Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Connect safely

Your home wi-fi

How to keep your home wi-fi network secure:

  • When setting up your network, use a strong password and connect all your devices with that password. See our advice on setting strong passwords.
  • Your wi-fi network is secure if a locked padlock appears against its name in the list of networks under ‘settings’ on your device. 

Wi-fi hotspots

Tips for protecting yourself when connecting to public wi-fi hotspots:

  • Use secure public wi-fi hotspots when possible. Treat any hotspot as unsecured unless the operator tells you otherwise — check the security clause of the ‘terms of use’.
  • Stop your devices from automatically connecting to public wi-fi whenever it is available — select manual connection instead. 
  • Choose a hotspot that requires a password.
  • Think twice before signing up to a hotspot that asks for a lot of personal information.
  • Consider using a VPN, or virtual private network, particularly if you use public wi-fi a lot. VPNs increase privacy and security by encrypting your data.
  • Consider switching off location services on your mobile or tablet and file sharing on your laptop while connected to the hotspot.
  • Visit only secure web pages from hotspots – look for ‘https://’ in the website address and a locked padlock icon.
  • Make good choices about what you do online in a hotspot — do not access your bank account or do other things that might disclose your personal information (like downloading data from a wearable device).
  • Never leave your device unattended in a public space when connected to a hotspot.
  • Disconnect from the hotspot once you have finished using it — or, even better, ‘forget’ the network when you leave it.

More tips and how-to videos on wi-fi hotspots

Safe browsing

Here are some simple steps to help you keep control of your personal information when you browse the internet:

  • When completing online forms, enter only required information and ignore optional information requests.
  • Avoid saving passwords in your browser. This may be convenient, but it also means that anyone who has access to your computer or device can access your online accounts, such as bank, social media and email accounts.
  • Research customer satisfaction websites and Scamwatch before buying from a site for the first time. 
  • Use secure and trustworthy sites — those with ‘https://’ in the website address and a locked padlock icon in the browser.
  • Log out of sites once you have finished, rather than just closing them.
  • If do you not want advertisers to be able to target their ads based on your browsing history, or are worried that someone else can find where you have been online, you can turn off or delete the ‘cookies’ that track the sites we visit online. Using the settings, preferences or tools menu, you can do this manually at the end of a session or configure your browser to do it automatically.  
  • If you do not want someone else to know which websites you have visited, you can delete your browser history manually, or browse in ‘private’ mode known as InPrivate (Edge, Explorer), Private (Firefox, Safari) or Incognito (Chrome).
  • If you have a particular need to make sure your actions cannot be tracked online — if you are frightened of an abusive partner or ex-partner, for example, or experiencing domestic and family violence — you can find more tips about covering your tracks online in eSafety Women.

More tips and how-to videos on safe browsing


Online safety basics for using apps on your smartphone, tablet or computer:

  • Check the privacy and security settings on your device regularly, particularly after installing operating system and app updates.
  • Turn location services off for all apps, and then turn it back on only for the apps that use it for legitimate functions, preferably only when you are using the app. If you cannot turn off the location function on an app, it may be better not to use that app.
  • Turn off or limit in-app purchases. To do this on Apple devices follow this advice on how to prevent in-app purchases. On Android devices, update your settings so that authentication is required for in-app purchases.
  • Remove or delete apps on your phone that you no longer use.
  • Always install the recommended updates and security patches.
  • Consider installing a mobile security app on your device to scan for viruses, malware and spyware. Android systems are at a greater risk from these threats than Apple devices.
  • Log out of apps when you finish using them, especially financial apps.

The cloud

You can use the cloud to store and access a range of content from apps to contacts, emails, messages, videos, documents, music and photos. Good online safety habits will help keep your information secure.


  • Use strong passwords, and do not share them with anyone. See our advice on setting strong passwords.
  • Use different passwords for different sites or online accounts.
  • Update passwords if your personal circumstances change and you want to ensure that no one else has access to your online accounts.
  • Consider hiding the location of your devices by switching off location-based services, and decide whether or not you want photos and documents to be geotagged with your location.


How to stay safe while using Bluetooth to wirelessly connect your devices together:

  • Enable Bluetooth only when needed and ‘remove’ paired devices when you are not using them.
  • Make sure any Bluetooth device is only paired with devices you are aware of and can control.  
  • If you have an in-car Bluetooth navigation system, make sure only known devices are paired with the car. Unlink any unknown devices. 
  • Set up the security on your Bluetooth devices to make it as strong as possible — do not retain the default settings, particularly the default device name and default password. 
  • If security is a worry for you, avoid pairing devices in public places.
  • If a Bluetooth device is lost or stolen, remove the device from the devices list on the phone, computer or other device that you usually pair it with.
  • If using ‘Airdrop’ on Apple devices to share content such as photos and videos with others, only accept invitations to share from people you know. You can turn off Airdrop receiving entirely or limit it to contacts only.

More tips and how-to videos on using Bluetooth.

GPS and location services

Global positioning systems (GPS) give you access to a wide range of services on your devices — learn how to stay in control of your location data so others cannot use it to find out where you are.

You can:

  • Turn off GPS and location services when you are not using them.
  • Think about which apps you really need to access to your location information and turn off location services for all others. If privacy or safety is a concern, do not opt in to sharing your location through apps that allow location sharing with friends.
  • Be careful about the data you share with ride-sharing services. Turn off location services once you have completed your ride, and where possible do not use sign-in from your social media accounts. 
  • If you have a navigation device in your car, delete your trip history regularly. Do not set your actual home address as ‘home’ — instead, type the address in manually or set ‘home’ as a location a few blocks away from your home. That way, if someone breaks into your car, they will not be able to find out where you live. 

More tips and how-to videos on GPS and location services.

Related articles
Using your device safely
How to make the most of the security features available on your devices, and build good habits to keep yourself safe online.
Help with technology
Tips for anyone new to digital technology, or who needs advice on something specific.