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Internet and computer safety

Computer crime, or cyber crime, is when criminals use a computer or the internet to commit a range of crimes.

There are two different categories of cyber crime:

Pure cyber crime relates to crimes that can only be committed with the use of computers or the internet.  It is where a digital system is the target AND the means of attack.

Cyber-enabled crime is where computers and the internet are now used to commit existing types of crime.  This might include harassment, bullying, fraud and identity theft.

Staying safe online

The internet is a great place to learn, share, communicate and play.  But there are many risks online, particularly for children and young people.

There are a wide range of crimes that can be committed online so staying safe is important for everybody.  Many of these are crimes the same as those that can happen offline:

  • bullying
  • stalking and harassment
  • identity theft and fraud
  • revenge pornography
  • grooming and sexual abuse

Protect yourself and your computer

There are some things that you can do to help prevent you or your computer being at risk of a cyber crime:

  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date internet security software, switched on.
  • Don’t reveal personal information on social networking sites.
  • Regularly backup the data on your computer and smartphone/tablet.
  • Never reveal your password or PIN when asked to do so by email or on the phone.
  • Make sure your wireless network is secure at all times.
  • Be careful who you are selling to and buying from on auction sites.
  • Choose strong passwords, change them regularly and don’t tell anybody what they are.
  • When shopping, paying or banking online, always make sure the website is secure.
  • Always download the latest software and operating system updates when prompted.
  • Remember your smartphone is also a target for viruses and spyware.

See more information on all these tips at Get Safe Online

Social networks

Social networks allows us to communicate remotely with many people, none of whom we can actually see and many we do not know.  It leaves people open to embarrassment, abuse or at risk of being a victim of crime.

  • Be wary of publishing any personal information or photos of yourself.
  • Think before you post.  Even if you later delete a post, it may already have been captured by someone else as a screenshot.
  • Don’t post anything that may cause yourself or others embarrassment.
  • Don’t post anything that is abusive, derogatory or offensive to a person or a group in society. 
  • Don’t post your holiday dates.
  • Set your privacy settings appropriate to your needs.
  • Be aware of phishing scams, including fake friend requests or links websites that may contain a virus.

Social networks are a place where cyber bullying and cyber stalking can take place.  See our advice below.

Identity theft

Identity theft is when someone steals your personal details. It involves unauthorised use of your name and personal details to either steal from you, or commit a crime in your name. 

Identity theft can happen printed documents, over the phone and online.

Phishing, spoofing, malware and scareware are methods of identity theft.

You can reduce the risk of being a victim of identity theft by following this advice:

  • Ensure you have effective and up to date antivirus software installed
  • Use secure websites for shopping and banking online
  • Log out of websites when you have finished your transaction
  • Avoid using public computers for entering personal details. If you do, be sure to remove all your details and log out properly
  • Beware of anyone looking over your shoulder when entering personal details
  • Never give personal details in an email unless you are certain that the request is from a genuine source
  • Consider paperless billing

Cyber bullying and cyber stalking

Cyber bullying is any form of bullying that takes place online.  It happens a lot on the internet, particularly on social media sites.

Often the bully is known to the victim, but it is also easy for offenders to hide behind anonymous accounts.  Many may not even think what they are doing is wrong.

Cyber bullying can take many forms:

  • sending offensive, rude and insulting message and being abusive
  • spreading rumours and gossip
  • making personal threats
  • sharing photos (or altering photos) to ridicule someone
  • impersonating someone (by hacking into an account or creating a new account) to post vicious or embarrassing material
  • blackmailing and grooming

Cyber bullying can happen to anyone, including adults, and can leave a victim feeling embarrassed, humiliated, angry or depressed.  It could even lead victims to self-harm or commit suicide.

Reduce the risks of becoming a victim:

  • Don’t post any personal information about yourself
  • Don’t reply to any nasty messages
  • Review your privacy settings on your accounts.
  • Block or remove someone from your friends/followers list
  • Don’t upload anything that might embarrass you at a later date
  • Switch off your location settings
  • Consider closing your accounts

Keeping children safe online

Children and young people spend a lot of time online.  It is a great way for them to learn, socialise and play.  

But children are more vulnerable to the dangers that the internet pose. It is easy for them to see content that is inappropriate for them such as sexually explicit content, drug abuse or violence.

The NSPCC provides some excellent information and advice on keeping children safe online.  Talking to children is one of the best ways to keep them safe by making them aware of the risk.  Here are their top tips:

  • Have the conversation early and often
  • Explore online together
  • Know who your child is talking to online
  • Set rules and agree boundaries
  • Make sure that content is age-appropriate
  • Use parental controls to filter, restrict, monitor or report content
  • Check they know how to use privacy settings and reporting tools

Go to the NSPCC website for more information where you can also find a parents’ guide to being Share Aware

Report it

If you are experiencing bullying and harassment online, report the incident to the service provider. 

If doing this does not discourage their actions and the situation escalates to make you feel unsafe and intimidated, then contact us on 101 or report it online.

Keep any evidence that might be able to assist us: emails, text messages, screenshots and voicemails.  Your computer may need to be seized as evidence if an investigation follows.

You can also report inappropriate or offensive content to the service provider. 

If you have been a victim of identity theft or if your computer has been subject to a scam or virus (or attempted cyber attack), you should contact Action Fraud. They are the UK national fraud and internet crime reporting centre. You can use the online reporting tool or call the telephone number below.

Action Fraud

0300 123 2040
Report fraud on actionfraud.police.uk

More help and support

Get Safe Online


A parents’ guide to being share aware

Action Fraud
0300 123 2040


Know Fraud, No Fraud

Crimstoppers Game of Fraud

20 Feb 19 2:03 PM

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