You’ve just signed up to a broadband package, and you want to get online quickly to start exploring what the online world has to offer, but you are apprehensive about being hacked or personal details being compromised. I have heard this story many times from people looking to get online and start taking advantage of its features. Getting online is fairly simple, all you need is a computer and a broadband package to get started. There are however many ways in which your security can be compromised so today I am going to look into some top tips on how to stay secure and safe online.
This is probably the first place I would start when signing up to places like Facebook or your Online Banking portal. Having a weak password can mean that it makes it easier for someone to gain access to your account and perhaps even steal from you. Some of the most common passwords are ”qwerty” “password123” and “12345678” If you are guilty of using a password like this then it probably won’t be too long before your accounts are compromised.
Many sites will not allow you to create passwords like the above and will require you use things like capital letters and numbers in your password to make them a little more secure. However, these passwords are still fairly easy to hack. One of the most common ways hackers gain access to your accounts is by using a piece of software that cycles through combinations until it finds the exact match. If you use all number or all letters, it will not take too long at all.
The tip here is to create passwords that have a combination of letters and numbers and also a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. If possible, it is advisable to use special characters too. I would also suggest using different passwords for everything you sign up for. You may be asking “How am I supposed to memorise these passwords” Well, you’re not! This is where a password manager comes in. You create a master password that is equally as secure and this password manager will house all of your passwords. All you need to do is remember the one secure password and use the password manager to find a particular password. Companies such as Dashlane create great software for password management.
It’s not uncommon for those new to broadband and the Internet to come across spam sooner or later. I’m not referring to the canned meat in the supermarkets here; I’m referring to information on the web designed to mislead you. There are many ways in which you can be fooled on the Internet and it is one of the biggest problems with the Internet and the biggest reason for people being apprehensive of using the Internet.
Email spam is very common, although there are many filters that email providers will use to block this. Not all spam will be filtered out however so I would suggest you use the “Too good to be true” rule. If the information you see on your screen is too good to be true then more often that not it is. If the email is from a reputable source, I would suggest you ask the company about the authenticity of the email to see whether it is true.
These can come in many forms and are simply ways for people to trick you into giving your information to them. One common phishing scam is an email asking you to verify your details with them. The email itself may look legitimate with logos and address information of the company. However, it is very rare for a company to ask you for personal information like this. Always double check by getting in touch with the company directly and not following the link or replying to the email if you think it looks ‘phishy.'
One of the most common uses of the Internet and main reason for purchasing a broadband package is to shop online. Online shopping, however, can be an area which scares some and with good reason. There are sites out there that may look legitimate but when you put in your card details and don’t receive the product you orders, you may have been compromised. There are a number of things to look out for if you are unsure of the seller.
Online shopping sites will have security features that are aimed at protecting you. Always check to see that the site starts with https:// rather that http:// as this will dictate whether or not the site has security features installed. Also be on the look out for a padlock symbol in your browser URL bar, this is another way of seeing if the site uses secure payment technology. If you don’t see any of the above, I would advise looking elsewhere for the item. Again, a rule to use here is the “too good to be true” rule. If the price is considerably better than other sites, then the odds are that it may not be legitimate.
Make sure the company you are buying from has address details available on the site. If you can only see an email address or nothing at all for contacting the seller, then it may not be legitimate.