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Whether your kids are attending a virtual class or using online resources for homework, here are 9 ways to help ensure a safe experience online

By Virgin Media

Textbooks and classrooms are still an important part of school life, but ever since the pandemic made virtual classrooms and remote lectures commonplace, we’ve seen more and more learning taking place in the digital world. It’s the reason many kids and young adults will be starting the new school year with a new device.


And while phones, tablets and computers have become essential to learning, they play just as big a part in our everyday lives – which makes online security doubly important. Malware can infect your device and render it useless, jeopardising all the work you’ve done, plus there are constant, ever-evolving online threats to our privacy, identity and even our finances.


Why not make securing your family’s devices part of your back-to-school prep? After all, your household’s internet safety is just as essential as fresh stationery or a new backpack. And to make it easy, we’ve gathered nine online safety tips that will help protect your equipment and give peace of mind about your childrens’ online experience.


Antivirus protection will help prevent your devices from becoming infected with dangerous malware; because it blocks viruses in real time, you can download apps and files without worrying about whether or not they’re safe. It’s really that simple.


The easiest way to protect your devices is to subscribe to an app that you can use across all the phones, tablets, and computers in your household. Even better? Choose one like Virgin Media Internet Security that will also protect your money from scammers when banking and shopping online.


Apps and systems sometimes have critical flaws that can endanger your whole device, even if you’ve opted for antivirus protection. Improving security is often the reason they’re updated regularly.


To save yourself from having to track every update, you can enable automatic updates on your devices so you’ll always have the latest security patches.


Access to your online accounts, whether it’s a gaming account or an online shop, is valuable to criminals because they can steal and sell your content. If they can steal your personal details, they can use the information for identity theft.


Protect all of your accounts – including school-related accounts – with strong and unique passwords. This way, if a criminals steals one password, they won’t be able to break into all of your accounts. One of the easiest ways to create a unique password for personal and school-related credentials is to use a password manager that will generate and securely store your information.


And if a criminal does manage to steal a password from one of your online services? A single stolen password is useless if you set a double lock to your accounts with two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA requires an additional verification step, such as a fingerprint or a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password. It means that even if your password is stolen, the criminal can’t hijack your account without also stealing your phone.


When it comes to online safety, public WiFi networks are notoriously insecure. You can never know who runs the network and why, and not even password protection will guarantee the safety of your devices or information.


If you are studying in a café or have to use public WiFi, adopt safe browsing habits and avoid transmitting sensitive data, such as passwords or banking information.


If you have a VPN app that encrypts your connection, it’s worth enabling it, particularly when you or your family are abroad and need to use public WiFi at airports and hotels.


The term phishing refers to online scams that trick you into releasing login credentials and personal information. If you’re caught out, it can lead to your identity being stolen or your accounts hijacked. As a rule, you should never give your personal information, login credentials or banking information in response to an email or message.


Phishing attempts have become increasingly sophisticated and scammers often leverage shock and surprise to exploit your vulnerabilities, delivering threatening messages about payment issues, account warnings and delivery notifications or offering prizes, gifts and free content. It’s safest to regard any too-good-to-be-true messages with suspicion and avoid clicking on the links.


If the message has convinced you that it might have come from a reputable source, you should always double-check by signing in via the company website instead of clicking the link provided in the email.


There is a whole wealth of websites and online information to consult when you’re researching and revising, but it’s also important to be discerning about your sources. Not everything you read online is reliable or accurate, so it’s best to consult reputable websites and trusted experts, and to cross-reference information from multiple reliable sources. It’s the best way to avoid an embarrassing mistake in your schoolwork – and being exposed to online scams.


Oversharing personal information online can have long-term consequences; it’s challenging to erase anything once you’ve published it in the virtual world, and you never know who is watching, from bullies to online scammers to a potential future employer.


It’s always a good time to review and update your privacy settings on social media platforms, keeping your profile private and never accepting friend requests from strangers whose real identity or motives are unclear.


We’ve shared lots of ideas that should help you take your digital security into your own hands. By adopting these cyber security practices, you’re guaranteed a safer online experience throughout your school journey, and for additional peace of mind, register here for Virgin Media Internet Security. Once that’s done, you can install Virgin Media Internet Security onto all your mobiles, tablets and computers. You can try it obligation-free for the first 3 months as payment details are taken at the end of the trial period. After that, it’s just £3 per month (or £30 a year).


Here’s to a happy, safe and secure school year!

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Virgin Media Internet Security: New Virgin Media Internet Security customers only. Registration required. One subscription per Virgin Media customer. Unlimited devices, after the first 15 devices will need to be registered via f-secure. £3 per month or annual subscription for £30. See here for full details. See here for more terms.