For a lot of people, the new technologies developed in the last decade are significantly different than anything we’ve used for most of our lives.

For people who aren’t using digital technology a lot or haven’t grown up with it, it can seem like an unfamiliar world at times. As with many things, there are some risks that come with being online – but don’t let these put you off the many wonderful things that being online can offer you. We’ve put together some tips to help you feel more confident online. By understanding the risks and how to protect yourself, you can reduce risks and use the internet more safely.

Put a lock on it

Put a lock on your mobile phone, computer, tablet and any other device you have. You can have a lot of information on a device, so you need to protect it. Most devices will prompt you to do this when you set it up, or you can add one in your device settings.

Use strong passwords

Make sure that you use a strong password/passphrase on every online account you have. The important thing to remember is to make it hard for others to guess. Avoid using personal information (like your name, date of birth, kid’s name, pet’s name etc.) or a combination that will be easy for humans or robots to guess. Do not give your password to anyone – legitimate organisations will never ask you for the passwords to your online accounts.

More password tips

New account, new password

For every new account you create (for example, online banking, email, Facebook) use a brand new password. This means that if someone is able to get the password for one of your accounts, they won’t be able to access any of your other accounts.

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security for your online accounts. It’s an extra step on top of your password that makes it harder for others to access your accounts if they have managed to obtain both your email address and password. Often you’ll have the choice of how this will work. For example, you may be able to have a code sent via text message (SMS) to your mobile phone that you need to enter if you try to access an online account from a computer or device that isn’t your usual device.

Learn more about two-factor authentication

Keep it private

If you’re using social media, make sure that you have your privacy settings tight, so that you’re only sharing information with your friends or connections. A lot of social media platforms let you choose who can see information about you and who can see what you post online. Even when you’re sharing with a close circle, consider what you’re putting online before posting and be careful who you are accepting as a “friend” or connection online.

Learn more about privacy settings on Facebook

Be aware of scams

 There are lots of different type of scams, but there are a few dead giveaways that will help you spot a lot of them.

  • Think twice when you’re unexpectedly contacted – even if the person says they’re from a legitimate organisation or has details about you.
  • Legitimate organisations will never ask you for your account passwords, but scammers will.
  • Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers try to use payments that can’t be traced such as pre-loaded debit cards, gift cards that can be used online or money transfer systems.
  • If someone tries to pressure you into making a payment or giving personal details, be wary.
  • Be wary of anyone unexpectedly telling you that you have a bill to pay, a payment/prize to collect or that you have a computer issue.

If someone unexpectedly contacts you and says they’re from a legitimate organisation (like a phone company or government agency), you should contact the organisation through their official website or phone number to be sure. Always stop and think carefully before making a payment or giving someone any information about yourself or access to your devices. Even if you’re feeling pressure to do something, take an extra ten minutes to think things through and ask someone for advice.

More information about spotting scams

Shopping online

Online shopping is easy, convenient and means you can shop without even leaving the house. When shopping online, there’s a few things you can do to keep you and your money safe online – like being careful about who you’re buying from and the information you’re giving out.

We have specific advice for shopping safely online.

More information