People in NSW are increasingly accessing the internet in a variety of ways to undertake a more complex range of transactions.
As the number of people using mobile phones, Wi-Fi, computer game consoles and other devices to access the internet increases, the need for better cyber security across these devices becomes increasingly important.
This page includes several simple steps that can be taken to protect yourself when online and links to the Stay Smart Online website - a site informing Australians about e-security risks and the steps that they can take to reduce these risks.
Protect Yourself Online - why it's important
- The growing number of devices being used to access the internet
- Increasing WiFi usage
- The more complex range of online transactions
- The need for special protection for children from risks online
What you can do to protect yourself online
- Install security software and update it regularly.
- Turn on automatic updates so that all your software receives the latest fixes.
- Get a stronger password and change it at least twice a year.
- Stop and think before you click on links or attachments.
- Stop and think before you share any personal or financial information - about yourself, your friends or family.
- Know what your children are doing online. Make sure they know how to stay safe and encourage them to report anything suspicious.
This comprehensive Australian Government site provides information on many issues dealing with internet safety, from spam and scams to cyberbullying and internet banking.
Please visit www.staysmartonline.gov.au for further advice and information.
If you've been the victim of cybercrime, you can report this to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN). The ACORN is a national policing initiative of the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.
It is a national online system that allows the public to securely report instances of cybercrime. It will also provide advice to help people recognise and avoid common types of cybercrime. Visit www.acorn.gov.au
Mobile device security
As the prevalence of mobile devices increases, so does the temptation for thieves to target these devices. The same features that enable your phone/tablet to access the web, also leaves it open to attacks from malware and hackers. You should treat your mobile device just like you would a home computer or wallet.
An unsecured device can lead to the loss of:
- Banking details
- Personal photographs
How can you protect your mobile device?
- Enable PIN
- Set up your device to lock automatically after a period of inactivity
- Only browse reputable websites
- Only install reputable apps (Read user reviews)
- Limit third party apps access to personal information
- Never click 'pop-up' links
- Check bill for irregularities
- Only use secured Wi-Fi connections
- Install anti-theft or loss app such as ‘Find My Phone’
- Know where your phone is at all times. This limits the chances of unauthorised use
- Never store personal information such as banking details or social media passwords on the device
What to do if my mobile device is lost/stolen?
- Contact service provider to suspend your service
- Make a report to local police quoting IMEI number
- If you have tracking software installed on your device, let the police know. Often, apps such as 'Find My Phone' can help locate a mobile device that has been lost or stolen.
Where to find out more
Social media behaviour fact sheet
Be careful what you share on social media
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin are used to stay in touch with friends, make new friends or business connections and to share information, photos and opinions about topics that you’re interested in.
While they’re a great way to connect, you need to think about how much information you provide and to whom.
Be careful with strangers online
People are not always who they say they are. Think carefully before accepting friend requests from people you don't know.
- It is a good idea to limit the number of people you accept as friends.
- If you are ‘friends’ with people you do not know very well, consider the amount of information that you reveal and don't agree to meet them in person.
- Use your social networking site's privacy settings to limit access to your information.
- Be cautious if one of your online ‘friends’ asks you to send large amounts of money due to a sudden illness or misfortune; particularly if you’ve only recently met them online - it could be a scam. Never send your financial details via social media.
Conclusion - Review your list of 'friends' regularly.
Be careful how much personal information you post or share online
Be careful with the type and amount of personal information that you share on social media – it could make you or your family vulnerable.
Personal information can be used by criminals to steal your identity or even break into your property. Users who share addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays, holiday plans and other personal information put themselves at risk. These are all clues for criminals.
- The photos, comments, messages and wall posts that you share could potentially be seen by anyone - not just friends. There have been instances of people having their identities stolen from their social media profile and used for fraudulent purposes, so check your security settings regularly.
- Limit information on your location. Turn off location sharing for mobile apps and check your phone settings to ensure that it’s not broadcasting your location.
