Top tips for staying safe online
Whilst the sections below provide specific information on a wide range of online security and safety issues, here you will find some key top tips for keeping yourself and your family safe online.
Remember, BE SAFE
Be alert to social engineering:
Always be cautious of people you don’t know asking for confidential information. If you receive an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be from the Post Office or your bank asking for personal information, always think carefully before divulging any information. Remember, Post Office will never ask you for your PIN.
If you have any doubt as to the legitimacy of the phone call, end the call and call them back on the number you have printed on your statements. Social engineering can also occur online, with fraudsters targeting your email accounts in a bid to gain personal information.
Ensure your device(s) has up to date security protection:
An important step in protecting your information is to ensure that you have the appropriate security software installed on your device and that it is kept up to date. This includes any relevant security patches and bug fixes that may be announced by the vendor of the operating system your device uses. It is also important that you have anti-virus software installed to help prevent any viruses or other spyware entering your system.
Stay safe with https://
When conducting any payments online (e.g. banking / shopping) make sure that the web page you are using is secure. You can do this in three ways:
- There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself as this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.
- The web address should begin with ‘https://’ – the ‘s’ stands for secure.
- On certain browsers, the address bar or the name of the site owner will turn green.
Avoid sharing personal information online:
Whilst social media is a hugely popular tool for sharing information amongst friends and colleagues, it is important to be cautious with what you are posting, sharing or even tweeting. Criminals will scan social networking sites to try and find pieces of personal information that can help them build a picture of you and your lifestyle. Avoid sharing any personal information; such as your date of birth, details of your family members or even the fact that you’re going on holiday. If a criminal knows where you live and the fact that you won’t be there for a week they may use the opportunity to commit a crime.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is! Whilst there are many good deals to be found on the internet, this famous saying can often be applied to pop up adverts and emails selling extremely cheap products and services. Before you make any purchases or download any files or programmes to your device, ask yourself whether the site looks genuine. Only proceed with activity or transactions if you trust the source. The Metropolitan Police have produced an online booklet aimed to increase customer awareness of the new scams being used to con people out of their money – click here [Opens in new window] to read it.
Ensure you keep strong passwords:
Passwords are used to keep your information secure and are required to log in to various online applications such as your bank and email accounts. Unfortunately, passwords can also be the weakest link and may be exploited if they are not properly created and managed.
The key thing to remember when creating a password is that it should be easy for you to remember and difficult for anyone else to guess. We would normally suggest that passwords should have a minimum of eight characters and include a mixture of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
One way to create a strong password is to think of a well-known phrase, saying or song title and use the first letter of each word to create a unique password.
Back in the Summer of 69 = BitSo69
A picture is worth a thousand words = ApiwaTW!
Some other points to consider when managing your passwords:
- Passwords are unique to you; therefore they must never be shared or written down. If you think that your password has been revealed to anyone else or compromised then you must change it immediately.
- Don't choose a password which is obviously associated with you. Hackers can find out a lot about you from social media so if they are targeting you specifically and you choose, say, your pet's name you could be in trouble.
- Choose words that don't appear in a dictionary. Hackers can write programmes that will scan all words in a dictionary to see if any match a user’s password.
- Have different passwords for different sites and systems. If hackers compromise one system you do not want them having the key to unlock all your other accounts.
You may also like to consider using a passphrase for additional security, which tends to be longer than a password (typically 20 – 30 characters). Passphrases use a number of different words that together create a phrase. By substituting letters in the phrase for numbers or symbols, as well as removing characters, you can create a passphrase that is a lot harder to crack.
Two wrongs don't make a right, becomes: tW0#Ron8sD0ntma%e@rIG^t
My highland terrier is called Jasper, becomes: M!hiG7/aNdT%rr”orIcal^EdJ#sp8R