Staying safe on the internet...

The Internet has changed the way we live forever. We can do our shopping, watch films, book travel and holidays, stay in touch with people and make new friends, study new things … and even do our banking – all from wherever we happen to be at the time.It offers us so many things but it's important to keep yourself safe and secure so that you can make the most of it.

There are many different kinds of cyber crime. A criminal may try to gain access to your personal information - like your email password or banking details for instance. They might do this by installing malware on your computer, trying to hack into your account or tricking you into giving them the information they need. Then they could steal from you, impersonate you or even sell your details on to another criminal or group to use.

They might also try to use the Internet to scam you, sell you counterfeit goods or cost you money in many other ways, or they could want to take over and use your computer (or your website) as a conduit to commit some kind of crime.

Whether you're a new Internet user or an expert, I hope the information here helps you navigate the web safely and securely.

Simple vigilance can stop a lot of problems before they occur...

Just looking at the page can help you see if you are where you think you asked to go on the web. Some fake sites are really very good so vigilance and care must be used - it only takes one automatic click on a link to open the door.

Here are a few basic things you can check just by looking that can help you avoid some of the commonest mistakes:

  • Is the name spelt correctly with no extra characters or words (e.g. “eeBay” instead of eBay)?
  • Does the site name in the browser address bar at the top match the address you typed in?
  • If you roll your mouse over a link and look at the bottom left side of your browser frame for the genuine link destination – does it match what it states it is?
  • Is there a padlock symbol on the bottom right of your browser frame (not on the web page itself) as shown at the top of this page, or does the site name begin https:// (the “s” stands for Secure)?  Either of the above indicates that the website owners have a digital certificate that has been issued by a trusted third party which indicates that the information transmitted online from that website has been encrypted and protected from being intercepted and stolen by third parties. This does not, however, indicate the IT security or ethics of the website owners. If they are not there - do not enter any personal information such as passwords or credit card details.
  • To be doubly sure, when using websites that you do not know, look for an Extended Validation (or EV-SSL) certificate which indicates that the issuing authority has conducted thorough checks into the website owner. The type of certificate can be determined by clicking the padlock symbol in the browser frame which will launch a pop-up window containing the details. 
  • Does the website request more personal information than you would normally expect to give, such as user name, password and other security details (Date of Birth, Bank details etc.) in full?

I know it seems a lot to remember, but after a while you do it without thinking every time you visit a new website - especially if you are looking to purchase online.

As long as you always remember to be be vigilant when supplying personal or financial details and ensure your computer protection and browser are up to date you have gone a long way toward mitigating the chances of being caught out.

With an up to date Anti-virus/Anti-Spyware package, and the latest updates for your software, browser and Operating System (Windowsx / MacOS) you stand the best chance of surfing in safety.

Each of these are as important as each other so I recommend looking through the other sections of this site.