Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Internet Safety... The Song Remains the Same

   As seems to often be the case in the fall, I'm doing a number of Internet Safety talks lately.  Maybe it's the tie-in with October US Cybersecurity month, and I did some posts celebrating that.  Maybe it's that fall makes us think about back to school (though maybe safety should be a "hotter" topic in the summer when kids have more free time!).

   I've been presenting to groups about Internet Safety and related topics for over 12 years.  I've got a few events coming up at work, so I'm updating my material.  I've got a number of talks on these "consumer" issues.  You can see my slides on my slideshare page.  I regularly update my material.  But what's really amazing to me is that the core, key messages have substantially remained the same.

   For example, I recently did a presentation and blog post on bullying.  The biggest change in online bullying in the past few years has been the news media attention.  But what happens, how it happens and options for victims, unfortunately, hasn't changed much.

   As I talk with people about these issues, and research and update my presentation material, I think there are 3 main areas in which things have substantially changed.
  1. The rise and expansion of social media.  In the early 2000's, we were talking about things like email, Chat like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and web surfing.  Xanga.com was around, but MySpace and Facebook weren't even invented until around 2003!  And, needless to say, there's been an explosion of social media sites with the latest trends favoring pictures and video.  While kids had the ability to share too much information since the beginning, social media sites really drove the norms.
  2. Technology.  In particular... mobile technology.  I used to recommend that families keep their computer (singular) in a common place like the family room or kitchen so kids' use could be seen.  While that is still good advice, most families have more than one computer.  And most teens, and many younger kids, carry a powerful computer with them wherever they go... their smartphone.  While we still have options available for monitoring, and good communication is key, portable devices are really a game-changer.
  3. Kids get it.  During my Internet Safety talks of the mid-2000's, we used to play a little game.  It was a live demo in which I would bring up a social media site, typically MySpace.  The game was to see how few clicks it would take us to get to some inappropriate content (like kids/teens sharing too much personal information or posting pictures parents would wish they didn't).  When I first started doing this demo it would only take a few clicks.  Then, by around 2008, it took more.  Then I would just save a few URLs of TMI pages.  Then I gave up the game altogether!  It's not that we can't still find inappropriate content, or examples of kids sharing far more than parents might want.  But kids are doing a much better job of protecting their information online.  Of course, kids, teens and young adults - actually digital natives in general - do have different ideas, definition and expectations of privacy compared to their parents!
    One final thought... another thing that has changed is that the oldest digital natives - people who do not know of a time without pervasive digital media and technology - are now having their own kids and showing up at Internet Safety talks!  But some things don't change and their kids still know more about technology!

   What surprises you about changes in our online world over the past decade?  What do you think has changed, or has not changed?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's That Time of Year - Holiday Spams and Scams

   It's that time of year again folks.  And whatever holiday you may, or may not, celebrate... there's something we're all likely to see.  It's not presents, though maybe there are some for you.  It's not snow, though we'll see that soon enough here in the upper midwest US.  It's malware and holiday scams!

   Unfortunately, it happens every year.  Sometimes it's malicious attachments.  Sometimes it's links to malware to download or phishing sites with forms ready to collect your personal and financial information.

   Here is my 2013 edition of my Top 10 Tips To Avoid Holiday Spams and Scams...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rhymes with Assword

   Here we go again with more password-related problems.  You can't make this stuff up.  Well, you can but the truth is stranger.

   By now, most people have heard about the Adobe website breach.  I won't go into too many details but you can read Adobe's summary here, and here is a detailed review by Sophos.

   And, after I wrote this post I see that the This Week In Tech (TWIT) show on the great Twit TV network did a show of the same name (go to 1:56:20 in the show). Great minds think alike!  If you read the Sophos report you will see that someone used the phrase "rhymes with assword" as their password hint.

   There are a few key points to review:
  • A new record!  This breach has now set the new record for largest number of compromised accounts, 152,000,000, beating previous noteworthy large breaches including those from Sony, TJX and Heartland.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cyberbullying - Improvements or More Problems?

   In addition to Cyber Security Awareness Month, October was also Cyberbullying Awareness Month.  There were a number of online campaigns to raise awareness on the topic including some high-profile pages on Facebook and Cartoon Network.

   This is an important topic and needs our attention.  I have given many presentations over the years on Internet Safety topics.  This past weekend my wife, a clinical psychologist, and I partnered on a presentation on Bullying and Cyberbullying at our local school district parent fair.  Here are the slides.

   Unfortunately, bullying has been around as long as there have been people.  The internet, social networks and mobile devices supplement have turned "old school" bullying into a 24x7 assault.