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An essential guide to staying safe online

staying safe online

Today, most of use the internet to help make our day-to-day lives better. But despite its benefits, the more information we put online, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. In response, TITAN, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit has created a handy guide about staying safe online.

The guide has the support of www.getsafeonline.org, the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety. It contains lots of helpful guidance to protect you and your data from the threat of fraud, identity theft and abuse.

As well as encouraging you to share the booklet with your friends and family, TITAN also suggests that it can be used as a memory-jogger whenever you need a quick reminder.

What does the guide tell us about staying safe online?

Protecting your devices

To ensure you are safeguarded, the booklet suggests that you follow the following ‘golden rules’:

  • Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully
  • Use a different password for every account (if you are worried about remembering them all you could sign up to a password manager)
  • Never share your passwords with anyone
  • Make sure your devices are protected by internet security software
  • Keep internet security software up-to-date
  • Never give away too much personal or financial information
  • Don’t click on any links or attachments unless you are 100% sure you can trust the source
  • Take your time and think twice to keep yourself safe.

Online shopping

Online shopping can be risky business if you are not sure what to look out for. Follow these handy tips to keep your financial information safe:

  • Look for third-party reviews or get recommendations from people you trust to make sure an online retailer is reputable
  • Check that the payment page is secure (is there a padlock in the browser frame and does the page address start with https://)
  • Never pay by bank transfer into a seller’s bank account unless you know and trust them
  • Don’t buy anything online via an unsecured Wi-Fi connection such as a hotspot in a café. Instead, make sure you are connected via your secure Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G connection
  • Know that if you pay by credit card you are afforded greater protection
  • Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully and use a different password for every online shop in case your details get hacked
  • Logout after you’ve finished your shopping session
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements to see if there is anything you don’t recognise.

Banking

Banking fraud is in the rise, so it’s vital that you know how to protect yourself online. For example:

  • Never share any sensitive information about yourself or your accounts, like your PIN or full banking password. Your bank would never ask for this information
  • Never be talked into withdrawing or transferring money for safekeeping
  • Don’t use online banking via an unsecured Wi-Fi connection such as a hotspot in a café. Instead, make sure you are connected via your secure Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G connection
  • Don’t click any links that claim to be from your bank. Always go to your bank’s website by entering its proper address
  • Don’t let friends, family or anyone else borrow your payment cards
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements to see if there is anything you don’t recognise.

Social media

When it comes to social media, too many of us are still willing to hand over our information without thinking about the consequences. To protect yourself online:

  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know
  • Don’t be talked into any activity that makes you uncomfortable (e.g. sending images or extremist behaviour)
  • Being careful about what private information you share online – either about yourself or your friends/family
  • Don’t post anything that might offend or embarrass you or someone else. What goes online stays online, and this could cause you problems now and in the future
  • Review your privacy settings regularly
  • Review your contact list regularly
  • Use a different email account to register with the different social media platforms
  • Never post abusive comments that might offend individuals or groups of society. In some cases trolling is a criminal offence
  • Being aware of common phishing techniques and keeping an eye out for fraudsters who attempt to gather additional personal information.

Keeping children safe online

Today’s children are digital natives – and they use technology from a very early age. But we still need to keep them same online. To help do this:

  • Work with children, educating them as they grow about the benefits and risks of the internet
  • Be on hand to answer any questions they might have
  • Put safeguards in place such as parental controls and filters
  • Be digitally aware and informed about the latest apps, platforms etc.
  • Speak to other parents to share information.

Running a business

When you’re running a business, the last thing you want to think about is the possibility of things going wrong. But the right preparation won’t just reduce the likelihood of data breaches occurring; it will also limit the fallout should the worst happen. To help keep your business safe online:

  • Run regular online safety and data protection training for all employees
  • Encourage staff to question anything they are unsure about or which seems irregular
  • Make sure physical access to devices and servers is strictly controlled
  • Introduce an Acceptable Use Policy for mobile devices
  • Carry out regular backups
  • Enforce strict access to company, employee and customer data
  • Have a software policy in place that covers usage, updates, licences, etc.
  • Make sure you safely dispose of hardware and data.

You can find more helpful information about staying safe online at www.getsafeonline.org.

Reporting cybercrime

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime.

Victims of online offences such as scams and financial/identity fraud should contact Action Fraud to report their loss. You can do this online or via telephone.

For any other form of cybercrime such as online stalking, harassment, or fears about sexual grooming, you should contact the police directly.

Not just hackers

While the threat of cybercrime is something that everyone needs to take seriously, human error remains the leading cause of breaches. And, these errors (which are just as likely to happen offline) must also be addressed.

At Hayes Connor, our expert solicitors deal with a significant number of data breach cases every day. During our work, we see many different types of claims and understand how data breaches can affect people in different ways.

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR CASE STUDIES TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE TYPES OF DATA BREACHES THAT ARE OCCURRING ACROSS THE UK.

For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you recover any losses or give us a call on 0151 363 5895 to discuss your case in more depth.