You may think that you are doing a good job of securing your online data because you use different passwords, change them regularly and never write them down but how protected are you and your family really?
Have a look at your social media accounts and see just how much you might be giving away: have you complained about your bank on Twitter? Have you posted pictures of a significant birthday on Instagram (which could give away your date of birth)? Does a quick Google search bring up your professional website with contact details on it? It does not take much rooting around before somebody could find some significant specifics which he or she could then use to access much more.
And that’s all before we even start to look at your online banking and shopping activity…but don’t worry: there are plenty of things you can do to keep your private data safe. Rosalind Brookman, who writes for Broadband Genie came by to let AAF know how to protect ourselves online so we’re sharing it with you!
We often create passwords from personal info, but determined scammers could search your online communication to find names or birthdates and try a few combinations to see what works. It might be trickier to remember, but it’s really worth mixing up letters, numbers and symbols. To make things easier password manager software will remember logins for you so that they can be very complex.
Websites should use encryption to protect sensitive information that is being sent and received: this can be checked by looking at the web address. If it starts with ‘https’ that’s a good sign; if there’s a padlock symbol and/or the company name in green to the left of it, then that’s better as they’re even more secure (you can check the exact status of the site by clicking on that padlock or name). If none of these are visible, then your data could be at risk.
As a continuation of that, don’t write confidential information over public Wi-Fi (i.e. in a café) as that could easily be intercepted. Even when you’re at home and using your own internet connection, take that extra precaution of using the ‘private browsing’ function and disable your computer from storing cookies that remember your interactions with a site.
Make use of all the security features that your computer provides and make sure you’ve got additional security software installed that guards against viruses, spyware and has a rigorous two-way firewall. If your child uses your, or their own, computer then, on top of the above safeguards, you can also invoke parental controls to make sure they are not accessing any untrustworthy sites.
Inform your children
Talk to your child about the hazards of exposing sensitive data on the internet. Tell them never to open or click on links in spam emails and not to send any personal information – such as their date of birth, address or passwords – into cyberspace, where it can remain indefinitely. Teach them about setting up their social media accounts so that only trusted people have access to their updates: otherwise, announcing on Facebook that the family is off on holiday for two weeks may invite all sorts of trouble.
Click the page below to see a brief guide about the age children and young people can use specific social media sites:
Be Alert Online!