Online security

For every convenience the internet offers, there is a criminal looking for ways to use it to make money. A few simple steps can help you protect yourself, your ID and your money.

Protecting your identity

Your identity is an extremely valuable asset. Protect it carefully.

If a criminal can access your personal details, they might try to:

  • access your bank accounts
  • take out loans and credit cards in your name
  • remortgage your house.

Never send your personal or bank details via email or text. Only give information on secure websites owned by organisations you know and trust.

A secure website address will always:

  • begin with ‘https://’, not ‘http://’
  • display the image of a closed padlock (usually in the address bar).

Only give personal details if you can see both of these things.

Social media

Social media is becoming very popular for connecting with people, sharing updates and giving opinions. Be careful—criminals are able to take advantage of you on social media.

They might try to:

  • download spyware onto your computer
  • steal your identity and personal details
  • impersonate you to target your friends.

Think about what information you share with different friends. You can customise what each person can see by using your network’s privacy settings. Visit the help section on your social networking site to find out how to protect your information.

Check your privacy settings every few weeks.

Shopping online

Shopping online can be a convenient and cost effective way to purchase goods. However, you should be extremely careful who you give your personal and credit card details to.

Don’t make any payment unless you’re on a secure website, and make sure you choose a secure payment method. This will protect you against fraud and unauthorised credit card transactions.

Find more details about shopping online.

Dealing with hoax emails and texts

Criminals may try to use hoax emails (called ‘phishing’) and texts (‘smishing’) to get to your personal or bank information.

These might ask you to provide your personal details or click through to a website. They will often look like they’ve come from a legitimate source.

This could be a:

  • bank or financial institution
  • internet provider
  • online shopping provider
  • major business or retailer
  • university
  • government agency.

These organisations will never email you to ask for your passwords or financial details—for any reason.

Links are not always what they seem. They can lead to websites that download unsafe software such as spyware. This may release a virus onto your system to find out your personal information.

Don’t follow any of the links in an email. Any genuine links or phone numbers will also be available on the organisation’s website. Navigate to the website in your usual way (not by following the link in the email).

To check where a link will really take you, hover your mouse icon over the link. The real address should appear in the bottom left corner of your screen.