Cyber safety

The internet is a great way to keep in touch with your friends and meet new people. This page helps you to stay safe online and can apply to social media apps, websites and other messaging tools. It is important to be careful about who you talk to, what information you post and the things you say to other people.

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Talking to people online - social media apps and websites

If you’re talking to people online we encourage you to follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Only talk to people you know and trust. If you are not sure if you can trust somebody, it is better not to talk to them. Remember that a person can pretend to be different to what they are actually like in real life when you talk to them online.
  • Never give out your personal details to people you don’t know or you’re not sure about. This includes your full name, address, phone number, school, age or email address. If you are in a chat room make sure you use a nickname.
  • Don’t give your passwords out to anyone else.
  • Choose your friends carefully. It is a good idea not to accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
  • Check your settings. Do not select an option that automatically accepts all friend or group requests. This way you will know exactly who you are adding and allowing to view your profile.
  • Set your profile to private. Ask mum or dad for help with doing this. If your profile is on private, only your friends can see information about you.
  • Remove any comments or photos which you do not want other people to see. Also, think before posting photos or comments that may upset someone else.

What do I do if something happens?

If you feel that you are being harassed or upset when talking to someone online, it is probably best to ignore them and stop contact with them by deleting or blocking them. You may also like to tell your parents or an older person you can trust if you are upset.  

If you see something that scares or you or you feel like you are in danger, talk to your parents or someone else older than you that you can trust. The sooner you tell someone, the sooner something can be done about it and you will feel safe.

If someone is using a website inappropriately, you can report them to the website. The website may close their account, depending on how serious the problem is. The other person won’t be told that you complained about them.

Mobile phones

People may make inappropriate contact with you on your mobile phone, make harassing phone calls or send you nasty or improper SMS. Your privacy may also be breached. Although mobile phones are a great way to stay in touch with people, you should use it in a safe way.

If you’re talking to people online we encourage you to follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Only give your phone number to people that you know and trust.
  • If you want to send private information to someone using your phone, talk to your parents or someone older before you do.
  • If you use Bluetooth, change the settings so that your phone is not “discoverable”. This means that another phone searching for Bluetooth devices will not detect your phone. This will protect you from attacks. Only change your settings if you want someone who you know and trust to send you data.

What do I do if something happens?

If you receive a phone call or message which is threatening, harassing or upsets you, don’t reply. Talk to a parent or someone else older that you can trust.

Try to remember what the phone call or message said, when it was sent and what number it was from. This information will be useful to the person trying to help you.

Playing games online

Playing games on the internet is a great way to have fun and meet new people. However, spending too much time doing this or can affect your schooling or your social life. If you are chatting to other users, it is important to protect your private information.

If you’re talking to playing games online we encourage you to follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Don’t give your personal information to people who you don’t know or trust. If you are unsure why you are being asked for information, ask a parent or someone older that you can trust. Remember never give out your full name, address, phone number or school details.
  • Treat other people in the game the way you would like to be treated. See our website for information on on cyber bullying [insert NSW CB link]
  • Limit how much time you spend gaming on the internet. This way you will still have time for other important things such as homework, sport, your family and friends.
  • Different games are made for people of different ages. Check the classifications of the games you play to make sure they are right for you. Your parents can help you with this.

What do I do if something happens?

If someone else playing is behaving badly or is harassing you, you should leave the game or just don’t respond to them.

If you want to report it to the game website, try and remember what they did or said to upset you and their user name.

You should also talk to your parents or someone else older you can trust about it.

File sharing

Peer-to-peer (P2P) services allow you to share music, software and movies. If you use this type of software, you may be breaching copyright laws. This is illegal and you can be fined. There is also the risk of accidentally downloading malware, viruses, Trojans (which could slow down and damage your computer) or some inappropriate or illegal material.

