Cyber Security Focus - 2. A Guide to Protecting Your Online Identity

OnlineIdentityYour online identity is at risk. In a world where we’re all spending more time online, we’re building increasingly comprehensive profiles of information on the web.

These days, you can Google almost anyone and find out what they look like, where they’re from, what they do for a living and more.

Unfortunately, just like your “offline” identity, your online presence is subject to threats.

The more fraudsters and scammers can find out about you online, the more exposed you are to problems like identity theft, theft, and more. In fact, around half of all fraud incidents in 2019 throughout the UK were cyber-related.

What is an Online Identity, and Why is it Important?

Simply put, your online identity is a series of data points related to who you are and what you do online. The information available about you in the digital world can range all the way from photos posted on social media, to email addresses, telephone numbers, and even bank details.

Every time you log onto a website with your email address, share something on Facebook, or fill out a form online, you’re submitting information about yourself to the web. This “digital identity” is quickly becoming a key target for criminals.

Learning how to protect your digital identity is important because we’re all spending more time online and sharing more information on the web. Younger people (the generations most active online) are seeing a rapid increase in the number of attacks they face on the web. In fact, people in their 20s and 30s are twice as likely than people 40 and over to report losing money online.

Younger adults who are more likely than other age groups to use mobile apps for payments, transfer money online, and manage their finances online are also 77% more likely than older people to lose money through email scams.

General Rules for Online Privacy and Safety

Protecting yourself from fraud, hackers, and cybercriminals means making your digital identity more difficult to access. This can seem like a huge task when you consider how much information most people share online every day, but the process can be simpler than it seems. All you need to do is start with some basic steps, such as:

  • Limiting the information, you share: Avoid sharing more information about yourself online than you absolutely need to. You don’t necessarily need to give your real name and address to sign up for an email newsletter, for instance.

  • Use stronger passwords: Choose strong, unique passwords to protect yourself against hackers. Your passwords should be unique, long, and not something someone can easily guess. Diceware is a great tool for generating random passwords if you’re struggling.

  • Never use the same password more than once: If a hacker guesses one of your passwords, and you’re using the same details on other applications, they can easily gain access to a wider number of accounts. Switch up your passwords, and use password managers if you have a hard time remembering everything.

  • Use multi-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication requires you to enter a code sent to your email or phone number, or another form of authentication outside of a password to access vulnerable accounts. This reduces your risk of security breaches.

Protecting Your Identity on Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest sources of information hackers can access when collecting data on a potential target. These days, virtually anyone can find out a lot about who you are just by checking your Facebook or Instagram page. Think carefully about how you share content online.

Most social media channels will allow you to adjust your privacy settings, so your information is only available to people within your social circle. Make the most of this feature to lock strangers out of your digital identity. You could also consider using an alias or nickname instead of your real name.

When you’re finished using social media websites, log out of them or use private/incognito browsing to prevent hackers from tracking you around the web.

When you’re on social media, make sure you never share information like:

  • The name of your first school

  • Your mother’s maiden name

  • Information about when you’ll be in or out of town

  • Location data, like your address

  • Details of expensive new purchases

Staying Secure When Surfing the Web

When you’re surfing the web, you’re not just browsing online, you’re also leaving a trail of information wherever you go. Your browser automatically collects historical information and cookies as you surf. A good way to reduce the amount of data collected is to use an incognito or private browsing mode. Just remember, incognito mode will only stop browsers from saving information – it does not make your browsing anonymous.

If you want to browse more anonymously, a VPN can hide your location and stop your internet service provider (ISP) from seeing your web activity. However, many VPNs will still store your information, so you’ll need to ensure you trust the service.

When browsing the web, be cautious about the sites you visit. All of the websites you use should be protected with HTTPS.
This means the web pages are encrypted. When using this, ISPs and other third parties can see the web addresses you visit but they can’t see what you’re doing, or intercept data.

Make sure your website addresses begin with ‘HTTPS’. The browser extension: “HTTPS Everywhere” can ensure you always use HTTPS when possible.

Remember, fake websites are common too. While they might look like they belong to a legit company, they can steal data like login and payment details. Always double-check you’re using the correct web address for any company. Most browsers can tell you if there’s a problem with a site’s security or encryption, which is often a clue that the site is not genuine.

Protecting Your Emails

Finally, email is another area where your digital identity is at risk. Studies suggest 1 in every 99 emails is a phishing attack.

