Online Top Tips

7th February 17

Today is Safer Internet Day 2017 and John Turner, our Impact & Improvement Officer, shares his Top Tips to stay safe online.

1. Passwords
We all have them, whether  to access our laptop, tablet, email, online banking, shopping account or  social media.  How many of us use the same one for all?

  • Use a mixture of capital letters, numbers and if the site allows special symbols (e.g. £ # % * $)
  • Don’t use your name or ‘password123’
  • Don’t use the same password for all your accounts, if one account gets hacked your others can too
  • Change your password regularly, for example every 30 days
  • Be careful where you enter your password, e.g. if you are on a train or bus or in a café can someone see you?

2. Privacy
Who can see you online?  Facebook and other social media sites are great to share photos and news about your life with friends and family, but are they the only ones seeing it?

3. Secure pages
Whilst shopping or logging into an account, you should see a padlock symbol in the top left of your browser address line.  This shows that the page you are on is secure.  You can click on it to see it is a secure connection.  If the page is not secure, don’t log in or enter any payment details as it could be open to hacking or fraud.

4. Anti Virus
Make sure you have some anti-virus software on your devices (computer, mobiles and tablets). There are a number of options available, including some limited free versions. Make sure that you keep the software updated.

5. Attachments and links in emails
If you receive an email from someone you don’t know or you do know and were not expecting it, don’t open the attachments or click the links.

  • Check the email address – has it come from a legitimate account?  Is the spelling correct?
  • Are there spelling or grammar mistakes?
  • Emails stating “you’ve won a million pounds” are usually spam
  • HMRC and many other government departments don’t communicate important information via email (e.g. regarding tax refunds) so emails sent from them are unlikely to be genuine and are known as “phishing” emails.

6. Cyberbullying
If you’re being bullied by someone through an online method, e.g. mobile phone, internet, this is called cyberbullying and there are things that you can do about it.

  • Don’t suffer in silence, talk to someone about it
  • Save the evidence, screenshots
  • If it’s coming via social media, report them and then block them
  • Check your privacy settings.

7. Pop Ups and Adverts
Many web browsers block unwanted pop ups as default now, but there are extensions available to install.  Don’t click on a pop up or ad that appears, as this could install a virus.

8. Websites
Don’t get caught out by on unofficial websites.  Some sites that you find through a search engine, might appear to be what you are looking for and feature high up on the search engine results, but is not the official site.  This can be done by paying for sites to appear high on search engine results.  In some instances this could cost you more money than is necessary, e.g. the United States ESTA Visa Waiver programme charges $14 but there are other websites that charge more and appear high on the search engine results.

9. Talking online
Know who you are talking to on instant messaging or online forum sites.  This also applies to chat facilities within online gaming.

  • Don’t give out your personal details
  • Don’t give out your location.

10. Ask for help
There are no silly questions.  If you are unsure about something find out more – ask a friend or family member.

Some useful links: