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Safety on the Internet


Zoom is a video conferencing app. Zoom Bombing is a cyber attack on your video call where an individual or a group of people enter it without the permission of the host. These individuals then display offensive or explicit images in order to cause distress to the recipients.

During the Coronavirus emergency period, video conferencing is helping many people to work remotely and allowing us to stay in touch with our families and friends. Unfortunately as worldwide use of video conferencing increases, so has the reporting of cyber attacks .

The links in Related Information provide details of how to secure your Zoom meeting and prevent unwanted joining.

If you have experienced zoom bombing, this can reported to Zoom and depending on the nature of the content, your Local Police Force.


Phishing is a cyber crime where criminals contact people by email, telephone or text message, pretending to be a legitimate organisation. They try to get people to provide personal information such as bank details and passwords, and often include links that once clicked, download a virus to your computer and steal personal information. The information is then used to access accounts and can result in identity theft and financial loss.

Be aware of suspicious messages and emails and do not click on links or attachments in them. Never respond to unsolicited messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

If you do receive a suspicious email, this can be reported to National Cyber Security Centre via their Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS). See SQ680 and SQ749 for further information regarding fraud and see the links in Related Information to report any suspicious or fraudulent emails.


Chatrooms can be a fun past time for your children. However, there are some dangers in using chatrooms and both parents and children need to be aware of them. There is a government website which has a version for parents and children and which sets out the possible dangers of communicating with strangers online and how to make chatrooms a safer place to be. See Thinkuknow and related websites for useful information.

A few basic tips are:

  • Never give out any personal details;
  • Always be wary, some users on the internet are not who they say they are; and
  • Never arrange to meet anyone you have met through a chatroom unless you are 100% sure they are of your age and they are who they say they are. Even then, tell your parents, take them or another responsible adult with you and always meet in a public place.


This is known as 'phishing ' where the same email gets sent out to many people and the odds are that someone will reply.

There are a lot of different scams going around with the same theme. Either you are a long lost relative of a recently deceased person, you have been chosen to inherit a large amount of money from a person who does not have any living relatives, or maybe you have won on the lottery.

If you were a long lost relative it is unlikely that the executors would make contact with you via email. Is the phone number a mobile? Solicitors and executors of wills do not just hand over large sums of money without very thorough checks, so before you go any further check out the source of the communication. Go and speak to them in person at the Law Firm (if it is a scam it will not have been sent by lawyers at the firm, assuming it is a real firm that has been mentioned in the communication). Make sure they sent the letter. Payment for the execution of a will comes out of the dead person's estate not from the people likely to receive a bequest. It's better to take that sort of trouble than pay out a lot of money on the basis of an email and a phone call to a mobile.

A recent scam is a letter purporting to be from the police confirming the authenticity of a letter regarding a lottery win. This is not true; the police do not authenticate commercial organisations.

DO NOT give out your personal details, bank account details or send any money to anyone who sends you such an email. Many people have been defrauded out of a lot of money. No matter how official it sounds it is highly unlikely that you will receive any money.

If something seems too good to be true then it usually is.

Scam emails, texts and calls can be reported to the National Cyber Security Centre, please see the link in Related Information for details. 


People are being increasingly targeted by criminals via social networking sites such as Facebook.

You should be very careful about including any of the following personal information on your site:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Telephone numbers / email addresses;
  • Education / employment information;
  • Photographs which may show your home and any valuables you may own;
  • Date of birth;
  • Status updates / comments which may state when you are not at home, when you are going on holiday, what expensive items you have recently bought etc.

You should also be cautious about including 'friends of friends' in your privacy settings, as this effectively allows people who you do not know, to view your information. It is therefore advisable to allow only close personal friends and relatives to view your site.

Strangers who request you to add them as a friend could be lying about their identity. A person could pretend to be someone else (e.g. pretending to be of the opposite sex, or adults pretending to be teenagers) in order to persuade another person to agree to meet up with them, when they actually have criminal intentions.

Also, if you add someone who you do not know to your site, they may begin to ask you questions over time and aim conversations to particular subjects, in order to find out more information about you. If they already have your email address, they could log in to that account, using the information you have given them to answer your security questions, and reset your passwords. Once they have done this and have access to your personal emails, they could be gaining access to your bank details, online shopping accounts, paypal etc. and use these to take money from your accounts or buy goods in your name.

Simply, to remain safe, check your security settings, be vigilant as to what information you post, and only accept people to your site who you know well.

For further safety tips regarding social networking sites, please see the links in Related Information.


Many city centres and cafes now offer free wireless internet connections that can be accessed using a laptop or mobile telephone. When the device is asked to search for nearby wireless connections, the device will display a list of available networks and connect to the network that you select.

Increasingly, hackers are setting up their own networks in public places that will also appear on the network lists. these will appear identical to the genuine networks e.g. BT, Sky etc.

