Staying Safe Online

Supporting our communities to have safe digital lives.


The online world is an exciting place, full of information, products and services which the vast majority of us use without issue.

However, there are criminals who take advantage of the anonymity of the online world to deceive, hack and steal if the opportunity arises.

The good news is by following simple precautions, you can enjoy the opportunities being online has to offer.

As part of Safer Internet Day, which takes place in February of each year, we recently produced this video on how West Sussex is working together for a better and safer internet...

Top Tips

Some important top tips to increase your online security:

Strong Passwords

A strong password is your first defence against hackers and cyber criminals.

To create a strong password simply choose three random words. Numbers and symbols can still be used if needed, however, using three random words is the key to creating a strong password. For example 2bluecakedog76!

Keep in mind cyber criminals are very smart and know many of the simple substitutions we use such as ‘Pa55word!” which utilises symbols to replace letters. 

Never use any word which is related to you and may be easy to guess, for example by looking at your social media pages.

Update your Software

What many people don’t realise is that software updates contain vital security upgrades which help keep your devices secure – they are not just there to improve performance.

Always download the latest software updates as soon as they are available

The majority of people don’t always download the latest software updates for their devices as soon as they are available to do so. 

The most common reason for this is that people feel it is too time consuming.

However, it only takes a few minutes to download software and app updates versus the time it can take to recover from a cyber hack.

Why not watch our video on the Top 10 tips for online safety...

For more information and advice please visit our Get Safe Online West Sussex Page or the National Cyber Aware webpage.

You can also watch the Think Before You Click short film produced by the Members of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner’s Youth and Elders’ Commissions.

This film aims to demonstrate the importance of following the two golden rules: creating a strong password and updating your software regularly.

Get Safe Online Campaigns

Get Safe Online Campaign: February 2019 - Safe Dating

Will you still love me, tomorrow? We can’t promise how long your relationship will last, but GSO can help you date safely online.

Online dating is a great way to meet new people. It’s convenient, offers a wide choice of potential suitors and is also a great way to communicate when developing a relationship. And it often leads to a long-lasting or even lifelong partnership. But, of course, the relationship may fizzle out for a number of reasons - that’s life.

But if those reasons are sinister, that’s very different. GSO would like to help you protect yourself against some of these dangers, such as fraud, sexual exploitation and physical harm.

Before you next go online to find love, please take a few minutes to read these expert tips:

Pick a reputable dating service and don’t move the conversation away from the website or app’s messaging service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are, and that their motives are honourable.

Check that the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’, ‘romance scam’ or ‘catfish’ into your search engine. Do a reverse image search to see if the photo is actually of somebody else.

Never send money or your bank details to someone you’ve met online, no matter how convincing the reason they give for needing it, nor how long you’ve been speaking to them. Banks usually do their best to track and recover your payment, but aren’t responsible for your losses if the request is fraudulent.

Get to know the person, not the profile. Ask plenty of questions and don’t rush into anything. This may also help you avoid becoming a victim of a false relationship where you’re simply being used for sex.

Remember that some dating apps use your mobile device’s location services to enable matches, but this could also compromise your personal safety.

Don’t overshare personal details. Revealing your full name, date of birth, home address or workplace could lead to fraud, identity theft or even personal harm. Protect the names, details and locations of your children and family members.

Be wary if someone you meet online tells you not to mention them to your friends and family. Fraudsters and sexual predators work by isolating their victims.

Before meeting an online suitor in person for the first time, tell a friend or family member that you’re meeting, and where. Keep your mobile phone switched on, and think about arranging for someone to call you during the date to give you the opportunity to make an excuse and leave early.

If you become a victim of romance fraud, don’t be embarrassed but report it immediately by visiting Action Fraud's website or by calling 0300 123 2040 – as well as reporting it to the dating site where you met the perpetrator. Report any assaults to the police.

WSCC GSO Date Safe Leaflet

You can also find more practical and impartial advice on safe online dating

Events and Training

We are regularly running online safety events and training sessions across the County and will keep this section up to date of everything that is happening so make sure to check back and see what’s new!

Stay Safe Sessions

A number of sessions will take place across the County through October 2018 – March 2019 for a range of audiences including Businesses, Parents and Carers, 50+ Generation, Professionals and Voluntary & Community Groups to attend.

With a focus on Online Safety, a range of professionals will lead the sessions delivering key advice about the challenges faced online - with support and input from trainers covering some specific issues such as exploitation and radicalisation.

To find out more, please visit the campaign page.

Young People

Play your part and help make the internet become a safe and secure place for you and your friends to communicate.

We want to equip you with the knowledge and information you need to manage your online presence and spot the signs of friends who may be vulnerable and in danger.

Watch our video below and learn about real-life online dangers...

Be in control of your online profile

It’s never too late to adjust your account’s privacy settings and acting sooner rather than later could reduce the risk of having to block or delete a user in future.

Head to Your Space for tips on how to stay safe on social media, sexting advice and how to report someone’s online behaviour.

If you aren’t doing so already, learn about the key measures recommended to help maximise your online security. Click here for advice on choosing a password and managing software updates.

For more information and support head to Think You Know which aims to empower children and young people aged 5-17 to identify the risks they may face online and know where they can go for support.