A good way to protect yourself is to silo your emails. Have one primary account you use for the most important things, like connecting with friends and banking. For other services, you can use disposable email addresses and secondary emails.

Not only will a secondary email add an extra layer of protection, but it can help to reduce the amount of spam in your inbox too.

It’s crucial to protect your email address because it’s usually the tool you’ll use to recover access to other accounts. Watch out for:

  • Scam emails: Scammers will often send emails that appear as though they’re from legitimate companies, like banks, payment services, and delivery companies. These can often contain files with viruses, or links to fake websites.

  • Requests for sensitive data: Legitimate companies will never ask for bank details, passwords, or other sensitive information over email.

  • Blackmail: Blackmail scams, where people claim to have information about you in order to convince you to send them money, are common.

While the online world can be a dangerous place, it’s important to remember there are plenty of ways to protect yourself with the right strategy. Use the steps above to keep your online identity secure.

Written in collaboration with Rebekah Carter, Contributor at

Photo by Cottonbro

Written by Broadband Genie on June 16, 2022 14:16

Tootoot launch new online safety plan

Exclusive early access for Safeguarding Essentials members to tootoot’s free Online Safety Plan in time for Safer Internet Day.

Tootoot logo 2019As every generation become increasingly tech-savvy, pupils are more exposed to the dangers that the widely unregulated world of technology can pose.

The importance of promoting online safety from a young age has been put into the spotlight recently by the Chief Executive of the Internet Watch Foundation. Susie Hargreaves said that images and videos of girls aged between 11 and 13 that have been groomed, coerced and tricked into performing sexually over webcam is fast becoming a ‘national crisis’ with victims getting younger. These comments also echo the findings from the Childline annual review, which reported a 16 per cent increase of child sexual exploitation counselling sessions.

It is clear that the positive use of technology must be promoted in schools to allow young people to feel safe and empowered to make the most out of their time online. And at tootoot we believe that our award-winning safeguarding app provides an online solution to an online problem. For example, if a young person is being cyberbullied, blackmailed or threatened online they can use their device to take back control, and send a message using tootoot to a designated mentor in their school and begin to get the support they need.

Since tootoot was created over 600,000 children and young people have been able to report anything that may be making them feel unsafe or unhappy, in a discreet and safe way that fits into their digital lives.

Tootoot Online Safety PlanTootoot is giving Safeguarding Essentials members early access to register for the new free Online Safety Plan, that has been developed in time for Safer Internet Day. The plan helps teachers to promote online safety and encourage pupils to speak up about their worries using tootoot.

The free Online Safety Plan will be open to the first 100 schools that register and will include:

• Full access to the award-winning safeguarding software tootoot for six weeks.
• Unlimited virtual staff training and support from our friendly customer support team.

Click here to register before the 14th February.

Tootoot SID2020

Written by Michael Brennan on January 27, 2020 11:20

Over 30% of school staff not trained in e-safety

Only 68% of schools reported that all staff are receiving regular e-safety training and updates.

Faculty TrainingIn 2012, Ofsted released their inspecting e-safety briefing, placing an emphasis on educating young people about staying safe online, while providing a safe environment in which to explore the web.

In the six years that have followed, a great deal has changed, not least the available technology and indeed how young people are connecting to the virtual and online world.

From a school perspective, the greatest change has come in the form of responsibility. Gone are the days when e-safety was considered the domain of the IT teacher – now the responsibility lies with the senior management team in the form of a designated safeguarding lead.

To that end, e-safety is no-longer a separate entity but is incorporated in the DfE guidance relating to the wider safeguarding issues, primarily set out the in the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance, which was updated at the beginning of September.

One of the key elements of the guidance is that of staff training, with the KCSIE stating that:

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that all staff undergo safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety) at induction. The training should be regularly updated.
In addition, all staff should receive regular safeguarding and child protection updates (for example, via email, e-bulletins, staff meetings) as required, and at least annually, to provide them with relevant skills and knowledge to safeguard children effectively.

To underline this requirement the “Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings” Ofsted guidance issued earlier this month advises inspections to include evidence that:

staff, leaders, governors and supervisory bodies (where appropriate) and volunteers receive appropriate training on safeguarding at induction, that is updated regularly.

However, it seems that many schools are currently not providing adequate staff training on internet safety. According to figures extracted from the E-safety Support e-safety checklist, in the 2017/18 academic year, only 67.8% of users who logged progress in this area reported that they were fulfilling this requirement.

