Posts tagged online safety

Cyber Security Awareness: Are you?

By Christopher Burgess, Guest Blogger

This October marks the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) in the United States.  If you’re reading this piece you are on a social network and have a modicum of interest in your online security.  Throughout the month (as I have for the past few years) I will be publishing snack size tips that you may wish to share (family, friends, colleagues, or whomever) so that all have a leg-up on keeping their online activities enjoyable, but also safe and secure.

FACEBOOK:
Do you use Facebook?  With over 500 million subscribers perhaps the right question to ask is how many of your friends or companies aren’t using Facebook?  Do you have your privacy settings locked down?  Do you review what Facebook’s constant changing of your privacy capabilities (not all of which are detrimental, but many certainly expose your information to more persons than perhaps is wise or desired.   Take for example the newest change, that of “subscriber,” according to Facebook’s explanation, subscribers aren’t individuals you friend, but rather individuals who subscribe to view and read items you post.  And those individuals may have your best interests at heart or they may be acting from a purely malevolent perspective.  To put it in the bluntest of terms, if you have the “subscriber” option open in your Facebook settings, know that you do, because anyone with a Facebook account can then view, retain and compile your information.  If you do choose to open up subscribers to your Facebook account, and I do understand why many may wish to do so, ensure the information you are sharing is information you are comfortable being used in any manner imaginable from the negative extreme of stalking you, your family or your employees to the positive extreme of new business or connecting with long-lost friends and family.
In sum – keep an eye on the Facebook’s changes and how they can affect your privacy, safety and security.

Be safe, be secure,

Christopher

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Game On! Eight tips to stay safe while playing online games

By Christopher Burgess, Guest Blogger

Do you or your children participate in online gaming, using your PC, smart phone or game box?  Then you need to make sure you understand what’s going on, especially behind the curtain, when you configure your “game” settings.

Game-Name:  Choose your game-name in such a manner as not to divulge your age, gender or location – SeattleSeaGal1998 – may indicate to other gamers that you are a female, in or near Seattle and were born in 1994, thus 13 years of age.  A more appropriate userid maybe Astr0id or Treetop.

Passwords:  Let’s start with making sure that the password you choose for your game is first and foremost unique to that game, is a strong password which has at ten or more characters, is not a word (in any language) and utilizes symbols, numbers and letters in both upper and lower case.

Profile setup:  Never include your personal identifying information which would allow another online gamer to physically locate you.  While 99.44% of all online gamers are on the up and up, there is a small minority that are not there for the game, but to identify and target individuals for their own nefarious purposes.  You don’t get to decide if you are being targeted; the miscreant does, so keep your personal information to yourself (ALWAYS).  Read the small print on privacy and breach notification (if the gaming company loses your data how will they notify you?)

Computer:  Ensure your security software is up-to-date each and every time before you hit the play button.  You can do this by activating the software and checking the “recent updates.”  Also, if possible don’t use a device containing the family banking, accounts, email, or ancestral tree as the gaming device.  Realizing it isn’t possible for all to have such a dedicated device, ensure that your personal family financial and identifying data is locked down on the shared hard drive.

Players:  As noted above, not all players are on the up and up and some competitive players may use techniques and interaction which make you uncomfortable.  Know how to disengage, block and report such individuals before you ever encounter one so that you know what to do should it occur.

Camera:  Turn-off the webcam.  If you don’t know how, either unplug the webcam or put a piece of paper over the lens.  There is no need for anyone to see who you are, what your environment is like and whether or not you are with others or alone.

Downloads:  Never accept a download from another game participants and be especially cautious when thinking about accepting a “cheat” program as more often than not, these are the vehicles by which malware (viruses, keyloggers, data destruction, data collection) can find its way into your otherwise secured device.

In-Real-Life:   Don’t meet your online gaming contacts in real-life without parental permission and presence.  There is little way to verify the intent of a stranger met online.

So enjoy your gaming, but do so wisely and with due caution.

