With the ever-growing number of scams online, it can be difficult to spot what is legit and what isn’t, especially as they’re getting more intelligent with every attempt and we’re all spending more and more time online.

Online safety is a growing concern and something you should absolutely be taking seriously. So many of us have reems of information stored on our phones, tablets, and computers, and it’s so important that this information is protected. Careless internet habits have left many exposed to scams, identity theft and in some cases physical harm at the hands of people they met online.

With a majority of users now accessing the internet through their mobile devices, the ways these risks are presenting are changing rapidly. Despite apps being the popular form of communication; it doesn’t mean that those basic internet safety rules have changed. Hackers are still constantly on the lookout for personal information that they can use to access your bank and credit card information.

Of course, its not just your payment information that is at risk; other threats such as personal comments, messages or images are almost impossible to remove once they’ve made it online. To hep keep you safe, here are some tips that we swear by:

1. Keep your personal information to a minimum.

Potential employers, customers or even strangers don’t need to know your personal relationship status or your home address. You should appear professional online, or at least to those you aren’t friends with. As a general rule if you wouldn’t tell a stranger on the street, it probably doesn’t need to be online.

2. Keep your privacy settings switched on.

Marketers love to know all about you, but so do hackers. Both learn a lot from your browsing and social media habits, but you are ultimately the one in control. Your web browsers and mobile operating systems have settings there to protect your privacy; and websites like Facebook have their own privacy settings available. These can often be hard to find because of course, companies want your personal information for it’s marketing value; but by making sure these privacy safeguards are enabled, you’ll be much better off.

3. Practice safe browsing by only using trustworthy websites.

You wouldn’t walk through a dangerous street with your belongings on show and easy to grab, so approach the internet in the same way. Criminals know that sometimes people are tempted by questionable content and let their guard down searching for it. One careless click could expose personal data or infect your device with harmful malware, by resisting the urge, those hackers don’t stand a chance.

4. Ensure your internet connection is secure.

When you use a public Wi-Fi connection like a local hotspot or a café’s free Wi-Fi you have no control over its security. Before connecting ensure that your device is secure, try using a VPN or if in doubt, wait until you can be sure your connection is safe before entering any key passwords, or information like payment details. This is a big step in protecting your online safety.

5. Be mindful of what you’re downloading.

Downloading malware is one of the best ways for cybercriminals to get your information, it is often disguised as an app like a popular game or something you can use to check the weather. Our advice for your online safety, is don’t download anything that looks suspicious or comes from a site you don’t trust.

6. Choose strong passwords – and don’t use the same one for every account.

Passwords can be a massive weak spot when it comes to internet security. We know it’s hard to remember a different one for every app and website; but using password manager software can help with this. A good strong password is at least 15 characters long and a mix of numbers, upper and lowercase letters and special characters.

7. Only make purchases on secure websites.

Providing credit card or banking information online is a big risk as it’s what cyber criminals are most eager to get a hold of. Only supply this information to websites that provide secure, encrypted connections. These usually start with a “https:” or are marked with a padlock icon in the address bar.

8. Think carefully about what you post or where you’re commenting.

Unfortunately, once something is online it doesn’t have a delete key; removing a post or image from its original source (like your Facebook profile) doesn’t mean that any copies made by others have been deleted. There is no way to take back a remark that you regret making; or to hide that drunk selfie you took as a teen so be mindful when posting online. What would a prospective employer think?

9. Not everyone is who they claim to be.

This one speaks for itself but be mindful that people aren’t always who they claim to be online. Fake social media profiles are an easy way for hackers to get personal information so be cautious and sensible online – you wouldn’t tell a stranger in the street your personal details.

10. Keep that anti-virus software updated!

Security software won’t protect you against every possible threat, but it will help to detect and remove malware. To keep it working at it’s best make sure the software is always up to date, along with your devices operating system and the apps that you use.

Following these suggestions can really help you to prioritise your online safety. Making your time online far more enjoyable for you and your family. The internet may be scary, but it’s also full of information and fun, so don’t be put off, just be sensible. If of course you have any questions or concerns, get in touch and we’ll be happy to share our expertise.