Keeping Safe - Protecting yourself from online threats

The internet opens up new ways for us to communicate, work and to enjoy the good things life has to offer. Whatever we are doing it is important to know how to navigate the internet safely and how to avoid things which may harm us.

Below is some helpful information and advise on some of the less welcome aspects of using the internet and how to avoid the danger they may pose. 

Do remember that taking a few simple and easy measures is all that is necessary to be as safe when you are using the internet as anywhere else. Do remember these issues matter for internet use on phones as well.

Hacking or Cracking

Hacking is an oft used term however it is usually misused as it does not mean attacking or breaking into other peoples' computers or networks. Doing that is called Cracking and it is a major problem.

If someone manages to break into your network or computer they can do a lot of harm to you and to others too.

Preventing this is fairly simply however. Always keep your computer systems up to date with software upgrades. Always use a firewall to protect your network. Always keep a backup of your work just in case this fails.

Fraud and Online Scams

In all walks of life we find those who try to take unfair advantage of others and the internet is no different. You can avoid the risks of falling prey to such risks fairly simply.

The most important step to defending against fraud and various other scams is to understand that when someone makes and offer that is "too good to be true" it's generally because it is not true. Treat any such offer as false unless it is proven to be true and be careful to make sure that any such "proof" is genuine. If you are in doubt do not follow up on such offers.

Click for more information on avoiding scams

Spam and Viruses

Spam means unsolicited messages, usually but not always commercial in nature and usually sent via email or instant message or forum posting. We offer a free spam filtering facilty for our email service which you can activate via our MyAccount control panel.

Viruses are programs which infect your computer and may copy your private information or damage your system. Protecting against viruses is fairly easy. You can install software to scan for and block them. You can obtain a very good anti-virus system directly from Microsoft. It's called Microsoft Security Essentials and it's free for home and small business users.

Obsession - when it's all just too much

An often overlooked issue with using the internet is the development of obsessive behaviour - sometimes called internet addiction. It's very easy to become so involved with the virtual world of the internet that we can lose sight of what is really important: our family; our work; our "real" life.

If you become so immersed in your internet activity that you neglect your family or even become angry with them when they "interfere" with what you are doing you may soon find yourself alone - families can and do break because of this!

To protect against this consider the advise given above - particularly to avoid having a computer somewhere too private and do not allow yourself to spend so long working, shopping or playing online that complaints start. If your family is already complaining listen to them and consider what is important.

If you are in any doubt about whether your use of the internet is reasonable take a break now and enjoy something else.