When the internet was first invented it was a fairly safe place as not too many people used it. However, as it’s popularity grew so did the risks to safety and confidentiality of your personal details. There are lots of basic things that you can follow to reduce the safety risks online, here’s some advice on how to stay safe online.

Lets start off with one of the main risks online. Entering personal details into an online form, such as making a payment online or filling in a contact form is one of the most common places where your data can be at risk. It’s far too common that you hear card details or personal contact details have been compromised by a website storing them inefficiently, allowing someone to hack a server and steal customers confidential information. One of the best things you can do to reduce this risk is to make sure you are 100% certain on the website identity. Does the site have terms and conditions, privacy policy and have you heard of the company before? These are all things you should think of before disclosing any information online. Also if you are still unsure on the website, Google the company name and look for the independent reviews section on Google. This will highlight any issues that people have had with the company previously. If anything at all signals a warning in your mind then it is best not to enter card or personal details on that website.

SSL Certificate

SSL secured website

Whenever making a payment for a product online make sure that the site has an SSL certificate. Meaning that the web URL will start with https:// and will have a green padlock (see image right). The SSL key is assigned to an organisation’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Another thing that seems obvious is checking if the site has a contact address and phone number. If not then this should signal warning alarms too as you do not have any point of contact if there are any issues with your transaction. If you are still not 100% sure on the identity of the site then sometimes it is always best to use a well know website, such as ebay or Amazon to buy a product.

Following on from this, it is always important to be wary of emails coming from a well know brand. For example, some scam emails pretend to be a well know company like your bank, asking you to click a link and verify your personal details. A bank will never ask for card details or your pin number, so never provide them via email or enter them into a website. The best thing to do is if you have an email from a bank, is to go directly to their website or call and ask if it is in fact them emailing you (not using a link or phone number from the email because it could be fake). For more tips check out Barclays Digital Eagles.

When browsing online another thing to be careful of is downloading files. Make sure that if you do download a file online it is a trusted source, otherwise you could potentially be downloading a virus. Most devices like smartphones and computers come with a certain level of antivirus built in, so would warn you of any viruses that you could have picked up but prevention is always better by making sure you are not visiting any dodgy sites or downloading infected files. Devices antivirus and malware software only works to a certain extent so you should still be vigilant when downloading any files or resources online.

Online securitySocial media can also have its risks. Mainly applying to younger people, but when sharing content on social media you should be careful. Sharing anything like your location can have it’s risks, as well as your posts not being set to private, meaning that anyone can see what you are posting to social media. The main thing to do is to make sure your profile is only set to show posts to friends as well as not sharing any personal or private details on social media. Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have built in reporting too so any abusive posts or comments can be reported directly to them. For more information check out our other article on social media privacy.

Overall the internet is getting a lot safer, but it is always a good idea to be alert when browsing online. If you have any questions about any points in this post feel free to message us using the live chat feature on this page. Keep a look out for our latest blog post coming next week.