Swindon U3A

Basic Online Safety

Today's internet offers a vast range of facilities and opportunities, but with those also come some diasadvanteages - fraud and people trying to take adavantage of you. This is nothing new; these problems have existed for centuries. The difference now is that, in using the internet, everything can happen nearly instaneously and the whole world is our neighbourhood.

Whereas in the distant past you only met a con artist physically and therefore contact was limited, now a whole host of them can knock on your virtual door at any time. Should that make us stop using the internet? No - we just have to be more street-wise.

The first steps are to make sure that you are running a firewall and virus checker on your computer. The situation on smartphones is not so clear, but will almost certainly change in the future. Many computers come with a trial version of a commercial virus software. This will usually expire after one or three months and your computer is then left unprotected unless you pay. There are good free virus checkers available - you do not need to pay for one.

Having installed your virus checker however, it and the computer operating system need to be kept up-to-date. New viruses are continually created and new ways of hacking the operating system are continually found. The updates guard against these new threats.

Use a strong password for you computer, laptop, tablet, mobile. It is likely that your computer, by default, has remembered a great deal about your various accounts. If you are burgled, with no password, the burglars could just start your computer and use it and gain a great deal of sensitive information.

So having got the basics covered, what about day to day use? In any situation trying to determine a fake from the real thing, there are no absolute rules, only guidelines, a hefty dose of common sense and think before you act. So what are the basic guidelines?