- Don’t share your holiday plans in advance via social media. This information could be used by thieves to break into your home when they know that you’re away!
Conclusion - Be careful about the type and amount of personal information that you share on your social media profile. People don’t need to know everything about you and your life.
Be careful about sharing your opinion online
Be careful about what you say about yourself and others online. Once you post a comment or photo, it can be difficult to remove. Comments and/or photos that you post may be used as grounds for disciplinary action at your place of work, and even presented as legal evidence in court.
- Posting something rude, offensive or derogatory in a public forum can have consequences. Your comments may be considered defamatory, offensive or even threatening by some people.
- If working, check with your current employer as to any policies they have regarding employee use of social media (depending on the type of work you do and/or the workplace agreement you’ve signed, these policies may apply to your private use of social media).
- Often when you apply for a job, companies may check to see if you have an online profile. Be aware that the photos and information you share with your friends may not be what you want your prospective employer to see.
- Be particularly careful of posting anything on social media after you’ve had a few drinks, are tired or angry; and avoid getting into arguments online.
Conclusion - Think before you post! If in doubt, don't put it online - you may regret it
Where to find out more
The Easy Guide to Socialising Online - http://www.cybersafetyhelp.gov.au/easyguide/socialising_online
Cybersmart - http://www.cybersmart.gov.au
Stay Smart Online - http://www.staysmartonline.gov.au
Privacy Awareness Week
Privacy Awareness Week is an annual initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA), of which the Information and Privacy Commission NSW is a member.
It is about staying safe online, particularly when it comes to your personal information. With the popularity of smartphones and downloading mobile apps on the rise it is important to know how to keep your personal information private.
We encourage members of the public, especially parents and carers ,to view our following webpages. These webpages provide specific tools and information to ensure your information remains safe and secure when using the internet.
If you believe your privacy is being breached online or you have concerns regarding who is accessing your child’s information online please contact your local police station or Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.
Browser - software to look at Internet sites.
Bulletin Board - an on-line meeting place to post messages, upload and download files, and exchange information.
Carding - (slang) Obtaining or using illegally obtained credit cards.
Chat - software that permits real-time communication on the Internet. It can also be done on commercial sites. Chatting usually involves nicknames or pseudonyms.
Cookie - small amount of data put on your browser from web sites you visit. This cookie tells the service provider the type of news, and information you are interested in. It also provides your User ID to the web site.
Crack - (slang) remove copy protections from commercial software to "crack" a password using a software program and electronic dictionary.
E-Mail - electronic message sent from one person to another on the computer. Most e-mail is capable of sending attachments.
Fake Mail - (slang) intended to trick recipient into believing it was sent by a person other then the actual sender.
FTP - File transfer protocol. Program to transfer files.
Hacker - (slang) not necessarily a negative term. One who learns about computers by trial and error.
Home Page - another term for Web page. Usually contains information specific to an individual or establishment.
HTML - Format for creating documents on World Wide Web.
Internet - millions of computer networks connected together to permit communication with each other.
IRC - Internet Relay Chat. A multi-user chat facility which can be used by groups or individuals in "private" sessions. Users can chat without providing personal information, about any topic of interest.
ISP - Internet Service Provider. Someone who provides access to the Internet, usually for a fee.
Modem - device that connects your computer, via phone line, to the Internet.
News Group - name for discussion groups on USENET
Piracy - copying and use of computer programs in violation of copyright and trade secrets laws.
URL - Universal Resource Locator that shows what your online electronic address. (ex. http://www.police.nsw.gov.au)
Warez - (slang) Contraction which refers to pirated (stolen) software or games.
Online Safety for Parents
As a parent, you wouldn't think of leaving your children alone in a strange neighbourhood, allowing them to stroll through an adult bookstore or let them wander aimlessly on a busy street or highway. Similarly, no responsible parent would permit their child to have secret meetings with strangers.
