Monday, 14 February 2011

Thank you

Thanks for participating in this experimental course. In total, 99 people followed us on Twitter.

Please contact Caroline Douglas if you want to know more about the "proper" course (the full Internet Safety qualification).

We'd like to hear about your experience of doing this course using Twitter/Blogger so please leave feedback via the comment facility.

You might want to stop following this Twitter account now, since we will not use it again, but
you can follow the SQA Computing team on Twitter here if you want to keep up to date with the full range of Computing/IT qualifications currently available or being developed.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Reliability of Information

© Iqoncept | Dreamstime.comWhen people are searching online for information they often simply accept the first few sites brought up on a search made using Google or another search engine. But unfortunately, not all information found online is accurate. Web pages may be written by someone with little or no knowledge of the subject area, they may be designed to encourage you to buy a specific product or they may be biased in favour of someone’s opinions, whether or not these reflect the facts.

Major information sites like Wikipedia are generally accurate when dealing with factual or technical subjects, including Computing topics, but they may be less accurate when dealing with subjects where opinions play an important role, for example current or historical events or political topics.

You should always evaluate the quality of information found on website using five criteria:

  • Scope of Coverage: to what extent does the site explore the topic?
  • Authority: does the information come from a source which is known to be reliable?
  • Objectivity: does the site cover a range of views, or does it simply express the author’s bias or opinions?
  • Accuracy: is the information correct? How has this been checked? Can the same information be obtained from other sources?
  • Timeliness: is the information current, or was it published some time ago? When was the website last updated?

You can obtain further information about each of these criteria at:

This site also contains plenty of other useful information about checking the reliability of websites.

Uploading Files

dreamstime_11435551.jpg © Sashkinw | Dreamstime.comThere is only one useful piece of advice that can be given about uploading files – unless you are absolutely certain the file you are uploading is your own property: DON’T DO IT.

There is no problem with uploading photos you have taken yourself to Flickr, or videos you have made yourself to YouTube, but you should never upload content that belongs to someone else.

When you buy an album or a video, you only own that single copy – you don’t have the right to upload it to file-sharing sites.

Copyright holders tend to take much stronger action against uploaders than against downloaders, as a single upload can lead to thousands or even millions of downloads.

In November 2010 a Swedish appeals court upheld the copyright convictions of three men behind The Pirate Bay, a popular file-sharing site. They were fined millions of dollars and sentenced to years in jail.

In the same month a Minneapolis woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, was found guilty of illegal song file sharing, and ordered to pay the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) $1.5 million. The RIAA claimed that she shared more than 1,700 songs on a file-sharing site, but it sued over only 24 of them.

Using a BitTorrent client to download files can be a particularly dangerous activity as anyone who downloads is also uploading, due to the way the BitTorrent software works.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Facebook Security

At the bottom of every page on Facebook, there's a link named Privacy. Clicking this will take you to a page entitled “Controlling how you share” which provides useful advice on Facebook’s security settings and has a link which allows you to Edit your privacy settings.

Facebook makes some information, including your name, profile picture, gender and networks available to everyone and you cannot make this information private. You can use the Preview my profile button on any privacy settings page to see how your information appears to others.

Be careful about allowing people to become your friend on Facebook. Once you have accepted someone as a friend they can access any information that you have marked as viewable by friends. Remember that you can remove friends at any time and that you can restrict people’s access to your profile by making them limited friends.

Facebook also shares information with websites and apps, including search engines. You can remove any apps you don't want to use or turn off platform completely. If you do this you won't be able to use any platform apps or websites and Facebook won't share your information with them.

Internet Explorer Security Settings

You can change Internet Explorer’s security settings as follows:

1. Open Internet Explorer by clicking the Start button at the bottom left of the screen and then clicking Internet Explorer.

2. Click the Tools button, and then click Internet Options.

3. Click the Security tab.

Internet Explorer assigns websites to one of four security zones: Internet, Local intranet, Trusted sites, or Restricted sites. The zone to which a website is assigned determines the security settings used for that site.

There are 5 levels of security setting available for each Internet Explorer security zone, but not all levels are available for all zones:

  • Low
  • Medium-Low (default for Local Intranet)
  • Medium (default level for Trusted Sites)
  • Medium-High (default for Internet or unclassified sites)
  • High (default for Restricted Sites)

Browser Safety and Security Settings

Web browsers, which allow you to view the content of web pages, are now amongst the most commonly-used computer applications. Most people use Internet Explorer (which comes preinstalled on Windows systems) or Firefox (which is available in Windows, Mac and Linux versions), but there are other alternatives including Opera and Chrome.

