Keeping your personal information secure online

29 January 2016
The internet is a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and purchasing goods, but it is important to stay safe and keep your personal details secure.

The internet is becoming an increasingly indispensable tool for a wide range of activities. 

This includes everything from regular food shopping, to finding out about local events and keeping in touch with friends, family and loved ones. 

However, it is important to stay safe while online and avoid becoming the victim of a scam - or even identity theft. 

This should not spoil your fun or make you unduly concerned, but there are a few simple tips to be conscious of while using the internet that can ensure you stay secure. 

Careful what you share

Thinking carefully about what you say or post online - particularly on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter - is one of the golden rules of the internet. 

Carefully look at the privacy settings of these sites and determine what kind of privacy protection you want. 

Keeping your profile limited to only close friends or groups can be a good idea. If you do want to be as public as possible to share things with everyone, then be extra careful about what you do post.  

There is never a good reason to post personal financial information, or passwords, date of birth, or other information that could be used by scammers. Even with privacy settings on high, it is worth remembering that you are still on a public forum and it is best to err on the side of caution so you are not vulnerable. 

Secure your web browser

Only access social networks or use bank information to make transactions on websites and networks that you know are secure. 

Look out for 'https' at the start of the web address in the browser, rather than the usual 'http'. The 's' stands for 'secure' - and while the latter is fine on news sites or anything you are just reading without downloading anything from, an extra degree of caution is advisable if making purchases or signing up for newsletters. 

There will also be a padlock icon in the corner of the browser on a secure site, which indicates that the site is encrypted - and therefore should be safe to login to. 

Keep passwords private

A secure password should be more than six characters long and use a combination of upper case and lower case letters, as well as numbers or icons. 

Using personal information or a simple word that can be found in the dictionary is not recommended, as scammers can use software to enter random dictionary words to determine a password. 

To keep something simple and easy to remember, you can always switch numbers for some words or letters - for example, 'I want to visit Australia' could be turned into '1W2vAus'.

Keep information secure offline

Your personal information should also be kept secure offline. For instance, try to memorise passwords and don't keep them written down somewhere they can be found and stolen. 

Also take care when sharing information in public. If your workplace, a business, your child's school, or a doctor's office want information such as your email address, it can't hurt to ask how they will safeguard it and if they really need it.

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