Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge

Free Cyber Safety Program Redesigned for New School Year

Graphic depicting compilation of islands and corresponding characters for the Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge program.

In the Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge, students navigate through various games and activities on their grade-appropriate island. The SOS website is accessible year-round, but the testing and competition is only open to registered teachers and schools from September through May.

The FBI’s Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge—a free, educational program for children that teaches cyber safety—has been redesigned for the 2017-2018 school year, with new graphics and updated content.

The new SOS program, created for students in third through eighth grades, covers age-appropriate topics, such as cyberbullying, passwords, malware, social media, and more. The program also provides teachers with a curriculum that meets state and federal Internet safety mandates.

While taking the course, participating students “surf” their way through a variety of Internet safety challenges at each grade level, with characters guiding them through the games. The latest version of SOS allows the program to work on more devices, including tablets. The content has also been refreshed to address current cyber safety challenges, and the island-theme graphics have been updated.


“Just as we teach our children to lock the front door for their physical safety, we have to teach them the online equivalents of those things in the digital age, like creating a strong password,” said Unit Chief Jonathan Cox of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs. “SOS helps to make students better digital citizens in a fun and educational way.”

Last school year, more than 700,000 students across the country completed the program and took the test, a 41 percent increase from the previous school year. More than 1.5 million students have participated and taken the exam since the original program was launched in 2012.

The SOS activities are open to anyone, though to participate in the testing and challenge, teachers must register their classes. Teachers manage their students’ participation in the program; the FBI does not collect or store any student information. Each month from September through May, the classes with the top exam scores nationwide receive an FBI-SOS certificate and, when possible, they are visited by local FBI personnel to congratulate them.

Example of a question from the Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge Computer Health game.

Among the various activities in the SOS Internet Challenge is a game on computer health, with questions tailored to each grade level.

SOS Internet Challenge Program

Select Teacher Feedback from the 2016-2017 School Year:

  • “Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity. My classes have really enjoyed this activity.”
    Huntsville, Alabama, teacher
  • “I truly feel like our students gained so much from your Safe Online Surfing lessons! Thanks for helping to educate our precious children and keep them safe!”
    Vega, Texas, teacher
  • “This is a great program. I thank you for making it available to students. My classes will be participating again next year!”
    Phoenix, Arizona, teacher
  • “The SOS program has been a very effective tool which has provided the students … the knowledge they need to be safer online and when using technology.”
    West Long Branch, New Jersey, teacher

Usage Statistics:

  • During the 2016-2017 school year, 12,560 schools in 49 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands completed the program.
  • Since October 2012, the FBI SOS website has been visited more than 2.5 million times.

“SOS helps to make students better digital citizens in a fun and educational way.”

Jonathan Cox, unit chief, FBI Office of Public Affairs