Skip to content

How to stay safe on the internet

woman using laptop

The internet opens all sorts of opportunities for young and old alike, whether it’s finding a local group to join, connecting with likeminded people on the other side of the world, selling unwanted items, or staying in touch with friends and relatives. But it also has its dangers.

In the digital age, the internet has become an indispensable part of our lives, however, the digital landscape is not without its perils. Phishing, grooming, fraud, and data theft are just a few of the online threats lurking behind the convenience of our screens. Fortunately, by taking simple precautions, we can harness the internet's potential while safeguarding our digital wellbeing.

How can you stay safe online?

The question of online safety is ever-present in our connected world. How do we enjoy the benefits of the internet without falling prey to its dangers? The first step is caution. Sharing personal information with strangers online is akin to giving a stranger a key to your home. Suspicious emails and phone calls that pressure you for sensitive data should immediately raise red flags. Scammers are adept at creating a sense of urgency to provoke hasty, ill-considered actions. Don't let them rush you.

Strong, unique passwords are your first line of defence. Each online account should have its own password, and passphrases can offer even better security. Consider using a string of unrelated words that are easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. Additionally, biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, can significantly bolster your account security, making it much harder for hackers to gain access.

Another layer of protection is multi-factor authentication, which often involves a one-off code sent to your phone via text. This code is required in addition to your password, ensuring that even if your password is compromised, your account remains secure.

Protecting your data as it travels across the internet is also crucial. A virtual private network (VPN) can help shield your information from prying eyes by encrypting it, thus making it more difficult for hackers to intercept and decipher. For those interested in learning more, Our guide to VPNs offers a deeper dive into how VPNs work and how they can protect you.

What scams should you be aware of?

The online world is rife with scams, and staying informed is key to avoiding them. Common scams include impersonation of banks, HMRC, or courier companies, all with the aim of extracting your personal data. Be vigilant and question any communication that seems out of the ordinary.

Remember, your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a "safe" account. This is a classic scam tactic. Similarly, be wary of requests to install software on your device, as it could be used to monitor your activities or steal information.

Scammers are not limited to one method of communication and may already possess some of your personal information to appear more convincing. It's important to stay alert and question the legitimacy of unsolicited contact. For comprehensive tips on safeguarding your family, visit our page on how to keep you and your family safe from scams.

Is online banking safe?

Online banking has revolutionised the way we manage our finances, offering convenience and efficiency. While it is generally safe, caution should always be exercised. Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networks for banking transactions, and be mindful of "shoulder surfers" who may be watching as you enter sensitive information.

Scammers often impersonate banks in an attempt to gain access to your accounts. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up and contact your bank directly using a verified number. For more detailed advice, read our pages on how to avoid common bank scams and how to protect your savings.

How can you keep children safe online?

The internet can be a particularly hazardous place for children. Supervising their internet use is essential to protect them from inappropriate content and online predators. Use communal devices placed in common areas of the home and employ parental controls to monitor and restrict their online activities.

Education is also crucial. Talk to your children about the potential dangers they may encounter online and the importance of keeping personal information private. Remember that the minimum age for most social media services is 13, and there are resources available to help you keep your children safe online. For more information on how to keep children of all ages safe online, check out Internet Matters, which has loads of useful guides and resources.

Do you need antivirus software?

While antivirus software can be a useful tool in your cybersecurity arsenal, awareness and cautious behaviour are often more effective. Avoid unofficial downloads and be cautious of suspicious emails, as these are common vectors for malware. Some of the bigger broadband providers, such as BT and Virgin Media, offer antivirus software with their plans, which can provide an additional layer of security.

How should you approach safety on social media?

Social media is a platform for sharing, but it's important to do so wisely. Check your privacy settings to control who can see your posts and be selective with friend requests. Avoid sharing your location in real-time, and consider keeping personal accounts private.

The content you post can also have long-term repercussions. Be mindful not to share information like holiday plans or personal details that could compromise your safety or privacy.

What exactly is phishing?

Phishing is a deceptive practice where scammers attempt to trick you into giving away personal information or installing malicious software. This can take the form of spam emails, robo-calls, or even text messages.

Always be on guard against unsolicited communications. If something seems too good to be true or unexpectedly urgent, it's likely a phishing attempt. Stay vigilant to keep your personal information secure.

The online world safely requires a combination of tools, awareness, and education. By implementing the measures discussed, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to the myriad of threats that exist in the digital realm. Remember, the key to enjoying the internet's vast resources is to approach it with a cautious and informed mindset.

  • Is it still necessary to get a TV licence?

  • What is full fibre broadband?

  • What is a good broadband speed?

  • Moving Broadband to a New Home

  • BT vs EE broadband: which is best?

  • EE broadband and phone deals May 2024

  • Is it still necessary to get a TV licence?

  • What is full fibre broadband?

  • Moving Broadband to a New Home

  • Can I get Virgin Media in my area?

  • BT broadband routers

  • Shell Energy broadband routers

Compare broadband, TV & phone deals
if (siteConfig.Is("moneysavingexpert")) { } else if (siteConfig.IsMoneySuperMarketTheme() || siteConfig.Is("muuvo")) { } else { } Exclamation In Circle