Why do we need to be safe online?

The internet can be fun as we can play games, watch videos, connect with family and friends on social media or email and we can learn cool stuff with all the free information at our fingertips. But the internet is not always safe and sometimes it can be really hard to tell when things might not be safe. Below are some tips that can help you stay safe online. Please sit down and read with your parents or guardian.


Personal information and identity theft

Personal information is any piece of information that can identify you. Examples of personal information include

  • your name,
  • age,
  • date of birth,
  • address,
  • your phone number,
  • your bank account information, and
  • any logins or passwords.

Sometimes you will have to provide personal information online. For example, if you are online shopping you would have to enter your name, address, and give your card details to complete the purchase and have your shopping delivered to you.

You should never give out your personal banking information like your bank account details and logins and passwords.

Identity theft is when someone obtains or steals your personal information and uses it to pretend to be you, particularly online. Cybercriminals steal personal information, usually online. Your identity can also be stolen if a person obtains documents that contain personal information such as bank statements, bills or personal identification like a licence or passport.

Tip: Identity theft can occur if your mail is stolen from your personal letter box! You can make your letter box more secure by placing a lock on it. You can also request E-Statements instead of physical bank statements received in the mail.

Once you provide information or if it is stolen you may never be able to retrieve it and you cannot control what people do with it. The identity thief may be in a different state, country, or continent and difficult to track.

Cybercriminals are more likely to target adults for financial crime as they use personal information to steal their victims money, open accounts in their name or redirect their mail to their address. If cyber criminals drain the money in their victims account or use stolen card details to pay for items, the victim could end up with no money to live on or a bad credit score. This could impact a victim’s ability to borrow money from a bank in the future. Whilst this type of crime is directed more towards adults it is a good idea to establish awareness and good habits from a young age to help protect yourself in the future.

To learn more about identity theft, the Australian Cyber Security Centre has useful resources, click here to learn more. We also recommend having a conversation with your parent or guardian.


Shopping online

Online shopping can be fun and paying bills online can be convenient but it has its risks too. Your credit and debit card information can be stolen which can result in lost money. Below are some tips on how to be safe when using debit or prepaid cards online. 

Check the website you are buying from is real. Items to look for include:

  • Web address has a closed padlock or key next to the website URL.
  • The URL begins with ‘https://’ indicating that it’s a secure website.
  • The website of the company has a full set of contact details: phone number, email and street address.
  • Always have a parent or guardian present when buying something online.
  • Use BPAY when paying bills online.
  • Be wary of sites or pop ups that promote free items or prompt you to give personal information to get something for free. Things are rarely free. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is probably not true.

Read Money Smart’s article on Online shopping to learn more about how to protect yourself when shopping online.



Passwords are used to log into online accounts and your bank account password acts as the first line of defence to prevent cybercriminals accessing your information online. Below are some tips on how to use passwords safely:

  • Don’t make your passwords too easy to guess. A password with your name or address could be guessed from your mail and may be too obvious.
  • Avoid using common keyboard combinations, personal information and old passwords.
  • Consider using a passphrase as your password. A longer password using special characters (*&^%$#@!), numbers, upper- and lower-case letters can make it harder for someone to guess your password.
  • Use different passwords for different sites to reduce the risk in case your email and password is stolen.
  • Do not share your passwords and login details to your bank account, email or any platform that contains your personal information.

Tip: use anti-virus software regularly to help protect your computer from viruses or security threats.

Read through Connect safely to learn more about how you can browse safely whilst online.


Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi at places like shopping centres, airports and cafes is provided for your convenience but connecting to a public Wi-Fi has its risks. As it’s public anyone can use it, including cybercriminals who are looking to steal personal information.

Visit Staying safe using public Wi-Fi and read through the activity to learn tips on how to be safe whilst using public Wi-Fi.

Read through Connect safely to learn tips on how you can use Wi-fi hotspots, apps, Bluetooth, GPS and location services safely.

Activity: Write up a list of places where you believe you need to use the tips on being safe whilst using public Wi-Fi.


Public computers

Like public Wi-Fi, public computers can be convenient, but they have risks. Proceed with caution when using them. Its recommended that you avoid using them to access your bank account or log into any accounts that have your personal information. Below are some tips that can help you be safe when using public computers and read the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Using public computers to learn more about being safe online.

  • Whilst it’s best to avoid entering personal information into public computers, if you need to use one ensure you do not click on remember login details.
  • Avoid downloading bank statements or personal documents to a public computer.
  • Clear your browsing history when you have finished using the public computer.
  • Ensure your screen is not easily visible.
Phishing emails and texts

Phishing is when cybercriminals pretend to be reputable organisations and send emails, SMS or messages via chat functions on social media with rouge links that release malicious software onto their victims’ devices or convince you to input your bank details into a fake website for them to capture. Cybercriminals use phishing to steal personal and business information.

Phishing messages are often sent with logos and branding from reputable organisations to make them appear real. Over time design applications have become more sophisticated so it is now easier for criminals to craft emails that look real. These emails often contain a call to action such as ‘download’ or ‘click here’ which encourages the recipient to click on a link to enter personal information into a fake website or download a file which will release malicious software onto devices.

Phishing emails can have a sense of urgency or importance which can deceive people. They can warn people a service may be cut off if they don’t click here and pay a bill immediately or that they need to claim money from a tax return.

If you receive an email or text that seems suspicious question it! Some things to consider are:

  • Were you expecting this communication from your bank or other organisation you are engaged with? Do not click on any of the links and contact your service provider with the details on their official website to verify the contents of the email. Hovering over links is always a good idea to check where they are taking you.
  • Does the email look a bit dodgy? The logo may be correct, but it could be pixelated, the email address and text could have incorrect spelling.
  • You may also receive a communication from a senior member of an organisation which creates a sense of importance but ask yourself would they realistically have a reason to contact you?
  • Trust your gut – if something feels off then it probably is!

Read Phishing – scam emails by the Australian Cyber Security Centre to learn more phishing and what to do if you think you have become a victim of phishing.


Social media

Social media can be a great way to connect with friends and family and to show them what you are up too, but it also has its risks. To learn more about how you can be safe online visit eSafetykids by the eSafety Commissioner.