Tips for staying secure online
If you are a regular user of the internet you will be familiar with the HUGE number of people trying to scam other people. This comes in many different forms from direct phone calls, emails, private messages and so many more ways. Daily we all receive emails with promises of how this company can deliver results never before experienced. They may tell you that they can see all these errors on your website and they have the knowledge and skills to fix them like they are doing you a favour. This simply is never true! Perhaps you have received a phone call with similar promises or guarantees.
We are always surprised when we see others get scammed but it is incredibly easy to get caught out. Many of us think ‘this wouldn’t happen to me’ but the scammers are smart and they know how to manipulate so you need to always be aware. If you are unsure just say no!
General Safety & Security
- Make sure your passwords are unique and secure. Using a tool like Last Pass can keep all your passwords stored securely in one place.
- Use strong passwords that don’t include any personal information, and try to avoid dictionary words and common phrases. Many websites recommend a mix of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Emails can also contain dangerous links – the simple answer is don’t click on any email links even from friends and family.
- Use anti-malware software and other protective tools. Be sure that your computer has some sort of trusted security software installed, and set it to automatically update so that you’re protected against the latest risks. Ask an expert or trusted a tech-savvy person if you’re unsure what to install.
- Scammers and hackers will often disguise viruses and other malware as “free” software tools or interesting content to download.
- Consider authorising a trusted friend or family member to access your accounts. In case of emergency, it can be difficult or impossible for trusted friends and family to access online email, bank, and file storage accounts.
- Plan ahead and work with an attorney to authorise someone you trust to access your accounts.
- Don’t post about your holiday while you are on holidays – save the images till you get back as you are making it very obvious that your home is empty.
- Not everything you read online is real or true – be cautious
- Don’t OVERSHARE on social media, this just gives scammers more information about you.
Money and Purchasing
- Look for secure websites. Whenever you’re prompted to enter your payment information into a website, first check that the website is secure. In the URL bar at the top of your internet browser, look for “https://” for a secure site. (The “s” stands for secure.) Understand and avoid phishing attempts. Be wary of links to sites that ask you to make a purchase or enter your payment information. One common scam, “phishing,” makes a phoney site look like a trusted site, then gives your information to the scammer.
- Look for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and URLs that look different than you’re used to. When in doubt, enter the web address you know to be correct directly into the URL bar.
- Do not enter personal or payment information into an unknown site.
- On a similar note, be sure to verify the website if you’re going to enter personal or payment information. Look for reviews of online retailers, and in the case of banking or government portals, never respond to requests for information.
- Banks and government agencies will never solicit passwords or payment information. Watch your bank accounts and credit cards for unauthorised purchases.
Meeting New People
- Exercise caution. Unfortunately, not everyone on the internet is who they say they are.
- There are many online opportunities to meet new people, from dating sites to hobby groups and forums, but not everyone is trustworthy.
- Be cautious when interacting with new people, and don’t give out too much personal information where people can find it.
- Do not send money to new acquaintances. Similarly to personal information, some people will use the relative anonymity of the internet to get close to their targets, then request money and never be heard from again.
- Don’t be swayed by stories of personal tragedy or requests for money to visit you can’t always be sure of the person’s intentions.
- When meeting up in person, be safe. If you choose to meet someone from a dating website or a friend you met online, choose a public place and let a friend or family member know where you’re going and who you’re meeting. You can never be too safe, even if you feel you know the person well.
In conclusion – Small Business owners and individuals need to be aware of the online world. It is a microcosm of society and not everyone in the world does the right thing. If you are ever in doubt, just ignore or perhaps and ask a friend who may be a little savvier on the topic.
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