How to stay safe online

Staying safe from malware

There are a number of ways to protect against malware:

  • antivirus software
  • firewall
  • showing caution, by:
    • not opening emails from senders who we do not recognise
    • not installing programs downloaded illegally

Antivirus software protects the computer from malware such asvirusesand spyware. Antivirus software scans the computer for known malware. If it finds malware, it safely removes it. To remain effective, antivirus software must be regularly updated so that it can recognise and remove as many forms of malware as possible.

A firewall is either a piece of hardware or software that monitors communications coming in from and going out to the internet. Both forms work on a similar basis. The firewall looks for unauthorised communications from malware. Any such communications are blocked by the firewall, preventing the malware from completing its task.

Through the course of a day you may receive emails from senders that you do not recognise. Such emails often contain malware hidden in attachments, or links to fake websites where malware can be downloaded and installed without your knowledge. Delete such emails without opening them.

Lots of programs and games that can be illegally downloaded using file-sharing tools and websites contain malware. As well as breaking the law by downloading these, you could be installing malware onto your computer.

Staying safe from phishing

Phishing emails are often quite easy to spot. If in doubt about an email, delete it immediately. Do not follow any links contained in the email. Instead, go to the website directly, and try to log in there.

A phishing email may ask for personal information that is linked to your password, contain a link which goes to fake site, contain bad spelling and punctuation and be addressed in an unspecific way.

Staying safe from unsavoury characters and cyberbullying

The easiest way to stay safe online is to stay in control of personal information given out.

Never disclose important details such as name, telephone number, address or school. Never accept someone as a ‘friend’ on social media simply because they claim to know another friend of yours. Always be cautious about what you say online.

Never agree to meet anyone in person that you’ve only known online. If somebody does start sending you messages that offend or upset you, tell an adult that you trust.