Using the internet can be educational, entertaining, and can simplify the daily organisation of our lives.
These benefits come with risks and challenges and it is important that you and your family are protected. Securing your computer, being aware of the hazards, and practicing safe online behaviour are ways you can minimise your exposure to online risks.
For more information about keeping your technology as safe and up to date as possible visit Student IT and eLearning Support.
More information about appropriate behaviour on social media.
Protecting your personal information and identity
Your identity is valuable, you should always be cautious about submitting too much personal information online.
- Make sure the sites you are using are secured with SSL encryption technology. Check to see whether they have https or a locked padlock symbol before their url prior to entering any personal information into forms online.
- Don’t just accept it when a site or app asks for your personal information. Try to find out why they need it, how they are going to store it, how long they are storing it for, where are they storing it.
- Clear your browser history and “cookies” regularly (cookies are small text files created by websites to recognize you each time you visit and keep track of your login identity and preferences).
- Avoid using public or free (unsecured) wifi networks to do any online transacting that involves entry of personal details.
If you believe you may be the victim of identity theft you can contact ID Care for advice and support.
A good rule to apply is that if something seems too good to be true, then it usually is.
- You should never provide your personal banking or account information online or in response to an email, even if it looks like an email from your own bank. Similarly, do not respond to requests for money through email, phone calls or SMS.
- If you have responded to a scam, then you should STOP all communication with them and ignore any new messages or attempts to contact you. You can also block their number or email address on your device.
- If you have given them your banking details call your bank immediately (on a number you know to be real) or go into a branch. If you have given the scammers your personal information, change the passwords for all your accounts immediately.
- The Student Housing website has information on how to spot potential real estate and accommodation scams.
ScamWatch provides more information and warnings about scams, how to report them, and where to get help.
Image-based abuse is when someone shares or threatens to share intimate or sexual photos or videos online, via email or MMS either for the purposes of revenge (sometimes also referred to as ‘revenge porn’), to deliberately humiliate and bully, or to menace, blackmail and extort money (in ‘catfishing’ scams).
- Even if you have shared a photo with someone consensually, it is never your fault if that person then shares that image without your consent.
- Knowing that your image is out there can make you feel helpless and vulnerable; however there are steps you can take to have the images removed by the host sites and legal options to support you.
- If you are aware of image based abuse of a person under 18 years of age you should report this immediately as there are specific laws that deal with content
The eSafetyWomen site has a page dedicated to how to manage if you have been the victim of image based abuse.
Safe online social interactions
Cyberbullying, trolling and online abuse
Being cyberbullied or trolled can be a traumatic experience. In general, trolls target their victims indiscriminately and post inflammatory material to provoke an emotional response. Cyberbullies, on the other hand, deliberately target their victims and may across multiple platforms with the intention of causing harm to hurt their victims socially and psychologically.
- Ignore: Don’t engage in conversations or online arguments with trolls or cyberbullies, this may just perpetuate their behaviour, and some may even enjoy knowing that they have successfully upset you.
- Keep: Keep screen-shots as documented evidence of the behaviour and any threats that they may have made against you. This can be used later if you need further support or wish to pursue legal or police intervention.
- Report: Contact the social media site or platform where the behaviour is happening to report it. Social media services are required to take down material believed to be cyberbullying in nature. Most social media services will have a Help or Report section on their site.
- Delete & Block: Delete the person from your contacts and block them from being able to re-contact you. Advise your close friends that you have been experiencing harassment from that person and that you do not wish to have any further contact with them.
The eSafety Commissioner has a site listing all the major apps, games and social networking sites, and their support and reporting mechanisms.
Online dating is becoming a far more common way of meeting new people, and many couples successfully form relationships after making initial contact online. However, it is still important to take precautions in the initial stages of meeting someone new.
- Check out a variety of different online dating sites and apps – make sure you feel comfortable with the types of people they seem to attract. Read the site’s policies in relation to privacy and protecting your details.
- Avoid using your real name, and never use your full name. Limit the amount of personal information you share.
- Don’t link your online dating profile to your social media accounts and use a different photo to any other photo that you may have used with another online or social network.
- Arrange to meet out in a public place and avoid secluded areas, organise your own mode of transportation so you can leave easily at any time.
- Remember alcohol affects your judgment and don’t let someone buy you a drink that you haven’t seen being prepared.
- Always let someone know where you are going, who you are meeting up with and when you will return.
- Trust your gut feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Don’t second guess yourself – if you are in doubt, leave as soon as possible.
Technology facilitated stalking and abuse is the use of technology to stalk and perpetrate abuse on a person. It can include behaviours such as sending numerous threatening/abusive/manipulative or harassing messages to a person’s phone, email or social media account. Hacking into a person’s email or social media accounts to find information on them, or to deliberately change the password to restrict their own access to them and then to use those accounts to impersonate that person. To spy on or track a person’s movements, relationships and activities.
- Make sure you know how your geo-location services on your mobile phone works and where possible, keep it switched off.
- Don’t ‘check in’ to places on social media and don’t let friends or family check you in to places either.
- Cyberstalking is a crime in all states and territories in Australia.
- If you believe you are being cyberstalked, contact your local police.
Refer to our Safer Community page on Stalking for further information and safety tips.