- When creating usernames for an online account avoid using your nick name or an email address, as this is often the first thing people will try to use to hack your account.
- Choosing the same password for each of your online accounts is like using the same key to lock your home, car and office – if a criminal gains access to one, all of them are compromised. Passwords are the first line of defence against cyber criminals. It’s crucial to pick strong passwords that are different for each of your important accounts and it is good practice to update your passwords regularly. A secure password should be at least 8 characters or more, contain letter, numbers and symbols. Alternatively you can use this website to generate a secure password for you – https://identitysafe.norton.com/password-generator.
- Store your usernames and passwords securely in one place on your computer; Password Safe is a free piece of software that will store your entire website url’s, usernames and passwords – http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/. Please note you will need to download the software and install on your computer, you will need to set up a password to access this on your computer.
- Never give out your personal information – such as your full name, email address, bank details, phone number, home address to people you are chatting to online.
- Be wary of suspicious emails and offers, even if it looks like they are from friends, or maybe your bank. Never enter your password on an unfamiliar site after following a link in an email or chat message. Instead go the real website directly by typing in the proper web address. Please bear in mind that most companies will never email you to ask you for your password or other sensitive information, if the offer sounds too good to be true it probably is.
- Be careful with any multimedia you share online, as some websites take ownership of your content on upload and will use them elsewhere without your permission.
- Never arrange a face to face meeting without telling somebody, if after discussing with a friend or parent, arrange to meet in a public place; you may also want to take somebody with you.
- Remember that people online may not be who they seem. Because you can’t see or even hear the person if would be easy for someone to misrepresent him or herself. Therefore someone saying that they are a 12 year old girl could in fact be an older man.
- If somebody is making you feel uncomfortable or you feel you are being bullied please tell somebody that you trust straightaway.
- Always update your browsers to the latest versions, as software updates often contain important security fixes, the longer you wait the longer your computer may be vulnerable.
- Regularly scan your computer with a trusted up to date antivirus program. Watch out for free anti-virus programs that may try to trick you into downloading them by using scary pop-up windows.
Finally, one last tip from a network member:
I would add to that that while I try to vary my passwords online you do have to make sure that they are easy for yourself to remember. Having said that, when I’m seriously worried an account might be hacked, I use a random-seeming set of number. A combination that has significance for me but it would be very hard for an outsider to get.