Posted by Jonny Pelter on 25.02.20 in Guest Blogs

Cyber security professional with over 10 years consulting experience


New 2020 Statutory DoE Guidance…Internet Safety in the Spotlight

Schools and PSHE (Personal, social, health and economic) leads in September will need to meet a new set of statuary requirements set out by the Department of Education on RSE and Health Education. In this article, internet safety expert and founder of SimpleCyberLife.com Jonny Pelter summarises some of the key area's schools will need to focus to meet compliance.


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Schools and PSHE (Personal, social, health and economic) leads in September will need to meet a new set of statuary requirements set out by the Department of Education on RSE and Health Education. In this article, internet safety expert and founder of SimpleCyberLife.com Jonny Pelter summarises some of the key area’s schools will need to focus to meet compliance.

1.       Pupils Must be Taught the Risks Associated With Sexualised Media of Themselves

With sexting and social media crazes encouraging students to post naked selfies of themselves on apps like TikTok, schools must ensure our younger generations are fully aware of the risks. This is important because the law can be very inflexible and students can be left with a criminal record and put on a sex register just for sending naked pictures of themselves to their current boyfriend/girlfriend. This is because it is illegal to distribute pornographic images of a child, even if it is sent by the child themselves.

What can teachers do? Existing ‘ultimatum type’ advice to “Stop sexting because it’s bad” can, unfortunately, be ineffective in some cases. Some people are going to continue sexting regardless, so we need a realistic solution that ensures our security and privacy at the same time. If they’re going to keep sexting they should;

·         Never take a compromising photo/video with their face or any identifying features in it (including the background)

·         Have anti-virus software installed on their device

·         Store the media in an encrypted media vault app like KYMS (Keep-Your-Media-Safe)

·         Use a password manager to ensure they have secure passwords for cloud accounts that sync media (e.g. iCloud or OneDrive)

2.       Pupils Must Have an Awareness of How Their Personal Data Might be Used and Misused

The young generations often don’t fully comprehend the monetisation of their personal data and how the technology giants like Facebook use and sell their personal data for money-making purposes. Students also need to be aware of the fact that these very organisations they trust to safeguard their personal data, often get hacked and lose their data.

What can teachers do? Explain how organisations use personal data for targeted marketing purposes. They sell our data to unknown third parties who then analyse and process it further. Encourage them to enter their email address into www.haveibeenpwned.com to check if their personal data has already been hacked. They can use www.breachalarm.com to set up a free monitoring service so they are notified when their data has fallen into the wrong hands!

3.       Pupils Must Know How to Recognise Risks and Potentially Harmful Contacts 

Almost all apps, dating websites and online games nowadays have a social networking element, meaning, there is the potential for students to be approached by complete strangers. This naturally comes with risks of cyberbullying, trolling and even online grooming which can have a catastrophic impact on both their psychological and physical safety.

What can teachers do? Teach the fact that ‘stranger danger’ applies as much online as it does in real life. Being able to identify when someone online has malicious intentions can be a huge help in stopping these threats before they get chance to materialise;

·         Does the stranger ask you to keep secrets from your friends/parents? Perhaps they provide excuses for why they cannot video chat with you via a service like Skype or Facebook Messenger (video chat is very difficult to fake).

·         They request information such as photos/videos/etc.

·         Google the person and check things that they’ve told you. A complete lack of digital footprint nowadays should be a red flag.

·         Use www.tineye.com to check if their profile photo is actually of them or if it’s a stock photo

·         How many ‘friends’ do they have? Typically, fake profiles will struggle to build a network of connections because the person is purely fictional. If less than 300 be wary.

4.       Over-Sharing of Personal Data

Cybercriminals use social media sites as a supermarket to pick their targets. Share too much personal data and you can easily fall victim to things like cyberbullying, sexual predators, financial fraud and identity theft.

What can teachers do? There are a number of really easy and practical steps students can do to ensure they’re not over-sharing;

·         Tighten privacy settings of social media accounts and set to ‘private’ so only your friends can find your profile, ensuring your profile doesn’t show up in search engine results.

·         Never post any of the following information online; date of birth, mobile/landline telephone numbers, home town, relationship status, school/work locations, graduation dates, pet names, and other interests and hobbies (these can be used to guess security questions or passwords).

·         Photos taken from smartphones give away much more information than you’d think, like the GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken which anyone can find if they want to. Go to the settings on your phone and turn this functionality off.

·         When creating new profiles on a social media site; 

o    Don’t create usernames or IDs that include your full name, date of birth or any information that is part of your password.

o    When completing the ‘My Details’ sections of the registration forms, only complete the fields marked by a red asterisk.

If you as teachers or parents of students have any queries or are unsure how to actually implement any of these tasks, go to www.simplecyberlife.com where we can help. Recently featured on the BBC News, we are providing a revolutionary new service to parents and schools, transforming how you protect yourselves and your students from internet safety issues.

Schools can get an ‘Enterprise Membership’ to our platform where all teachers can get access to all our help and resources. The best bit? Our personal expert advice service. Through our discussion forum and monthly Q&A calls, you can ask whatever questions you like direct to an internet safety expert and they will provide a personal response. As we launch the business, enterprise memberships are only £1.50/month per teacher! Drop jonny@simplecyberlife.com an email to enquire about signing your school up today.

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