Online safety for you and your family
Whether you lack confidence online or have responsibility for the online safety of a young person, protecting yourself and others digitally can be confusing and difficult. We provide basic e-safety guidance with every course we deliver and our policy is detailed below. We also recommend the following websites as a useful source of information.
IT Policy – this is the link to our constantly updated IT policy, which covers the behaviour we expect of staff and students and simple guidance to protect yourself online
CEOP – The child exploitation and online protection centre from the police. Working across geographical borders and harnessing the best from all sectors is crucial to the protection of children. The CEOP International Child Protection Network does just that. Find out more and see if your organisation could work with us.
IWF – Internet Watch Foundation, the UK Hotline for reporting criminal online content
- Child sexual abuse content hosted anywhere in the world
- Criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK
- Non-photographic child sexual abuse images hosted in the UK
Reports are confidential and can be made anonymously
EU Kids online – a multinational research network. It seeks to enhance knowledge of European children’s online opportunities, risks and safety. It uses multiple methods to map children’s and parents’ experience of the internet
Generally speaking your safety online is affected more by what you do than the computer you use. If you feel that you really lack confidence the best approach may be to search for courses we offer in IT from our front page. Our partners at the libraries and Adult Learning also frequently run short courses in good IT use.
Simply put be careful of who you disclose your personal information to and be suspicious of all emails you receive.
Your internet browsing is safer at home or via your mobile phone than using a public WiFi access point or shared computer (at a library for example).
Often, mobile phones and tablets running apple or Google software (android) are less prone to viruses and malware than desktop computers or laptops.
Anti-virus software needn’t cost you money. Use Microsoft Security Essentials on a Windows computer. On a mobile device simply ensure you are running the latest software
Citizens Advice – a good general page of advice for staying safe online
Simple IT policy
Most scams have been seen before and the internet has simply given old tricks new life as scammers are able to repackage old tricks and reach a vast new audience. It is worth discussing the fact that with a global audience of billions, a fake email is certain to look more believable to some. For example if you send out an email about an undelivered Fedex parcel this will instantly seem very believable to people who might be waiting for such a parcel just by chance. Always be wary.
Most websites now have https:// in the title (note the S), if you are typing in information into a website then this must be there. If possible check that the name in the URL seems genuine; bankofengland.mysite.com is a webpage belonging to mysite. Whereas mysite.bankofengland.com is a bankofengland website. Yup, it can be confusing!
Remember always be wary about giving out passwords, personal or bank details to others.
It’s easier to spot a scam if you know what to look for.
Be careful if something:
- Comes out of the blue or from someone you don’t know
- Sounds out of the ordinary – like you’ve won the lottery, or you’ve been invited to invest in an ‘amazing’ scheme and keep it a secret
- Asks you to pay for something in advance – especially by bank transfer
- Asks you for personal information – like your bank details, computer passwords or PIN numbers
- Pressures you into buying something or making a decision quickly – a trustworthy company will be happy to wait
- asks you to phone an expensive number – these start with 070, 084, 087, 090, 091 or 098
- If you’re not sure if it’s a scam, check:
- The email or website address – if it’s a scam, it might have a strange address or come from a free email provider like Gmail
- for spelling mistakes – trustworthy websites are less likely to have them. If the website starts with https:// – this means the information you send on the website is secure, but the website could still be a scam
- If the website has a green padlock in the website address bar – this means the information you send on the site is private
- Never proceed unless you are absolutely certain your money will be safe. Once you transfer, it may be too late.
- Scammers will often try to hurry your decision making, always take a breath and think things through.
- Salesmen, in particular, should always give you time and space to make an informed decision, anyone who tries to rush you is not to be trusted.
Here is a link to citizens advice on spotting scammers:
Fraudsters typically own email addresses with names associated with HMRC, like Revenue, HMRC or gov. Here’s an example of a fake email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be aware that fraudsters can spoof the “from” address to look legitimate. For example, it may look like it is from ‘email@example.com’, but if you hover over the link and look at the bottom left-hand corner of your browser page, you will see the actual link that that text leads to, and that will not end with @hmrc.gov.uk at all. If you’re unsure whether the message is real, don’t open it. Instead, forward suspicious emails to HMRC ’s phishing team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and wait for their guidance.
Here is a link to the government’s advice on what to do if you think you may be getting scammed:
The most important thing is to talk to your children and build your own confidence in understanding the things they do online.
Consider having your children use online services in a more public are of the house. If gaming you could insist on the audio coming through the TV instead of headphones so you can hear both sides of the conversation.
Finally parents should look for parental controls which can be found on many tablets, phones, computers and game consoles.
