Stop, Look, Listen, Think

If you can remember the original Green Cross Man before he went over to the dark side and became Darth Vader, the phrase Stop, Look, Listen, Think will be indelibly imprinted on your brain.

It was designed to make children aware of the dangers of crossing the road even before they had mobile phones to distract them. Incidentally, if you don’t know what I was on about in the first paragraph, Google “David Prowse” and it should all make sense!

So why am I invoking a mid-seventies UK road safety campaign? It’s because I think we should have something similar to help use mobile devices more safely, particularly during vacations or staycations.

1. Stop
Always think twice before posting information on the Internet, especially if you are away from home. To make sure your holiday fun stays confidential, set the privacy and security preferences on web services and devices to your comfort level for sharing. If you don’t know how to change your privacy settings, now’s the time to find out! Limit how and with whom you share information because if you let on that you are away for a few weeks, you are broadcasting that your home is likely unoccupied. That may seem a little paranoid but why take the risk?

2. Look
If you are connected to Wi-Fi, is it a free public Wi-Fi connection? Did you have to enter a password to connect, if not then who knows who else may be connected or even if it’s a bonafide connection? Even if you did enter a password, you connect at your own risk and you know very little if anything about the connection. If you are away from home, free Wi-Fi comes in handy, but there are few reasons to keep connected all day and night.

Using your device with public Wi-Fi is something you should control to keep safe, so check what you are connected to. You don’t know who or what may be listening in to open Wi-Fi connections and you certainly don’t know what, if any, security may be in place. If your mobile device security includes VPN connectivity, then use that whenever possible.

If your activities involve nothing more complicated than a social media post or two, assuming you are careful to take account of point 1, this may not seem like a big deal. But if you’re checking your bank account or shopping online, forget public Wi-Fi and use your 3G or 4G (or 5G!) provider. It’s secure. After you’re done, you can go back to using Wi-Fi again.

3. Listen
Regardless of whether you are home or away, phishing is perhaps the most common way for criminals to steal your details. If something doesn’t seem right to you, then listen to your doubts, don’t click on that link or enter your password on what may be a bogus website.

4. Think
Particularly when we are away, be it a day out shopping, a coffee at the local coffee shop, or our annual holidays, we can be caught up in what we are doing and don’t take the care we should. It’s particularly easy to let down your guard while you’re on a break and relaxed but you need to keep vigilant and keep your brain engaged.

Just remember, whenever you connect to the Internet, Stop, Look, Listen, Think.