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Guidance

20 top online safety tips

Clarion Housing

From applying for jobs and shopping for clothes, to online banking and supermarket deliveries, it’s never been more useful or important to be online.

Using the internet sometimes means sharing your personal details or bank account information online. But unfortunately, some people may try to take advantage of this by getting you to share your details with them, or taking it without your knowledge using a virus.

You can take steps to protect yourself online with these top tips to using the internet safely.

Secure passwords

1. Pick a secure password for each website using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters like: !@*£.

2. The longer and more unusual your password is, the stronger it becomes and the harder it is to hack. A good way to make your password difficult to hack is by using a sequence of three random words you'll remember. You can make it even stronger by including special characters

3. Don’t reuse passwords on different website. Use a unique one for each account, especially for email, banking and online shopping.

4. Keep track of your passwords in a safe place, and consider using a licensed password manager like LastPass or 1Password.

Scams and phishing

5. Be suspicious of any email, text message or phone call that asks you to disclose personal details or log in to resolve a problem. This may be a scam to gain access to your account. When in doubt, always log in to any account through the main company website, not via a link in an email. Alternatively, phone the company to check if the request is genuine.

6. Watch out for unexpected messages or emails with unusual links or attachments, even if they come from a friend or claim to contain information relevant to you. This may be a scammer using someone’s email address or social media account.

7. Don’t trust messages or emails from friends asking for money out of the blue, especially if the circumstances are unusual eg being stranded abroad. This is a well-known scam where hackers take control of someone’s email to steal money. If you get a message like this, phone, text or message them using another platform.

8. Official bodies like your bank, the police, your web service provider or Clarion will never contact you to ask you to verify your PIN, send cash or invite you to make bank transfers. This may be something called ‘phishing’ where a scammer will pose as someone else to get you to trust them. If you’re suspicious, phone the company back on their official number.

9. If you’re concerned about anything to do with your Clarion account, contact us.

What are cookies?

Most websites use cookies. This is a name for the harmless data files that are created on your computer when you visit a website. Cookies are safe and can’t harm your computer, and they’re useful. If you’re doing an online shop, cookies track what you’ve already put in your digital cart, give you custom recommendations and make sure you remain logged in.

Websites that track you with cookies are legally required to ask your permission first. You can choose what sort of cookies to accept by managing your cookie settings.

Find out how to manage your cookies on this website

Shopping safely online

10. Check websites are secure. Check the URL bar to make sure it has a padlock and that the website address has https:// in it – the ‘s’ stands for secure, and means your details are protected.

11. If you’re not sure about an online retailer, research them to make sure they’re legitimate.

12. Don’t share your card details with a seller by email or instant messenger.

13. Use a credit card, debit card or online payment service like PayPal – don’t send cash, cheques, or give your bank details.

14. If you want to buy second-hand, use a trusted resale site like eBay as this will give you extra protection. Check a seller’s profile and reviews for any red flags and be wary of any unusual requests for money sent up-front or via unusual channels.

Protecting your computer

15. Only install legitimate software you’ve researched carefully and never download something from a pop-up – especially one that claims your computer is already infected with a virus and offers the cure. This is very likely to be a malicious piece of software that tracks your online behaviour.

16. Set up a firewall. This is a piece of software that keeps an eye on what kind of information your computer is being sent and filters out anything it deems a threat. Some computers come with a pre-installed firewall.

17. Install anti-virus and anti-spyware packages to protect your computer from malicious or harmful files.

If you think there’s a problem

18. Check for any security breaches on a site like haveIbeenpwned.org, and if so, change your password and security details.

19. Keep an eye out for any unusual behaviour on your machine. Look out for new software, unexpected icons in your browser’s toolbar, or random pop-ups.

20. Regularly use your anti-virus software to do a full scan, which will hunt down any viruses or spyware secretly hidden in your files. This may take several hours.

How we can help

For help getting online or to find out about digital support we can offer you, please contact us.

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In 2018-19, we ran14,536digital skills sessions