Over the years, Safer Internet Day (SID) has become an important event in the online safety calendar. It started as an initiative of the EU’s Safe Borders project in 2004, and was taken up by the Insafe network as one of its earliest actions in 2005. The SID has grown to be recognised in 140 countries worldwide, and this year, the SID is celebrated on 5 February under the slogan “Together for a better internet”.
It comes at a time when corporate privacy scandals, global ransomware epidemics, nation-state attacks, and the regrettably fast-expanding cybercriminal world all threaten to tear the internet apart.
Google, the tech giant, recently conducted a survey on parents and teachers in the MENA region, and it found out that parents believe that children should learn about online safety and digital citizenship at the age of 10. The survey also showed that 43% of teachers say that parents need to do more in order to keep their children safe while surfing online. Additionally, 85% of teachers feel that they need more resources in order to teach online safety to students.
The US-based firm also published some tips for safer usage of internet coinciding with the SID, with the most important tip being the use of unique passwords for the accounts. Moreover, creating a unique password for each account eliminates the risk of being hacked in all online accounts at once. Each password should be hard to guess and better yet, at least eight characters long.
It is also important to go one step further in order to secure the accounts by setting up a two-step verification, which requires the user to go through a second step—such as entering a six-digit code which is generated by authenticator apps to allow signing into the account. This will significantly decrease the chances of someone gaining unauthorised access to the account.
Setting up a recovery phone number or email address, while keeping them updated, can be useful for a quicker access into the account in case the user cannot sign in. For many web services, a recovery phone number or email address can be used to notify the user if there is any suspicious activity in the account.
Moreover, parents need to talk to their children about online safety before handing them an electronic device. Children should know what is appropriate to be shared online and with whom, as well as how to spot online scams, in addition to recognising when to consult a trusted adult.