Partnership for a safer internet

06 Feb 2018 |Written by Francesca Coleman

Every Monday my Dad disappears off to his ‘old boys’ lunch. The ‘old boys’ are a gang of friends who met whilst working at a bank more than 30 years ago and who’ve remained friends ever since. The group, ranging from their mid-50s to mid-80s meet every week and pass comment on news and politics of the day and reflect on how the world is changing around them.

Why am I telling you about this? Well a few weeks ago, my Dad was recounting a story about one of the group getting a call to tell him his computer software had expired and he was at risk of getting hacked.

“You need to upgrade this urgently,” the caller told him, “so what you’ll need to do is share your bank details with me to pay the fee and we’ll do everything for you.” Roger had recently seen his son who’d checked his computer and told the caller he didn’t think he was at risk, but the caller assured him he was and pressed on saying how urgent this issue was.

Although Roger was persuaded to hand over some details, he did, thankfully, have the presence of mind to check with his bank who immediately prevented any fraudulent transactions.

Still, I couldn’t believe that my Dad was telling me this - or that Roger hadn’t spotted any warning signals. Roger, a former bank manager, had been trained in his career to identify fraud and look out for irregularities - why wasn’t this experience helping him now?

Before we jump to a generational assumption - the issue of online safety and our own awareness isn’t an age specific issue - I recently asked a friend how regularly she updates her passwords, to which she mumbled a response and changed the subject.

Of course, in an increasingly ‘digital by default’ world, it’s ever important to understand how to stay safe online.

Stories of online scams and hacks are increasingly in the media and it’s easy to understand why fear about online security is one of the commonly cited reasons for adults not using the internet. When thinking about this blog, I quickly lost an hour reading various stories such as ‘the top internet scams in 2017’ and ‘the biggest internet data breaches’.

These are just a few reasons why we at Good Things Foundation believe learning how to stay safe online is a vital part of developing digital skills and confidence.

So what are we doing about it?

To address such an important (and huge) issue, we recognise we can not tackle it alone - partnerships are a fundamental part of how we support so many people to benefit from digital.

  • For the last four years, thousands of adults have been supported to develop their digital skills and confidence through the Future Digital Inclusion project - funded by the Department for Education.
  • Working with TalkTalk we developed the course ‘Staying safe in your digital world’ available on our learning platform Learn My Way. It aims to help learners understand how to keep themselves and their family safe, covering topics such as how to avoid your personal information being shared on the internet, how to protect yourself when using social media and how to avoid scam telephone calls.
  • Working with Lloyds Banking Group we developed the course ‘Keeping your personal information secure online’, covering topics such as ways to avoid identity theft, how to identify email scams (phishing), using online banking safely and how to look after your digital footprint.
  • In the last year, we’ve deepened our partnerships with both TalkTalk and Lloyds Banking Group to work with the Online Centres Network to support thousands of individuals across the UK to develop their digitals skills including how to keep themselves and their data secure.

Of course, none of this work would be possible without the hard work of the Online Centres Network - our loyal network made up of over 5,000 grassroots organisations, all working to tackle digital and social exclusion by providing people with the skills and confidence they need to access digital technology.

I’m grateful that we’ve got such substantial support to help us make sure that the Rogers of this world are as equipped as possible to protect themselves and their families while navigating an often daunting online world.

As proud supporters of the Safer Internet Day campaign, this is an opportune time to make a commitment to improve your knowledge of online safety or help those around you.