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Safer Surfing

Written by: Adam Wild
16/10/2017

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For those of us that didn’t grow up using computers every day they can sometimes seem confusing and more than a little scary, writes Bank of Ireland’s Adam Wild, but that’s no reason not to use them. 

Safer Surfing

Computers and the internet open up a world of information and experiences to all age groups, allowing us to keep in touch with friends and relatives a thousand miles away, or in the next village. We can order groceries for delivery from the comfort of our homes. 

Missed that programme on TV? No problem! Catch-up TV is hugely popular on the internet. Whether it’s making everyday tasks easier or learning new skills, the internet can help. 

However, as well as opening up lots of positive opportunities there are plenty of people looking to take advantage of internet users, whatever their age.There are some relatively simple rules that we should all follow when we are online: 

1. Passwords

When you use a computer or visit a website you will often be asked for a password. This is really important because it confirms that you are who you say you are.

Passwords also stop someone else from pretending to be you and reading your email or accessing your bank details. It’s very important that you use strong passwords and never share your passwords with anyone. 

Make sure your passwords are long — at least eight characters — and include numbers, upper and lowercase letters and symbols; avoid using names or dictionary words that could be guessed.

2. Social Media

On social media sites like Facebook we can share our thoughts and photos with all our friends instantly. But make sure you use the privacy settings in Facebook to control who sees what you post. Normally you want to restrict this to ‘friends’.

Also, think before you post. What you share with friends could easily be forwarded on to many other people.

My golden rule is: if you wouldn’t say it on a postcard, don’t write it on a website. 

3. Junk Mail

Unfortunately it’s pretty common to be plagued by junk or spam mail. Getting these messages isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can be annoying.

Make sure you’re using whatever spam filter is provided by your email service or just delete the annoying mails without opening them.

Never respond, even to ask them to stop sending. 

4. Computer Viruses

Just like us, computers can become infected with a virus. But these are man-made and designed to steal or delete your information.

Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus software running on your computer.

There are excellent free versions available to download from the internet. It’s also important that you keep your computer up-to-date with the latest operating system updates.

Your computer normally reminds you when these are due. 

5. Phishing Attacks

The most common way that viruses get onto a computer is through phishing attacks. These are emails that look like they come from a genuine source but actually come from people looking to steal your information.

They often encourage you to click on a link in the email to get some free offer or more information. Sometimes these emails can look very convincing.

In reality, clicking the link can download a virus which allows someone to access your information and computer.

It is really important that you don’t click on any links in emails when you don’t know who they are from or what the link will do.

Be suspicious, be safe. Remember that banks will never email a customer to ask for their bank details.

Bank of Ireland has dedicated helpers in our branches, called ‘Digital Arrows’. They are ready to help people get started with things like email, browsing the internet and using online banking.

For more information on protecting yourself online visit www.bankofireland.com/security.

Ask in your local branch for details about our Digital Arrows or contact them directly at thearrows@boi.com

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“Please remember to be careful of older neighbours this evening”

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