Protect yourself online
Many of us use the internet as part of our daily lives, for banking, shopping, socialising and entertainment. Make sure you know how to protect your personal data and keep yourself, your friends and your family safe whilst online.
Protecting your computer
- Make sure your Wi-Fi connection is secured and encrypted with a password so that others cannot access your internet connection. Avoid logging in to your email account from a public computer (e.g. at a hotel or internet cafe)
- Ensure that your computer anti-virus and firewall software and your internet browser and plug-ins (such as Flash, Java and Silverlight) are kept up-to-date and enabled at all times.
- Never reply to spam or unsolicited emails from an unknown or untrusted sender. Make sure you don’t download attachments or click links to web pages within spam emails as these can often contain viruses. Fraudsters can make an email address and email design look like one used by someone you trust.
- Take regular back-ups of important files to an external hard drive, memory stick or online storage provider. It’s important that the device you back-up to isn’t left connected to your computer as any malware infection could spread to that to.
- Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software if required, and make sure it’s up to date.
- Avoid saving sensitive information to your desktop. If your device is stolen or lost, it could be very easy for someone to access this information.
- If you suspect that someone has hacked your computer, or is able to access or read what you are doing on your computer, spyware may be uploaded onto your device. Use your anti-virus/spyware tools to run regular checks and consider using a safe computer (such as a friend’s or library’s) and immediately change the passwords on your key online accounts such as email, social networking, bank/PayPal accounts.
Online safety advice
- Regularly change your account passwords and don’t share these. Make sure you use a strong password using a mix of letters, numbers and punctuation. Use different passwords for different accounts. Try to use memorable hard to guess passwords, such as a phrase or fact, and update it regularly.
- Never share your personal data such as bank details, identity details, passwords or where you live with anyone that you don’t know or can’t verify their details.
- Remember people that you meet online, might not be who they claim to be. Don’t arrange to meet people that you don’t know. If you do agree to meet someone you’ve made contact with online, make sure you tell someone when and where you are going, and take someone with you if possible.
- Before posting comments and photos of yourself, friends and family online, think carefully about whether you want others to see these.
- Consider creating different email accounts to use with financial services and retail accounts.
- Consider setting up a filter so that junk emails are removed, and emails from a particular sender go straight to a certain file and don’t appear in your inbox.
- If someone gains unauthorised access to your email, change your password as soon as possible.
- If you shop online, make sure you check that the companies are genuine. If you are not sure, make contact with them to confirm before purchasing, or purchase from an alternative online retailer.
- When making online purchases make sure the connection is secure by looking for the padlock icon at the top or bottom of the Internet browser. Secure web addresses should also begin with ‘https’.
- Purchase online using a secure payment method such as PayPal, or credit and debit cards.
If you have been conned by people misrepresenting goods or services online; either through auction or shopping sites you should :
- Keep all correspondence and all goods involved
- Use the online disputes section on the website concerned
- Report it to Action Fraud – either via telephone (0300123 2040) or their website www.actionfraud.police.uk
- Avoid sharing your personal details such as your address, phone number, routine or place of work.
- Review your privacy settings to make sure that only your friends can see your profile details and pictures.
- When posting about your life, or with someone online, talk about where you’ve been rather than where you’re going.
- Add people that you know, as contacts or friends.
- Do not share your passwords with anyone. If you think you may have revealed it accidentally, change the password as soon as possible.
- Try to use memorable hard to guess passwords, such as a phrase or fact, rather than using the automatic log-in function offered on some browsers, and change them regularly.
Online dating and forums
- Consider creating a username that doesn’t reveal too much about yourself.
- Avoid being too specific on your profile about where you work, where you live, or your surname, and don’t include your phone number.
- Consider using a new email or lesser used email address when setting up an account, one that if hacked, does not have all your bank details, shopping accounts, contacts etc.
- When chatting with someone online it’s better to talk about where you’ve been rather than where you’re going.
- Keep the conversation online. Many dating websites and forums will have rules to protect users from people using the site incorrectly.
