Advice Guide – Protect yourself online

The internet has become an integral part of our lives with many of us using it for shopping, banking, entertainment and socialising. The internet has lots of positive aspects, but there are things you need to look out for. These include viruses which can damage your computer and online scams.

Therefore, it is vital to ensure you know how to protect yourself online and keep your personal information safe whilst online. Within this article we will provide advice and tips on how to keep yourself, family and friends, safe online.

To protect yourself from computer viruses and malware, ensure that your computer anti-virus and firewall software and your internet browser and plug-ins (such as Flash, Java and Silverlight) are kept up-to-date and enabled at all times.

Online Safety advice

When it comes to staying safe online it’s important to:

  • Regularly change your account passwords and don’t share these. Make sure you use a strong password using a mix of letters, numbers and punctuation. Use different passwords for different accounts. Try to use memorable hard to guess passwords, such as a phrase or fact, and update it regularly.
  • Never share your personal data such as bank details, identity details, passwords or where you live with anyone that you don’t know or can’t verify their details.
  • When making online purchases make sure the connection is secure by looking for the padlock icon at the top or bottom of the Internet browser. Secure web addresses should also begin with ‘https’.
  • Purchase online using a secure payment method such as Paypal, or credit and debit cards.
  • Avoid sharing your personal details such as your address, phone number, routine or place of work.
  • Review your privacy settings to make sure that only your friends can see your profile details and pictures.
  • Try to use memorable hard to guess passwords, such as a phrase or fact, rather than using the automatic log-in function offered on some browsers, and change them regularly.
  • Take regular back-ups of important files to an external hard drive, memory stick or online storage provider. It’s important that the device you back-up to isn’t left connected to your computer as any malware infection could spread to that too.
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software if required, and make sure it’s up to date
Advice for parents & guardians

It is important to make sure that you know how to use your computer and how to look up which websites your child is accessing. Make sure you are able to restrict or block websites and material if necessary to protect your child. A guide produced by the NSPCC to empower parents to keep their children safe online, includes conversation starters to help parents discuss online safety and advice on what to do if things go wrong online.

For a PDF version of this resource, please click here.

Additional Information

For additional online safety advice please refer to our Protect Yourself Online guide and the following websites:

  • Visit the Get Safe Online website for free, independent advice on using the internet.
  • Visit Action Fraud website for the UK’s national fraud reporting centre.