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AAMI's top tips for staying safe online

By  AAMI

With more and more personal information being shared over the Internet, staying safe online is becoming increasingly important. Here's a few of AAMI's Top Tips.

We all love logging on to social media to check up on our family and friends, or doing the online grocery shopping from the comfort of our own home (even though your local store is secretly just around the corner). But as the amount of information we share increases, it's becoming more and more important to ensure any personal information shared stays private and protected.  

Why not follow these Top Tips from AAMI, to make sure the next time you call your nearest and dearest, do your online banking, or buy that new dress you love, that your important information is protected. We spoke to family Cyber Safety Educator and Co-Owner of Cyber Safe Home Solutions, Stewart Littleford, about how everyday Australians can stay safe online and still enjoy the convenience of the internet.

Visit sites you know and trust 

When it comes to shopping or transferring money online, it's always a good idea to make sure the websites you're visiting are safe and reliable. Do this by shopping at websites or retailers you already know and trust. Although some browsers will warn you if a website is suspicious, it helps to be alert. Look for websites that start with 'https' and not just 'http'. The 's' at the end is an extra layer of security and tells you the website is secure. In addition, a website that is secure will have a padlock icon at the front of the URL signifying that it's safe. 

Create a special account

Shopping online is convenient, however, if you're worried about it, you might want to open an account that is dedicated solely to online shopping. Keep a limited amount of money in the account so that if anything does go wrong, you're not accidently exposing all of your savings. 

Watch out for phishing

When it comes to emails, you probably already receive a lot of spam but you may not know it. Many email providers have software that moves these emails into a spam folder automatically so you never see them. But it's still important to be careful in case some sneak through. Phishing emails are those that are sent with the intent to try and obtain personal information. They might tell you you've inherited money from a long lost relative or you've won an award. They'll ask you to enter your personal information to claim your prize. If you don't open these emails you're generally safe. "Analyse the sender's email address to check it's appropriate for the content, and never enter bank details or private information into an unsolicited email," says Stewart.

Be virus savvy

Viruses are being sent through email more often nowadays, so it's important to know what to look out for. Examine the emails you receive and don't click on any unusual looking links (even if they're from friends). It's a good idea to install decent antiviral software on your computer and back your files up regularly with a portable hard drive. That way, your documents, photos and files will be safe elsewhere. 

Update your systems

Once you've installed your antivirus software, remember to update it regularly. This is true, too, for your computer's software. "Microsoft makes it really easy, by setting updates to occur automatically," says Stewart. Apple computers do the same. Don't delay your updates – it's best to get them done as they come in so you're always protected.

Be clever with your passwords

Picking a password that can't be guessed is important. Choose a passcode that's a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. "Always avoid obvious passcode sequences like 1-2-3-4-5-6, 6-5-4-3-2-1, birthdays, or the word 'password'. "The best way to protect your social media accounts is to have strong passwords and change them often," says Stewart. Plus, once you've finished on the website, always remember to log out.

With more and more information being shared over the internet, it's important to be aware of what you can do to protect yourself as best you can while still enjoying the convenience and social aspect of being online.