Every internet user should be aware of the security risks when online. From cyber-attacks to hackers and conmen, there are many ways of which you and your computer can be exposed. With an increasing number of hacking tools at their disposal, and more imaginative ways of gaining access to your personal details, internet users need to stay vigilant at all times.
For peace of mind, use the following tips to stay safe online so you can browse, shop and communicate with more confidence.
Firstly, your computer should be protected by antivirus software. Viruses enter your computer system in a number of ways but often via corrupt files or suspect websites. Once infected, they can slow down processing speeds and even delete personal files. In the worst case scenarios, irreversible damage will be caused to your computer. Ensure Windows Defender is active or you have installed third party programs such as McAfee or Norton.
Spyware is different from a computer virus in the way it is designed to collect personal information. This information, such as bank details, credit card numbers and passwords, can be very costly in the wrong hands. Spyware programs have become increasingly sophisticated over time, using stealth tactics to collect information, so the appropriate antispyware programs are needed.
Create strong passwords which are challenging and obscure to guess, preferably with numbers and capital letters included. Avoid using personal details, or indeed the word ‘password’, which are a gift for hackers. Try and change passwords every so often, and use different ones for each site you need them for. Write these down so you don’t forget.
Perhaps the most notorious threat to your internet security comes with the email scam. Whereas some of these are easy to detect, notably from Nigerian lottery winners for example, others utilise authentic-looking messages from companies such PayPal or even the HMRC. They will often ask you for bank details, credit card numbers and other personal information– never give this kind of information out via email.
A tell-tale sign of foul play will usually lie with the email address of the sender; this noticeably suspicious sign is often overlooked by regular internet users. Only give out your email address to trusted people and set your inbox security to a higher level to reduce these messages.
Scammers will use every method they can to access your personal details. With this in mind, be careful of who you send information to over instant messaging sites and social media pages. There are also fraudulent shopping sites which are willing to take your money but not send any of the promised goods. Stay vigilant by ensuring there is a genuine UK address on the website and by checking company reviews online.
Hackers will also target your mobile phone to gain access into your details. Be careful with which apps you install and the downloadable items/links you click on. They will use websites such as Facebook for this, asking permission for certain privileges if you wish to install an app or play a certain game. Be as wary on your phone as you would be on your computer.
If you liked this blog post then perhaps you’d like to read “Top Tips For Online Security Viruses, Rootkits and Spyware“?
Feature image credit: Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr.