Resources Keeping yourself safe online It can be hard to know what is safe online and what is not. Here is some advice on what you can do to protect yourself online and what you can do if something goes wrong. The internet is a great tool and has lots of fun things you can get involved with. It is also a great way to communicate with and stay in touch with other people. But it is important that you keep yourself safe while you use it and understand the risks. Top Tips Think before you post Don’t upload or share anything online which you wouldn’t want your family, friends, carers, teachers, colleagues, or current or future employers to see. Once you upload or post something online, you lose control of it, especially if someone else screenshots or shares it. Don’t share your personal details Keep things like your address, phone number, full name, bank details, school, and date of birth private. Check what people can see on your social media accounts by checking your privacy settings. Remember that people can use small clues like a school logo or street sign in a photo to find things out about you. Watch out for phishing and scams Phishing is when someone tries to trick you into giving them information. This can be things like your password or bank details. Never click links from emails or messages that ask you to log in or share your details - even if you think they look genuine. If you are asked to log in to something, go to the app or site directly. If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at [email protected] Think about who you’re talking to There are lots of ways that people try to trick you into trusting them online. Even if you like and trust someone you’ve met online, never share personal information with them like your address, full name, bank details or where you go to school. Grooming is a form of abuse that involves manipulating someone until they’re isolated, dependent, and more vulnerable to exploitation. It often starts with friendship. The groomer will look for ways to gain their target’s trust, often with gifts or promises. Eventually they’ll start to ask for something in return, and this eventually leads to abuse. Find out more about adult online grooming. Find out more about online grooming of children Reporting Grooming. If someone you don’t know adds you on social media there are some easy ways to check if they are genuine or not: Do the pictures look authentic? Is the information about them vague and generic? Do they have a lot of friends? Do they put out posts? All of these factors can help you decide whether or not the person is legitimate. It is always better to be safe and avoid accepting requests from unknown people. Use strong passwords and don’t share them with others Make sure you pick strong, easy to remember passwords. A strong password means that it’s hard for someone else to guess or for a computer to crack: Use a password that is long and difficult to guess - Make your password more than 8 characters and use a mixture of lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers and special characters (like %, #, !, and £). Avoid passwords made up of common words, numbers or keyboard patterns (such as 'password' or '123456'). Don’t use personal details – like your birthday, the name of your pet, or a family member or friend’s name. Try using 3-4 random words that you can remember instead. Use different passwords - use completely different passwords for different websites and apps. Change your password regularly – especially if you use a public or shared computer or device. Set a Passcode on your Mobile phone and tablet – So that people can’t access your device if you lose it or leave it unattended. Use a passcode that is difficult to guess and not something guessable like your birthday. Never give out your password or log-in information. 2-factor authentication 2-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your password by asking for another piece of information. For example, you might need to enter your password and then a code which is sent to you via text message. It is more secure than just having a password as these can be guessed or cracked. Lots of apps and sites allow you to set up 2-factor authentication. It is a good idea to choose to use it wherever possible, especially for anything which is linked to your bank, payment cards, emails, or accounts which hackers can use to impersonate you. Cover your webcam Some viruses allow people to access your webcam without you knowing, so make sure to cover your webcam when you are not using it. You can use something like a sticker or a post it note if your webcam doesn’t come with a cover. Log out Many websites keep you logged in even after you leave them. If you are using a device which you share with others or a public device (like in a library or internet café) someone else might be able to access your account if you do not log out before you leave. If you’re using a device which you share with others or a public device or someone else might have access to your device, make sure you: log out of any websites and apps when you’re finished using them don’t save any passwords or log-in information on the device clear your internet browsing history so people can’t use it to go to pages you were logged into. It is also a good idea to turn off Bluetooth, mobile data and Wi-Fi when you are not using them. Don’t use public WiFi Public WiFi may not always be secure, especially in places like cafés. Connecting to it means that someone might be able monitor the sites or apps you’re using. Install an antivirus programme Anti-virus software helps prevent, detect, and remove most malware threats and protect against cybercriminals. It is good to have one on each of your devices and to run a scan regularly. It is also important to allow it to update regularly. Use secure websites Check that any website you’re using has “https” at the start of the address. Only enter your log in details when you’re completely sure that it is the address is right and has the ‘https’ at the start. Ensure your apps and devices update It is important to allow your apps and devices to install updates as these include important security fixes and up to date information about viruses and scams. Each device is different, but you can usually find out how to enable updates in the settings.Don’t forget that it isn’t just tablets, mobile phones, laptops and computers which need updating but also wearable devices, games consoles and smart speakers. Check what data your apps can use When you install an app, it will ask for permission to view and use your data. An app may want to view things like your location, contacts, photos, and even messages. Be careful about what you agree to and check what permissions your current apps have in the ‘settings’ menu of your phone. If you see or experience something harmful or upsetting online report it This includes: Threats Impersonation Bullying or Harassment (Repeated harassment should be reported to the police.) Self-Harm or Suicide Content Online Abuse Violent Content (this includes violent behaviour towards humans or animals) Unwanted Sexual Advances or Sextortion Pornographic Content Child Sexual Abuse Material or Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Catfishing Hate Crime Grooming Online Material Promoting Terrorism Or Extremism Fraud Spam Privacy Violations Intellectual Property Infringements Hacked Accounts Drugs, Firearms & Illegal Substances If you or the person you are helping is in immediate danger please contact the police dialling 999. You can report other non-emergency situations (i.e. those that do not require an immediate police response) by dialling 101. Here is some advice on when to contact the police. Trolls and Online Bullies A troll is someone online who says or does things on purpose to try and get a reaction from you. Anyone can be bullied or trolled online or while playing a game. If someone is mean to you online try not to respond and look for a way to block