Topic outline

  • General

    This course will give you the skills and knowledge required to work safely and responsibly online. When you have completed it you will understand the risks of working online and be able to take appropriate precautions to safeguard yourself and others and protect data and IT systems.

    The course covers dealing with unwanted communications, protecting against identity theft and protecting systems against viruses and other threats. It is suitable for a wide range of candidates and is particularly appropriate for young people, parents and mature Internet users.

    There are four sections:

    1       Understand the risks that can exist when using the Internet.
    2       Know how to safeguard self and others when working online.
    3       Take precautions to maintain data security.
    4       Follow legal constraints, guidelines and procedures which apply when working online.

    You can navigate between the different sections and sub-sections of the course using either the pull down menus at the top of the page or the links at the bottom of each page.

    The course is assessed by means of a short multiple-choice test, delivered online and an assessment of the activities you have carried out. Contact your teacher for further information.

    • Internet Risks

      The first section of the course is about the risks that can exist when using the Internet.

      We’ll look first at  risks to user safety and privacy. These can include abusive behaviour (“cyberbullying”), inappropriate behaviour and grooming.  These threats can appear in a variety of different contexts, eg text messages, chat rooms, e-mail, social networking sites and instant messaging. You should also be aware of the need to minimise your “digital footprint” by minimising the amount of personal information you reveal online.

      After that, we’ll look at risks to data security. These include malicious programs (including viruses, worms, trojans, spyware and adware), hackers, phishing and identity theft. Once you have completed this part of the course you should be able to identify examples from all of these categories.

      Next we’ll look at risks to system performance and integrity, i.e. things which could cause your computer to slow down, crash or even break down. These threats include unwanted e-mail (often referred to as “spam”), malicious programs (including viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware) and hackers. Once you have completed this section you should be able to identify examples of all of these categories and you’ll also know about “hoax” threats (such as virus hoaxes) and emerging threats, including “ransomware”.

      We’ll then look at the steps you can take to minimise internet risks, including withholding personal information, reporting incidents to a responsible adult and making correct use of browser and social network security settings.

      Finally, we’ll look at the factors that affect the reliability of information on websites. You should realise that information found online cannot always be assumed to be reliable and you should know how to check factors such as scope of coverage, authority, objectivity, accuracy and timeliness.

      Select the activity below to begin.

    • Safeguarding Yourself & Others

      This section of the course is about taking precautions to ensure your own safety and privacy and that of others. These include content filtering, proxy servers, monitoring and reporting user behaviour and withholding personal information. It is important to use non-trivial usernames and passwords and to restrict the amount of personal information that you reveal online.  People that you encounter online may not be what they appear to, so you should take steps to confirm their identity, eg: by checking with others who may know them or by using WHOIS to check the ownership of domain names.

      You should know that cyberbullying and sextortion is unacceptable and should be reported to the relevant authorities. Cyberbullying and sextortion can take many forms, eg: text messaging, email, instant messaging, comments on social networking sites, videos etc.

      If you do encounter anything that concerns or upsets you, you should know when and how to report online safety issues, eg: what types of issues require to be reported and how to report them, particularly using the Click CEOP button and the CEOP website (http://ceop.police.uk/).  You should also know where to get online help and information on e-safety. Useful sources include http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ and http://www.childline.org.uk.

    • Maintaining Security & Performance

      In this section of the course we will look at maintaining data security and system performance and integrity. We’ll also consider the use of browser and software setting to enhance security.

      Precautions for maintaining data security include firewalls, software for detecting and disabling malicious programs or malware (including viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and adware) and e-mail filtering software (spam filters). Internet security suites may cover more than one category of threat.

      Precautions for maintaining system performance and integrity also include firewalls, software for detecting and disabling malicious programs or malware (including viruses, worms, trojans, spyware and adware) and e-mail filtering software (spam filters).

      We’ll also look at selecting the correct level of browser safety and security settings for major browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox. Many sites, including major social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, allow users to configure safety and security settings. The default settings are not necessarily the best option.

    • Legal Constraints, Guidelines & Procedures

      The Internet is a wonderful source of information and entertainment, but it’s important to realise that there are a number of restrictions on what you can and cannot do online.

      There are significant legal constraints on the uploading and downloading of software and other digital content, including music and videos. Many items are copyright and can incorporate digital rights management, such as restricting the number of times a media file can be copied or converted to another format. When you buy software, you will  normally receive a licence to use it. You do not own the software itself, nor do you have the right to copy it. Some types of licence, including freeware and shareware impose fewer restrictions.

      Legal constraints on online behaviour include protection of children legislation which prohibits grooming and inappropriate behaviour towards minors. You should ensure that you are familiar with the rules of “netiquette” which describes the recommended conduct of users in various online environments. Remember that libellous behaviour is subject to the same restrictions (and penalties) whether it is online or offline.

      You should always ensure that you observe the correct guidelines and procedures for safe use of the Internet. It is not sufficient to know about guidelines and procedures – you must apply these when you are online.

    • Quiz

      Now that you have worked your way through the course, why not test your knowledge by taking the following quiz.

      Select the quiz you wish to take from the links below.