A guide to broadband security

The internet has altered the way that many people live – but beyond the capacity to find information, shop, research, learn and bank – come a number of hidden dangers.

Malicious websites can pose a number of security risks when using broadband, while there are a number of other ways of ensuring safe internet usage.

In a bid to protect your systems and personal information, here are some useful pointers of what to consider when it comes to broadband security.

Broadband security risks

A number of security risks need to be considered when online, especially if inadvertently visiting malicious, criminal or inappropriate websites.

Malware – viruses and spyware – carry a particular risk due to the ability to damage a computer or laptop while connected via a broadband connection.

Some internet security packages will protect against some of these issues, while users must also look out for potential times when their personal details could be ‘phished’.

Phishing involves software that will attempt to obtain personal information, which can lead to fraud from a number of sources.

Tip: Limit the amount of personal information you share online and on social media, to give ‘phishers’ less data to use.

Fake shopping websites, banking, social networking and gambling sites are all examples of where data could be revealed inadvertently.

At the same time, it is possible that broadband users could be exposed to inappropriate content, although broadband providers are taking steps to attempt to tackle the problem.

Tip: When entering login details or registering for a new account look for the padlock icon beside the URL (website address). Also, ensure that the URL begins with https://. If neither of these details are present, do not enter any personal information as the website is not secure.

You can also take a look at our guide to keeping kids safe online.

Browser safety

Using the internet safely requires care and attention, but the chances are that the browser will keep a record of sites visited so that you can be aware of where potential threats might have come from.

Your internet history is recorded on all of the main browsers – Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari and Firefox – although functions such as private browsing will inhibit this.

Tip: Ensure you are always running the most up to date browser version as these will have the most recent security updates.

Website safety

Cloned websites can be a particular issue, as developers can produce websites that match the real ones but that are slightly different.

These can carry a number of hidden links and malware so it’s important to trust your instincts – if a website doesn’t look or feel quite right then it probably isn’t.

Tip: If in doubt of a site’s authenticity, check the levels of contact details on a site as they are usually a sign of authenticity.

Website names are also important, as extra letters, words or numbers will likely mean the site is not official.

Once on a site, it’s important not to enter too much personal information, as official sites will never ask for every single one of your details.

As a last resort, checking elsewhere on the internet can often reveal if the website is fraudulent, especially if many results appear in a web search.

Tip: If you do a lot of online shopping, be sure to check your credit card history regularly for any inaccuracies. If you spot a purchase that you didn’t make, contact your bank immediately to report the issue.

Strong passwords

Many people use the same password for a variety of their online accounts. This increases the risk of fraud so it is better to have a different password for each account.

Plenty of wireless broadband security measures can be used to give added protection online. Setting a password on your home WiFi will help stop stop intruders from using your connection. Public WiFi hotspots are less secure than your home WiFi so be cautious when it comes to entering private information.

Tip: The safest passwords are generally over 8 characters long and use letters, numbers and even symbols with a combination of both upper and lower case characters.