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Using online technology safely

February 10th, 2015 11:17 AM

By Southern Star Team

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TODAY (Tuesday) marks Safer Internet Day. This is an initiative of InSafe, a European network of national awareness centres seeking to promote safer and more responsible use of the internet and smartphones. The movement is now in its eleventh year and places particular emphasis on educating and empowering children and young people to use online technology safely.

Recent figures suggest that up to one third of Irish internet use takes place on smartphones. This underlines the ongoing increase in internet usage, as the widespread accessibility offered by smartphones means consumers are more connected than ever.

With this in mind, it’s important to be aware of certain risks involved in browsing the web. Consumers can take the following steps to protect their personal information online -

  • Read the small print when downloading new apps or signing up to new websites, make sure to read the terms and conditions and any small print. Consumers should pay particular attention to privacy settings, especially when using social networking websites.

  • Be cautious when making in-app purchases certain apps, such as games, allow consumers to make in-app purchases for credits or special features. However, these can lead to costly bills if they are not monitored.

  • Phone security smartphones are not always as secure as traditional PCs or laptops. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid accessing sensitive information (such as online banking) when using a public or unsecured WiFi network.

  • Use a secure payment method when purchasing online, consumers are encouraged to use secure methods of payment (e.g. a credit card or PayPal) as these can provide greater protection if something goes wrong.

  • Avoid buying counterfeit goods the sale of counterfeit goods is illegal and can have links to organised crime. If you are making a brand name or designer purchase online but you’re not certain about the seller, it is a good idea to contact the company directly to check whether the website is a verified seller. Consumers should be wary of websites offering expensive items at significantly reduced prices as these may not be authentic.

  • Beware disreputable free trials some free trial offers may be fronts for costly subscription services which can leave consumers greatly out of pocket.

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