Staying Safe Online

Cybercrime has become a major issue. In the spring of 2018, the NHS attracted massive publicity as a result of a ransomware cyber attack that was caused because their software was not regularly updated. It is reported today, 4th January 2019, that hundreds of German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have had personal details stolen and published online. Contacts, private chats and financial details were put out on Twitter. Read the details HERE.

Many types of malware exist and new ones are being created regularly. It is essential that sensible measures are taken by all of us when we access the internet. Get Safe Online contains all you need to know but the amount of information may be overwhelming if you are just starting your online experience. Below are some key safety elements to get you started.

Basic Elements for Staying Safe Online

Implementing the 7 points below will provide a significant level of security for your digital device. They do not eliminate all risks and you may add more elements as you gain experience. How safe your online experience is critically depends on the way you use your device. Links from each of the elements lead to more detailed discussions about that element.

  1. Install an Antivirus

A good antivirus will protect your computer from most malicious attacks. You do not need to know what they are; just that you are protected. Microsoft provides an antivirus with Windows 10. It will operate as default but there are much better products (even free ones) available. Installing a good antivirus is particularly important if you intend to use online banking or make purchases online.

  1. Allow Auto Updates

Windows 10 automatically downloads and installs updates to make sure your device is secure and up to date. Older versions may not; this was the cause of the problem that occurred with the NHS hack.

To double check that your device is up to date, open Settings  Update & Security   Windows Update to see your update status.

A good anti-virus should provide alerts to any software updates being necessary, including your browser.

  1. Browsers

Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox are regularly updated and improved, both for ease of use and security. Internet Explorer 11 was the last version of that browser and is only supported for the latest versions of Windows. Browsers provide your “window” to the internet. It is via your browser that you will access websites from which you will download new software (Apps).

  1. Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Use a password generator such as [ passwordsgenerator ] to generate secure passwords for you, recommended 16 random characters (our Forum Website uses 20 characters to gain admin access).

A password manager provides a safe means of recalling multiple, complex passwords(it is impossible to remember all your passwords if they are unique and complex). There may be one in your anti-virus.

  1. Search Engines

Google Chrome; Microsoft Bing

You do not need to KNOW everything. Search engines are so powerful they will find the answers for you. Just type your question in the browser search bar; just some keywords will probably do. Be careful about how you select the options the search presents. Is the location reputable or could it be a dangerous source of virus or other malware? A good anti-virus will help you.

  1. LINKS

URL (Universal Resource Locator): Otherwise known as a “Link”. Everything on the internet is accessed by a unique code known as the URL. You cannot live without them. They take you where you want to go. But they can be deceiving !! Links are not only text but can, for example, be attached to a picture. How can you tell where the link will take you? Hover your mouse over the link and look in the bottom left corner of the browser. This is the true definition of the link. Does it look correct?

  1. Emails

Email addresses are not difficult to get hold of and the more you use your computer, the more unwanted emails you will receive. Never, never, ever click on a link in an email, especially if you do not know the source.

Even emails from family and friends can be dangerous. Unless they are employing adequate safety measures online, their email address book could have been hacked and the hacker using their email address.

Other Useful Resources

F-Secure Router Checker

The internet connection enters your property via a Router. This can be a source of insecurity, for example, still retaining the manufacturer’s access code. This link will help you discover if your Router is set up securely.

Pwned Passwords

You can use this site to check if your password has been used elsewhere. You can also get notified when someone else uses your password and your account could be is compromised.

Creating Strong Passwords

This is an in-depth article about passwords and why they need to be complex.

Choosing a Password Manager

This is a technical discussion about password managers [note that it is from a supplier of antivirus software, not an independent source].

Age UK: Getting Online


We will try to respond to your query if you are having a problem with any of the items discussed here. If you belong to a group and you would like us to give a presentation on this subject please provide details and we will get back to you.