Browsers can leave you and your system open to danger. Most browsers allow you to run small downloadable applications, such as
Java applets or ActiveX controls.

Unless you are very careful about what you allow, these can wreak havoc on your system by deletion or damaging files or by installing malware of some sort.

Your browser may allow you to visit sites which will automatically download malware, such as viruses or spyware. It may also allow you to visits sites with objectionable, or even illegal content, such as pirated software or video files, which may themselves be infected with malware.

Fortunately, browsers generally provide a range of security settings, which can alleviate or eliminate most major security problems. Over the next few pages we’ll look at how you can configure the security settings in Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Reporting Online Safety Issues

One of the first things you should do if you see anything you don’t like on line, whether it is inappropriate material or unwanted approaches, is to contact a responsible adult, such as a parent, carer or teacher.

You may also be able to report incidents yourself. Many websites, including Windows Live Messenger and Facebook, incorporate a Click CEOP button, which will put you directly in touch with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre run by the UK police.

If the website which you are worried about doesn’t have this button you can find it on CEOP’s own website: Clicking this button will give you access to a control panel which provides advice on what you can do if you are experiencing problems relating to Cyberbullying, Hacking, Viruses, Mobiles, Harmful Content or Grooming.

Forms and Features of Cyberbullying

10003727.jpg © Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.comCyberbullying can be defined as “the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), particularly mobile phones and the internet, to deliberately upset someone else”. It can include a wide range of unacceptable behaviours, including threats, harassment and insults.

Cyberbullying is a subset of the more general problem of bullying and can be used to carry out various different types of bullying, including racist bullying or bullying related to disabilities. Instead of carrying out bullying in person, cyberbullies make use of technology, particularly the Internet and mobile phones to bully others.

Cyberbullying differs in several ways from face-to-face bullying: it is more invasive of home and personal space and can be carried out at any time of the day or night. Because it is based on electronic messages it can be difficult to control.

The audience for cyberbullying can be very large and easy to reach. A humiliating video can be posted to numerous websites and uploading a nasty website or forwarding a personal email can have long-term consequences.

Cyberbullying usually takes place between children, but it can also happen between adults, and there have been cases of adults, particularly teachers, being bullied or harassed by children.

There have been some studies looking at the extent of cyberbullying amongst children and young people. According to TeacherNet:

  • Research carried out for the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) found that 22 per cent of 11 to16-year-olds had been a victim of cyberbullying.
  • Noret and River's four-year study on bullying (2007) found that 15 per cent of the 11,227 children surveyed had received nasty or aggressive texts and emails.
  • Research conducted as part of the DCSF cyberbullying information campaign found that 34 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds reported having been cyberbullied.

Protecting Personal Information Online

dreamstime_16186004.jpg © Cammeraydave | Dreamstime.comYour digital footprint is the term used to describe the trail or traces that you leave online by registering for forums or social networking sites, sending emails or uploading videos or images. Every time you do something online you increase the size of your digital footprint.

The following steps can help to protect against Internet threats such as grooming. They apply to chat rooms and online messaging services, such as MSN Messenger, as well as social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and YouTube.

  • Always be cautious about any information you give when using the Internet, eg: if you wish to participate in a chat room use a suitable nickname and never reveal any personal information such as where you live or go to school.
  • Use throwaway e-mail addresses, eg: Hotmail or Yahoo addresses that you can simply discard if anyone starts harassing you in any way.
  • Always assume that any information and pictures you put on the Internet can be viewed by the entire world.
  • Beware of giving information about yourself that you consider too trivial to withhold. The more information you put on-line then the more there is for someone to put together about you.
  • Always be suspicious of what you are being offered on the Internet, eg: gifts, prizes and money. There are many hidden dangers that could compromise your system, eg: a hacker or groomer might try to send you a virus hidden in another file, such as a game, so that they can get access to your system.
  • Try to keep your Internet activity in actively moderated and open environments and stay away from chat rooms and other sites that may have people in them that you do not want to communicate with, eg: hate newsgroups.

