Coronavirus and staying safe online

Over the past few weeks we’ve all had to think about how we can do things differently, and while face-to-face is no longer an option, more often than not this means doing things digitally. It’s been amazing to see how quickly third sector organisations like Leep 1, Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours, and LASSN have adapted their offer to connect with service users using digital tools, and the 100% Digital Leeds team has been inundated by requests for help to get vulnerable and isolated people online so that they can access vital services and stay in touch with people during quarantine, via the new 100% Digital Leeds: COVID-19 Fund and traditional channels.

In the rush to adopt new platforms and encourage people to embrace digital, eSafety is a concern. There has been a reported increase in online scams and much discussion on the safety concerns of newly popular video calling platforms like Zoom and Houseparty. As organisations and individuals develop their digital skills it’s important that their knowledge of how to stay safe online is developed at the same rate.

The 100% Digital Leeds team has pulled together the best tools to help keep people safe online over on our tools page and here are some of our top tips for staying safe online.

Staying safe online: the basics

Everyone who can get online – no matter what level they’re at how how much they make use of digital – should know the essentials of how to stay safe online. Here are some of 100% Digital Leeds’ favourite tools that cover the basics of eSafety.

Learn My Way has a useful module that covers the essentials, is accessible, and doesn’t take too long to complete.

Age UK has a simple guide to staying safe online which touches on things that might be particulary relevant to older people such as health scams ad relationship scams. The information is also available as a  leaflet to download and print

Get Safe Online has an easy-to-follow checklist designed for people new to the internet.

UK Safer Internet Centre is a great place to find out how to keep children and young people safe online and publish lots of easy-to-follow guides to help people understand the risks of the latest apps, platforms, and games.

The National Cyber Security Centre is the UK’s independent authority on cyber security, offering advice to everyone, including businesses of all sizes. They also publish lots of simple easy to understand guides like this one published on their Twitter page – give them a follow to keep up with internet safety trends and concerns.


Top safety tips for video calling, whatever the platform

There has been lots of recent concern about the safety of popular video calling apps like Zoom and Houseparty, which has triggered Zoom at least to improve their security and privacy options. Avoid unwanted chat guests by following these top tips.

  1. Get to know you privacy settings: make sure you’re avoiding random people being able to drop by. If you’re not sure, Google it. There are lots of guides on optimal privacy settings such as these for Zoom and Houseparty and UK Safer Internet Centre have published a guide to the privacy settings of the most popular platforms. Just make sure the guide is recent as platforms have been working hard to update their settings as safety concerns have been risen by users.
  2. Think about how you’re inviting people to your chat: don’t share access information on public platforms without using other safety features. If anyone can access the information to join your chat, anyone can join your chat, and that how you get ‘Zoom bombed’. Instead of sharing login links and passcodes on open platforms like Facebook and Twitter, consider asking people to email you for an invitation. Use features like Zoom’s Waiting Room to further vet who is entering the chat.
  3. Think about who can control the chat content: know who can do things like share their screen, play media, and share instant messages. Check the platform’s settings to find out how you can restrict this access before the chat starts.
  4. Know how to manage attendees if they say or do anything inappropriate: if you come across trouble makers its best to know in advance how to mute them, throw them out of the chat, block them and, if appropriate, report them.

Staying safe from online scams

The key to avoiding online scams is staying vigilant and keeping up the scams currently  doing the round. Here are three resources to keep you and your service users up to date.

Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud & cyber reporting centre where you can report fraud as well as getting advice and up to date information. Their site includes an A-Z of fraud and guides to different types of fraud. Follow their social media for update with new scams and trends.

Friends Against Scams  is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering people to take a stand against scams. They offer free scam prevention online training and have published this handy guide to scams that are particularly prevalent during the current crisis.

We’ve already mentioned the National Cyber Security Centre but worth mentioning again because their social media is another great place to keep up with the latest on scams and how to avoid them.