The Internet, with all its benefits, presents new dangers to kids and parents need to be aware of those dangers. Parents need to be involved with their children's Internet experience. Teaching children how to handle themselves on the Internet is important. There are also filtering software packages and web site rating schemes designed to help parents guide their children's Internet experience while still allowing that child Internet independence.
This guide has been designed to provide some basic information on what to look for and who to contact if a situation arises that requires assistance from an outside agency.
In this new and dynamic environment we all need to work together to protect those who need us most. A bit of prevention is worth a gigabyte of cure.
Information and concerns
Your challenge as a parent is "How do I handle my child's Internet access without over-reacting or under-reacting?" It is a question of balance. You should know that Law Enforcement responds, on a daily basis, to issues including:
Child Pornography - images depicting the sexual exploitation of children are illegal. Predators frequently use these images in an attempt to lure children into participating in this type of activity.
Unauthorized Disclosure - while the capability exists to share information quickly, we all need to keep in mind that e-mail is not a secure means of communication.
Hacking - is unauthorized access into a computer network.
Harassment/Stalking - the computer provides access to many people and many sites provide details on people. No one wants to receive a distressing message from someone they don't know. Report it.
Hate Crimes and Violence - the Internet and World Wide Web provide the opportunity for everyone who has a personal opinion, regardless of content, to spread their message. Disturbed individuals use this medium to post their philosophy, and to communicate with those who agree by linking them together through e-mail, chat rooms, or hyperlink.
'GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR CHILDREN ON-LINE'!
Discuss with your child about sharing personal and private information over the Internet
Do's and don'ts
Instruct your child:
a. To never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they meet online
b. To never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet
c. To never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number
d. To never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images
e. To never respond to messages or chats that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing
f. That whatever they are told online may or may not be true
- Personal responsibility while on-line. Consider talking openly with your child about your suspicions. Tell them about computer sex offenders.
- Privacy concerns on the Internet. What private information is OK to share and what is not?
- Urban Legends and Tales. Just because information is on the computer screen, it doesn't mean it's true. Do not believe everything some one tells you via the Internet.
- Use of Common Sense. While we don't know the motives of everyone on the Internet, children need to keep some facts and tips in mind while on-line.
- Virus checks. Always check for viruses when downloading from the Internet or using software from a friend. Viruses can cause serious damage to your computer and take you off-line.
Social networking sites
The following information has been provided to assist users and parents address some of the many issues and risks associated with using the internet. Due to the nature of the speed at which the internet can change, this advice cannot be exhaustive. As these issues change frequently, the best defence is education - remaining aware of the vulnerabilities the internet presents.
Check the settings on your social networking page, change it so only those you know and trust can see anything about you. Check it regularly as the settings may be changed by the Host site. Be aware that even though your settings may be secure, your friends settings may not be the same which can leave you vulnerable.
Review the profile you have placed on line, how much does it reveal about you. Are you happy for everyone to know all this about you?
Don't put your photo, contact details or your current school on your profile. If you need to, give these details out to people you know and trust. What you place on the internet is no longer private and is no longer under your control. Others may use it for any purpose they wish.
Sending Images over the Phone
It is a criminal offence to take, transmit or possess images that are considered child pornography (of a person under 18 years) and may attract a penalty of up to 10 years gaol.
The consequences of taking private photographs of yourself and sending them could cause you and your family a great deal of embarrassment for a very long time. Once you have sent them you have no control of where they go or what they are used for. More importantly you can't get them back even if you want to.
If you receive something inappropriate, don't delete it, and tell your parents or an adult that you trust as soon as possible. If you continue to receive this type of material, tell the sender to stop. If need be, change your phone number.
Parents - Learn From Your Children
Ask you child to show you what they look at online, discuss the risks involved. Look at their profile, and the list of friends. Are you comfortable with what is on display?
Access to social networking sites can also be done via mobile phones, it is important the skills are applied to all access, parents can't be looking over their children's shoulders all the time.
'Send' is Definite
Once you have hit the send button, all of your information is available for many to see. Depending on the material, this may be humiliating, causing embarrassment for you and your family.
