Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 by Erin Kavanagh
The internet is huge! There is so much to explore and see out there in the World Wide Web but it can also be scary. During the holidays, it’s natural for our internet usage to increase; playing games, watching videos, talking to friends and scrolling through social media. However, when you don’t know who or what lurks behind the scenes, it’s more important than ever to remain safe online.
The internet is a part of our everyday routine and with the increase in devices, there’s a greater risk of compromising your data. Despite the rise in digital usage, our basic rules have not changed and it’s important to stay on top of what’s happening online to keep safe while surfing the web. Here are some tips to keep the kids (and yourself) safe while they’re online and keep the cyber bullies at bay.
Tip #1 – Search safe
Keep to the safe websites when searching the web and refrain from clicking on anything you don’t recognise or aren’t online for. Always make sure that the site’s address has a padlock icon in the URL field and starts with “https”, instead of just “http”. This will reassure you that the website is secure and that your data can’t be intercepted by others while you’re online.
Tip #2 – Use safe WiFi connections
If you’re out and about and looking for the convenience of free WiFi, be aware of the risks with using public WiFi networks. If you need to jump on a public WiFi network, don’t open sensitive data and ask yourself if you know the source so you are aware of where the WiFi is coming from. There are some more tips in our article ‘How to stay safe on public WiFi’.
Tip #3 – Click with care
When you’re online, be vigilant about what you click on. It’s important not to invite danger by clicking on pop-ups and spam email links and to be aware of offers that sound way too good, sites that ask for a lot of information and popups to download unknown files or apps. While online, keep your wits about you and don’t fill in your personal details unless you are familiar with the site and know what you’re completing them for. Remember, if it’s not what you’re looking for and you don’t know what the site is or what you are about to download, don’t click on it.
Tip #4 – Keep your life private
Keep your personal information private and hidden online. When it comes to sharing personal information don’t share items linked to passwords or your contact details (address, phone number and email address) and accounts, in text or photos. Remember that everything you post is visible and can pop up down the track so think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. If you’re looking to start studying and applying for job, you want to keep your details to a minimal and your posts respectable and professional.
Tip #5 – Keep your privacy settings high
If you’re worried about your privacy online, there are steps you can take to protect your personal information from theft and misuse. Check your social media privacy settings and select who you want to be able to see your information and limiting the personal information you share in posts and photos on social media; don’t store your private information on public storage services such as Google Docs and Dropbox; browse online in incognito or private mode to prevent tracking; review permissions in your mobile apps; and if using public WiFi, use a secure VPN to encrypt your data. A VPN will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to breach your online privacy and access your personal information.
Tip #6 – Be aware of stranger-danger
People aren’t always who they say they are or as they appear to be online. Fake social media profiles can be used by hackers to gain access to the users files and data. Be aware of who you communicate with online and if you don’t know them, disengage and don’t arrange to meet up with them. If you are talking to someone and it makes you uncomfortable or they say something inappropriate, tell an adult you trust immediately.
Tip #7 – Keep your anti-virus up-to-date
Ensure that you have antivirus software installed on all of your devices and ensure to keep this and your operating systems up-to-date so that your devices are equipped to defend the latest malware, spyware and other viruses.
Tip #8 – Respect other people’s opinions and feelings
One in four students experience bullying online and it’s never acceptable. Cyberbullying is using technology to hurt someone else by sending hurtful messages, pictures or comments and can occur through emails, websites, social media platforms and text messages. Make sure you act respectfully online and don’t use technology to intimidate, embarrass, or hurt someone else. More importantly, don’t share images and messages that you wouldn’t want shared about you and think twice before you press send. If you feel like someone is bullying you online, make sure you tell an adult you trust immediately. You can also find out some more information here and here.
Tip #9 – Watch what you buy online
Online shipping and some games require purchases online but it doesn’t mean that you need them. Don’t enter any information if you don’t know what it’s for and always ask your parent or guardian before spending money online.
Tip #10 – Back it up!
In case of emergency it’s important to back up your data regularly and keep these files in a safe location. Check out our blog ‘Be prepared and back it up’ for everything you need to know about backing up your data.
Remember to apply these tips across all devices in your household. Our mobile and tablet devices can be vulnerable to threats through risky apps, text messages and emails as well. If you are online and see something that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website and tell a trusted adult immediately. Let’s help each other stay safe. If you have a tip for staying safe online, share it in the comments below.