Nowadays a lot of our lives have moved online. We share photos and updates on our social media accounts, we manage our finances through online banking, and we use apps to chat with the people closest to us.
The internet has made our lives easier in many ways. But it has also opened up new opportunities for criminals to take advantage of our information.
I am taking this opportunity to highlight a number of things criminals are on the lookout for, and share some advice on how to protect yourself and your families online.
If your children have access to devices connected to the internet, start educating them about staying safe online at an early age. Have regular conversations with them about who they are contacting and which games they are playing.
Remind them that not everyone is who they claim to be, and a some people create fake accounts online for the purpose of exploitation.
It’s important to remind them not to share any personal information on social media, like their home address or which school they go to.
It’s also important that everyone thinks twice before sharing anything online, to help keep your personal information safe. Following our advice could help prevent you from being targeted by cyber criminals.
First of all never click on links in emails which go to unknown pages, even if they are sent by someone you know, as their personal account might have been hacked to send malicious messages. If you have any doubts – don’t click.
Your bank would never ask you about your online login details - they should be known only to you, so never share them through email, over the phone or in a text.
Keep your passwords safe and change them regularly. Make sure that you include capital letters, numbers and special symbols, or use a password generator available free online. This simple trick will make it much more difficult for criminals to access your accounts.
You can find more information on how to teach your children to stay safe on the Safer Internet Day website. If you would like to learn more about cyber crime and online fraud, you can visit the Action Fraud website, which also takes reports of this kind of crime.
Detective Inspector Richard Tilling