How to protect yourself online

The basics of protecting yourself online

We have compiled a list of our top tips to help you stay secure and protected when online:

Limit the amount of personal information you give out online. With various bits of your personal information, identity thieves will attempt to piece together a profile on you. For example, be careful about giving too much information about yourself out on various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter etc.). The less they know about you, the less chance you have of being a victim of identity fraud.

Never leave your device unattended in a public place while you are logged in. If you leave your device unattended whilst still logged into one of your online accounts, then you're leaving yourself open to the possibility of thieves seizing the opportunity to gain access to your accounts while you're away from your device. If you are in a public place, always log out of any site when you are finished using it.

Never tick the 'Remember me' checkbox option when using a public computer. This functionality stores your personal login credentials on a computer (the idea is so that the next time you go to log into an online account you will not need to re-enter your details). If you are using a public or shared computer we highly recommend that you do not tick this option when prompted. The dangers of doing so would mean that anybody who uses the computer could effectively log into your accounts because your login credentials have been stored on the computer.

Secure your wireless connection. If you use a wireless connection at home or at work, ensure that the connection is set up with a password. If your connection is open (does not require a password to connect to it), then feasibly anybody in the vicinity of your Wi-Fi signal could log onto your network, thus putting the privacy of your data and information at greater risk.

Opening email attachments. Email attachments are a common source of viruses, and virus writers attempt to con users into opening harmful attachments. If you are at all suspicious of any attachments the best course of action is not to open them in the first place.

Downloading and installing programs. There are lots of free programs available, but you should consider what you're downloading and where you're downloading it from before you do it. Downloads can potentially contain a hidden virus, or cause your computer to act in an unexpected way. Programs with hidden malicious content are called Trojan horses.

Protecting your computer

A home computer installed with an Operating System (OS) straight out of its box will not be secure by default, unless it has pre-installed security software.

The internet is not considered to be a secure environment. Whilst connected to the internet without any security protection, your computer can be (silently) infected with malicious computer programs, which are then used to attack other computers.

Protect your home computer by installing and maintaining:

Personal firewall - to detect and block malicious network activity directed at your computer. (please note that the West Brom takes no responsibility for the operation of this software on your computer).

Anti-virus software - to detect and block malicious files and web content that may be downloaded onto your computer.

Anti-spyware software - to prevent spyware being installed and to detect and remove existing installations.

Creating a strong password

The importance of creating a strong, memorable password cannot be underestimated. Inputting your password into a website or app grants you access to extremely important and personal information, for example, your online savings account or social media profile. Whilst making your password strong will take a little extra work, this practice will go a long way to help you secure your valuable personal information and documents.

We have compiled five helpful tips for you to follow when creating future passwords:

1. Use a variation of upper and lower case characters, numbers and symbols.

2. Try a sentence or phrase or the first letters of a nursery rhyme and a memorable number.

3. Replace letters with numbers or symbols in words (e.g. M0nkey).

4. Think of random words or numbers.

5. Don’t use names or consecutive letters or numbers.

Finally, once you have mastered creating a strong password, it is important that you change your password regularly. We also recommend that you don't use the same password for all sites - this way you will prevent 'credential stuffing' attacks (automated injection of breached username/password pairs in order to fraudulently gain access to user accounts).

Online security infographic

Check out our helpful infographic which provides you with important security tips that you should be aware of when using an online savings account.

Further security information

For more details about making your computer secure, tips on identify fraud and how to protect yourself from the latest scams please refer to these websites: