Although the internet is a wonderful resource, it also has a potentially dark side, which can make us feel vulnerable at times. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to ensure your safety in this digital environment. Before you begin to explore these, think about how safe you feel when you’re online.
Activity 1 How safe do you feel online?
Identifying where you feel vulnerable online will help you to focus on what you need to do in order to feel safer. In the audios below, Michael, Manuela and John talk about how they feel about online safety. As you listen, think about your own situation.
Transcript: Manuela talks about online safety
I do go online much more now, and the course is helping me feel more confident about using online services and showing me how I can do things in a safer way. I am more cautious than most, I suppose, because I did get scammed a while back through an email.
I’d just started online banking and I got caught out. The bank said that I was liable for the costs because I’d willingly shared my details, even if they did trick me into it. But they did help me stop the account. It still worries me. It made me feel so bad and I lost my confidence. I just didn’t know who to trust anymore. I still don’t.
My friend also got scammed. She is a nurse in a busy GP’s practice. One day, when she’d gone to the shops at lunchtime, someone stole her purse out of her bag. The scammers phoned her and pretended to be from her bank’s fraud department. They knew so much and they sounded genuine, so she gave them extra details. She lost quite a bit of money through that. I suppose there’ll always be people who will try and con you and get your money.
Transcript: Michael talks about online safety
I don’t do any of my personal or financial business online, I’m really careful about sharing information like that. See, I’m a naturally cautious person. When you’re online with the noughts and ones, if you give up your details, you sort of lose control of them. I mean, they’re literally out of your hands. I mean, what happens to it when it gets out there? Who knows?
I do worry about Margaret, though, because she does a lot of online shopping.
Transcript: John talks about online safety
Well, I can’t say that I’ve never worried about my online safety. Mind you, I’m starting to think that I should have been a bit more cautious in the past about what I was sharing. Mind you, no real harm done. Just lost a bit of personal dignity. But I’m tidying all that up now though.
I never really have anything much in my bank account. Not anything worth stealing, anyway. And I’ve used online banking ever since I got my first paycheck. It just feels natural to me; part of what I do. I think I’m more worried about getting a virus on my computer.
Use the box below to make some notes on how safe you feel online. Have you, or anyone you know, ever had a bad experience, for example, being scammed or dealing with a virus? Make a note of these experiences and jot down how that made you feel.
Your response to this activity will be personal to your own situation. Bad online experiences can often make people wary about using the internet. Some of the reasons why people feel unsafe are:
- the risk of being scammed
- finding out that your personal information has been lost or stolen
- lack of trust in internet companies
- not knowing what happens to your information when you are online
- not knowing how to protect yourself against viruses
- having an unpleasant exchange with someone on social media
- being offended by what you see on social media
- finding out that a video or photograph has gone viral, in other words, been shared beyond your immediate circle of friends.
In the next few sections, you will be given guidance on the basic steps you can take to ensure that you are safe online.