The Internet is here to stay, we have to accept it and learn about its vulnerabilities.
It is common for cyber bullying to take place on social networking sites. Often cyber bullying escalates from conflict that begins in a school environment. The content of cyber bullying messages are taunting and insulting and often result with similar messages being sent back. While these matters cause a significant amount of stress and anxiety for the victims and parents, the actions rarely amount to a criminal offence. If you are being bullied on-line or by mobile phone:
- Tell your parents
- Tell your school
- Tell your site
- Tell the police if it escalates to threats of violence.
The following sites offer further information and advice on these issues:
Or search for "NSW education cyber bullying".
What is cyber bullying?
People make comments on social media that they may not say to someone face to face. These comments on social media can be just as damaging as any other form of bullying.
Cyber-bullying can be hurtful and in some circumstances it can also be a criminal act.
Cyber-bullying can take many forms
- Abusive texts, on-line posts and emails
- Imitating others on line using fake profile and other methods
- Spreading rumours and telling lies on-line
- Making hurtful comments
- Making threats or comments designed to intimidate on-line
- Repeated unwanted messages being sent to you
- People using your account to send fake posts
- People sending photos or videos of you to others to embarrass or humiliate you
- Excluding others on-line
What action can you take?
- Block the person who is doing the bullying
- Keep a record of threatening or intimidating messages
- Contact police about any threatening or intimidating messages
- Report the person to the social media platform
- Don’t reply to bullies – that’s what they want
- Check your privacy settings
- Talk to someone you trust about the situation
What can police do?
If someone is threatening bullying or harassing you on-line, police want to know about it. You don’t have to put up with it and police can take action.
On-line bullies think they can be anonymous but police can track them down. That’s why it is important to inform police about what’s happening.
While there is no specific legislation in Australia that is specifically for cyber-bullying, there are existing laws police can use to arrest and charge perpetrators.
What laws can help police punish cyber-bullies?
There is no specific offence for Cyber Bullying in NSW, however the person may commit offences under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, 1955. Division 474, subdivision C. Telecommunications Offences.
- The Australian Media and Communications Authority has an excellent website called eSafety which carries advice for children, parents and schools: https://esafety.gov.au
Red flags for parents
Some warning signs, which may indicate cause for concern, include:
- Your child spends large amounts of time on the computer late at night. Most children that fall victim to computer sex offenders spend large amounts of time online particularly in chat rooms.
- Addiction to the computer along with a loss of interest in social activities, friends, family, etc. Computer sex offender's work very hard at driving a wedge between a child and their family or at exploiting their relationship.
- Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room. A child could be looking at pornography or is having sexually explicit conversations and does not want you to see the screen.
While this is not a total list, changes in your child's behaviour on the computer should be of concern.
What to do if...
Now that you are aware of some of the safety issues associated with children on the Internet, and have an idea of where to turn if something happens, now what?
If you have any concerns about material that your child has received via the internet or any interactions that cause concern you should contact you local Police Station as soon as possible.
If the matter requires specialist investigation or expertise they may forward it to the New South Wales Police Force Child Exploitation Internet Unit. This is a specialist unit within the State Crime Command Sex Crimes Squad and their mission is to investigate child sexual abuse and exploitation of children that is facilitated through the use of the Internet and related computer or telecommunication devices.
(For further information refer to the Child Exploitation Internet Site within the New South Wales Police Force Internet Site.)
If any of the following scenarios arise you should contact your local police or Crime Stoppers on the national toll free number 1800 333 000. Be guided by the advice they provide to you. Possible scenarios
- Your child or anyone in the household has received child pornography;
- Your child has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that your child is under 18 years of age;
- Your child has received sexually explicit images from someone that knows your child is under the age of 18.
If one of these scenarios occurs, keep the computer turned off in order to preserve any evidence for possible future law enforcement use. Unless directed to do so by any law enforcement agency, you should not copy any of the images/an or text found on the computer.