fall into their web.
There are several simple ways to try and prevent becoming a victim;
Always surf behind a firewall
Monitor children online, there are a number of "Parental Control Software" packages available online, most are free to use and may well be provided by your internet provider
Keep your Anti-virus software up to date
Run scans on your Anti-virus programme on a regular basis
Disable Pop Up ads in your Internet Browser
Hover over links before clicking them, that way you should see where the link is pointing
Find out more about online safety by visiting Get Safe Online
Not surprisingly email is the most common way in which our digital presence is attacked, this can be anything from attempts to hijack our accounts, steal our identity, gain our trust and flood our in-boxes with "junk mail".
There are a few ways to combat email frauds;
Further details on email security can be found here
This is an area that we all need to be aware of, the criminal will try almost any trick to get their hands on your financial details to allow them the opportunity to "empty" our accounts or run up huge bills on our credit cards, these are commonly known as "identity theft"
To do this they will use phoney or spoof websites, send fake security warnings both online and via email asking you to enter your banking information or credit card numbers; remember your Bank or Card provider will not ask you to enter sensitive information online.
Another popular way in which they operate is by telling you that you have won something or tell you that your phone or computer has errors and ask you to click a link to download software to fix them - never follow such links.
When shopping online always check that the site is secure before entering in any financial information, the quickest way to ensure this is that the site address starts with https:// (the s represents that the site is using a secure internet protocol). You can get more info on secure websites and what to look for by visiting sites like Digicert
Social media can be great for those who want to let friends and family know how they are, what they are doing, and where they are going. That seems ideal at first sight however, without proper security settings and a knowledge of what others can find out about you from your social media profile, it can be a very dangerous place indeed.
Before even setting up a "Social Media Profile" you need to be aware of its impact, social media sites, have built in "search Engines", it is not necessary to know who you’re looking for, many of the sites are so helpful, that they will start to give suggestions as soon as a person starts to type, from there they can access your "Profile" unless you have set your personal security settings to prevent this.
Another pitfall on social media is being lulled into a false sense of security and saying things that you would not normally do in face to face conversations (recent cases of people being arrested and prosecuted for things they said on social media are a warning to all).
Identity theft is also a problem on social media, you should be wary of "Friend Requests" from people you are already friends with, it is possible that their account has been hacked and when you accept that request, yours will be hacked as well. You should never accept unsolicited "Friend Requests" from people you do not know and be very careful of friend requests that others have suggested on your profile.
Finally, anything you put out on social media is up there for evermore, even deleting your account does not remove your presence as the records of your time in the network lives on in the accounts of those you were friends with. The best advice is, as always, if it’s not something you were willing to share with the world at large, don’t share it with your friends on social media.
Further information and advice can be accessed at Get Safe Online
Online scams come in all shapes and sizes but all have one aim, to access information. Information is the first step in gaining intelligence, something that cyber criminals are particularity good at doing. Scams normally prey on our insecurities and natural desire to be as safe as we can be, and the online criminal will use many tools, such as direct email, Phishing, social media, website cloning etc. in attempting to gain access to our information.
New scams are invented at an alarming rate, that said there is much we can do to avoid being entangled and deceived. Following the advice on this page will assist you but cannot protect you from all attempts to scam you; vigilance must be employed when using digital media.
There are some websites that are dedicated to keeping people safe online, two of these are linked below: