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Helping older relatives to stay safe online

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The internet has become such a vital part of everyday life now, it’s extremely difficult to get away from it. However, concerns over our safety and privacy online have naturally gotten a lot of people worried, especially those unfamiliar with the technology.

So many of us use the web to easily keep in touch with loved ones, catch up on the day’s news and even do some online shopping. In fact, around half of all transactions in the UK are now carried out online, allowing people to rely on the convenience of having shopping delivered right to your door.

Recent news stories concerning online privacy have highlighted the need to be a bit more careful with what we share and who we share it with. By learning a little bit about how our data is often handled, we can be more aware of our safety and security online. Luckily, there are plenty of handy hints and tips for improving how we conduct ourselves on the internet.

Identify a secure website

When you’re about to send some personal details through a website, you’ll want to make sure they remain secure between you and the person or business you’re dealing with. Whether it’s your name, address and phone number or more sensitive data like card numbers and bank account details, you need to be able to trust that your information won’t fall into the wrong hands.

The best way to check if a website is secure is to look at the address bar at the top. On a secure website, you should see a green padlock next to the web address, as well as the letters ‘https’. In this instance, the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’ and means that the website is safer to use than standard ‘http’.

You should be aware, however, that this isn’t a 100% guarantee of safety. For extra peace of mind, use only retailers and businesses that you’ve already heard of or that have a good reputation. It can also help to do a bit of research on a company if you’re still unsure about whether to engage with them.

Use security and anti-virus software

It’s highly advisable that you get security software on your computer, phone or tablet. This can monitor your device for any viruses and help to steer you clear of potentially dangerous websites and pop-up adverts.

There are various providers of security software like Norton, McAfee and AVG that do the job effectively. Staff members at an electronics store should be able to offer advice on how these products can help keep you protected and the best one for your needs.

You should also carry out automatic updates on your computer or web browser as this helps to enhance security. These regular updates come from technicians constantly working behind the scenes, identifying and fixing any minor issues to make sure they can’t be exploited by fraudsters.

Be vigilant around fraud and spam

As sophisticated as security software often is, try not to depend on it entirely. The sad reality is that there are several fraudsters online trying to pass themselves off as genuine businesses, so it’s a difficult task to identify and catch every single one.

It’s important for you to remain vigilant when you’re online and don’t always take everything at face value. Occasionally ask yourself whether you’re sure you trust a certain website or email, especially if it’s from someone you don’t recognise.

Fake websites or unsolicited spam emails are common methods that fraudsters may use, so it’s often best to err on the side of caution if you’re unsure. You can also contact Action Fraud to report any websites or emails you’re suspicious of, or if you’ve mistakenly given important details out to them already.

New regulation changes coming into force

To help protect your details online, a new set of regulations come into effect later this month. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is like an improved version of the Data Protection Act 1998, with a heavy emphasis on safeguarding personal information on the internet that may not have been considered 20 years ago.

While this new law change and these handy hints should help, there’s still plenty more you can do to protect your privacy online. Age UK has a lot of further information and resources to help you when it comes to keeping your privacy safe. The more you can educate yourself and your loved ones about privacy on the internet, the better care you can take with your personal information.