The internet is 30 years old – and it’s probably never been more dangerous, with almost daily warnings of various scams, hacks and hoaxes. Ensuring you are safe online has never been more difficult – so as we bite into a slice of birthday cake, here are our top tips to help you stay safe online, without the need for specialist technical knowledge:
To Click – or not to Click
That, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is the question! It is likely that any site asking for personal information via a link will be dodgy. Phishing is where you are promised something in return for giving them your personal data. What are are most likely to receive in return are lots of irritating emails and possibly even an infected computer.
If it looks too good to be true…
You know how this ends. If you are being offered something for free, you need to ask yourself how they are able to afford to give it away. You will pay for the freebie somehow, somewhere.
‘Your computer is infected’…
Actually, of course, it probably isn’t, and how would they know anyway? These tech support scams may involve very expensive phone calls to their ‘help’ desk, or downloading potentially dangerous software which can infect or control your computer. Rather, use antivirus or anti-malware software which you control.
These rarely actually optimize anything, but are more likely to try and control your options so you end up with unnecessary toolbars, annoying pop-up ads, or be diverted to landing pages you don’t want to go to.
Use a trusted browser
You’ll be safer with a well known browser such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox rather than a less well known one. Stay with browsers which are regularly updated rather than older ones which don’t cope well with new versions of malware.
Websites with a green padlock and an HTTPS address are safer because this means the information is encrypted. Of course nothing is 100% guaranteed safe…
Who still uses ‘password’ as their password? Asking for suggestions for passwords online often generates a complex string of characters, numbers and symbols, which can be very difficult to write down by hand accurately. What is the difference between l and I (the first is lower case L, the second is upper case i). Password manager software from a reputable source may be the answer.
Of course there are many other more complex solutions, but for the non-technical person, starting here may be the best bet.