Stay safe and secure,

Christopher

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Location, Location, Location

By Christopher Burgess, Guest Blogger

The meshing of online with physical environments is best exemplified by the seemingly ubiquitous influx of location-based services.  Such services may, in exchange for your announcing your presence (checking in) offer you, their customer a discount, fame as a frequent visitor, or other inducements to announce to your following (and beyond) that you not only use the merchant’s services, but you also are proudly telling others that you are present at their establishment.  Clearly makes sense.  Merchant builds an identifiable clientele, will to announce on a regular basis their presence within.

From my optic, as long as you know the answers to the following questions, then you have the necessary information required to measure the risk versus gain of announcing your physical location to the virtual/online world.

  1. Announcing where you are is also announcing where you aren’t, is that a problem?  For you or your family?
  2. How does the location-based service provider store your personal information (profile)?
  3. What security and privacy surrounds your profile data?
  4. How is your location data shared with your “friends?”
  5.  Can an individual not known to you access your location without your knowledge?
  6. If you look at your check-in’s can you discern a pattern of when and where you will be at a given time?  Can others?
  7. How can your data be collated by someone, other than yourself?
  8. Can your data be collated without your explicit permission?
  9. If your data is collated or archived by others would you know?
  10. Are you able to review your check-in’s and remove or edit these?

Location based services are here to stay, have great viability and absolutely increase the interaction between individuals and merchants, as well as serve to identify individuals with similar interest.  Know that well-intentioned services have a positive side, but also may also be used to your detriment.  If you are satisfied with the answers to the aforementioned questions, then make your decision to share or not to share.

Be safe, be secure,

Christopher

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Trust: Bad things can happen to good children (online safety)

“A MUST SEE movie for every parent whose kids are on the Internet” – Ross Ellis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, STOMP Out Bullying™ and Love Our Children USA™

By Guest  Blogger Christopher Burgess

In David Schwimmer’s TRUST, bad things happen to Annie, a good child. She is by all appearances a typical teenager – totally wired, online and available, 24/7/365.  As the typical teen, the online interaction includes those with whom she has a personal relationship with a physical quotient: her best friends, family members, and school acquaintances. She also has availed to her an increased circle of acquaintances about whom her knowledge is limited to their projected online personas.

In the physical world, parents see with whom their child interacts. As the parents witness this interaction they are able to help guide and influence their child’s choices. Overtime, the maturation of the child’s decision-making skills demonstrates absorption of the lessons, principles and ethics of the parent. The child displays good decision-making skills and the level of trust bestowed upon the child and their range of movement may be increased.

Within the online world, it isn’t that different. The parents continue to have the responsibility to see with whom their child interacts both within their own community and beyond. Though alien for so many parents of today’s teens and tweens, the totally wired child is interacting at a pace which far outstrips the physical world interaction, while not being as easily observable by the parent.

Parents must assist their child online as they do offline. Parents must be able to note whom their child is engaging and perform the necessary due diligence on the individual. The parent must also be able to note the frequency and modes of this communication with the “online friends.” The most important rule to follow when navigating between the online and physical world is when the online friend suggests moving the relationship from virtual to physical. The number one rule for every family: “The child must not engage in any personal meetings with an individual whom they have only met online without explicit parental permission.”

So many attribute their lack of desire to look into what their child is doing online to their desire to trust their child. One should trust their child, but that level of trust shouldn’t extend to an individual about who so little is known – the online acquaintance and their online persona. Parents can and should do their own due diligence on those at the other end of the online connection. Parents can observe and monitor frequency and modes of contact. In addition to the “no meeting” rule, the next most important rule is all online interaction will occur from a centralized (observable) locale (the laptop in the bedroom should never occur).

The parent can also advantage themselves to any of the numerous software offerings which will provide the internet protocol (IP) addresses with who their devices are engaged. In this manner, the parent can note all interactions and highlight those worthy of further investigation. If your child’s interlocutor is coming into contact with your child from a variety of geographically diverse locales, that should be considered anomalous and worthy of deeper inspection. If the child has their own device (laptop or desktop), then you may desire to put a time limit on when the device is allowed to access the internet (in the physical world, when the child leaves the home the parent knows where they are going, who they will be with and when they are expected to return) via regulating the router access.

