Get online – stay safe

If you are reading this blog, it’s a fair bet that you are already digitally connected in some form or other. But for 1.5 million households in the UK, that’s not the case. A recent Ofcom survey highlighted the main reasons for not signing up to the digital age as a lack of funds or equipment, finding the internet too complicated, or not perceiving the internet as offering anything of interest. Whatever the reason, Ofcom also say that those without the internet are also more likely to be financially vulnerable.

Even with online connections, the Lloyds Consumer Digital Index 2020 revealed that over thirteen million people in the UK lack the digital skills they need. This can lead to “poorer health outcomes and a lower life expectancy, increased loneliness and social isolation, less access to jobs and education.”

Reasons such as these led to the inception of the first ‘Get Online Day’ in 2007. The success of that day has led on to the ‘Get Online’ awareness campaign becoming an annual event; this year celebrated over a week starting on 18th October. Organised by the Good Things Foundation, the week sees community organisations across the UK reaching out to people in order to help them to get online or improve their digital skills.

There are plenty of hints and tips on the Get Online Day website. Ofcom too has shared some advice to those who are either looking to get online for the first time or to improve their online security. These include not only protecting online accounts with strong passwords but also setting good passwords or codes on electronic devices.

That’s a message which applies equally to those going online for the first time as well as those who believe they are more digitally savvy. And yet, how many individuals and businesses can say that their digital devices have been set with anything other than the initial default password? Leaving the code at 1111 or similar may be easier for employees. But just how secure does that leave your phone system if your premises suffered a break in or the phone system was hacked?

Setting robust passwords can help businesses to be digitally secure. And by setting additional call passwords on, for example, calls to premium rate or overseas numbers, businesses can also protect themselves from unforeseen costs.

But there is also another aspect of the Get Online campaign which it is worth considering. That’s the need to provide realistic alternative contact methods for those who are unable to access the internet. It may be quicker and simpler for a business to promote internet access (e-mails, FAQs etc for example), over telephone help lines. However, if that effectively disenfranchises potential customers, then the cost saving may be at the expense of future profits.

For some businesses, that alternative contact method may be something as simple as a telephone information line which provides details of events or pricing. For more complex queries, a telephone helpline may be the solution; whilst smaller businesses might opt to have calls addressed to a virtual assistant service. Whatever the solution, the key to success is to help people to have a good dialogue with the business whilst protecting communication links with robust passwords.

Written by Alison