Navigating the internet can be far more challenging than it once was. After all, as we've become more internet savvy, scammers and thieves have become more cunning with their ploys to keep up with us.
Giving you the best internet experience possible is always our top priority. While a superfast and reliable internet connection is number one, we also want to help you navigate the internet safely and productively - and have fun doing it! So, because we take internet safety very seriously (and always make sure we play a part in every year's Safer Internet Day), here are ten top tips for staying safe online.
1. Tighten privacy settings on social media
By default, anyone can see everything you post on some social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Protect your private life by reviewing the privacy settings in your favourite social apps and limiting who can see your personal information and posts. Do you really want to tell anyone who wants to know that you’re enjoying cocktails by the beach in Greece, leaving your home unattended?
2. Be cautious on social media
Even with privacy settings set, think twice before you post something. Do you really want this information to be a part of your digital footprint forever? For example, in January 2023 the Australian Federal Police issued a warning to parents not to include anything that gives away identifying factors, such as their children’s names, locations or school logos.
Be careful about sharing any personal information, especially email addresses which can be skimmed and used for spam, and ensure you know someone before accepting a friend request.
3. Don't click on suspicious links
If a link doesn't look right on a webpage or in an email, it probably isn't; take the time to mouse over it and read the URL. If it ends in a strange top-level domain you don't recognise (other than .com or .com.au for Australia) or begins with HTTP instead of the more secure HTTPS, that's a sure sign to go no further.
4. Be careful when shopping online
When shopping online, ensure the website's URL has an HTTPS tag and a lock symbol in the search bar. These signifiers ensure that your connection to the website is encrypted and vastly reduces the likelihood of someone being able to steal your information while shopping.
5. Monitor your accounts
Regularly checking your bank account for purchases that don't seem right is an excellent habit, especially if you shop online regularly. It can be the best way to know when someone has gained access to your payment details. Never click the embedded links if you ever receive suspicious-looking overdue invoices, shipping reminders or purchase receipt emails. Instead, look up the official phone number or support email and contact the company directly to verify and make sure it isn’t a scam.
6. Use strong passwords
They say the eyes are the key to the soul; your password is the key to your digital wallet. If you use the same password across multiple websites, you're setting yourself up for disaster. Use varied strong passwords with a mix of characters, letters and numbers, and a secure password manager (no, not a Word file on your computer) to help you keep track of them.
7. Enable two-factor authentication
Just as important as a strong password, two-factor authentication (2FA) makes it so that to access your accounts; you need to input a constantly changing code generated securely on your phone, making it impossible for others to access your accounts without access to your phone, even if they have your passwords. If a site has this option available, we suggest you use it!
8. Avoid unknown public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know the source. If you’re confident the provider (your favourite café, the airport, etc.) is unlikely to be up to no good, always take the time to think twice. If you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network, avoid doing anything confidential, such as online banking and inputting passwords. Connecting with a virtual private network (VPN) as a buffer between you and the network is a great safety measure.
9. Use caution when downloading or installing software
Internet predators are dangerous, but none are worse than the ones you let straight through your walls. Software can hide all sorts of malware, viruses, and nasty surprises. They don't call them Trojan horses for nothing. If you don't trust it, or even if you're not 100% sure, take the time to search for the software and chat with your closest techy friend to get their opinion on whether it’s trustworthy.
10. Trust your instincts
We've all been on the internet for a while now, and you develop a sense of when something's fishy over time. At the end of the day, if something doesn't feel quite right, even if everything else checks out, go with your gut and back out; you never know what sort of trouble you may be getting yourself into if you don't.
So, there you have it, ten tips for staying safe online. If you’d like to learn more about internet safety, you can find more resources here on our blog or at the eSafety Commission.
If you want to make the most of your time online and stop relying on public Wi-Fi and average speeds, consider upgrading to a high-speed Pentanet connection. Use our address checker to see what connections are available at your address.