Basic Ways to Stay Safe Online

Staying safe online is a big topic, and it’s something that we’re all prone to being complacent about. Here are a few quick tips to ensure that you have the best possible protection, and your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Use Your Payment Details Carefully

Any time you pay for something online, you should check that the site’s secure. You’re looking for a padlock in your browser’s address bar, sometimes with the word “Secure” next to it. This is a good general security tip.

Typing your details into an unsecure page leaves your data wide open to being intercepted. That could lead to unauthorised transactions.

For the most security-conscious, a disposable debit card is the way to go. This is a virtual card, which exists in a secure location, linked to your bank account. Once you’ve used the card, the number disappears and you get a new virtual card number for the next transaction. That means your real card is never compromised.

Some banks offer this as standard with their accounts. If yours doesn’t, you can find services online that charge a small fee for the service.

Got Kids? Content Filtering May Help

If you have young kids, they probably have phones and tablets, and you probably need an easy way to restrict what they access online. In this specific situation, content filtering can help to keep them safe as they browse.

ISPs generally offer some kind of filter that will block adult content and themes. This could be porn, but in some cases, the block will also extend to other adult topics. The blocks are rarely 100% effective, and a determined teen can always find their way around them, so this won’t be a suitable replacement for supervision -- but it may help.

Content filtering is a difficult subject. I’m talking specifically about filtering for kids here, which is useful in specific situations. It should always be optional, and you should be able to disable it.

Only Use Trusted Networks

This is a biggie, and it’s something that many people don’t know about.

Any network without a password is a potential security nightmare. And even public WiFi with a password could be risky, depending on who runs it, and who else is on it at the time.

If you use public WiFi a lot, it’s advisable to use a good quality VPN. Always connect to it before you log on to the network. It’ll put all of your traffic through an encrypted tunnel so that it can’t be intercepted or snooped.

Be Selective With Your Personal Data

Most websites are hungry for your email address. Many like to capture a lot more than that.

It’s not a good idea to provide your date of birth and mother’s maiden name to every website that asks for it.

Security experts have, in the past, recommended the use of a set of ‘dummy’ personal information. You might want to use a different email address, a fake date of birth, and so on, which can help your general security online. The issue is that you need to remember what you’ve put in.

It’s usually better to avoid any website that you don’t trust with your data, and only fill in recommended fields.


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