Despite the best efforts of online websites, computer manufacturers and broadband providers, there are hackers online trying to steal your personal information, and often your card details. Because of this, it is important to stay secure when using the Internet, which is simple if you follow some key steps.
Things to Look Out for to Stay Safe Online
- Phishing: Hackers often pose as official institutions (such as a bank), or a provider (a phone network like O2, for example), and ask you for your personal details or card information. Be aware when receiving notifications requesting action, and be aware that no institution should be asking for your personal or card details in an email.
- Spam: Beware of emails with questionable links, such as those which say you have won a competition that you have not entered. These links can lead to viruses entering your computer, which can allow hackers to access your information. Also check when you do click on a link, that you are being redirected to the website that you are expecting, and that the address begins with ‘https”, which is an indicator that the website is secure.
- Cookies: Cookies are stored on your browsing device, and collect information about you and your browsing habits. These are largely harmless, such as allowing for targeted advertising based on websites that you have previously visited. However, some cookies can be used by hackers to collect data about you. Consider using ‘private browsing’ windows on certain websites, which do not store cookies on your computer.
What Can I do to Improve my Online Security?
- Install anti-malware software: this type of software helps to fight against any viruses or spyware that try to infiltrate your device. Some broadband deals include some form security software when you sign up. For example, Virgin Media offers Web Safe and F-Secure Safe, so consider changing your provider.
- Install software updates: Regularly updating your devices and software will ensure that any security weaknesses are patched up before hackers can exploit you.
- Use complicated passwords: Use passwords that contain combinations of letters, numbers and symbols, so that it is harder for hackers to guess.
- Use different passwords: Using different passwords for different websites ensures that if one account is compromised by hackers, they will not be able to access your other accounts. Consider using a password managing application.
- Make sure that your WiFi network is private: Check that you have a complicated password on your wireless broadband network, so that hackers can’t connect to your WiFi and potentially steal any personal information.
- Be careful with public WiFi: Similarly to the above, when using public WiFi networks, be cautious about handing over any personal or financial details.
How can I Keep my Money Secure Online?
- Use a credit card: Whilst hackers could potentially get hold of your credit card details in the same fashion as a debit card, credit card companies hold joint liability along with the retailer for items between £100 and £30,000. This is stipulated in the Consumer Credit Act.
- Prepaid cards/gift vouchers: Consider putting a certain amount of money on a prepaid card or a gift voucher, to ensure that only the money that you allocated to the purchase would be lost in the case of any breach of security.
- Check your credit reports regularly: Reviewing your credit reports to see if there has been any drastic change to you score can help you identify if there has been any fraud and if anyone is posing as you.
Overall, it is important to stay vigilant when using the Internet, as there are numerous potential ways that hackers can access your information online. Be careful not to click on suspicious links and not to hand out your information to unverified sources. On top of this, using anti-malware software and credit cards can help keep you and your family safer online.