Safer Internet Day: goodbye viruses, hello savvy safety skills

04 Feb 2019

After getting caught out by a scammer who sent a virus to his laptop, Keith Handley decided to get clued up on one of the essential aspects of the internet - online safety.

Keith, a 72-year-old ex-salesman for British Gas, has been visiting the computer classes at Barnsley Central Library to learn about security. He used computers when he worked, so was fairly comfortable - but he wasn’t so confident with online safety.

He says: “I’m not bad at using search engines and things like that. I actually shop online, do online banking, use PayPal and pay my bills, but I know there’s a lot of stuff going about security - about being scammed - so I really wanted to tighten up on that kind of thing.”

Keith previously thought the internet was quite safe. “I thought you’d have to be an idiot to get caught out then I realised that I’d been an idiot!” he says.

“I fell into the net of clicking on a dodgy link in an email which attracted a virus to my laptop. It’s happened to me more than once over the years. Even if I think they look dodgy, sometimes I open them anyway because I’m scared of missing something.”

Having the viruses removed from Keith’s laptop actually cost him money.

“When I asked the guy who was repairing it for me how it had happened, he said I’d probably opened a dodgy email or followed a dodgy link,” says Keith. “That’s when I realised that I’m not so clever on security.”

At the library, Keith and his classmates have been covering topics that he describes as “silly little things if you know how to do them”, such as checking if a website is secure with the padlock symbol in the search bar.

“It’s all been very educational to me,” says Keith. “Knowing how to stay safe online is so important because the scammers could pinch your money or take you for a ride. You read about or hear about these things on the news virtually every week, if not every day. No one has stolen my money through a scam but it has cost me money to get rid of the viruses on my laptop.”

Now Keith would recommend learning at classes like Barnsley Library to others who might not be feeling on top of their skills.

“The course has shown me things to look for, such as what to spot in a dodgy email, that I just wasn’t aware of. But anything that you learn is useful,” says Keith. “You can never have too much information. Going to the classes has helped me a lot to spot the spam. The young uns’ seem to click on everything and try everything, it’s harder to learn for my generation. Online courses are not my forte, but being taught by a person has helped me to understand and I feel much more confident now that I’ve learned these skills.”