In addition, less than half (48.2%) of governing bodies were considered to be is involved the e-safety policy and practice within schools, while only 59% of users reported having an effective e-safety policy in place.

With the safeguarding remit ever widening, it’s not hard to understand why some schools may not be meeting the DfE requirements for e-safety – budgets, time and the expanding areas of risk which need to be considered make the safeguarding arena a challenging one to keep up with. However, we must remember that “Early years settings, schools, and further education and skills institutions should be safe environments where children (that is, everyone under the age of 18), learners and vulnerable adults can learn and develop” and having trained staff is essential to ensuring this is the case.

SGE Abuse Training

Online e-safety training available from Safeguarding Essentials

Our online training courses are simple to distribute and monitor. They are a cost effective way to make sure your whole school community receives regular up-to-date training. With no 'per-user' costs, you can distribute the training to as many staff, parents, governors and pupils as you need and can repeat the training as often as necessary.

There are currently 13 online training courses for staff covering a range of safeguarding topics - a full list of courses can be viewed here

Online E-safety Checklist

Review your e-safety provision with our interactive online checklist

The statistics quoted are taken from our interactive online e-safety checklist, which is available to all Safeguarding Essentials members. The 9 point checklist gives you an outline of the necessary action or procedure that needs to take place in your school, with references to additional information and support if you need them. Find out more

SGE Square Icons

Subsidised memberships available

Since 2013, we have been supporting schools across the UK and beyond to deliver consistent, outstanding practice in online safety. Recently, we have added resources to our service to address wider safeguarding requirements. To date, our online training has been completed over 130,000 times.

However, we recognise that some of the schools who need the greatest support are those with the least resource. That’s why we have teamed up with our partners at Friendly WiFi to offer subsidised membership to those most in need - up to 100% discounts are available to qualifying schools. Discover your discount now!

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on September 20, 2018 13:05

Join Safeguarding Essentials

  • Protect your pupils
  • Support your teachers
  • Deliver outstanding practice

Recent Stories
Story Tags
2fa addiction anti_bullying_alliance #antibullyingweek anti-radicalisation apps assembly avatars awards awareness bett Breck_Foundation bug bullying BYOD calendar cber_bullying #CEADay20 censorship ceop chatfoss checklist child child_exploitation childline childnet child_protection childwise christmas ClassDojo classroom competition cookies Covid, CPD creepshot CSE curriculum cyberbullying cyber_bullying cyber_crime cybersmile_foundation cybersurvey data_protection DCMS Demos development devices DfE digital_citizenship digital_footprint digital_forensics digital_leaders digital_literacy digital_native digital_reputation digital_wellbeing ecadets eCadets education e-learning emoticon e-safe esafety e-safety e-safety, e-safety_support esports #esscomp #esstips ethics events exa exploitation extreemism extremism extremism, facebook fake_news fantastict fapchat FAPZ film filtering freemium #Freetobe friendly_wifi gaming GDPR #GetSafeOnline glossary GoBubble gogadgetfree google governor grooming #GSODay2016 guidance hacker hacking health, holiday icon information innovation inspection instagram instragram internet internet_matters internet_of_things internet_safety into_film ipad iphone ipod irights IWF KCSIE #KeepMeSafe knife_crime language leetspeak lesson like linkedin live_streaming lscb malware media mental_health mobile momo monitor monitoring naace national_safeguarding_month navigation neknominate netiquette network news NHCAW nomophobia nspcc NWG ofcom offline ofsted omegle online online_identity online_safety oracle parents password phishing phone Point2Protect policy pornography power_for_good pressure PREVENT primary privacy professional_development protection PSHE PSHE, #pupilvoiceweek radicalisation ratting rdi relationships reporting research risk robots rocketlearn RSE RSPH safeguarding safeguarding, safer_internet_day safety SCD2015 #SCD2016 school screen_time sdfsdf security self-harm selfie sexting sextortion ShareAware sid SID SID2016 SID2017 SID2018 SID2019 SID2020 smartphone snapchat snappening social_media social_media, social_networking staff staff_training #standuptobullying statutory_guidance Stop_CSE stop_cyberbullying_day stress students survey swgfl SWGfL tablet teach teachers technology terrorism texting TikTok tootoot training TrainingSchoolz TrainingToolz trends troll trolling twitter UKCCIS uk_safer_internet_centre UK_youth unplug2015 video virus VPN webinar website wellbeing we_protect what_is_e-safety wifi wi-fi windows wizard working_together yik_yak young_people youthworks youtube YPSI yubo