Remember if you are ever worried or concerned about anything online talk to a trusted adult or call Childline 0800 1111, talk to a counsellor online, even send Childline an email or post on the message boards.

Parents and Carers

Supporting your child to navigate the online world and the challenges it can bring can seem pretty daunting at times.

The main thing you can do is to keep an open dialogue and talk about what they are doing. To help you do this there are some brilliant resources you can use and events happening across the County you may wish to participate in.

Stay Safe Sessions – A number of sessions will take place across the County through October 2018 – March 2019 for Parents and Carers to attend. Focusing on Online Safety, the NSPCC will lead the sessions, delivering key advice about the risks young people face online with support and input from trainers covering some specific issues such as exploitation and radicalisation - introducing practical ways to manage such risks and to help children safely enjoy the many benefits the internet has to offer.

Produced in partnership with the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board, 'A guide to keeping your child safe online', offers information and advice to parents & carers on factors that could help reduce the risk of being targeted by cyber criminals...

Parent Carer Guide

These include: online behaviour, content suitability, parental controls, online relationships and how to report an issue.

Watch our video below and learn how to set up parental controls...

Netaware - Set up by O2 & the NSPCC, Netaware is an excellent up to date guide about the social networks children use – it can also be downloaded as an app. 

You can also call their dedicated helpline whether you want to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings or get advice on social networks. Experts from the O2 & NSPCC will help. Call 0808 8005002.

The NSPCC also have some great information about talking to young people about staying safe online.

Internet Matters has a great webpage about parental controls and some handy step by step guides.


Nearly half of all businesses (46%) reported a cyber breach or attack in the past 12 months according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport's Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017.

The impact of a cyber breach or attack can be huge with many potential consequences such as financial loss, time to resolve the problem, potential loss of customers, damage to your reputation and more.

What is important to keep in mind is that protecting your business from hackers and viruses does not have to take lots of work, time or money.

It is recommended first and foremost to follow our top tipcs to improve your online security. There is then a range of government approved advice and guidance you can follow to help better protect your business.

Take a look at these great resources on offer for you and your business:

Cyber Essentials is a Government and industry-backed standard which protects your business against cyber threats.

Cyber Security: a guide for small businesses

This guide contains simple, practical advice on how to improve cyber security in your organisation quickly, easily and at low cost.

The guide contains five quick and easy steps which can save you time, money, protect your business’ reputation and significantly reduce the chances of your business becoming a victim of cyber-crime.

Protect your data

You are required by law to protect data you hold and process about your customers, suppliers and staff. Find out more about the Data Protection Act and get simple, practical advice on how to keep your customers, suppliers and employees’ personal information secure.

Train your staff

Free online cyber security training for staff managers and business owners

SEROCU offer Cyber Security training for Businesses – if you are interested contact via and we will put you in touch with them.

Government cyber security advice for businesses

Phishing emails

West Sussex County Council have been notified that its partners, suppliers and schools are being targeted with malicious 'phishing emails', mostly seeking payment of invoices.

These emails are crafted (spoofed) to appear as if sent from a named individual within WSCC and typically include an invoice attachment.

WSCC are implementing tools which aim to reduce the likelihood of our partners and schools receiving malicious emails using a WSCC email address, however it is strongly recommended that organisations look to implement email security best practice to reduce spam or malicious emails.

This may include implementing DMARC, SPF, DKIM and a mailbox protection software such as Microsoft’s Exchange Online Protection.

If you have received an email seeking payment of an invoice and you are unsure of the legitimacy of the email, please contact the Income Team on or call 0330 222 2424.

If you do receive a malicious email purporting to be from West Sussex, please forward it to and delete the email.

The National Cyber Security Centre also has a video on how to defend your organisation from phishing attacks.

Advice and Support

Cyber Aware

Cyber Aware (formerly Cyber Streetwise) aims to drive behaviour change amongst small businesses and individuals, so that they adopt simple secure online behaviours to help protect themselves from cyber criminals.

Get Safe Online

Get Safe Online is a joint initiative between the Government, the National Crime Agency, and public and private sector supporters from the world of technology, communication, retail and finance to raise awareness of internet security.


Visit your local library to pick up a Get Safe Online in West Sussex leaflet (or download one via our resources tab). Library staff will also be able to help by giving you information or sign posting you to advice and resources to help you stay safe online.

Sussex Police

Sussex Police is responsible for policing the county of Sussex in southern England, report crime and incidents here.

Cyber Challenge UK

Cyber Security Challenge UK is a series of national competitions, learning programmes, and networking initiatives designed to identify, inspire and enable more people to become cyber security professionals.

Age UK West Sussex

Age UK offer activities in their centres across the county with some ‘Teach and Tech’ sessions run offering information and advice about tablets, phones and laptops.

O2 store experts

Did you know you can book an appointment with an NSPCC-trained O2 Guru? Bring your devices with you and they'll be happy to answer your questions and set up your devices with parental controls. It's so simple!


Where to get help and support?

Have you or your business been a victim of cybercrime? Report it to Action Fraud via

If you suspect that a child or young person has been, or is being, groomed or exploited this must be shared with one of the agencies below:

Police: 101 or in an emergency 999

West Sussex Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH): 01403 229900

For advice and support call the NSPCC Online Safety helpline: 08088 005002


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