Internet safety is becoming increasingly important as more and more of us spend more time online doing huge variety of things from socializing with our friends to shopping and banking. The internet is barely policed at all and often rife with potential pitfalls. There are also many different devices that allow you to surf the web such as a smartphone or an iPad2. With that in mind we decided to put together a guide to safeguarding yourself from the most common internet safety worries.
Viruses are often our biggest fear when we are online and for good reason. They can be found in millions of locations across the web and you need to ensure you are safeguarded against them. The easiest way to deal with viruses is to have countermeasures already in place. Internet security software can be bought at a relatively low cost and should protect you from almost all viruses out there. When you have installed software ensure that you scan your computer for viruses on a weekly basis and that you regularly update the software itself. This ensures you will have maximum protection from viruses but you also need to be proactive in your online habits. Being proactive entails staying away from illegal websites and ensuring that you don’t download illegal files. Even if you are downloading legal files make sure they are fully scanned prior to download so that you can be assured that they are virus free. The same caution should apply to software updates and you also need to be careful of actually where you are browsing.
Spyware allows a third party to view your internet use and to collect private information when you enter it online. Spyware is one of the most common worries of people using the internet for shopping or personal finances but can be overcome with relative ease. If you are using computer security software this will pick up most of the spyware programs out there. If you are planning of doing a lot of shopping online or need to check bank balances etc. it is advisable to perform a virus scan of your computer first so as to ensure your data is secure.
Having Personal details stolen
One of the key ways personal details are stolen has already been mentioned but there are a number of other circumstances under which your details might go awry. Firstly someone could crack your passwords to important accounts and access them themselves without the need for any further details. This does happen but you can make it very hard for potential hackers by choosing complex passwords and having different passwords for every online account you have. For example a password such as “iamhappy” is incredibly weak and easily broken whereas the password “4Ef9$VuN3Es” is incredibly strong and very hard to crack. The second most common way to have your personal details stolen is to enter then on an insecure or fraudulent site. When you are entering personal details anywhere you should check that you see the padlock symbol and https:// in the address bar as this ensures your information is encrypted. When it comes to using fraudulent sites always be vigilant and look for inconsistencies on the site – lack of terms of service, privacy policies, misspellings, URL misspellings etc. are all dead giveaways of a fraudulent site.
Many people worry about being scammed online. The best protection from this is to stick to established and recognized retailers and always use secure payment methods when shopping online. The most secure payment methods are credit cards and PayPal so stick to these and always check your invoices and statements carefully to ensure there are no inconsistencies.
Jane writes about various internet safety topics for both children and parents. If you are interested in more information around this topic please visit the Vodafone online safety guide which provides a wealth of information and support.