Staying Safe Online

By Zoe Taylor

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Billions of people use the internet every day. 2.92 billion people, to be specific – that’s around 41% of the world’s population! If you’re reading this blog post, then you’re one of those 2.92 billion users, and whether you study online or not it’s important that you stay safe when you use the Internet.

Unfortunately, not everyone that jumps online is trustworthy, and often it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys online. As a general rule, only connect with and talk to people you know when you’re online – much like that old ‘stranger danger’ rule your parents used to enforce when you were a child. On top of that, we have some great tips for staying safe online.

Privacy

It can be difficult to hide your personal details online. Difficult, but not impossible. Go into the ‘settings’ section of any online site that you have an account with and there should be a ‘privacy’ section.

For example, on Facebook (home to over 1.23 billion internet users), you can hide all your personal details from people who aren’t your ‘Facebook Friend’ (and you can even hide certain information from certain ‘Facebook Friends’). Just go to Settings>Privacy and you can edit things like who can see your posts, who can send you friend requests, who can send you messages, etc.

To make sure it’s all as private as you want it to be, you can even view your profile as the general public, your Facebook friends, or even certain people on your friend list! Just go to the Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.34.44 pm icon next to the notifications button, click ‘who can see my stuff’ to show the drop down menu, and under ‘What do other people see on my Timeline?’ hit ‘View As’, and you can enter any friend’s name to see what your profile looks like to them!

Go into the privacy settings of all your online accounts and have a play around to ensure your private information stays just that – private!

Security

It’s similar to privacy, but it covers a slightly different area. A lot of hackers get into your computer through things like viruses, malware and trojans. It’s impossible to tell where these things come from, but one day you might just come across one on your computer or mobile device.

If your computer starts doing anything out of the ordinary, such as crashing programs or randomly opening and closing them, or if you get a ridiculous amount of pop-ups (e.g. every time you click a link in your browser a pop-up appears, or the images on the website you’re looking at are replaced with ads), it’s possible that you have a virus, trojan or malware on your computer. Download an anti-virus scanner such as Kaspersky and check your computer for viruses straight away.

Viruses, while they can seriously harm your computer, can also grant access to your private details to complete strangers, so it’s extremely important that you regularly check your computer for viruses.

Money

We all love a little online shopping! But it’s important to be careful of which sites you shop on. Make sure the site is legitimate and well-known. Most online shops will have the option to pay using PayPal – always use this option if it’s available to you. It’s the safest way to purchase things online.

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It’s also a good idea to do some research and shop around when you’re shopping online, and always take the safest deal. Never, ever, send wire transfers to people you don’t know or trust.

Cyber Bullying

Always, always, always be kind – online and in real life. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened by something someone has been saying to you online, file a report or talk to someone about it.

Cyber bullying is a serious issue, and in a lot of cases it is classed as a crime. Never cyber bully anyone, encourage the cyber bullying of anyone, and act fast if you are being cyber bullied yourself.

These are just some of the ways that you can stay safe online. For a whole lot more, visit the official Australian Government website, Stay Smart Online.

For help in finding the right career path for you, or for useful tips on areas including studying and finding success, call 1800 143 080 or visit www2.collegesonline.com.au/mycareer to contact one of our friendly career advisors!

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