The World Wide Web Foundation, which was established in 2009 by inventor of the Internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is attempting to ‘change the lives of over 2 billion people by connecting everyone, raising voices, and enhancing participation’.

But, in spite of this vision for an internet-based utopia, certain individuals take advantage of the web for illicit and illegal gains. For this reason, it is imperative you recognise the importance of keeping safe online and know how to protect yourself.



Online threats

Over the past couple of years, cyber criminals have been targeting the personal details of customers that hand over credit card information to major multinational corporations. But, while businesses are introducing security measures such as enterprise-grade firewalls and SSL certificates with VPS, users must also be wary of the threat that arises from online shopping.

Therefore, whenever you purchase something online, make sure the website you are buying from uses a secure shopping server. You can do this by checking the web address begins with ‘https’ or looking for a padlock icon. If it’s a company you have never heard of before, search their site for a contact number or postal address for added peace of mind.

Last but not least, never send your bank details to anyone over email, as this is not very secure and could be intercepted by a cyber criminal.


Personal details

Websites that ask you to fill out a form of personal information will usually have good intentions. With this data, they can understand their audience demographic in greater detail and enhance future marketing campaigns. However, it makes sense to find out what the website will do with your personal information just in case.

In fact, companies that collect this data must tell customers what their intensions are. This should be made readily available on a website’s terms and conditions for you to look through.

Also bear in mind that certain websites will sell their data to other companies for research purposes. But again you must be asked whether you agree to this, which is usually done by having to tick a box before submitting information.


Social media

It is safe to say that social media has revolutionised the way we communicate with close friends and family members online. Sites like Facebook and Twitter also provide insight into breaking news stories and trending topics. Even so, you should tread carefully with your social media actions and activity.

Before adding someone to your contact list, make sure you know them or that a mutual friend can vouch for their identity. Just like email attachments, you should also think twice before opening up shared links too, as they could contain a malicious piece of software.

When it comes to posting a status, photo, or video in the public domain of social media, you relinquish a fair amount of control. People may see what you have posted months or years later and use it in ways that you don’t like. So, always err on the side of caution with social media updates.

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