Staying Safe Online
Billions of people are connected to the internet. Do you know anyone who doesn’t use the internet? We certainly can’t think of anyone! You can find an incredible amount of information and entertainment online, thanks to the likes of Google, Yahoo!, web forums and chat rooms, but how safe are they?
The online world is potentially a very dangerous place – hackers, criminals and even stalkers lurk around, looking for their next victim. It might seem scary, but don’t panic! Follow these simple safety tips and you can browse online, worry-free!
Passwords are secret words or codes used to gain entry to a place. Using passwords for your email accounts, social media profiles and other personal data is essential to prevent other people from accessing your information.
You want to make your password as secure as possible – you want something that you can remember easily but that nobody else will. It’s a good idea to include a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols (if they are allowed).
Do NOT share your password around – keep that information to yourself, and try to avoid writing your passwords down in order to remember them!
Top Tip: Think of the title of your favourite book or a lyric from a song that you like and use the first letter of each word to create a strong password. For example, ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ would become ‘hpatcos’. To make it even stronger, shift between capital letters and lower case letters – ‘hPaTcOs’. You can add numbers too, if you think you can remember them!
If somebody you don’t know attempts to make contact with you, be careful. Some people may just want to make new friends, but others may have different ideas. On social networks like Facebook, don’t accept friend requests from strangers – it could be a fake profile trying to access your data.
If you do make friends with a stranger, never arrange to meet with them unless you ask your parents or an adult you know to come with you. You have never met this person and they may not be who you think they are, so it’s always best to be safe.
Be careful what you say
Don’t give away any personal information online. When using social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace etc.), try to limit how much information you give out. Do not put your phone number, address or personal email address on your profile unless it is set to private and only people you know can see.
Scams and viruses
Scams are used by fraudsters to access your personal information by worming their way into your computer. It’s important to use your common sense – if somebody sends you a link from a website you don’t trust, do NOT click on it. If you receive an email from someone you don’t recognise, ignore it. If you’re told that you’ve won a competition that you haven’t entered, it’s probably too good to be true – ignore it!
Similarly, viruses can be very dangerous – they bury deep into your computer and can corrupt all of your files. Any suspicious links, emails or pop-ups should be ignored and/or closed. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry!
Install some anti-virus software onto your computer and run scans regularly to make sure you haven’t been infected – a lot of antivirus packages have free trials so try some of them out and see what works for you and your family!
It’s extremely important to stay alert online, and often it’s as simple as using your common sense. Follow our easy tips above and you’ll have no trouble at all!