Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Staying safe online

We look at ways to stay safe online
Person Typing on Keyboard

In an increasingly tech-driven world, we use electronic products and services every day for work, study and personal reasons. This interconnectivity means we are vulnerable to online harms. Staying safe online is about taking proactive steps to protect yourself from threats and harms.

Imagine the following scenarios…

  • You receive menacing and harassing messages, written in the transaction description field of several low value payments to your bank account.
  • An ex-partner threatens to share intimate images of you with your friends and family.
  • Someone completely unknown to you befriends you on a gaming site and persuades you to chat privately, demanding that you send them explicit videos of yourself.

What do these scenarios have in common? They’re examples of online abuse, in which perpetrators use the internet to bully, threaten, intimidate, harass, or humiliate. Online abuse can have significant social, psychological and financial impacts on their intended targets, or even lead to physical harm.

So, as a user, how can you stay safe online? And how do you know if an online product, service or platform that you’re using is safe?

What You Can Do

There are a number of things that users can do (and look for) to empower themselves when using online products, services and platforms.

Firstly, check out this eSafety information on common types of online abuse, or behaviour that has a threatening, intimidating, harassing or humiliating effect on a person:

  • Trolling
  • Image-based abuse
  • Sexual extortion
  • Impersonation accounts
  • Doxing
  • Deepfakes
  • Defamatory comments.

This information is part of eSafety’s Women In The Spotlight (WITS) Program, which provides training and resources to raise awareness about gendered online abuse and the ways it can be stopped.

Secondly, review this recent eSafety research on Australians’ negative online experiences 2022 to understand more about how Australian adults are being exposed to online harms.

More Australians are reporting negative online experiences. In 2022:

  • 32% were sent unwanted inappropriate content
  • 30% were called offensive names
  • 25% had personal information used without consent
  • 24% had things said to offend, distress or harm
  • 19% had lies or rumours spread about them
  • 18% had someone electronically track their location without their consent
  • 16% received threats online of in-person harm or abuse
  • 16% had someone pretending to be them online.

Negative experiences can take a toll on health and wellbeing. People who had a negative experience online said it had a moderate to extreme impact on their:

  • Mental or emotional wellbeing
  • Normal online behaviour/routine
  • Physical wellbeing.

You can find more information about this research on the eSafety website.

Want to know more?

Check out these eSafety resources for further information on staying safe online:

While they are related, online safety and online security are distinct, with the latter referring to the protection of information from malicious threats and cybercrime. To learn more about common security threats and the best way to combat them, read this information from the Australian Cyber Security Centre. Here you will find information about common online security risks, with simple advice on what you can do to protect yourself:

© RMIT 2023
This article is from the free online

Safety By Design

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now