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Staying safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak means that many of us are currently working remotely at home, socialising, shopping and educating our children online, which makes it more important than ever that we do everything we can to stay safe online.

Posted on 30 March 2020

General online safety

Our Digital MOT will help you review your online safety. By answering a few simple questions about your online habits, you can find out the most important steps you can take to protect your devices and avoid being a victim of cyber-scammers.

Our key tips for staying safe online are:

  • set strong passwords - use at least 12 characters (preferably longer) and include capital letters, numbers and symbols
  • to make up your password, you could use a phrase such as MAMl2g^coaS (My Aunt Mary loved to go mountain climbing on a Sunday) or 3 random words, such as rainbowpositivekangaroo and then add numbers and symbols to make it even more secure
  • keep all your devices and their anti-virus up to date - ensure all your systems, software, apps and anti-virus packages are up to date and only download apps from official app stores
  • back up all your files and documents regularly, to an unconnected, external device or the cloud
  • use 2-factor authentication, wherever possible

Why not take the Digital MOT now and find out how you can be more secure online.

You can also access online safety advice from Get Safe Online and the National Cyber Security Centre.

Keeping young people safe online

Children and young people are likely to be spending more time on phones, laptops and tablets at the moment, so we have some tips to help you:

  • talk to your child about online safety and encourage them to talk to you about what they are doing online
  • ensure you have set up parental controls on all devices, broadband and apps – step-by-step advice on how to do this is available from Internet Matters parental controls
  • keep computers and games consoles in family rooms, where you can monitor activity
  • keep up to date on what websites, social networks, apps and games your child is using - you can find out what the apps do by checking the Net Aware website
  • 'friend' or 'follow' your child on their social media, so you can see how they are using it
  • teach your child how to create a strong password for every account
  • posting online is instant and, usually, permanent, so encourage your child to 'think before they post'
  • listen to your child if they seem down, or concerned about anything they have seen, or experienced, online and report any serious concerns

There are lots of online safety resources from Childnet and Internet Matters to support you whilst home educating your children.

Online fraud and scams

There has been a rise in coronavirus related fraud and scams, which can leave you vulnerable to viruses and malicious software, as well as out of pocket. Please be vigilant and take extra care when opening emails or shopping online:

  • never click on links, or open attachments, in emails from senders you don't know
  • if you're not sure whether a message is genuine, always double check by going to a trusted website and typing the address yourself - you'll find all government announcements and information about coronavirus at gov.uk and the NHS
  • be wary of fake websites selling protective face masks, hand sanitiser - remember if it sounds too good to be true, there's a good chance it is a scam

Suspicious, or phishing emails, should be forwarded to the National Cyber Security Centre's Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) email report@phishing.gov.uk

More detailed information is available from Derbyshire County Council Trading Standards and Derbyshire Police.

If you are a victim of cybercrime or online fraud and scams, report it to Action Fraud tel: 0300 123 2040.