If you’re talking to sharing files online we encourage you to follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Check that you are downloading movies, software and music safely and legally. If you are unsure, ask your parents or trusted adult for help. Legal file sharing sites are more likely to have better quality downloads.
  • Check your computer’s settings to make sure you are not sharing your personal files.  
  • Be aware of the fact that some things on such sites are incorrectly labelled on purpose. They can contain spyware or malware which can damage your computer and breach your privacy. OR they may contain material that is inappropriate for children, such as pornography. If you are unsure how reliable something is, it is better not to download it. Ask a parent or someone older for help.

What do I do if something happens?

  • If you think you have downloaded something illegally, tell your parents or trusted adult. It is best to tell them so that can help you work out what to do next.
  • You can contact the service provider if you think that something on the website is illegal, inappropriate or contains something that could damage your computer. This way you are making sure that other people will not be harmed by it either.

Hacking, spam and viruses

Surfing the internet can sometimes involve risks to your privacy, security or to the health of your computer. It could be that someone has used spyware or adware to hack into your computer. Or maybe you are receiving unwanted advertisements through email or instant messaging, known as spam. Viruses, Trojans or worms may also end up on your computer. These may damage or slow down your computer, allow criminals to access your private information or allow them to use your computer to spread more spam and viruses.

To keep you and your computer safe you should install anti-virus and anti-spyware software. You can either download these programs (after doing some research) or purchase them from a computer store. Be cautious when downloading programs, as there are many that pretend to be anti-spyware but may actually load more spyware onto your computer.

You should make sure your security software is updated regularly as new viruses and spyware are created and spread very quickly. Updates can occur automatically when you turn your computer on, although it’s still a good idea to schedule your own scan every couple of weeks. You should also make sure that the anti-virus software is always turned on and set to scan incoming and outgoing email. You should also install a firewall. If you have already done this you should regularly check it is still turned on as some viruses can disable it. An internet firewall filters all the information coming from the internet to a computer, providing protection. Most computers will already have a firewall as part of a basic security set-up. Your security software may also include a personal firewall option.

You can also back up your important and valuable data often. Backing up is the process of copying files to another computer, a removable hard drive or a USB drive or burning files onto a CD-ROM or DVD. Ask your parents how to do this if you don’t know how. If you do this then your important photos, personal documents and school assignments saved on your computer will be safe and protected from viruses that can damage your computer’s memory.

Finally, you should be careful about emails that arrive from an email addresses that you do not recognise, or emails from family and friends that look suspicious. It is a good idea to delete suspicious looking emails straight away as they may contain spyware or viruses.

What do I do if something happens?

  • You should tell your parents if you think your computer has been infected.
  • Disconnect your computer from the internet.
  • If your computer has been infected by spyware or viruses – don’t panic! Good anti-virus and anti-spyware software can scan an entire hard drive and remove all viruses, spyware and adware.
  • If you are receiving a lot of spam there a few things you can do. You might consider changing your email address. Keep your new email address as private as possible and avoid posting it on public websites or forums. You can also adjust the settings in some email software to detect and delete spam. Or you could ask your parents to purchase some anti-spam software.

Online banking

Online banking is a convenient and fast way to do your banking. You can access your accounts to easily transfer money and keep track of your spending. Banks spend a lot of time and money making sure their website is secure. However, there are still dangers involved with online banking.

If you use the internet or a mobile phone app for banking, follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Keep your password and login ID safe. Its best not to keep your details written down, but if you need to, don’t keep them together. The safest passwords are random strings of letters, numbers and symbols that are difficult to guess. Changing your password regularly will also help to keep it secure.
  • Keep your password private and do not reveal it over the phone or via email, no matter who asks for it. Be careful of emails and websites that pretend to be your bank. To avoid being tricked by these fake emails and websites, type the bank internet address directly into the browser window, rather than clicking on a link.
  • While banking online, don’t visit any other sites or open other browser windows until you are finished.
  • When you are finished your online banking, make sure you log out and close the window.
  • You should avoid using public computers, such as library or internet café computers, for online banking.

If you think your bank account has been accessed without your knowledge or permission, you should inform your parents and your bank immediately.

 

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