Like many aspects of life there are potential dangers in using the Internet. Identity theft, fraud and electonic vandalism are the most common threats to an Internet user. However, just as the risk of being mugged in the street doesn't stop most people going to the shops, these threats should not prevent you from making use of the Internet and a few simple steps can keep you and your belongings safe while online.
Anti virus software
If your computer is connected to the Internet then you should install some form of Anti Virus software. This will help prevent malicious software being downloaded on to your computer via email attachments or malicious websites. Windows 10 has built in anti virus protection which is adequate for most home users. Alternatively free anti virus software is available which will give a level of protection which will be adequate for most purposes.
The use of passwords protects your computer and your online activity from other people. You can use passwords to protect your computer, your wireless network, and any online accounts which you may use for shopping, banking etc. Although it may seem troublesome, you should not use the same password for all your online activity.
You should choose a password which will be difficult for someone else to guess. It should contain upper and lower case letters and numbers. It shouldn't be a common word (programs exist which can check the entire dictionary for a possible password in a fraction of a second), or someone's name. If you have to write it down as an aide memoire then disguise it in some way.
Shopping safely online
One of the great conveniences of the Internet is that you can use it to shop from the comfort of your home. In addition to specialist online retailers such as Amazon, many high street stores have an online presence. In most cases these are quite safe to use but you should be aware of fake websites which are designed to look similar to genuine ones and of websites which take your money and deliver nothing in return. If in doubt don't provide your payment details and head for the shopping centre instead!!
Social Networks and Online Privacy
Websites such as Facebook or Myspace can be useful ways of staying in touch with family and friends. You should be aware however that the information you put on these websites could be seen by anyone in the world unless you restrict access to it. This is relatively easy to do so make sure that you set the privacy levels so that only those with whom you want to share can see your information. For example on Facebook, go to your profile and set your default privacy to "Friends" and/or set the privacy level on any information you provide about yourself to "Friends" or "Only Me".