Let’s recap Safer Internet Day: are you contributing positively to online spaces?
Last week, on Tuesday, 7 February 2023, we acknowledged the 20th anniversary of Safer Internet Day – an internationally-recognised, annual event in which we are all encouraged to think about how we can create and maintain safe spaces online.
With technology having greater reach than ever before, our online behaviour has the capacity to impact our lives in dramatic ways. Even though the connectivity with loved ones and our chosen communities is a fantastic benefit of digital interactions, the increasing prevalence and sophistication of data breaches, cyber attacks and malicious social media usage can harm any one of us.
What is your online behaviour like?
While we may not always be able to prevent being targeted by cyber criminals or online bullies, we can avert any negative impacts by diligently arming ourselves with knowledge, in addition to proactively reviewing our own online behaviours so that we are not responsible for harming others.
Recent research has identified almost half of Australian children, and 67% of adults, have experienced online abuse. Of further concern, young adolescents are being increasingly exposed to harmful content, while LGBTIQ+ and First Nations Australians face double the national average of online hate speech while participating in online activities.
This is not good enough.
Our online behaviour, like our face-to-face conduct, has consequences. For Safer Internet Day this year, we were all urged to Connect. Reflect. Protect. to ensure our online spaces are safe and supportive for all participants.
What does Connect. Reflect. Protect. mean?
When using online spaces, we should all Connect with others safely and with good intentions, Reflect by considering how our actions may affect others, and Protect ourselves and others by educating each other on cautious and ethical online behaviours.
What can I do?
Here at Deakin, we strive for everyone to feel respected and welcome. On Safer Internet Day 2023, student and Cyber Security intern Tess Rhodes (left) shared some simple steps you can take immediately to ensure our online spaces are safe for all.
- Connect. Are you using social media responsibly? It’s important you check your social media privacy settings, restrict the amount of information you share online, and remember to be kind when interacting on social media. ‘If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it behind a screen,’ says Tess.
- Reflect. Have you received any emails, phone calls or text messages (especially any unsolicited communications) that look a little dodgy, or seem to good to be true, it’s likely a scam. Remember to use the Phish Alert button in your emails to report any suspicious emails to Digital Services so they can assess the material and take the necessary steps to protect you and Deakin. ‘Stay alert for emails and texts that seem phishy,’ says Tess. ‘Scams can affect anyone at any time.’
- Protect. When studying or working online, remember to keep your platforms safe by using Deakin’s Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), secure passwords and/or by locking your computer if you step away momentarily. ‘MFA is super simple and offers a second layer of security/protection to your accounts,’ says Tess.
By remembering this easy-to-follow advice, you can improve our online safety and have a positive impact on others. And while you’re at it, start a conversation about what you’ve learned with your friends, family and colleagues – by doing so, you are also helping to create awareness of the risks and instil positive habits that will help to keep us all safe online.
Remember you are not alone if you are targeted online. If you are impacted by cyber harassment or abuse, you can report the behaviour to a lecturer or Safer Communities at Deakin. Where relevant, you can also report cyber harassment via the University’s Student Conduct and Student Complaints processes.
Want more information?
- Visit the eSafety Commissioner’s Safer Internet Day website for more information.
- Deakin’s Cyber Security blog will keep you up to date with the latest known online scams and show you how to stay safe online.
- Got a question or IT issue? Contact Deakin’s IT Help.
- The Australian Cyber Security Centre also has lots of helpful information about how to protect yourself online and what to do if you’re hacked.
- If you’ve clicked a suspicious link and sent money, shared your banking details or are worried that your banking details may have been breached, contact your financial institution immediately.
And please remember: don’t be embarrassed to report any suspicious activity – your experience may help prevent someone else from being scammed and stop cyber criminals in their tracks.