Renfrewshire Council

RenSafeOnline continues mission to help residents protect themselves online as it celebrates fifth birthday

A digital support service designed to help keep people safe online and tackle digital exclusion is celebrating its fifth birthday.

RenSafeOnline has been raising awareness of online safety among Renfrewshire communities and tackling digital exclusion and the growing digital skills gap since it was set up, in partnership with GetSafeOnline, in 2019.  Cyber-crime is a growing issue, with a 2022 fraud report highlighting 350,547 fraud and cyber-crime cases in the UK, a 67% increase on the previous year, with each victim losing an average of £11,411.

The figure, which equates to an estimated £4 billion stolen from the British public, only represents reported incidents, with actual numbers likely to be considerably higher. Banking fraud is the most prevalent type of crime.  Since being set up, RenSafeOnline has become an established service, supporting the Council's digital aspirations and working with public and third sector organisations, including local charities and voluntary organisations, to promote online safety.

It is the first organisation in Scotland to introduce GetSafeOnline's internationally certified Online Safety Ambassadors training programme and has almost 100 qualified Online Safety Ambassadors who volunteer and provide support within the council and other organisations. This number is set to double this year, providing even more opportunities to help keep Renfrewshire communities safe online.

Carol Peters, Cyber Security Architect at Renfrewshire Council and founder of RenSafeOnline, said: "RenSafeOnline's mission is to help raise online safety awareness among Renfrewshire communities.  "We also want to tackle digital exclusion, enable people to get online and tackle growing digital skills gaps. It's estimated 26,000 adults in Renfrewshire do not have basic digital skills. Providing devices and encouraging people to access digital services is not enough on its own.

"The need for online safety awareness has never been more critical. By making people more aware of online safety and scams, we are increasing likelihood of them being safe online and giving them confidence to go online knowing they have the knowledge they need.

"Our Online Ambassador programme also allows us to take this message even further in our communities, allowing us to help a support even more people and businesses."

The service also recently hosted an escape room-style Cyber Escape experience in Paisley Town Centre. The experience, which was run by CGI, was visited by schools, community groups, charities and local businesses and aimed to raise further awareness of cyber-security and how to avoid becoming a victim of a cyber threat.

Carol added: "The CGI Cyber Escape experience has been fantastic and helped raise awareness of cyber-attacks amongst community groups, schools, charities and local businesses in our community.

"These groups will now be able to take those skills out into their communities, helping even more people become aware of the risks and what they need to do to stay safe online."

Lindsay McGranaghan, Senior Vice-President, Scotland and Northern Ireland at CGI, said: "We are delighted that RenSafeOnline has used the Cyber Escape experience which contains brilliant, accessible ways for everyone, no matter their age, to learn the fundamentals of cyber security through first-hand interaction. As a result, they learn effective ways of protecting themselves from would-be hackers, as well as other vital cyber security techniques, in a fun team-building environment."

RenSafeOnline will now continue to work with partners, including DigiRen, GetSafeOnline, the Government and public and third sector organisation, towards achieving its goal of raising online awareness and reducing digital exclusion.

To find out more, visit Get Safe Online in Renfrewshire (GetSafeOnline).

Media release published on 18 March 2024

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