Staying Safe Online (during COVID-19 Lockdown)

Updated: Apr 16

During the COVID-19 lockdown, we have all moved elements of our lives online. Work or play, everyone and their granny is using some sort of video call platform like House Party, FaceTime, Zoom, Whatsapp & Facebook to #StayConnected.


While these apps can be a great way to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues there have been some recent stories in the media about hacking, Zoombombing, and even high-level politicians accidentally sharing their Zoom ID’s with millions of followers, potentially allowing anyone to join their confidential cabinet meetings.


Our LANDED Peer Educators have been working hard the past few days to research how you can stay safer online when using these platforms to keep in touch with your friends during our time in isolation.


Be aware of app age restrictions

Most of the apps we have mentioned have a minimum age requirement. This means you need to be a certain age to use them. Have a look at the age requirements below, are you are old enough to use them?


  • Whatsapp – 16 years old

  • Facebook – 13 years old

  • Zoom – 16 years old

  • Houseparty – 13 years old



Only speak to people you know

There are many different ways people can trick you online and pretend to be someone they are not.

It’s really important that you only talk to people that you know for your own safety as the internet can be used to groom children and young people. (You can find out more about grooming here)



Don’t give out personal information

Even if you like and trust someone that you have met online you must not share any personal information with them like your address, full name, or where you go to school, work, college or university.


This information can be used to find you in the real world or even used to scam you and your friends and family.


Avoid answering random online quizzes on Facebook, these are used to harvest your personal data and could be used in the future to scam or hack your accounts.


Sexting

Sexting is the sending of sexually explicit messages and pictures using an electronic device*.


It can include:

  • a message or post written with sexual language

  • nude or semi-nude photos/videos

  • photos/videos of sexual acts

  • live chats with someone on a webcam involving sexual acts

  • screenshots or videos recorded from a webcam


* An electronic device could be a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, PC, game consoles or any piece of equipment that can take or share images digitally. (for more information on Sexting, visit our Sexting Information Page)


Think about what you are saying/doing

Almost everything you do, say or post online is saved on the internet somewhere. This is known as your ‘Digital Footprint’.


Everyone that uses the internet has a digital footprint, so it's nothing to worry about. However, it is important to think about what yours says about you.


Your future employer may search your name online before offering you a job, are they going to see something that they won't like?


Have a secure password

Never tell anyone (other than your parents) your passwords.


Passwords should:

  • Be easy to remember but hard for others to guess

  • Include numbers, capital letters and symbols


Top Tip: Make sure not to use the same password for everything. If someone guesses it, they can access all of your accounts!


Think about only using encrypted apps & programs


Encryption helps to prevent unauthorised access to your personal data that can be found in your emails and even some apps like Whatsapp and Zoom.


What is encryption?

Imagine you want to send a letter to your friend, but you have a really nosy postman and you’re worried he might read it.

So, you write the letter, put it in a metal safe and send the safe to your friend. Only you and your friend have the combination to the safe meaning the nosy postman doesn’t have a chance of reading it. This is encryption.


It’s one of the safest ways to communicate online and you should make sure you use it when you can.


These are just a few simple but effective things you can do to stay safe online during the lockdown period.


Stay safe and #StayConnected

- This blog post was written in collaboration with LANDED volunteers and staff April 2020. Blog contributors: Jack, Shauna, Amanda & Robbie.


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