Safe, Smart, Secure – How do you feel online?

Did you know that Safer Internet Day was on the 9th February? It’s an awareness event created to get both adults and kids thinking about their online safety. We can get quite overly relaxed when we’re online, thinking we’re behind a wall of anonymity and letting our guard down – but unfortunately, with something so big and positive, threats lurk around every corner.

Here’s 5 things to be aware of when you go online:

1. Don’t give out your personal information to anyone you don’t know. Think about what you do out and about day-to-day – you certainly wouldn’t hand out your address and phone number to a stranger, so be aware of who you’re providing that information online. Major online shopping websites will be just fine, but some random guy in a chatroom who wants to sell you a PlayStation 5 for £50? That’s definitely something to avoid.

2. Practice Safe Browsing. Whilst many websites are perfectly legitimate and safe to browse, there arev also some which contain all kinds of nasty software – known as malware. If you download, install and use this software, it can slow your computer down or, even worse, send personal information – including your passwords – to individual who will use it for their own gain. If you’re visiting a website you’ve never been to before, do a quick Google search on it first – if it’s not legitimate, Google should let you know.

3. Choose Strong Passwords. The simpler you make your password, the more likely cyber criminals are going to gain access to your accounts. Passwords such as “Password”, “123456”, or the name of your dog are just some of the the ones that any would-be hacker will try straight away without putting any work in! Strong passwords will contain a mix of letters, numbers and special characters (such as ! or *). If you’re not sure that you’d be able to remember a password like that, then you can use password management software that keeps your passwords safe at the click of a button.

4. Be Careful What You Post. You can delete your posts, but it won’t any copies people have made. Just as we might forget an obnoxious comment someone made vocally, the Internet never forgets anything anyone has said – so, before you click that “Post” button, just think to yourself – would I say this to someone in real life? What repercussions could there be to me? Is it really worth it? Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want anyone important to see!

5. Keep your antivirus up to date. A good anti-virus installed on your computer will keep your safe from most threats as long as it’s up to date. They provide a last line of defence for if you’ve missed something or accidentally downloaded a nefarious application.

Positive People offers an Online Safety and Reputation workshop where we explore the impacts of online crime, social media and how you can keep yourself safe from all potential threats. Speak to your Change Coach and ask them to refer you onto the course – we’ll be more than happy to see you!