I’ve had reason lately to be thinking about the information that is available for keeping safe on-line. It feels to me that a lot of it is either aimed at experts who worry about keeping a business safe, or else it’s rather too simple and likely to be aimed at your Grandma.
On that basis, I’m going to try to write a series of small pieces aimed at particular topics, keep it simple, but also offer meaningful advice.
So to start with, I thought I’d talk about the risks you face online.
There’s really only three main risks the average person faces:
- Someone will take personal information that you did not want or mean to share;
- Someone will pretend to be you;
- Someone will try to get unwanted software onto your phone or computer.
Quite often the first two are related — if the bad guys can get a hold of your passwords or other secrets, they can pretend to be you. That’s not likely to end well.
There’s good news though, and some bad news. The good news is that you are very unlikely to be personally targeted, unless you are a particularly prominent person in the community — a member of the Royal Family perhaps, or a multi-award winning film star. The other good news is that it’s pretty straightforward to keep safe under most circumstances, if you develop some good habits.
The bad news is that the bad guys are clever, and there’s a constant game of cat-and-mouse between them and the security experts who work behind the scenes to keep your on-line services, phone and computer safe. The other bad news is that the main motive of the bad guys is money. Like other criminals, the bad guys will always be looking for a way to make a quick quid, either by exploiting your personal information and secrets, or by taking money from you.
Having said all that, my first advice: don’t worry, don’t panic. You can make yourself safe on-line.