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Ways To Protect Yourself Online

by Jessica Amey

The internet is an amazing tool and for most of us now, such a big part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine life without it.

I was about 15 when we first got the internet, back then it was dial up so you had to sit and wait for a while for it to connect. I can remember spending ages on Ask Jeeves, I was a real hypochondriac back then so I used to spend ages on there looking up symptoms and then going to the doctors convinced I had a brain tumour / diabetes / liver disease. It did end up being a positive though when I self diagnosed slapped cheek disease during my pregnancy with Tiger, I had to be monitored weekly so looking up symptoms online can be a good thing!

As much as the internet has it’s positives sides, there are also some negatives. These can include the risk of viruses, malware, phishing scams, being hacked or even just being too addicted to certain websites that can have a negative impact on your mental health.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself online..

There are tools you can use to generate passwords that are deemed to be extra secure, they usually include letters (both capital & lowercase), numbers and special characters. You shouldn’t use anything that is personal to you such as dates of birth, family names or where you live because these are far too easy to find out.

You can tell if a website is secure by looking at the first part, it should have https:// and not just http://. If the website isn’t a well known one then running a quick online search of them is also a good idea, just to make sure they are legit. If a price seems too good to be true then it might well be!

Even Matt nearly fell for a phishing scam in an email recently as it was so realistic so you have to be really careful with emails these days. Anything asking you to click a link for a refund or tax rebate should not be clicked on, it can be a way of infecting your computer, or it can take you through to a website that will ask you for personal details, possibly even your bank details. If you are ever in doubt then try ringing the company that has emailed you to find out if it’s real.

These can also be a way of infecting your computer, if you have issues with them keep popping up then speak to someone who works with computers and can advise you on what to do.

I’ve only recently heard of VPNs and I’m not going to lie, it took me a little while to understand the concept. It might sound a little techy but bear with me, your internet connection goes through what’s called a ‘tunnel’ and you connect to a different server – which makes it incredibly difficult for anyone to hack your computer. This is great for protecting yourself and you also have the added bonus of being able to connect to another country so you can access their content, like the US Netflix, which has a much better catalogue of movies and shows. Having seen NordVPN on TV adverts and then checking out their reviews, it’s something we will definitely look into.

There are lots of ways you can protect your kids online, whether it’s blocking certain websites or using settings for kids. YouTube use should also be monitored closely as you never know exactly what they are clicking on to, the linked videos can quickly go from appropriate to inappropriate!

This one is still important when thinking of protecting yourself online as social media can have negative implications on your health and well being. Try having a few evenings a week where you put your phone somewhere that can’t be reached for, even having it in a different room can stop us picking it up and checking it all the time. I know I am guilty of doing it a lot!!

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