Ensuring Your Own Safety and Privacy

dreamstime_14918812.jpg © Andreus | Dreamstime.comPrecautions for ensuring your own safety and privacy include:

• content filtering
• proxy servers
• monitoring and reporting user behaviour
• withholding personal information
• non-trivial usernames and passwords

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Inappropriate Behaviour

It is almost indreamstime_13854523.jpg © Arenacreative | Dreamstime.comevitable that you will meet new people online, especially of you visit chatrooms, or use social networking sites such as Facebook or Bebo. Unfortunately, some of these people may behave in an inappropriate manner. Behaviour of this nature might include:

• Online bullying
• Sexually or racially oriented comments
• Uploading adult, illegal or anti-social material
• Accessing adult or illegal sites
• Breaking copyright laws
• Repeated and unwanted contact

If you experience any behaviour that you find inappropriate, encounter offensive material, or know of any abuse happening online, you should report it to the appropriate authorities (we’ll discuss this further later in the course). You should also block the offending user or delete them from your Contact List.


dreamstime_16173762.jpg © Cammeraydave | Dreamstime.comCyberbullying is a growing Internet safety issue. It is similar to physical bullying with the difference being that Internet services are used to carry out the attacks. Services such as e-mail, chat rooms, discussion forums and instant messaging can all be used in this type of bullying.

Strictly speaking, cyberbullying can only take place if both parties involved are minors. If there is an adult involved the problem is referred to as Cyber Harassment.

Cyberbullying is a criminal offence and is punishable by law. It is covered in greater detail later in this course.

The rise in popularity of mobile phones has opened another door for bullies to use the short messaging service (SMS) to issue threats and other unwelcome messages. A related problem involves the filming of assaults by mobile phone. This is often known as happy slapping.

Risks that Can Exist When Using the Internet

dreamstime_16517377.jpg © Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.comA variety of risks can exist when using the Internet. Risks can be divided into three categories:

• Risks to user safety and privacy
• Risks to data security
• Risks to system performance and integrity

We’ll look closely at all of these in this initial section of the course.

These risks may be closely linked. For example, a malicious program might reduce system performance, as well as stealing data which could pose a risk to user safety or privacy.

Risks can generally be countered by a combination of software defences, such as firewalls or anti-virus software, and cautious user behaviour.

Another area of risk is the amount of unreliable information available online, so we’ll also look at ways of checking the reliability of online information.

Safer Internet Day is Here!

For remainder of this week we'll be posting several extracts each day from SQA's new Internet Safety course.

For further information contact

Welcome to the course

Thanks for joining the Internet Safety course. SQA is offering this short course as part of our contribution to Safer Internet Day 2011.

The course starts today and finishes on Friday. It will sample the contents of the "proper" Internet Safety qualification. During the next few days you will learn the basics of how to remain safe when you are online. Recent news highlights the importance of taking care.

You'll be relieved to find out that there is no assessment! And you can do as much or as little of the course as you like. Some topics may be of more or less interest than others, and you are welcome to dip in and out of the course as you want. But the more time you spend on it, the more you will get from it.

Your course tutor is Ted Hastings, who will provide the learning materials and generally guide you through the course. Ted is an international expert on online safety, and the author of various publications on the subject.

The blog is meant to be a two-way communication medium so please use the comment facility to feedback to Ted (or me). If you follow us on Twitter you will get more from the course since some content will be posted on Twitter that is not posted on this blog. If you haven't joined Twitter yet, you can join here.

I work for SQA and won't really play much part in the course. But I hope it goes well. If you want to know more about the full qualification, please contact SQA directly.

Enjoy the course. And stay safe. :-)

Monday, 7 February 2011

One Day To Go Until Safer Internet Day!

There's only one day to go until Safer Internet Day, February 8th 2011.

Sample content from SQA's new Internet Safety Course, which is available throughout the UK, will be delivered here, commencing February 8th.

For further information contact

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Two Days To Go Until Safer Internet Day!

Countdown to Safer Internet Day, February 8th 2011.

Sample content from SQA's new Internet Safety Course, which is available throughout the UK, will be delivered here, commencing February 8th.

For further information contact

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Three Days to go until Safer Internet Day!

Countdown to Safer Internet Day, February 8th 2011.

Sample content from SQA's new Internet Safety Course, which is available throughout the UK, will be delivered here, commencing February 8th.

For further information contact

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Five Days to Go Until Safer Internet Day!

Countdown to Safer Internet Day, February 8th 2011.

Sample content from SQA's new Internet Safety Course, which is available throughout the UK, will be delivered here, commencing February 8th.

For further information contact