It’s Personal Safety Week at University Place and today is all about Online Safety! All computers connected to the internet are vulnerable to threats, as are those who use them, but there are things you can do to prevent permanent damage to your computer and harm to yourself!
Everyone gets them, and they’re annoying. Examples include advertising, get rich quick schemes and hoax virus warnings. They can contain viruses and spyware, offensive images and can be a vehicle for online fraud. But there are things you can do to prevent harm!
- Make sure your spam filter is always switched on. Most filters can be set to allow email to be received from trusted sources, and blocked from untrusted sources.
- Do not open, forward or respond to emails which you suspect as being spam. Do not open unknown links or attachments. Instead, roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of your screen.
- If you are suspicious of an email, you can check if it is on a list of known spam and scam emails that some internet security vendors such as McAfee and Symantec feature on their websites.
It seems obvious but do not share account information with anyone – ANYONE. Also, ensure you always have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software running.
What to do if your identity has been stolen – Contact any affected websites and advise them about the problem. If you can, log in and change your password immediately using a strong password. If you are unable to log in, contact the website’s technical support department immediately for further advice.
What is Phishing? No it has nothing to do with fish. Phishing is a scam where criminals typically send emails pretending to come from banks, credit card companies, online shops etc. and try to trick you into going to the site, for example to update your password. The embedded link in the email itself goes to a website that looks exactly like the real thing but is actually a fake designed to trick victims into entering personal information.
Passwords- Choose a password at least eight characters long with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols such as @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ +. Don’t use the following as passwords: your name or business name, family members’ or pets’ names, birthdays, ‘password’, numerical sequences or a commonplace dictionary word, which could be cracked by common hacking programs. If you think that someone else knows your password, change it immediately. In fact, change your passwords regularly. Use a different password for every website because if you have only one password, a criminal simply has to break it to gain access to everything.
Downloading content over the internet is a great way to enjoy music, video, games and other entertainment. HOWEVER – there are risks! Downloading can inadvertently allow viruses on to your computer, install adware that enables annoying popup advertisements and can install spyware that enables criminals to obtain private information for financial gain or identity theft.
Download executable files (.exe) with extreme caution they are commonly used in viruses. Don’t download copyright-protected material – it can result in serious penalties and be wary about downloading anything – Something that appears to be a clip from a new sci-fi movie could in fact be hardcore porn or a virus-infected file.
There are a lot of fictitious job posts that can lead to fraud or identity theft. When registering on a jobsite, first ensure that the site is reputable and has a physical address and landline phone number. Never divulge private information such as your National Insurance number, driver’s licence number, bank account information, credit card information, passport number or date of birth.
Online Shopping and Banking
Does anyone even get paper statements anymore? Banking online is very convenient but people make common mistakes that result in criminals accessing their account!
Remember – Banks will never send you emails asking you to divulge information. Any communication from banks will use your actual name (not ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’) and possibly another verification of authenticity such as your postcode or part of your account number.
Online shopping – Ensure that any online retailer unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them. Before entering payment card details, ensure that the link is secure. There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Also, the web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
Social Networking and Dating Sites
I’m sure as students you all have either Facebook, twitter, Instagram or some other sort of social network. They are a great form of communication and risks can be avoided by following some simple guidelines.
- Be wary of publishing any identifying information about yourself – either in your profile or in your posts – such as phone numbers, pictures of your home, workplace or school, your address or birthday. Also, be on your guard against phishing scams, including fake friend requests and posts from individuals or companies inviting you to visit other pages or sites.
- Keep your profile closed and allow only your friends to view your profile but be aware of what friends post about you, or reply to your posts, particularly about your personal details and activities. Remember that many companies routinely view current or prospective employees’ social networking pages, so be careful about what you say, what pictures you post and your profile.
Dating sites come with a whole new set of risks. Take every precaution that profiles you are looking at are genuine and never be tempted to send or transfer money to people you meet on-line, however unfortunate their story. Be very careful about how and when you meet people in person.
Drop by University Place today to find out more information and to enter our ‘How well do you know the internet?’ competition for a chance to win a £10 amazon voucher.