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How to stay safe online

Be a safer surfer with our checklist of security tips…

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We spend a lot of our time scouring the internet – whether that’s socialising, shopping, or banking. And in recent years the online world has become a huge target for cyber criminals – stealing personal information, passwords, and money.

Since January 2021, 36 million Brits have been targeted online. That’s why we’re on hand to share our expert advice and top tips for staying safe and spotting scams. This way you can enjoy your time online with less worry.

Don’t overshare online

Many of us live our lives on social media and, while it’s great to keep each other in the loop, you should be careful about what and how much you share. Keep info like your home address or telephone number away from your profile. If in doubt, make your account private – so the only people who can see it are friends and family.

Speaking of socials, you should stay on the lookout for fake social media accounts. Always look for verified checks and watch out for any typos. A legitimate business will never ask for your password or financial info via social media.

Watch out for dodgy emails

When it comes to fake accounts, emails are another big source of scamming. If an unfamiliar email comes through your inbox – like a missed delivery when you haven’t ordered anything – it might be a scam.

If you’re wary of something, double check the email address it came from and compare the message to ones you may have received from the company before, especially when the wording seems odd. Another thing to watch out for is attachments, most businesses rarely attach files to their emails.

Tip: If you do receive a suspicious message through email or social media, never give out personal information or bank details. You should also avoid clicking on any links or downloading attachments.

Be careful when shopping online

Planning on doing some internet purchasing, but you’re unsure if a site is legit or not? Triple-check the web address. Genuine websites should start with https: rather than http: – the s stands for secure.

If you’re unfamiliar with a business, you can check them out on Trustpilot.com. Here you can read what other customers have to say about their experience. You’ll quickly be able to tell if it’s a scam or not.

Choose strong passwords

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember passwords, and it can be tempting to make them all simple and samey. But don’t do it. Because then they become far too easy for cyber criminals to crack. And once they’re in one account, they can get into others.

You can check to see if your old passwords are safe on secure websites like Have I Been Pwned. This is a helpful – and free – site that shows you if any of your passwords have been compromised.

If you struggle to remember secure passwords (pAu6>T9!2 doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue), sign up for a password manager – Google and Apple will do this for you automatically. Just make sure you set it up in your Settings.

A password manager will keep track of your different accounts and will automatically enter passwords for you. But don’t worry, it’s still secure. The best part? You only need to remember one password – the one to activate it at the start of every session.

Use multi-factor authentication

Another safe way of staying safe online is to set up multi-factor authentication. We get it, ‘multi-factor authentication’ sounds quite complicated. But it’s actually pretty simple. A website or app will send a code to your mobile. You then type this code into the site before logging in, for an extra level of security.

If you use Facebook or PayPal, you’ll probably have seen this already – but lots of companies are now using it. So, make sure you turn it on where you can. Just log in to your account and navigate to your settings, and there you should find it as an option.

Use a VPN or anti-virus software

Virtual private networks (or VPNs) add an extra layer of security between your device and the internet. This is especially important if you’re using a public or shared network, like the Wi-Fi in Starbucks. Even when at home, it’s a good idea to use a VPN – especially when you want an extra layer of security during online banking.

It’s easy to forget about antivirus software, but you should really have one installed on your computer. You should also keep it up to date and running. While it can’t stop you from taking unnecessary risks online, it does a great job of detecting and removing malware and keeping you safe.

Watch what you download

One of the easiest ways for a hacker or computer virus to get onto your device is for you to download something. That’s why it’s important that you’re extra careful here. Avoid downloading software or files from unfamiliar or untrustworthy sites. Instead use sources like download.cnet.com.

And this also goes for your mobile. If you’re downloading mobile apps, don’t get them from websites. If it’s a legitimate app, it should be available on Google Play or the App Store.

Looking for the best tech to stay safe online? Chat to our expert colleagues in-store and online via ShopLive.

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