A 5-minute guide to staying safe online

A 5-minute guide to staying safe online
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Meet our expert

Tony Neate is a former policeman and CEO of Get Safe Online
www.getsafeonline.org

The internet is a great way to keep in contact with people, do your shopping, make payments and more – as long as you stay safe.
“Over 50s are usually fairly responsible online,” says Tony Neate. “Being careful about the information you share on the internet and logging out of your online accounts when you’ve finished using them is a great start. But there are a few tips that can make your time online safer.”

Shopping

Shopping online is so handy, it’s no wonder 72 per cent of us are doing it, but it’s important to check that your transaction is safe.

  • Before entering your card or personal details into a website, look for the all-important ‘s’ in the address bar at the top of the screen, which stands for ‘secure’. Standard web addresses begin with http:// but one that’s safe to make purchases with should start with
    https:// No ‘s’? Don’t buy.
  • Never use the ‘Remember Me’ function of websites, particularly for your card numbers. While it might be annoying re-typing your details each time, it keeps your details safe if the website is breached by hackers.
  • Always pay online using a credit card, rather than a debit card. If the worst should happen and you get defrauded, the credit card providers must refund you under the Consumer Credit Act.
  • Watch out for dodgy holiday booking sites as a lot of people have recently been hit by a rising number of fake adverts for holiday villas and apartments. Always check the website is legitimate by checking they are a member of the Travel Association at abta.com.
  • Only use secure Wifi you trust when you're doing anything that involves filling bank details so try to avoid doing this when you're using a free public Wifi network, say in a cafe or on the train.

Email

It’s useful to keep in touch with family or to contact companies, but some of the people emailing you might not be friendly.

  • Beware of ‘phishing’ messages. They’ll come from an address you don’t recognise and will vary from unconvincing appeals for emergency cash transfers to official-looking emails from your bank. Your bank or credit card company will never ask you to send them your card details over email. If you want to check if it’s a genuine message, call the company you think has contacted you. Never click on links if the message seems suspicious, it could introduce a virus to your computer or give criminals access to your details.
  • Make sure your junk mail filter is turned on to weed out these messages. Check it every few days, though, because it may occasionally hide emails from people you do want to hear from!

Passwords

“Passwords are your first line of defence,” says Tony Neate. “It’s essential you use one and make it as strong as possible.”

  • Choose a password with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols – such as B@tm@nBEg1ns – and make it long. Passwords over eight characters are harder for criminals to break. Use Microsoft's calculator to work out how strong your password is here.
  • You couldtry combining two completely random words like London and apple to give
    L0Ndon@pp1E.
  • Try to avoid using the same password for everything as it just makes life easier should anyone get into your computer.
  • If you must write passwords down, make sure they are meaningless to other people by writing them in a code that only you will understand.

Viruses

  • Make sure you accept the software updates from Microsoft or Apple that pop up on your computer. They will help keep your PC protected from the latest nasties.
  • Install anti-virus software that will block any future viruses.

Old computers

  • Before you get rid of your old computer, make sure you have cleared it out by deleting your emails, your Internet history and your passwords. Curry's KnowHow offer a £30 service to permanently delete all your computer's private data.
     
  • There's more advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.