How To Stay Safe Online 

From experience working alongside those new to technology, many people are reluctant to embrace gadgets over concerns about online safety. I will guide you through a few simple tips that mitigate risk and let you persevere with your tech-adventures, worry-free.

 

Shopping Online – How To Stay Safe Online 

Online shopping is booming, though unfortunately some sceptics are not yet enjoying its benefits. Paying online uses ‘encryption’; think a digital jigsaw that thieves would be unable to piece back together. You can check your connection is securely encrypted by looking for a green padlock to the left of the address (URL) bar.  

If you are unsure of a company’s legitimacy, try searching for their reviews and see what other people have said, e.g. search ‘TechSilver Reviews’. Free payment methods like ‘PayPal’ not only offer convenience by securely saving your card details and speeding up ordering, but offer protection if your goods don’t show up or are not as described. 

Want some advice on selling your things online? Read our guide

Avoiding Viruses – How To Stay Safe Online 

Many companies play on our paranoia, driving us to pay monthly fees for anti-virus programs that slow our computers and aren’t always necessary. Free solutions like Avast (.com) offer protection against viruses, whilst ‘Malwarebytes’ is useful if your computer is already infected. If it’s completely clogged and unusable, try ‘FixMeStick’. For a one-off fee, you just plug in and leave it to remove all known threats, hassle-free.

 

Downloading Apps – How To Stay Safe Online 

Apps offer solutions from navigation to translation, but can be a security risk. If in the official app market (e.g. ‘Play Store’ or ‘App Store’), it’s a good sign of legitimacy, as they are regularly vetted. When installing, it will display the permissions the app is asking for e.g, access to your camera. Although this may seem risky, apps require these in order to function. E.g. if you are installing a ‘Boot Sale’ app that lets you sell things online, it requires access to your camera so you can take pictures of the things you’re selling.

 

Email Scams – How To Stay Safe Online 

Phishing (without a rod) is a common method for online criminals, sending emails posing as companies like your bank, requesting information. The first way to spot them is legitimate emails will always use your real name. The ‘from’ address should not have numbers to replace letters (e.g. ‘@natwe5t.com’) and should replicate their official website address. Scammers often get you to act quickly in order to circumnavigate natural suspicions, take a moment to ponder legitimacy and if in doubt, call the company they’re claiming to be.  

Don’t let security concerns get in the way of enjoying technology. Use your common sense and follow the advice above; the chances are you’ll be worry free. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is… So unless you recently entered the Zambian lottery, the chances are you haven’t won!  


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