Every year, Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally, with more than 1,000 UK organisations and schools getting involved to help educate young people on using the internet 'responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively'.
Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, this year’s celebration takes place today, Tuesday 5 February, and will focus on the theme: 'together for a better internet'. The theme will concentrate on how consent works in an online context; looking at how images and videos are taken and shared online.
However, while the celebration primarily focuses on young people, there are many other basic internet safety issues that we can all look to address. So, to coincide with Safer Internet Day, the Digital Inclusion team at Clarion Futures have put together their top tips for staying safe online.
- Strong passwords Use words that are not directly related to each other, along with numbers and symbols. Just using a 1 or 0 instead of the letters ‘i’ and ‘o’ is no use if it still spells out an easy to guess word, for example ‘D0m1n0’. For a strong password, start by using four unrelated words: ‘key ahead mash lose’. Now, join these words by alternating symbols and numbers like ‘&’ and ‘2’ and then capitalise the second character of each word. You’d end up with the password ‘kEy&aHead2mAsh&lOse’. This is a strong password, but also easier to remember than a totally random combination.
- Unlink accounts Many websites offer the option to use your Facebook or Google accounts to access their sites. While convenient, this poses a privacy risk. If one account is compromised, then other linked accounts may also be at risk.
- Check site security Look for an address that starts with https: rather than http: The 's' at the end of https stands for 'secure'. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. Also, look out for the padlock symbol next to the address bar. This visually indicates that a https connection is in effect.
- Two-factor authentication Use your phone to verify your identity, an option on many large websites.
- Use a password manager This will store your passwords in an encrypted form and will help you generate secure random passwords. Two of the most trusted password managers are LastPass and Dashlane – both are available free for single use and recommended by Which!
- Click with caution Social media accounts are regularly hacked. Look out for language or content that does not sound like something your friend would post.
- Use privacy settings Are you sharing your location when you tweet? Do you want the general public to know your date of birth? Utilise privacy settings on your social media accounts to make sure you are only sharing what you are comfortable sharing.
- Only add your friends If you don’t know the person, don’t accept their request. It could be a fake account, or part of a scam. Once you are friends, they will be able to see much more of your data.
- Avoid public wifi when banking/shopping Ensure you have a secure connection you can trust whenever giving out any of your banking or payment details.
- Keep your antivirus software up-to-date Often free software is as good as many paid versions and will help to keep your computer free from malicious malware. AVG AntiVirus Free, Avast and Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition are a few of the most widely used and recommended packages. However, for extra peace of mind, paid-for software can be bought for around £20 per year.
If you'd like to find out more about getting online or applying for a digital grant to support your community, then read about the services Clarion Futures Digital offers. Or why not assess your digital skills via our Digital Skills Game?