Safer Internet Day 2016: The perfect time to take stock of our online habits and practices

online safey, Safer Internet DayToday is Safer Internet Day, an international day of action to promote safer, more responsible use of technology and services, particularly among children and young people. In 2016, as with the last decade-plus of Safer Internet Days, Microsoft is taking part in numerous activities on multiple continents.

Here in the U.S., we’ll kick off a series of training events at Microsoft stores to arm individuals and families with important information about preventing online fraud. The workshops are designed to help people learn what to do if they’re contacted by someone purporting to peddle security software and services, and claiming to be from a company like Microsoft. These scams are nothing more than confidence schemes aimed at parting trusting people from their hard-earned money, credit card numbers, and other valuable personal information. We remind you to never provide sensitive data to unsolicited callers or e-mailers, and immediately report any information about the scam to local authorities. You can also alert Microsoft to hoaxes that invoke our name through Report a Scam.

Whatever the topic related to online safety and security, Safer Internet Day is the perfect time to take stock of online habits and practices, and ensure each of us is putting our best digital foot forward. Microsoft’s goal is to help educate, engage and inspire people to better protect themselves and others online – all stemming from this year’s Safer Internet Day theme, “Play your part for a better Internet!” Here are some general tips to make sure you’re keeping digitally up to date:

  • Defend your computer, tablet and phone. Strengthen your device’s defenses. Keep all software current with automatic updating. Don’t be tricked into downloading malicious software, and think before you open attachments or click links in email, IM or on a social network – even if you know the sender.
  • Protect personal information. Never give sensitive info (e.g., account numbers or passwords) or call a number in response to an email, IM or social network request. Think before you respond to pleas for money from “family members,” deals that sound too good to be true or other scams.
  • Create strong passwords and keep them secret. Make them long and strong, like phrases or sentences that mix letters, numbers and symbols. Use different passwords for different accounts and websites, especially those that involve financial information.
  • Take charge of your online reputation. Discover what’s on the Internet about you by entering your name into Bing and other search engines. Periodically reevaluate what you find, and strive to cultivate an accurate, positive reputation.
  • Take extra steps to keep kids safe online. Make online safety a family effort with a mix of guidance and monitoring. Negotiate house rules for Web and online game use that fit your child’s maturity level and your family’s values. Pay attention to what kids do and who they meet online.

Building on our more-than-20-year history in online safety, Microsoft remains committed to doing its part to help grow and shape a better and safer Internet for youth and, indeed, everyone. To learn more about being a good digital citizen, visit our website (www.microsoft.com/saferonline); page through our great collection of resources, and share them with family and friends. Get more information about the upcoming Safer Internet Day-related in-store workshops, as well as our year-round programming at microsoftstore.com/locations. You can also “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About the Author

Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer