The online world can be a dangerous place with many online scams costing hundreds of millions of pounds each year. However, it’s not all bad. The online world is fantastic and arguably the greatest invention or at least the most important invention of our time. It has meant that people can keep in touch with or even get back in touch with old friends and family members who live across the other side of the world. It has meant that fewer people suffer from loneliness, it has meant thousands and thousands of relationships and marriages which would never have come about if it wasn’t for online dating and it has meant so many people finding jobs or even starting their own online businesses. When you use the internet for good, you can do so much good in the world.
Online scams include computer viruses which could come in an email with an attachment and when you click on it will release a virus, then criminals can take control of your computer, or the virus may scan your computer for personal information, or it might slow your computer down, send out junk emails or delete files. There are fake websites to look out for when online shopping so that you don’t give your credit card details to a criminal; it could be an email scam which gets you where someone emails you pretending to be someone else saying they are stranded and needs some money. Today we hear more and more of relationship scams which is when you might meet someone online, on a dating website or a chatroom and then once they have gained your trust they will manipulate them into handing over a lot of money, or you could fall for a health scam where false and misleading claims are being made about medical-related products, such as miracle health cures, and fake online pharmacies may offer medicines cheaply. Don’t fall for any of this as you never know what it is you’re going to get, and it could be very dangerous.
So, how can you stay safe online? As well as all of these scams which you need to be aware of there are other things you can do to make sure that you’re secure and your details are secure too:
Install Security Software
There are different types of security software which you can use, first of all, there is anti-virus software which looks for and removes viruses before they can infect your computer and then there is anti-spyware software which prevents adverts from popping up, tracking your activities or scanning your computer for personal information. If you’re not sure what to get, then start with a package from a provider such as McAfee or Norton, a name which you have heard of or recognise and has good reviews. This package will likely include a range of security software which you will either be able to download from the internet or if you go to one of the large chain computer stores, someone there will be happy to help you. Your other option is to speak to your internet service provider who might offer security software as part of your internet deal. There are also some really good free security software programs available to download online, such as AVG, Avast and Microsoft Security Essentials.
Update Your Computer
Every computer has an operating system, which is software that organises and controls all hardware and programs. Your computer can be better protected from viruses if you keep the operating system updated. You should receive notifications when new updates are available, but you can also update your system manually.
Protect Your Wireless Network
If you have a wireless router, check that your wireless network is secure so that people living nearby can’t access it. It is best to set up your network so that only people with a password can connect to your network. If your network is secured by a password, users will be asked for a password when they try to access the network for the first time, and there should be a padlock symbol next to your wireless network. If this doesn’t happen, your network isn’t protected, and anyone can connect to your network.
Use Alternative Tools
Depending on what it is you’re doing, then the safest option might be actually to do something else. For example, if you want to send some really important information, then the go-to thing to do is to email your documents. However, there are other options which can protect your documents. Internet faxing is often confused with email. However, internet faxing offers more options such as you can send internet fax to a fax machine or directly to your email inbox, ensuring confidentiality, security and privacy, so you can conduct your online business transactions in confidence. Learning how to fax is really easy too, so it just means there are more options for keeping your data secure and delivering it in a secure way.
Protect Yourself On Social Networks
Facebook and Twitter are great ways to keep in touch with family and friends, make new friends, look at photos, find out about local events and much more.
However, with you putting out so much personal information onto the web, you need to be careful, and on any social networking site, you protect yourself against people who want to steal your personal information. Make sure that you use the privacy features on the site to choose who can see your profile and your posts, and be careful of putting out information that identifies you, such as your telephone number, address or date of birth.
Make Sure You’re On A Safe Website
Shopping online is fantastic, it is quick and convenient, you don’t need to leave your sofa, and you could have your week’s groceries at your door by the next day. However, you do need to protect your financial information. You can do this a few ways and to start with you need to make sure that you are shopping on a secure website. If a website doesn’t have any of the following, then don’t enter any of your personal details into it:
The website address should start with ‘https’, this is important as the ‘s’ stands for secure; if the address bar is green, this is an additional sign that you’re using a safe website; if there is a padlock symbol in the browser where the website address is then this is good sign, however, if the padlock appears on the page itself then this doesn’t mean anything, so don’t be fooled by this; finally if there is a current security certificate registered to the correct address which you can find when you click on the padlock. However, you do need to be aware that a padlock symbol is not an absolute guarantee of safety. If you ever have doubts, it’s best to leave the page.
Protect Yourself When Shopping Or Banking
Apart from being on a safe website, there are also other ways you can make sure that you’re safe online and your details are protected. Be aware of pop-up messages that warn you about a website’s security certificate. Theses messages could direct you to a fake website which has been designed to get you to hand over your security details. You should also always make sure you’re using online retailers who have a good reputation, so always go for ones you know, such as high-street shops or established online stores. If you’re not sure then look for the company’s full contact details as any reputable company will always display this information on its website. You can then cross-check information on the internet to see if anyone has experienced problems with the retailer. It’s also important to find out where the seller is based because consumer rights vary from country to country.
Another way to stay safe online when paying for things is to always use the same credit card for internet transactions; you could have a specific card which you just use for this. That way if anything goes wrong, you can always just cancel this card.
Use your instincts too, just as you would in the offline world remember that if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is, and be cautious of anything offered in a random email.
When it comes down to it, it really is about using common sense. If a shop looked dodgy then you probably wouldn’t go in, so use the same thinking when online. Just stick to companies you know and trust, never give anyone your details over the phone as no bank will ever ask you to do this. If there are tools out there to increase safety, they are there for a reason so make the most of them and if you do meet the love of your life online and then he or she starts asking for money, think again and don’t give it to them. Stay Safe!