- Why is it important to stay safe online?
- How to keep yourself safe online
- How to keep your kids safe online
Staying safe online means you protect your identity, hard-earned money, and physical devices. Every time you go online you’re potentially at risk but it’s not all doom and gloom.
We’ve got some great tips to share with you on how to keep yourself safe online. We think you’ll love how easy they are to implement even if you feel like a tech novice.
Why is it important to stay safe online? 🤔
The UK alone experienced 14.6 million ransomware attack attempts in the first six months of 2021. Cyber-attacks are on the rise each year so it’s more important than ever to stay safe on the internet. It’s not just ransomware either, there are phishing scams, password attacks, and malware to watch out for, among other online menaces. 🤑
These cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. When phishing emails first appeared you probably heard to not click on an email or link if there were obvious spelling mistakes or the email looked suspicious.
Nowadays, many of these scams are virtually undetectable to the average computer user. A fake email or webpage can be set up to look very convincing and a virus can quickly slip onto your computer if you don’t have the right tech to fight it. Or you could be tempted to give your password up to “resolve a tech issue” or “win money”... but don’t be. 💪
By staying safe online, you are protecting yourself from hackers who are usually after your money. This could be a simple one-off purchase they make using your shopping account, they could drain your entire bank account, or they could steal your identity causing you a lot of hassle down the line.
How to keep yourself safe online 🔐
Staying safe online does take a little bit of work. The good news is, once you’ve set everything up and remember these tips it will become second nature to you. Follow these golden rules to give yourself peace of mind when you’re online.
🔑 Use strong passwords
With more and more people online every day, the internet can be a hacker’s paradise. Don’t make it easy for them! Here are some top tips to lock down your accounts.
- Use a different password for every single online account, social media platform, and app.
- Make your passwords long and strong: at least 15 characters and a mixture of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols, and don’t use dictionary words.
- Set up 2-factor or multi-factor authorisation whenever possible. This involves having 2 or more authentication methods set up from different categories (e.g. a password, fingerprint, and SMS code).
- Never give your password to anyone. Banks and other businesses that hold your passwords will never ask for it over the phone, email, or any other form of communication.
🆕 Keep everything up to date
As a busy parent, it’s easy for you to forget to update your operating system, software or apps. However, this is probably more important than you realise.
When tech companies release a new update or version there could be vital security patches they’ve made. Often, updating your system and software will also save you time in the future because everything should be optimised.
Don’t forget to hit that update button when you see it or you can download an automatic software updater.
🌐 Use a secure internet connection
Make sure you have your home Wi-Fi network protected by giving it a very strong password. It probably came with a hefty looking password, as is common now, and that’s great.
While public Wi-Fi can be useful if you’ve run out of data or don’t have great phone reception, it’s also very easy for cybercriminals to hack. If you have to use public Wi-Fi use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). For maximum security, you should consider using a VPN on your home Wi-Fi too.
🛒 Shop safely
Using a secure internet connection is especially important when shopping online and entering payment details. Never use public Wi-Fi or use a VPN if you do have to.
It’s also important to only use secure sites, especially when handing over personal details. These will have an “s” - “https://” - rather than just “http://”. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. These sites will have the little padlock symbol before the URL.
Make sure a retailer is genuine before buying from them. If you regularly buy from a retailer or it’s a trusted brand you know, that’s great. If you have found a great deal from a company you have never heard of you should check the URL on Google’s Safe Browsing tool which will cross-reference it with Google’s list of unsafe sites.
💻 Protect your devices with antivirus software
Protect all of your devices with good antivirus from a trusted brand. There are plenty of great choices and many of them are free. Usually, they take just seconds to download and they’ll help keep unwanted malware and viruses off your computer or smartphone.
How to keep your kids safe online
Before COVID-19 there was only a part of students’ lives that was online. Now from schooling to staying in touch with friends, kids are digitally active throughout the day.
Wakefield-based Catherine Knibbs, a psychotherapist specialising in cyber trauma, says that there is a “naivety about the online space being safe”. This is why both teachers and parents sometimes don't pay enough attention to teaching children to be safe online.
For parents, the more important question also remains: how do you manage the work/life/parenting balance while ensuring that your children are always safe online?
It might feel impossible, but it isn’t.
The dynamics of technology will keep changing and developing. However, some of the ways to keep students safe online never will. Some of these include:
- Treat your children’s online life like their offline life. Be involved, be interested and be present there.
- Communication builds trust between children and parents. Which leaves fewer gaps in online safety.
- Let online time be a shared family experience so you're present to guide your child when they are online.
- Be part of your child’s social media circle so you are aware of the content they share and absorb.
If you follow these simple but effective tips for staying safe online, you are going to be better protected against cyber threats. If your kids use your devices or their own to access the internet, why not read our article “Online Risks for Kids: What Parents Need to Know”? It offers excellent advice on protecting your kids online. 🙌