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Top 10 Tips For Staying Safe Online

The internet can be safe and secure if used correctly – but there is a potential risk of picking up a ‘computer virus’ that can make your computer ‘sluggish’, damage your computer, or even steal personal information if you don’t follow these basic 10 guidelines.

1) Make sure anti-virus software is installed. Use anti-virus software (which is usually installed on all new computers). Try to run a scan once every couple of days on your own personal computer at home to check for any problems. You won’t need to do this on a public computer (for example, in a library).

2) Update regularly. Your anti-virus software will send you “pop-ups” that allow you to update your software and keep it as secure as possible. Ensure that these are from the same anti-virus software that is used on your computer.

3) Visiting websites. Stick to well-known and established websites (BBC, Amazon, government websites). Your virus software should warn about dangerous websites. For example, McAfee has a green tick next to safety-checked websites in Google.

4) Passwords for emails. Passwords should be difficult to guess. Try to include characters like ‘!’, ‘$’, ‘*’ or ‘%’ in the password. Personal info should NOT be included in your password.

5) Change your password regularly: It is a good idea to change your password every couple of months to be safe – although this isn’t vital to stay safe, it’s just advisable. Use different passwords on different sites.

6) Email. Do not click on links in emails from people that you do not know. Ignore and delete emails that request your financial information.

7) Spam emails. When you sign up to services online your personal information may be used by others to send you emails you don’t want. Don’t give banking details or usernames to anyone via email. You may even receive emails claiming to be from your bank, but again do not give your details.

8) Buying online. If you do use the internet to buy items, then make sure the website’s payment section has a ‘https’ web address. This shows that it is a secure payment system.

9) Backup Regularly. Backup Regularly. You may want to keep important documents saved onto a USB stick to ensure your work is safe if your computer (in a worst case scenario) becomes infected. USB sticks can also become infected, but should not cause a problem as long as you keep your virus-scan up to date.

10) Don’t panic. If your computer gets a virus, then it CAN usually be removed by simply running a virus scan. If worst comes to worst, then the computer’s ‘Recovery’ CD (which came with your computer) can be used to restore the computer to its original settings – although this means that work stored on it will be lost. Any doubts, then ask someone with good computer knowledge and they should easily be able to help you.