­The internet and social media have become permanent fixtures in our lives. While no online security system is perfect, the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) has developed some simple tips and steps you can take to protect you, and your information, while online.

Cyber Safety Tips

Criminals are inventive and adapt their methods in order to identify potential victims and access their personal information. Most online criminals are scammers trying to trick people into giving them money or account access. Sexual predators will also use the internet to establish an online relationship with potential victims.

There are a number of simple steps that you can take to help protect you and your loved ones from various cybercrimes.

 Online Shopping Safety

Use familiar and encrypted websites: Look for a padlock in the URL bar and ensure the address starts with an HTTPS. Also check customer reviews and your bank statement after a purchase.  

 Smart Social Media Practices

Keep your accounts Secure

  • Choose a strong password
  • Activate privacy and security settings
  • Keep everything private so only you and your friends can see it

Smart Sharing Only

Think twice before sharing photos and messages. They could contain private or sensitive information. Once online, they are FOREVER online and put you at risk of ‘sextortion’, a form of blackmail where someone threatens to share your images unless you meet their demands.

Keep personal information out of your public profile

Avoid displaying or posting your personal information on your social media or sending it to someone you don’t know. Sharing information like your mother’s maiden name, the street you grew up on, or the name of your first pet may seem harmless, but those are answers to typical security questions for online accounts.

 Online Dating Safety

Have you met someone special online?

Be careful: people you meet online are not always who they portray themselves as. Take time to trust the other person and do not divulge your personal information. If you decide to meet in person, meet in a public space.

Access more online dating cyber security tips from GetCyberSafe.ca

 Online Safety for Children

Children often have the ability to access the same websites and information online as adults do. You can keep your children safe by using parental settings and talking with your children about how to be safe on the internet.

Learn how to talk to your children about safe internet use at CyberTips.ca

 Software Updates

Software updates on computers and phones can include patches to security holes, helping protect you and your information from attacks. These updates may seem ‘inconvenient’, but they are necessary.

 Wi-Fi Security

Use a strong password and ensure your Wi-Fi is secure to avoid unauthorized users from gaining access to your network. Consider setting up guest Wi-Fi access to ensure only a select few have your main Wi-Fi login credentials.

When out in public, be Wi-Fi conscious. Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means hackers and computer savvy people could steal your personal information and see what you are doing. Prevent this by limiting what you do on public Wi-Fi. 

 Secure Computers

Use reputable and up-to-date firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software to keep your devices safe. These safeguards will help protect your personal information from being compromised.

Also conduct regular back-ups of your computers. Keep a copy of your important files on a hard drive or USB stick that is not connected to the internet or your local network. In case there is a compromise, you will have a backup that won’t be infected.

 Download Safety

Make sure you know what you are downloading and where it comes from. Malicious software that can infect your computer could conceal itself inside files that may look legitimate, including documents, photographs, songs, and movies.

 ‘Phishy’ Messages

Never reply to calls, emails or texts that ask you to send money/gift cards, to verify or confirm your user ID and password, or to update your method of payment. Always think twice before clicking on links contained in emails, texts, calls and direct messages that offer prizes and celebratory messages. Scammers use phishing ploys like this to steal your account info.

While some of these messages may be legitimate for verification or updated information purposes, go directly to the source website to double check (Apple, Netflix, Amazon, etc.) before proceeding.

Online Resources

 CyberTip.ca

Take a stand against online child sexual exploitation and help protect children.

Visit the Cybertip.ca website

 Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre collects information on fraud and identity theft. Their website also provides information on common scams affecting Canadians.

Visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website

 GetCyberSafe.ca

Get Cyber Safe is a national public awareness campaign created to inform Canadians about cyber security and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves online.

Visit the GetCyberSafe.ca website

 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – Slam the Scam

Slam the scam and protect yourself against fraud. The CRA offers education around recognizing scams and protecting yourself against identity theft.

Visit the CRA Slam the Scam webpage

 Competition Bureau Canada – Little Black Book of Scams

The Competition Bureau Canada has developed a publication in a number of languages to assist you in becoming a fraud-fighting superhero.

Access the Competition Bureau Canada Little Black Book of Scams