- If you decide to meet someone you know online, arrange to meet in a public place and ask a friend to come with you at first. If no one can accompany you, leave details of your plans with a friend and agree to contact them at a certain time.
- Turn off your geo-location tags on your phone, before sending images to someone else. Some mobile phones and digital cameras automatically attach data to the photo file that identifies where the picture was taken, so turning this function off helps you to avoid a situation where someone you met online might be able to trace your movements.
- Follow all safety advice given on dating websites.
- Report any suspicious or offensive behaviour to the online dating site.
Protecting Children Online
How can you keep Children safe online?
Kids spend time chatting, surfing or playing games online and how much they love connecting and sharing with people all over the world. But there are risks that lurk in cyberspace, the good news is that keeping them safe online doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s more about common sense and communication than computer know-how.
- Spending – Lots of free online games sell tempting things like extra lives, power ups or new levels, making it easy for players to run up bills. Make sure you use passwords and age ratings on games and apps to prevent children using inappropriate games or spending your money without realising.
- Cyberbullying – As more and more ways are developed for children to interact online and via mobile devices, this increases the risk and possible impact of cyberbullying. This normally happens through abusive messages which are posted online, where they can be seen by lots of people. Unlike with face-to-face bullying, the 24/7 nature of the internet and social media means it is difficult for the victims to get away.
- Reputation – Most social networking sites require users to be 13 or over to register, but these restrictions are difficult to enforce and easy to bypass. Social media is also an environment for adults, so think carefully about when you want your children to start to be exposed to the different networks. The influence of social media and the desire to fit in may also encourage children to post comments or images that could affect their online reputation.
- Privacy – When your child connects to someone as a friend online, that connection may be able to access personal information such as name, age, address and more. Your child may also unwittingly reveal personal information with people they don’t know. Also, many sites offering free games sell on the data needed to access these services.
- Content – It can be easy for children to seek out or accidentally view illegal or unsuitable content online, including obvious things like pornography. However they could also come across even more worrying things like child abuse images, dangerous advice encouraging eating disorders, self-harm or suicide and excessive violence and race hate materials.
- Grooming – Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation, and now it often happens online. The popularity of social networks, online games and chat rooms means it is easy for children to chat and become online friends with people they have never met and who might wish to do them harm.
If you have younger children/grandchildren, one of the simplest things you can do is make use of parental controls that give you the ability to filter the type of content your children can see when they’re online.
No system is 100% accurate so don’t over-rely on technical tools – make sure you keep talking to your children to help them develop their critical thinking as they grow up. The most popular browsers provide features to block malicious or inappropriate sites using a safe search filter and the big internet service providers all offer free parental controls.
Dedicated software is also available from all well-known developers allowing you to set the level of monitoring, block access to specific sites and programs, receive email alerts and even record keystrokes. But think carefully about using monitoring software and how this might impact your child’s behaviour online.
Finally don’t forget that mobile phones, tablets and games consoles all come equipped with their own parental controls that can be accessed via settings. Plus, more and more manufacturers are developing tablets and devices aimed specifically at children which are designed to protect younger users straight from the box.
It’s so important to speak to your child to help prevent problems, or to deal with them if they are already happening.
- Have a family discussion to set boundaries and agree which apps or websites are appropriate.
- Explore sites and apps together and talk about what’s suitable for children of different ages, making sure they feel part of these discussions.
- Show them how to use privacy settings, and the report and block functions on the sites and apps they use. Find out how if you don’t know!
- Reassure your child that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Tell them you’ll help them to report anything upsetting they’ve seen, or to deal with online bullying.
A really good website to use for further information about Child Safety online is https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
Hope this guide will help you all have a safe and pleasant Christmas and New Year.
Who to contact to report suspicious activity or a crime?
- If there is a threat to life or public safety, or a crime may be in progress dial 999
- To report a crime other than a crime in progress call 101.
- To report a crime other than a crime in progress you can also go to www.kent.police.uk/report to report your crime on line.
PSE 59753 Adam Sackett
Volunteer & Neighbourhood Watch Liaison Officer
East Kent Police
Police Station, Fort Hill, Margate, Kent, CT9 1HL
Email : email@example.com