Online security


Using the internet can be a great resource for people to save time, money, and effort for various tasks. Some easy things that you can do online include:

  • Paying bills online, which may result in discounts
  • Booking appointments for doctors, dentists, and other personal meetings
  • Maintaining vital relationships with friends and family through sending emails (virtual letters), online video and chat platforms
  • Engaging in your community through online noticeboards, neighbourhood pages, and local governmental communications
  • Accessing information 24/7

While the internet can be a great resource for these things, there are also some risks to being online. It is important to be able to recognise scams, to shop safely online, to think about what you are posting and sharing, and to keep your devices safe and protected.

Staying safe online

There are some basic things you can do to protect yourself online. You should always be wary of giving out personal information and bank account details, and you should protect your devices with PINs, 2-factor authentication, and antivirus protection. You can read more about staying safe online here.

Protecting mobile phones

Your mobile phone should be protected in the same way you protect your computer. Phones are often used to access personal accounts, shop online, and hold personal information which means they must be securely protected. It is recommended that you put a lock or PIN on your phone so that only you can unlock it. Here is some other advice for protecting your mobile phone:

  • Install operating systems updates when they become available to keep your security patches up to date
  • Only reply to SMS’s (texts) from numbers or people that you know
  • Log out of social networking sites and online banking accounts after you have finished using them
  • Back-up the information, photos, and data that is stored on your phone to a hard drive, the cloud, or a computer. If you ever lose your phone, you will be able to retrieve all data that was on it if it was backed up
  • Do not share any personal details, credit card information, or online account information over the phone unless you were the one who made the call, and you know the number is correct
  • Only download apps from trustworthy sources
  • Notify your mobile service provider if your phone is lost or stolen

You can find more information on protecting your mobile phone here.

Shopping safely

Shopping online can be very convenient, especially if you find it difficult to go out to the shops. If you are considering buying from a new online site that you have not purchased from before, you should be on the lookout for a few things:

  • Make sure the checkout is a secure webpage that begins with “https”, which will encrypt any information you enter
  • Read the fine print and understand the refund options if you are not happy with your purchase
  • Consider using a disposable credit card such as a Prezzy card
  • Only put in your credit card information through a reputable payment service such as PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Wallet
  • Check reviews of the website and products elsewhere to see what other people are saying
  • Check your credit card statements to make sure there are no fraudulent charges being made
  • Make sure the items for sale match the theme of the store and are not strange choices to be sold through that domain. For example, it would be strange for a shoe store to be selling gardening tools

Always be careful when buying items from social media sites or other individual sales, as you cannot guarantee that you will receive the product. If you do wish to buy something on social media, offer to pay in cash and pick up in person to ensure you get the product. You can find more information about safely shopping online at Netsafe.


Scams are when a person tries to convince and manipulate a vulnerable person into sharing personal information and money with them. Scams aim to exploit people in a variety of ways, and can often look very sophisticated and genuine. It can be hard to spot a scam because they may look like they are from a legitimate and well-known organisation. You can read about different types of scams, how to avoid them, and where to report scams on our Scam page.

Websites of interest

  • You can read general information on staying safe online for older people at Netsafe
  • Information on scams and viruses can be found here
  • Information on choosing a strong password can be found here