Cybersecurity Tips for Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day 2017

Running every year since 2004, Safer Internet Day is designed to help make the Internet safer for children in a number of ways - giving them the knowledge they need to keep safe. Today, it’s expected that organisations taking part in Safer Internet Day will reach millions of people across the world, with over 5 million being reached back in 2016, and hundreds of schools running safety-focussed assemblies.

We’ve been participating in Safer Internet Day for a while: last year, our exa.foundation put together a guide to cyberbullying, along with a great cyberbullying lesson plan, and this year, we’re exploring some of the more important parts of cybersecurity for students.

Along with the pieces we’ve done, there’s a whole lot of useful stuff out there for today - we’ve linked some great pieces at the bottom of this page.

Starting out with Cybersecurity

While there’s a tremendous amount of cybersecurity advice to be found, much of it is designed for adults, or only covers basic topics. Here, we’ve put together a range of genuinely useful information, while linking useful resources:

Phishing - A common cybercrime tactic, phishing attacks are often targeted at children. Essentially, phishing involves messages (usually emails - other formats are also commonly used) sent to intended victims, usually pretending to be something useful. The point of phishing is to harvest information that the victim enters - ranging from personal details to passwords and credit card information.

While most phishing is aimed at adults, particularly when money is involved, there’s a number of attacks aimed at children. These attacks are usually disguised as social media login screens or pretend to be related to games and gadgets: Minecraft giveaways, chances to win iPhones, and the like.

The single most important way to avoid phishing is pretty simple - think twice. Is the page you’re about to log into actually what it claims to be? While it’s exciting to think that you could get a free phone just by clicking a button, how many companies would really be giving them away like that? Does the page look or read weirdly?

While it can be hard to recognise phishing, this guide from TechRepublic has some great pointers to be aware of.

Protecting Personal Information - With most kids using social media of some kind, you’ve probably got a lot of personal data online. That’s not a problem in itself, but it’s something that you should know how to control.

If you’re using a social media site like Facebook, make sure that your profile is secured - people you don’t know shouldn’t be able to see what you post. Check out this useful step-by-step guide from Time Magazine to secure your Facebook. With more anonymous sites like Twitter, it’s more important to be careful what you post - images can spread across the world, and are notoriously hard to get taken down.

Avoiding Viruses - Computer viruses come in all shapes and sizes, with a whole lot of worrying possible effects. While most computers have some kind of antivirus software to stop viruses in their tracks, this isn’t always going to prevent them getting through. It’s important to understand some of the main ways that viruses get spread.

In a lot of cases, viruses come in through the same kinds of channels that phishing uses - downloads pretending to be free games, weird posts on Facebook & Twitter and attachments on emails. Much like phishing, the best strategy for defence is to stay aware:

  • Don’t download files from untrustworthy sites, as they’ll regularly come packed with a worrying amount of viruses.

  • Don’t click on unusual-seeming posts on social media: there’s a lot of malware which spreads itself by posting on people’s timelines. Think - would the person actually be posting something like what you’re about to click?

  • Spam emails are a major source of viruses - we’d recommend not immediately opening attachments you weren’t expecting to get, particularly if the email they’re attached to seems unusual. You should be able to talk with the person who sent you the email in question, which should help you make sure the file isn’t a virus.

Great Resources from Safer Internet Day

With a huge amount of resources being published every Safer Internet Day, we’ve collected some of the most interesting and useful pieces we’ve seen this year:

NSPCC Guides - A collection of advice, documents and info from the NSPCC for children, parents and teachers - definitely worth checking out.

SHOuT Links - A youth organisation working to help young people around Surrey with Internet safety, SHOuT has compiled a great list of important links, from guides to keeping tech safe to useful apps, guides and links to charities.

F-Secure Commandments - Some more advanced cybersecurity tips from F-Secure, with excellent articles explaining each point.