Help your friends and family stay safe online
I’m proud to be part of Get Safe Online, Britain’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety. Tomorrow marks the start of Get Safe Online Week 2012. Get Safe Online is asking everyone to pass on online safety tips to
friends, family, colleagues, neighbours or even strangers who you think may
benefit from the advice. In short: Click and Tell!
Here’s my piece of advice. Don’t click on links in Facebook or Twitter messages that say things like ‘What are you doing in this?’ or ‘Who took this photo of me in my bathroom?’. Another one to watch out for is ‘I can’t believe what they said about you in this blog’. Ignore them even (especially) if it comes from a friend, as they’ll probably have had their Facebook or Twitter account taken over by nasty people.
These messages are clever: the senders know that people will be anxious to see photos of them or to learn what others have said about them. If you get one claiming to be from a friend, don’t click – instead give your friend a call. Chances are they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about as they won’t have sent the message. (It will have been send by someone who’s taken over their account.)
You’ll find a huge amount of helpful advice about staying safe online on Get Safe Online’s website. And if you’re in Cardiff, London, Leeds, Edinburgh and Belfast, watch out for Get Safe Online’s roadshow this week.
Gone phishing: not from Barclays…
Have you ever had an email from a bank you don’t have an account with telling you to update your security details? That’s a ‘phishing’ email – sent by fraudsters to trick you into revealing passwords and other sensitive information that could be used to steal your money and even your identity.
Banks and others have been warning customers about phishing scams for years. Yet they’re still out there. They usually warn of terrible consequences if you don’t take action: your account will be closed; you’ll miss out on a refund. They may even warn that you’ve been billed for child pornography. A friend this week asked me to say if a suspicious email was from the company I worked for. It wasn’t – we’d never ask for your bank details, mother’s maiden name and a host of other sensitive information.
Whatever you do, don’t fall for it. If you get an email asking you to confirm security details, be suspicious. If in any doubt, don’t open it, and don’t click on links in such emails. Instead, if it claims to be from your bank, ignore the email, go to the bank’s website and log in as normal. If the bank does need you to do anything, there will be a message waiting for you. Chances are there won’t be.
I’m lucky enough to be involved with a wonderful organisation called Get Safe Online, backed by the British government. Get Safe Online has a stack of useful information on its website aimed at keeping you safe from the phishermen and other scams. Here’s Get Safe Online’s advice about spam and scam emails.
PS: Get Safe Online Week this year (22-26 October) has the theme Click & Tell: passing on online safety tips to family and friends. Please tell your loved ones not to fall for scam emails!