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From cyberbullying to social networking to digital identity, each year Safer Internet Day (SID) aims to raise awareness among young people of emerging online issues and current concerns.
Young people are growing up in an increasingly digital world, exposing them to both the opportunities and risks of the internet.
Safer Internet Day which is being held today (Tuesday 7 February) is a global awareness day.
SID is aimed at getting everyone to think about the online security. Whether you are a young person, a parent or caregiver, a teacher, educator or academic, a policymaker, or whether you represent an organisation or industry, everyone has a role to play in creating and maintaining a better online world.
PC Ethan Lang is the force’s cyber protect officer. He said: “Our work to protect young people from online risks runs throughout the year but SID helps to focus people’s attention and hopefully gets young people and their carers to think about what tools are available to protect them.
“One of the main concerns we see on a regular basis is hacking of social media accounts. These crimes can be seen as people stealing a few passwords, causing a few computers to break, messaging people online. But the truth is that these crimes cause incredible distress to people who lose their Facebook, Instagram, email accounts. And from there their identities might be used to commit further offences of fraud or theft. Their accounts can sometimes be used to share offensive images or abusive messages.
“There a few very simple steps people can take to reduce their chances of falling victim to this.”
Use strong and separate passwords for your email - that is, a password that you don’t use for any of your other accounts, either at home or at work.
Having a strong and separate password for your email means that if cyber criminals steal the password for one of your less-important accounts, they can’t use it to access your email account.
Install the latest software and app updates – you should apply updates to your apps and your device's software as soon as they are available. Updates include protection from viruses and other kinds of malware, and will often include improvements and new features.
If you receive a prompt to update your device (or apps), don’t ignore it. Applying these updates is one of the most important (and quickest) things you can do to keep yourself safe online.
You should also turn on 'automatic updates' in your device's settings, if available. This will mean you do not have to remember to apply updates.
Turn on 2-Step Verification (2SV) - you should protect your most important accounts (such as email, banking, social media and online shopping) by making sure you have 2-step verification turned on for each of them.
2-step verification (2SV), which is also known as two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA), helps to keep cyber criminals out of your accounts, even if they know your passwords. The NCSC recommend you take time to set up 2-step verification on all your important accounts, even for ones that you've protected with strong passwords.
Password managers – using browsers and apps to safely store your passwords - We're often told that the passwords for our online accounts should be really strong, and to not use the same password anywhere else. Especially for those important accounts like email, banking, shopping and social media.
The trouble is, most of us have lots of online accounts, so creating different passwords for all of them (and remembering them) is hard.
This is where a password manager can help. A password manager (or a web browser) can store all your passwords securely, so you don’t have to worry about remembering them. This allows you to use unique, strong passwords for all your important accounts (rather than using the same password for all of them, which you should never do).
Backing up your data - make sure you can recover your important photos, documents, and other personal data stored on your IT equipment.
Most of us at some point have been unable to access important data, whether it's work documents, photos, videos, contact details or other personal information.
Making and storing backups means that if any of your data becomes lost, you can easily recover it. Backups can be stored on a device you own, such as a USB drive or an external hard drive, or you might want to back your data up to the cloud, where a provider can keep it safe for you.
Making backups doesn't take very long, and can usually be set up to take place automatically. So, a little planning in advance to make backups could save you a lot of stress should the worst happen.
Three random words - Weak passwords can be cracked in seconds. The longer and more unusual your password is, the harder it is for a cyber-criminal to crack.
A good way to make your password difficult to crack is by combining three random words to create a single password (for example applenemobiro). Or you could use a password manager, which can create strong passwords for you (and remember them).
Avoid the most common passwords that criminals can easily guess (like ‘password’). You should also avoid creating passwords from significant dates (like your birthday, or a loved one’s), or from your favourite sports team, or by using family and pet names. Most of these details can be found within your social media profile.
If you’re thinking of changing certain characters in your password (so swapping the letter ‘o' with a zero, for example), you should know that cyber criminals know these tricks as well. So, your password won’t be significantly stronger, but it will be harder for you to remember.
As part of SID PC Lang and regional Cyber Protect Officer Shevani Raichura held an interactive session with young people who were on a 12-week course with The Princes’ Trust. The session at Leicester Central Fire Station yesterday (Monday 6 February) saw participants playing the role of a Cyber Crime Detective, tasked with proving that one of their own has been framed for a cyber-crime they didn’t commit.
(Caption - PC Ethan Lang with some participants of the interactive session)
The session guided participants through a number of challenges designed to get them thinking about their own cyber security while following along with the story.
PC Lang added: “By playing through the interactive story, we were able to introduce the participants to some key themes of cyber security in a new, fun way. A full debrief at the end also allowed us to talk over the issues and answer questions with the ultimate aim of helping people to stay safe in the cyber world.”
Feedback from the participants was positive. One of those students who took part, said, “I thoroughly enjoyed this session. Working through the clues and cracking the codes. It really helped us understand just how easy it is for criminals to access password and security information if we choose really easy ones.”
Prince’s Trust Leicester Team Leader Jordan Lutchman, said: “I was delighted to welcome Ethan and Shevani along to the Prince's Trust Team Programme in Leicester, they delivered a fantastic session as part of Safer Internet Day. The group of students on were tasked with a Cyber Escape Room activity, which gave them the opportunity to develop skills, such as communication and teamwork.
“Most importantly though, it educated them on the importance of staying safe online. The session was engaging and interactive and helped educate the young people on areas such as password protection. There were some great discussion points, particularly around the use of social media. It's incredibly important that young people today understand the risks that can occur online and the steps they can take to mitigate those risks.”
PC Lang, further added: “If you’re not sure about whether you are at risk learn how to protect yourself online with the Cyber Aware Action Plan. Answer a few questions on topics like passwords and 2-Step Verification (2SV), and get a free personalised list of actions that will help you improve your cyber security.
“The survey can be found here https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware/actionplan.
“On the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) site there are various tools aimed at young people to make them think about their security online.
“There is also an interactive game online to help - CyberSprinters empowers youngsters to make smart decisions about staying secure online.
“The digital game can be played on phone, tablet and desktop, and is supported by a suite of activities to be led by educational practitioners working with 7-11-year olds.
“Parents and carers can also try the CyberSprinter puzzles with their children at home. The game can be found here https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/cybersprinters.
“The Cyber Escape Room is a free session that runs for around an hour and is suitable for groups of adults or older groups of children. If you would like to book a session for your organisation, please contact [email protected] to arrange this.”