Once connected to a hackers network you will probably be directed to a bogus website asking you for personal information such as bank details and passwords.

Be wary of any websites or emails asking for details. See the question on 'phishing' and links in Related Information for further details.


If a person sends threatening/abusive/offensive messages to another person via Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking site, they could be committing an offence. The most relevant offences are 'threatening communications' and 'improper use of a communications network'

For 'threatening communications', the message would have to contain or imply a threat to carry out a serious violent act against a person or persons. This is a relatively serious offence and would not be used for messages that are abusive but do not contain any element of threats.

For the offence of 'improper use of a communications network', the message would have to be grossly offensive, obscene or menacing in character. This is a less serious offence and would cover messages that are abusive but not necessarily threatening.

If you have received any threatening/abusive/offensive messages via a social networking site, and believe that an offence may have been committed, you can report this to your local police force. The police will advise you whether they can progress the matter based on the full facts and your individual situation. However, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the messages, you may wish to initially make a report to Facebook/Twitter etc., as they have processes in place for such situations, and may be able to simply remove the content and/or close down the person's account.

Please see the links in Related Information for Facebook and Twitter's Community Guidelines in relation to dealing with harassment.


Revenge porn is the publication of explicit material portraying someone who has not consented for the image or video to be shared. The law now makes it illegal to disclose a "private sexual photograph or film" without the consent of the person depicted in the content, and with the intent to cause them distress.

People found guilty of this offence may face a fine or even imprisonment.


Computer hacking is where people gain unauthorised access to information that is held on a computer. This can range from guessing someone's password to a 'global cyber security threat known as a 'ransomware attack.'

Ransomware can take two forms - it will either encrypt the files on a computer or lock a user's screen. In both cases the user will need a key in order to use the computer again. Of course the hacker will require payment for this, the amount demanded will vary and there is no guarantee the key will be provided.

You can minimise the risk of being infected by ransomware by taking the same precautions necessary to guard against malware in general. You should have good access control by keeping an eye on permissions used on shared computers and have a back up of your data.

Below is a list of do's and dont's when picking a password - remember the harder it is to guess, the less likely you are to be hacked.

  • Don't reuse an old password
  • Use a different password for each website
  • Don't use dictionary words
  • Avoid dates of birth and other personal information that can be found online
  • Avoid patterns such as '1234', 'ABCDE '
  • Mix lower and upper case letters, and symbols
  • Make sure you have installed the latest security updates and
  • Do not set your browser to remember your password

If you have been the victim of this or any other form of computer hacking, there are a number of organisations you can contact. Please see the websites in related information for further guidance.


Using online dating websites is becoming a popular way to meet people and potentially find love. Scammers take advantage of this and use the sites as an opportunity to scam victims out of money by claiming they have developed feelings for them, or even pretending to be someone else entirely (also known as 'cat fishing').

The same common sense approach must be used as with any scam - if it seems to good to be true, it probably is! If someone is asking you to transfer money, it is likely they are not who they say they are and it is important to be wary of what they are telling you, no matter how believable their story seems.

Below are a few tips to ensure you stay safe online and know what signs to look out for:
◾ Pick a reputable dating website.
◾ Avoid over sharing and divulging your personal information.
◾ Never send money or give out your bank details; once the money is sent, it is highly unlikely you will be able to retrieve it.
◾ Do their pictures look too good to be true, or you think you have seen them somewhere else? Use this service to find out: Search with an image on Google

◾ Ask lots of questions and suggest arranging a phone call to determine whether they are genuine.
◾ Be sceptical - if you are suspicious, report your concerns initially to the dating website.
◾ If you have lost money due to an online scam, you can report it to Police Scotland via their non-emergency number: 101.


Cyber-flashing is the sending of obscene pictures to others over peer-to-peer Wi-Fi networks, such as AirDrop.

AirDrop is a feature on iPhones, iPods and iMacs that uses Bluetooth to create a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network between devices. When switched on, it automatically detects supported devices within a radius of 10 metres. Although AirDrop can be used in a harmless way as it allows people to share photos with family and friends, some people are using the facility to send obscene pictures to strangers, usually whilst they travel on trains or buses. This can take place anywhere where there is a Wi-Fi signal.

The victim receives an obscene picture on their device with a message request to accept it from the sender. The victim can see the picture whether or not they accept. This may cause the victim to be distressed and embarrassed, making them feel vulnerable, as they do not know who or why the person sending the photo has targeted them.

Section 6 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 provides that it is an offence to cause a person to look at a sexual image without their consent – see related information.

If you receive an obscene picture from a stranger in this way, whilst you are travelling on the rail network, take a screenshot of the photo and report the incident to the British Transport Police – Scotland.

In order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of cyber-flashing over AirDrop, you can turn Airdrop off on your iPhone when you are not using it:

1 Go to Settings > General > AirDrop
2 Choose the option – Receiving Off

This will stop your device receiving AirDrop requests.