In the UK, 43 per cent of nine- to 12-year-olds have a social media profile. One in three is on Facebook despite the 13-year-old age limit. A quarter of those kids on Facebook never touch the privacy restrictions on their profile, and a fifth of them publicly display their address and/or phone number. Facebook claims it is powerless to stop children from lying about their age and creating accounts.
This shows that many children are at risk online, when using social media, and how easy it is for others to be able to look at underage children and to contact them. For this reason setting up parental control over social media and also teaching parents, tutors and learners about the risks can be very beneficial. Here is a link to help you find out more information and to work out how to set up parental controls:
When looking for goods and services, anything from new Apps to booking a holiday, do we know how to check the trustworthiness of the supplier? Think about checking online ratings sites; Trustpilot, Tripadvisor or similar.
When something seems strange, e.g. you receive an odd email or phone call, consider searching online. A simple web search or visit to a forum will hopefully give you information from others who have had the same issue.
Do we know how to evaluate the news we hear? Wikipedia is good for general facts but less so for controversial issues as people can freely edit pages.
Facebook and Twitter are good for quick updates but can’t be trusted without fact checking as it can often just be a source of ’Fake news’ and very one sided or even just plain wrong.
It’s very difficult to understand what is fake and real. Watch out for bloggers and news reporting companies posting alarmist and attention grabbing stories. This applies both on social media and on the general internet. These companies are very sneaky as they will post articles aimed at a very specific audience for clickbait on social media but may not do the same for their websites.
Clickbait is content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page. These companies gain money when you click on an article, a lot of these articles could be full of rubbish from many years ago that they are resurfacing or simply a twisted story based on truth or just hearsay, in order for you to share it around with other people for them to essentially gain more money.
This link is from the CBBC website. It’s an interactive link that you can do with your learners to understand the difference between real and fake news:
If learners are unsure about how to block others from their content online it may be a better recommendation to not share things which are private. Prospective employers looking at our online persona is just one example of potential risks.
Privacy refers to a situation where you, or your data, are free from being observed or disturbed by other people. Control over who can access your data plays a big role here. If you want to have true privacy, you need to be able to control who can access your information
Your password is your first line of defence against malicious actors who are trying to access your accounts. Don’t use passwords that are easily guessed (e.g. ‘Password123’). Use passwords that are long and use a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. It’s also a good idea to avoid using your names or other information that people could easily in your passwords.
Two-factor authentication means you need another factor beyond your password to log in to a given account. This could be a code sent to you via text message or email. This second layer of protection can protect you if your passwords get compromised in any way.
If you’re using unique complex passwords for all the services and websites you log in to, it can be difficult to remember them all. Password managers can solve this problem for you. They can generate long passwords and store them all in a secure way so you don’t have to remember them yourself.
You should also get an anti-virus software like Windows defender if you have windows. Apple has pre-installed software for their users.
BT has also written an informative article on how to keep safe online and to help protect yourself, here’s the link:
BT – protect yourself online
When using a Windows computer do you have Windows Defender (or other virus scanner) installed and working? Can you start a manual scan of your computer? Windows Defender is completely free. Tablets and phones do not currently need anti-virus. The most important security measure is to keep software up to date
Security is a very big deal when you’re dealing with anything online. Lots of people stream media, online shop, google search, change passwords, use online banking etc. All of these things use your personal details to do this, whether that’s your bank card or simply your passwords which can link to accounts with your bank details or simply use it for identity theft. Hackers are able to gain these details if you don’t keep your personal information safe and it can be difficult when you’re buying from an online shop that seems legit but has cheaper products and hackers can end up stealing information if they hack those websites
Malware: Malware is a malicious software that is written with the intent of compromising a system and stealing the data available on the system. These programmes can perform a variety of functions some of which include stealing or deleting sensitive data, modifying the system’s core functionalities, and secretly tracking the victim’s activities. There are various factors that can lead to the installation of malware in your system. One is running an older or pirated version of an operating.
Trojans: This type of malware tends to create backdoors in your security to let attackers monitor your activities remotely. It disguises itself as legitimate software or is included in legitimate software that has been tampered with.
Spyware: Spyware is malware designed to spy on you. It hides in the background and tracks everything you do online, including your passwords, credit card numbers, surfing habits, and chats. It can record keystrokes, videography you from your webcam and even listen from your microphone.
Keylogger: This is a specific form of spyware that simply records the keys you type and where you type them. These logs are then sent to the attacker who can analyse them to find your passwords, chats, credit card numbers and much more.
Be very careful when downloading apps as well. Malicious apps may contain a code snippet that can install malware on your device. Besides this, the app may ask for unnecessary permissions that hackers may misuse to extract critical data including your contacts, messages, and media.
This is a link to more information on what to look out for:
This link is to a website called ‘TechRadar’ which is a very highly rated technology reviewer and information on the latest technology and general tech gadgets and internet help: