Safer Internet Day

man typing on a laptop

Safer Internet Day takes place on 6th February, which began as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004 and is now celebrated in over 170 different countries. Its aim is to bring awareness and celebrate online safety. It is coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre and each year discusses a topic or theme – this year focusing on young people’s perspective on new emerging technology, using the internet for a change for the better, the changes young people want to see online, things that can influence the way young people feel, think and act online/offline. 

General Internet Safety 

It is important to always have internet safety in the back of your mind when online, as security issues and problems such as identity theft, data breaches, viruses/malware, phishing/scam emails, faulty security setting, cyberbullying, fake websites and online scams may occur if you are not secure. There are many reasons to protect yourself and be fully informed about what you are doing and posting as well as what data you are sharing. Especially with the younger generation, having grown up with the internet and social media, can be desensitised to how much information they are willing to provide online and unaware of certain risks (e.g. having bank account details stolen). 

More applicable to University students, you should always be decisive and certain about what you are sharing and posting, and know what you should keep private (such as your address). At this point, we are all much more mature, however, it is still worthwhile to think about who can perceive your posts/information (such as future employers or strangers), and what third parties have your private information (such as social media). 

How can you best protect your data while using the internet? (data security) 

  1. Remember to use a secure internet connection. If you are connected to public Wi-Fi, attempt not to do personal transactions (such as online banking or shopping). Another way around this is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which allows you to protect your data over any insecure network.  
  1. Choose a strong password and try not to use the same ones for multiple sites to avoid cyberattacks. A strong password is ideally over 12 characters, a mix of characters and avoids obvious words or patterns. 
  1. Keep your operating system and antivirus protection up to date to benefit from the latest security updates and patches as they are constantly updated to make their products safer and more reliable. 
  1. Double-check your privacy settings to see how much information third parties can access, as many sites will use your data for marketing and advertising purposes, but can also lead to stolen data from hackers. Make sure you adjust your settings to a level you feel comfortable with. 
  1. Beware of fake websites, scams, emails or texts that seem suspicious – anything asking you to click a link or enter bank details you should be wary of and make sure are authentic.  
  1. Only download what you know is secure and does not contain malware or viruses, as this can also lead to stolen data or broken devices. 
  1. Back up your data regularly and make sure if your device is broken, lost or stolen, you can still access what you need. 

If you are unsure how to follow any of these, such as what downloads are safe or how to make sure a website is authentic, you can always use Google or YouTube to find further and more in-depth information.  

Hopefully, you can see why internet safety is important and applies to everyone, as something you may not have thought twice about can lead to your data and information being stolen (such as bank details). This can be extremely difficult to deal with and taking preventative and cautious measures is easy and effective.  

Visit the Safer Internet Day website for further details and information

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