It's always been important to be careful of your personal data when using the internet, but as scams get more sophisticated we need to be even more vigilant.
We’ve listed some of the most important things to be aware of to stay safe while using the internet. Read our guide to understand how you can keep yourself, your family and your data safe online.
The concern: phishing scams
We hear about phishing scams a lot, but what exactly are they? Phishing scams are websites, email addresses, phone calls or text messages that pretend to be something they’re not.
The goal of phishing scams is to get access to your data. Examples of such scams include a website pretending to be your bank, or an email that’s seemingly coming from a trusted website asking you to provide login details, passwords or personal information.
A crucial part of staying safe online is knowing how to spot phishing scams. Here are some examples that are likely to be phishing scams::
- Any email that refers to you as your email address (for example “dear firstname.lastname@example.org”)
- Anyone that asks you to make a payment or log in to your account right away
- Anything including strange spellings, often interchanging numbers and letters lik3 th1s or LiKe tHiS
Check the email or web address. If it’s from a free provider, like Gmail or Yahoo, it’s probably a scam. Don’t forget that you can always call your bank or the organisation you’re meant to be dealing with to confirm whether or not it’s them.
If you suspect any website, email, text message, or phone call is a phishing scam, it’s vital that you report it. Reporting suspected fraud can help keep other more vulnerable internet users safe.
The concern: fake websites
Fake websites are usually the sign of a phishing scam. It’s important that you don’t reveal your information to any websites that you’re not sure are real.
The best way to prevent falling victim to fake websites is to know how to spot them and what to do if you come across one. Fake websites often look very similar to the real website they are imitating. If you find yourself asking: “is this website safe?”’ then it’s probably not. Remember, when it comes to cyber security, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
It’s also important to stay on top of the news, as large-scale phishing scams are often reported. Banking phishing scams are incredibly common. Whether it’s someone cold-calling you asking for your bank details, or a website that looks different to what you’re used to prompting you to login, make sure you’re not compromising your private data.
Additionally, always make sure you’re calling the correct number or visiting the correct website. Fraudsters are not only reaching out to potential victims, but are now using tactics to draw them in. This includes using Google ads to show up when people search for a genuine website.
The concern: viruses
While many assume computer viruses are a thing of the past, they are still plaguing computers across the world. It’s important you know how to protect your computer from viruses. They can be detrimental to your device and also leave your personal data vulnerable.
It’s important you have malware protection software running on your computer. If you’re not sure what that entails, it’s worth talking to a computer expert to help keep your computer (and personal data) safe.
Don’t download or open anything from sources you don’t know or trust. If you get an email from an address you don’t know, don’t open it. It’s especially important that you don’t download any attachments from websites or email addresses you don’t recognise.
The concern: keeping your children safe online
Keeping your children safe online can seem overwhelming. From social media to online gaming and instant messaging, monitoring your child’s online presence can seem incredibly daunting. There are a number of ways you can help keep your kids safe and one of the most notable is through proper internet education.
One of the most important parts of ensuring internet safety for kids is education. The more you teach your children about online safety, the better prepared they’ll be to safely use the internet.
Depending on your child’s age and maturity, it may be appropriate to apply some parental controls. This can be done through your internet settings. Parental controls allow you to prevent your children from accessing certain websites.
However, despite having parental controls at home, your child may be able to access them at school, at a friend’s or elsewhere. For this reason, it’s incredibly important that you educate your children on how to stay safe online.
If, for whatever reason, your children don’t feel they can talk to you, make sure they know that there’s an adult they can trust and talk to should anything online make them uncomfortable.