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A guide to safely navigating the internet

Are you practising safe and responsible use of the internet? If you’re not sure, our quick guide will help you lock things up ASAP.

Worried that Facebook is always listening? Or that all those cookies you’re made to agree to could have devastating consequences in the future? Unfortunately, when it comes to internet safety, these are not what you need to be worrying about. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.



You know that moment when you’re signing in to your online banking and a little window pops up to ask if you want your password conveniently saved? The answer should always be no. Why? Your browsers will be synched across all your devices. Say you click ‘save password’ on your home computer, and your phone or your laptop gets stolen. The new possessors of these items can easily just open Google and instantly log in to your online banking, the stores where you shop online, and your social media accounts. Or maybe you have resigned from your job. The new person using your PC will also now have access to your passwords if the machine hasn’t been correctly formatted, something you can’t personally guarantee. So rather take a couple of seconds to type in your username and password. It’s time well spent if it keeps you safe.



We know, it’s fun and everyone is doing them, but have you ever thought of this? When you complete one of those tagged ‘learn more about me’ lists and share it with your friends, or you take part in a ‘the year you were born is how many children you will have’ game, it not only divulges personal information about you, but that information (such as your date of birth, tag your childhood friend, your pet’s name, your home town) is what most people use to create passwords. Someone who is looking for accounts to hack can easily use this information to weed out yours. This is especially dangerous since some of us use the same password for everything. They could also use this information to answer security questions with financial institutions.



We don’t know about you, but most of us haven’t checked up on our social media account settings since we set them up. This is a mistake. These platforms change things constantly, and adding, reworking or removing settings are not left out of these revamps. Start by going to your security settings for each platform, making any changes you think are necessary. If you’re not sure about something, a quick Google search will stand you in good stead. Check up on these settings every six months to ensure they’re still in place. Getting this right might mean that you can actually participate in all those fun Facebook games and quizzes without strangers or random friends of friends being able to see all your business.



You’ve probably heard of a VPN by now. They can be pricey and are not necessary for everyone. If you only use your phone and computer at home or work, you’re probably fine. It’s when we log into public WiFi that our personal information is particularly vulnerable. And yes, that counts for your phone too. Getting a VPN will create secure connections when you’re out in the world. And if you can’t afford a VPN, skip posting live stories, doing internet banking or browsing social media in public.



Windows, iOS, Android and co are on the ball when it comes to security, and this is one thing all those annoying updates are for. Go to your settings on all of your devices and turn on auto-update. This will make sure your devices are updated as soon as there’s an update available. With that done, you can be sure all security patches are being taken care of without you having to worry.



If you want the internet to be a safe place, start at home. Don’t pirate series and movies, don’t click on suspicious links or open unsolicited emails (especially if you’re using a shared device), and don’t invite friends to take part in sharing the results of online quizzes if their privacy settings are not be up to date. And if Facebook and Instagram are making you feel uncomfortable by advertising too pecifically, report these posts and let them know that you feel unsafe.

Words: Roxy Greeff | Photography: Pexels

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