Stay safe online
The internet can help children discover so many things, explore their creativity, help them learn and will no doubt play an integral role in their lives. Like any parent or carer, it is natural to have worries and doubts about the potential dangers of the online world so it's important you know how to keep them safe online.
Tips for safe browsing
Always be wary when asked for personal details or information, as reputable institutions and organisations would not request personal information via email, SMS or telephone. You could be at risk from phishing scams which try and obtain your personal data for fraudulent purposes. Only use secure sites which you trust.
You should also avoid opening emails from unknown sources. If you receive an unsolicited email asking for personal information do not answer, and if the email asks you to open a link or attachment do not open it – it could install data mining software on your device or contain a virus.
Do not click on links or open any attachments received in unsolicited emails or text messages. Remember that fraudsters can 'spoof' an email address to make it appear like one used by someone you trust. If in doubt, always check the email header and verify the sender's email address (or contact the person separately).
Always install software updates as soon as they become available, no matter how inconvenient this might sometimes seem. Whether an update is for the operating system (i.e Windows) or an application, an update can contain fixes for critical security vulnerabilities.
Create regular backups of your important files to an external hard drive, memory stick or online storage provider. Note that it is important that the device you backup to is not left in an insecure location, or linked to the same network your main machines are connected to.
We strongly recommend that you install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers and devices. There are various software packages available, ranging from free versions to complete software suites. Ensure you keep these up to date and run regular scans to find, block and delete or quarantine viruses, spyware and other types of malware before they do any damage to your device or access your data.
A firewall stops unauthorised access to your computer systems and should be enabled at all times as it can prevent hacking attempts. It forms part of most good security software packages.
Make sure any passwords you use are kept secret and are not easy to guess e.g. ‘abc1234’. A good password should contain both numbers and letters (i.e. alphanumeric) and be at least eight characters long. It is advisable not to use the same password for all accounts.
A secure site will have a small padlock icon somewhere on the web browser. This can usually be found at the top or the bottom of the status bars. Secure sites will also normally have ‘https’ at the beginning of the web address. If any of these are missing it is likely that the information you are entering is not encrypted and thus not secure, so be wary of entering any personal or bank account details. There are many fraudulent sites around which at first sight can look and feel like a reliable website, so if the site has no security icon, registration number or contact information, it is advisable not to make any purchases.
The Royal Gibraltar Police together with the Department of Education and the Care Agency have issued the following advice on the issues and dangers of “sexting” which involves the sharing of explicit images online or via text messages.
ADVICE FOR TEENAGERS ON 'SEXTING'
Remember even if you think you are having a private conversation; once you have hit send, where those words or images end up will be out of your hands.
Nudes, sexts, fanpics, whatever you call them, sending private pictures of yourself to someone else is never a good idea. Whether it's to your boyfriend or girlfriend or someone you've met online, a quick snap can have long-term consequences.
If you have sent pictures and regret it, remember it is never too late to get help –The ThinkuKnow & Parent Zone websites host excellent information on staying safe online.
Children who are 'sexting' may actually be committing criminal offences. If a teenager were to have in their possession an indecent image of another minor (aged under 16), they would technically be in possession of an indecent image of a child, which is an offence under the Crime Act. If someone is prosecuted for these offences, they may be placed on the sex offenders register, potentially for some considerable time.
Tell your parent, carer, teacher or an adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online.
You can also seek advice from:
− RGP specialist officers at firstname.lastname@example.org
− The Care Agency at email@example.com
− Childline on the 8008 helpline
SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS
Pause before you post. What you write could come back to haunt you.
How you behave online can affect your future. Think about your job prospects. Do you really want future potential employers to see what you are about to post or send someone?
Make sure you check your privacy settings on social media. Do you really want the whole world to see what you are saying or the pictures you are posting?
Think about how much information you put online. Could it be used to steal your identity, or are you telling the world information that could be used against you by criminals - have you told potential burglars that your house is empty while you all go on holiday for two weeks, for example.
Stay safe by being careful not to give out personal information to people you are chatting with online.
Remember that information you find on the internet may not be true, or someone online may be lying about who they are.
Meeting someone who you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents' permission and only when they can accompany you.
Tell your parent, carer or an adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online.
Visit the ThinkuKnow website – an excellent online resource with information on internet safety
You can also seek advice from the agencies listed above.
PARENT & CARER INFORMATION & ADVICE
There is a growing trend among children and young people to take indecent photographs of themselves, and sometimes even of friends, to send on to each other or post in public places. This could be on the internet - for example on social media sites - or by sending the photos to each other on their mobile phones.
Many young people see it as 'harmless fun' - often thinking it is a good way to show someone they like and trust them. Others may see it as a modern way to push boundaries and experiment with risk taking.
Organisations such as the Police, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre or the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), receive reports of harassment after private photos have been circulated. This risk comes when children and young people lose control over where the images are circulated.
Once an image is on the internet, it can be freely copied by anybody.
Children who are 'sexting' may actually be committing criminal offences. If a teenager were to have in their possession an indecent image of another minor (aged under 16), they would technically be in possession of an indecent image of a child, which is an offence under the Gibraltar Crimes Act 2011. If someone is prosecuted for these offences, they may be placed on the sex offenders register, potentially for some considerable time.
Children and young people may not realise that what they are doing is illegal or that it may be potentially harmful to them in the future.
What you can do as parents/carers is educate your children to these dangers. Tell them that this behaviour could come back to haunt them in later life and that once an image is on the internet - you can never get it back.
Make sure they stay safe by being careful not to give out personal information to people they are chatting with online.
Make sure they check their privacy settings on social media. Ask them; do they really want the whole world to see what they are posting?
Educate them around the risks of sharing personal information.
The sites listed above are a great source of internet safety advice.
Many people use Online Banking to control and manage their bank accounts. Whilst this is very convenient and generally secure there are some precautions you can take.
1. Never disclose your full online banking PIN or full online banking password. Login pages generally ask you for a combination of characters from passwords rather than the whole thing.
2. If you use a card reader, never disclose card reader codes over the phone.
3. Never transfer money from your account after being instructed to do so for "security reasons".
4. Never allow anyone to access your computer remotely when someone calls you.
5. Download and install security software and keep your browser up to date to help you stay safe online. Most online banking providers will recommend a particular software for online banking security and these are generally free to download.
Report Child Pornography
Have you stumbled on or wish to report a website containing images of child pornography?
Under Gibraltar law, child pornography means any photographic or non-photographic (text, cartoon or computer generated) material that visually depicts a child engaged in real or simulated sexually explicit conduct, any depiction of the sexual organs of a child for primarily sexual purposes, any material that visually depicts any person appearing to be a child engaged in real or simulated sexually explicit conduct or any depiction of the sexual organs of any person appearing to be child, for primarily sexual purposes or any realistic images of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct or realistic images of the sexual organs of a child for primarily sexual purposes.
A child is a person under 18 years of age, and a person whose age cannot be ascertained and there are reasons to believe that the person is under 18 years of age.
Reports are confidential and can be made anonymously