The internet makes a lot of things easier for all of us, from shopping and watching the latest box set, to supporting charities and chatting with friends. There is a lot of advice telling us not to share personal information online, but with social media, online payment systems, and subscription services tracking what you watch and listen to, is this really realistic?
If you don’t want to cut yourself off from the online world, but want to keep yourself and your information safe, what are your options?
Here are some things to look out for online and steps you can take:
1. Protect your profile
Use the tools available on social media networks to control who sees what and learn how to block or report something you find upsetting.
2. Be considerate
Remember that what you post and share online is essentially the same as announcing your personal life over a supermarket tannoy: you don’t know who could be listening, and you don’t know who they might tell. Think before you share, and consider what could happen or who you might upset if your post got into the wrong hands.
3. Be vigilant
If you find yourself chatting to someone online that you haven’t met in real life, you have no way of knowing that they are who they say they are. Don’t share personal information like your phone number, address, or school with anyone you haven’t met in person.
You can get more advice on what to look out for and ways to prevent unwanted contact on the thinkuknow website.
4. Respect the law
Use sites you know and trust to legally access music, film and TV. Many illegal sites are now inaccessible under copyright law, but don’t assume that the site is legal just because it’s not blocked. By using illegal sites, you risk exposing your device to viruses, malware, spyware and could be funding criminal activity. Purchase a legal copy and you support the creative industry whilst enjoying a better quality product.
5. Pay securely
Look for a small locked padlock in the address bar, or ‘https://’ at the start of the web address you’re using. Either (or both) of these signs means the site your using is secure and your payment details should be kept safe. Of course, if anything seems odd about the site, don’t use it, and clear your history before using another payment site.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, then report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visitng www.actionfraud.police.uk
The European Commission has a designated page about data protection and privary rights on their website, so please visit the page and familiarise yourself with your online rights. If you want to know more about the legislation on data and privacy protection in your country please contact your national authority.