them if you can. Remember bullying or abuse is never okay and isn't your fault. Most websites and apps have rules against bullying and harassment, and can help if it's happening to you or someone you know. If you've seen or experienced bullying on social media, it's important to: report what's happened on the site or app block the people bullying you take screenshots of nasty messages, but don't reply to them tell someone you trust. Report Bullying or Harassment (Repeated harassment should be reported to the police.) Not all sites will take content down straight away, and sometimes they might not take something down when you’ve made a report. Remember that you can keep making reports if you are concerned about something. Also remember to talk to someone about the effect the bullying has had on you. Sexting Sexting is when you send a sexual message, photo or video to someone else. It could be a picture of you, but sometimes people send pictures and videos of other people. Messages could be to a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, or someone else online. It is important to remember: It’s not okay for someone to pressure you into sending a nude or send you a nude without your permission. Report Unwanted Sexual Advances or Sextortion. Images sent on sites like Snapchat can still be saved and screenshotted. Sending, sharing or receiving a nude when you’re under 18 is against the law under Section 1 Protection of Children Act 1978 and section 33-35 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 and Section 67A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Not everyone in a relationship will share nudes – and that’s ok. If something goes wrong, there are places that can help you: For children and young people under 18: Childline advice Child Law advice Report the image to be removed through Childline Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors For people 18 and over If you’re 18 now but were under 18 in the photo or video, you can contact the IWF directly for support in getting it removed. Contact the website where it's been posted to request to have it removed Speak to the Revenge Porn Helpline to find out your options. If you're Under 25, you can get support any time from The Mix. If it is on a social platform Look out for “Fake News” News you read online may not always be true or accurate. Some news is made up to entice you to click on a link, or visit a site. Fake news is often about something scary, shocking, or about something that is popular to read about like a celebrity or trend. Fake news can look real but there are ways to check. For example, you can check the name of the website and its web address to see if it looks real. You can also check if the news story being reported on other sites. If you’re still not sure you can ask someone you trust to see what they think about it. For more information: The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities produced an easy read guide to staying safe online Advice on keeping safe while live streaming One-page guides on how to stay safer on Social Media Free Online Safety leaflet for Autistic Children Advice from Mind on how to keep relationships healthy online Practical tips on Protecting yourself, your children and your devices Information Commissioners Office advice on Online Safety Advice on how to stay secure online from the UK's National Cyber Security Centre Abilitynet: Internet Scams and how to avoid them Shopping online securely Phishing: Spot and report scam emails, texts, websites and calls Police advice on online Fraud NSPCC Online safety advice Childline Staying Safe Online Mind Online mental health UK Safer Internet Centre Helping children and young people stay safe online Age UK Advice for Older people on Staying Safe Online Anne Craft Trust How to Stay Safe Online – Digital Safeguarding Information and advice on Teenage sexting Advice on sexting for professionals Advice for parents on The Screen Time Diet: Helping Your Teen Find The Balance With Tech. Stay safe when gaming Choose a safe username – don’t use your real name or personal information in your username. Be careful what you share – don’t share personal information about yourself. Also think about what people can see when you use your webcam – is anything in view which people could use to find out information about you? This could be like a logo on a uniform or information written on a calendar. Think about who you’re playing with - most online games are open to everyone which means you could be playing with people much younger or older than you. It is best to play with people you know in real life but if you do play with someone you don’t know remember the following: you can report and mute anyone who is inappropriate, abusive, threatening or who tries to bully you people may not be who they seem – so be careful about who you trust be careful of scams- don’t accept gifts or offers that seem too good to be true be respectful to the people you’re playing with, even if they’re not as good at the game. people sometimes use games to ask children and young people to share sexual pictures or nudes. People who do this might make you feel like you can trust them, ask you to keep things secret, or give you compliments or gifts. This is called grooming. when you share something online, even in a private message, you lose control of it. If you’re talking to someone online and they’ve asked you to share sexual images or personal details, talk to someone you trust or report it. Check your privacy settings Take breaks Watch out for loot boxes and in-app purchases – some games make money by making you want to buy things, like new skins, loot boxes, items or lives. You should always check if something will cost real world money before you buy anything. If you do want to use real money to buy something in a game make sure you keep track of what you’re spending, as even buying cheaper things can end up adding up to a large amount over time. Mods and downloads aren’t always safe - Only download games and mods from your mobile’s official app store or an official website. Downloading non-copyrighted games can expose users to unsuitable content and viruses. Game cheats or mods downloaded from websites other than the official game website can contain viruses that will damage your computer or mobile, and give hackers access to your personal data. Look for age classifications: look out for the PEGI icon on games, to see what age classification it has been given. The age rating confirms that the game is appropriate for players of certain age. PEGI considers the age suitability of a game based on presence of violence, sex, bad language and other audio-visual content that may be considered as not appropriate for all ages. PEGI does not consider the level of difficulty. Visit www.pegi.info for more information on age ratings. If you feel like you’re addicted to a game or are spending too much time and/or money on a game it may be time to set yourself some limits or reach out to someone you trust for support. Talking to someone about what’s happening can help you to think about your gaming differently. If your gaming is affecting your physical or mental health and you are worried you can speak to your doctor. Changing your gaming habits doesn’t always mean you have to stop, especially if gaming is something you enjoy. Changing how often you play games can make you enjoy them more when you do play. Try making a plan of when you should and shouldn’t be gaming and how long you play for. For more information: Childline Online Gaming safety advice UK Safer Internet Centre Top tips for gaming Advice on keeping safe while live streaming Advice from Mind on how to keep relationships healthy online Report Bullying or Harassment (Repeated harassment should be reported to the police.) If you see or experience something harmful or upsetting online report it Gaming Addiction Advice for parents on The Screen Time Diet: Helping Your Teen Find The Balance With Tech.