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.

WSCC Secure Mail

From 31 March 2019, West Sussex County Council will use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt and protect our email traffic in line with government security guidance.

If your email service does not support TLS, you should be aware that any emails we send to you, or you receive from us, may not be protected in transit.

The use of the WSCC GCSx email domain will be retired on 31 March 2019.

TLS, in conjunction with the use of DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), will protect WSCC, our partners, customers and residents from unsolicited emails pretending to be sent from WSCC.

You should check with your own organisation or email provider whether they support TLS. 

Further guidance on implementing TLS is available on GOV.UK.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact

Get Safe Online Campaigns

Get Safe Online Campaign: June 2019 - Safe Tickets

Never buy tickets from anyone apart from official vendors, the box office or reputable fan reseller sites. Otherwise you put yourself at risk of falling victim to ticket fraud.

It's easy enough to respond to an ad on social media, pay by bank transfer and be left waiting for the tickets - before days have passed, nothing has arrived and the seller has disappeared.

All of a sudden you've lost your money and the chance to go to the event you desperately wanted to attend. This happens to thousands of music, sports and other fans every year who get tricked into buying fake or non-existent tickets.

Follow our expert ticket buying tips:

  • Buy tickets only from the venue’s box office, sports club, promoter, official agent or reputable ticket exchange sites.
  • Consider that tickets advertised on any other source such as auction sites, social media and fan forums may be fake or non-existent, however authentic the seller may seem and whether they’re advertised below, above or at face value.
  • Never pay for tickets by bank transfer, even if you’re desperate to get hold of them. The responsibility for losses lies with you, not anybody else, including your bank.
  • Consider paying by credit card to get additional protection over other payment methods.
  • Double-check all details of your purchase before confirming payment.
  • Don’t be tempted to click on social media, text or email links or attachments offering tickets, as they could link to fraudulent or malware sites.
  • Before buying online, check that the page is genuine (carefully enter the address yourself, not from a link) and secure (https and a locked padlock), and log out when you’re done.
  • Check sellers’ privacy and returns policies.
  • Keep receipts until after the event.

However desperate you are to get into a gig, festival or game, don’t buy tickets from anyone apart from official vendors, the box office or reputable fan reseller sites.

Get Safe Online - Ticket Fraud Leaflet

For all of our expert, easy-to-follow tips on buying tickets safely visit

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!

Carers Digital Skills Event – A free to attend event specifically for carers to give them online safety and digital skills support to be hosted at Sage House, Tangmere, 11.00am - 2.00pm on Monday 10 June 2019.

Crime and Dine Event - Taking place on Tuesday 25 June 2019, 6.30pm - 8.00pm in the memorial hall at the South Downs Centre in Midhurst – this free event is being run to give residents support with online safety, digital skills, fraud awareness and other crime support. Register for this free event.

Worthing Fire Station Open Day – In partnership with Get Safe Online and Natwest, this event at Worthing Fire Station on Saturday 20 July 2019 will have experts and other partners on hand to provide digital safety advice to all those attending.

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.

Advice for Parents:

What to do if your child sees something upsetting online?

Childnet and Parent Info have some guidance for you to bear in mind. 

If you are concerned or want advice about online safety issues you can call the NSPCC’s free helpline on 0808 800 5002.

Speak to your child about the importance of not contacting strangers online, regardless of the method. Setting privacy systems on devices with your child is a great way to have this conversation and agree on precautions to take.

Keep having open conversations about online activity and take an interest in what they are doing online. Keep an eye on device usage – there are lots of tools that can help you to do this. Check in with them if you notice anything unusual or you are not sure about.

Ensure your child’s privacy and security settings are as secure as possible, both on their devices and the apps/games/sites they are using. There are lots of helpful guides and support that can help you to do this. This will help to prevent your child coming across anything distressing online.

Where can you go for help if your child has been affected by dangerous online crazes? - There are a number of organisations that can offer direct support to you and your child, including:

For general online safety advice check out our WSCC Parent Carer Guide.

Advice for children:

The BBC has great advice about what to do if you see something upsetting online.

There are videos and other types of social media posts that can mention dares, challenges or nominations and these might make you feel upset or uncomfortable. If someone ever asks or nominates you, speak to a trusted adult or seek advice from the following:  

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 tips 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

One-to-One support in the Community

NatWest bank has a team of professionally qualified Community Bankers who advise people out in the local community about digital safety.

They provide tips on fraud, scams and online security to help people keep their money safe - and you don’t have to be a NatWest customer to pop along and talk to them.

You can find the bankers at their free advice drop-in sessions across the county in community venues such as libraries, leisure centres and town council buildings. 

To get one-to-one support and find your nearest drop-in session, check out their advisors' sessions and locations below...

Sue Lambert (

The Grange Community Centre, Bepton Rd, Midhurst GU29 9HD - Every Tuesday: 10.30am - 12.00pm

Petworth Library, Rosemary Lane, High Street, Petworth GU28 0AU - Every Thursday: 10.30am - 12.00pm

Jacob Watts (

Burgess Hill Town Council Help Point, 96 Church Walk, Burgess Hill RH15 9AS - Every Monday: 10:00am-12:00pm

The George Hotel, High Street, Henfiled BN5 9DB - Every Monday: 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Sam Collier (

Billingshurst Leisure Centre, Station Road, Billingshusrt RH14 9RY - Every Monday: 10:30am- 12:00pm

Storrington Library, Ryecroft Lane, Storrington RH20 4PA - Every Thursday: 11:30am -1:45pm

Links to further 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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