Online Safety and Digital Wellbeing

Staying Safe on the Internet

The Internet provides wonderful opportunities for communication, education and entertainment but unfortunately there are also risks associated with it. Many parents find it difficult to discuss Internet usage with their children because they don’t understand the “jargon”. We have tried to gather together some advice that can be easily understood by anybody – even if they don’t know their ‘bits’ from their ‘bytes’.

Parents and guardians may find the following glossary helpful to explain some of the terminology associated with I.T. and Internet usage:

Link: Some key IT terms

There is a lot of good advice available to parents & students about staying safe online:

Link: Irish Hotline A website run by the Internet Service Provider Association of Ireland (ISPAI). It has a lot of useful advice about how to keep both yourself and your family safe while online. They also have a confidential reporting facility which you can use if you or anyone in your family see anything upsetting online.

I.T. Internet Acceptable Use Policy

Please note that all staff, students and parents/guardians of John the Baptist Community School must read in full and agree to the school’s I.T. Internet Acceptable Use Policy before use of any school hardware, software or I.T. systems.

Students will be prompted to read and accept the policy when entering school systems. Students are required to make their parents/guardians aware of the policy and its terms before beginning usage of the facilities.

Please see below for an online link to the policy. Hard copies can also available at the school.

Link: Technology Enhanced Learning AUP 2020.21 Ratified 08.03

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Some helpful websites

ncte(mainwebsitelogo) PDST Technology in Education (formerly the NCTE)
Webwise – Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre
ois_logo Office for Internet Safety

10 Commandments For Internet Users

The following list, adapted from a campaign by the Action Innocence organisation, is useful for “internauts” of any age but especially for younger surfers.

  1. Be careful – you don’t know who is behind the screen
  2. Never tell anyone your name or age
  3. Never tell anyone your password
  4. Be very careful when you “chat”
  5. Never tell anyone your address or where you live
  6. Do not send your photo to anyone
  7. Never arrange to meet someone without teilling one of your parents/guardians
  8. Don’t believe everything people tell you
  9. Never reply to emails which shock you
  10. If what you see on the screen upsets you, leave the Website or call one of your parents/guardians

Some more useful Do’s and Don’ts

DO: Install Antivirus Software and Update Regularly
This is one of the most basic safety protocols that you should implement on your personal and work computers. There are many different options when it comes to this type of software. Free ones offer basic security features but if you want maximum security, you should set aside a decent budget. Make sure that you consider malware protection for safer web browsing. And it’s vital you keep it updated. New vulnerabilities are often found and patched; if you’re running an older version of antivirus software, those issues haven’t been fixed on your device. You can set most security suites to update automatically. You can similarly set them to scan your computer on a regular basis without you needing to do anything else.

DO: Choose Strong Passwords
Passwords serve a crucial role in protecting your data online. Whether it be for your social media profiles, shopping accounts, or personal email, you will need to create strong passwords. Some sites offer suggestions, i.e. a mix of alphanumeric and special characters. Some don’t accept passwords that don’t comply with their requirements. However, not all websites offer this. When you are creating your own password, remember that you are protecting your integrity and personal information.

DO: Limit Personal Information
Don’t put too much personal information online. By sharing your private information with the public, you are at risk of compromising your location, daily routine, and more. Don’t forget about identity theft. The more you provide information about yourself, the greater the risk that your identity will be copied by a cybercriminal. This is a very serious matter and can wreck lives. Many people have fallen victim to this. You wouldn’t want to be the next one.

DO: Stay Away from Suspicious Clickbait
When surfing online, you will encounter different websites that showcase pop-up ads that can entice any unknowing person to click. Clickbait ads are dangerous because they can lead to potential viruses infiltrating your computer. Be more vigilant about what you read and click when online. Verify information first—notably where links actually take you—before you click, even if they seem to be highly interesting.

DO: Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) provides an additional layer of safety for your account. This helps deter scammers because it would require two pieces of evidence to verify the authenticity of the account owner, i.e. a password plus verification code sent to a phone number or email address. This makes it more difficult for criminals to steal your information and access your data. This is essential if a website offers this option.

DON’T: Use a Single Password for Different Websites
Imagine a house with multiple locks but only having one key to open all rooms. If a burglar gets hold of that single key, all of your rooms can be opened simply. This applies to password protection too. Setting a strong password is not enough. You should learn how to mix it up so that any potential scammer or identity thief won’t be able to fully compromise your personal information. Otherwise, if one service suffers a data leak, all the other ones you use will be exposed too.

DON’T: Stick With a Single Email Account
Your email is an essential factor for signing up on websites. Even when it comes to online banking, an email is required. But imagine forgetting your email login details. What will you do? What if an online criminal compromises your single email address? It would be smart to create multiple email accounts to help you with a back-up plan, so that you can still retrieve important data. You should never use your school account to sign up to or sign into any online activity as it should only be used for school work. Using it in this way goes against the school’s Acceptable User Policy and may open the school’s system to lots of eternal threats.

DON’T: Store Personal Card Details On Websites
Whether you are an avid online shopper or use them sparingly, it would not be wise to store your card details on websites. The more data you store on sites, the greater the chance of identity theft, should a data breach occur. You often have to take this risk when it comes to Personally Identifiable Information (PII), seeing as many services need basic personal details to create an account, but storing your financial information elsewhere is unnecessary. Have you been browsing and an advertisement appeared, offering software for free? No matter how good this offer looks, don’t download this. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. This is true of unsolicited email attachments too. Your security suite should protect you against many threats, but by clicking on something without knowing its full contents, you could be inviting malware into your system.

DON’T: Allow Websites to Remember Your Username and Password
Allowing websites to remember your username and password is tempting, but something best avoided.

Anyone able to access your computer, laptop, or smartphone can easily get into your accounts because all the login credentials are already stored in cookies. You may use a service all the time, but don’t be too comfortable when logging into different websites online