Mobile telephony is often overlooked. This is a means by which a child may circumvent the safety net provided by their parents within their home. Text (SMS) messages, video messages, photos, emails, and chat are all a part of the normal offering from today’s smart phones and warrant the same level of observation provided to the devices within the home. With respect to mobile devices one can review the device itself and also review the billing and call records in the same manner one would for the IP addresses. Again, there is available a plethora of applications designed to lock-down and regulate the areas of the accessible internet writ-large for mobile devices.

The protection of your children is important. You can honor their privacy and enhance their protection by guiding your child in the online world just as you would in the physical world. In doing so, you will greatly reduce the opportunity for a malevolent person from making the adage “bad things to happen to good children” a reality.

Trust_ opens at theaters in the United States on 1 April.

Safe and sound in their suburban home, Will and Lynn Cameron used to sleep well at night, trusting their children were protected. Will, in particular, was comforted by the fact that he and Lynn raised three bright children, and that once the doors were locked and the alarm was set, nothing — absolutely nothing — was going to harm his family.

When his fourteen-year-old daughter, Annie, made a new friend online — a sixteen-year-old boy named Charlie that she met in a volleyball chat room — Will and Lynn didn’t think much of it. They discussed his friendship with her, assuming that this is normal with teenagers who connect through the internet.

After weeks of communicating online, Annie becomes enraptured by Charlie and finds herself drawn to him more and more. Slowly she learns he is not who he claims to be, yet Annie remains intrigued by Charlie even as the truth about him is uncovered. The devastating revelation reverberates through her entire family, setting in motion a chain of events that forever change their lives in ways that no one could have ever predicted.

Genre(s): Drama
Runtime: 104 min.
MPAA Rating: R (for disturbing material involving the rape of a teen, language, sexual content and some violence.)
Theatrical Release Date: 04/01/2011
DVD Release Date:  07/26/2011
Status:  Coming Soon
Distributor(s): Millennium Entertainment
Director(s):  David Schwimmer
Starring: Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Viola Davis, Liana Liberato
Country of Origin: USA – Limited (04-01-2011)
Language: English

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Online Safety: Bad things can happen to Good children

By Guest Blogger Christopher Burgess

In David Schwimmer’s TRUST, bad things happen to Annie, a good child.  She is by all appearances a typical teenager – totally wired, online and available, 24/7/365.  As the typical teen, the online interaction includes those with whom she has a personal relationship with a physical quotient: her best friends, family members, and school acquaintances.  She also has availed to her an increased circle of acquaintances about whom her knowledge is limited to their projected online personas.

In the physical world, parents see with whom their child interacts.  As the parents witness this interaction they are able to help guide and influence their child’s choices.  Overtime, the maturation of the child’s decision making skills demonstrates absorption of the lessons, principals and ethics of the parent. The child displays good decision making skills and the level of trust bestowed upon the child and their range of movement may be increased.

Within the online world, it isn’t that different.  The parents continue to have the responsibility to see with whom their child interacts both within their own community and beyond. Though alien for so many parents of today’s teens and tweens, the totally wired child is interacting at a pace which far outstrips the physical world interaction, while not being as easily observable by the parent.

Parents must assist their child online as they do offline.  Parents must be able to note whom their child is engaging and perform the necessary due diligence on the individual.  The parent must also be able to note the frequency and modes of this communication with the “online friends.”  The most important rule to follow when navigating between the online and physical world is when the online friend suggests moving the relationship from virtual to physical.  The number one rule for every family: “The child must not engage in any personal meetings with an individual whom they have only met online without explicit parental permission.

It is not espionage to know who is reaching out and engaging your child.  When you have a friend pick up your child at school, there is a high likelihood that challenge-words are used between the child and the friend to provide assurance to the child that they can safely get into the vehicle with the parent’s designee.  If an individual approached your child without the challenge-words, your child would react in the manner in which you instructed: “shout and run to the largest number of persons in proximity.”  In the online environment the opportunity for private engagement with your child by an unknown individual is increased by an immeasurable capacity.  The individual child can be engaged by anyone in the world, with an internet connection.

So many attribute their lack of desire to look into what their child is doing online to their desire to trust their child.  One should trust their child, but that level of trust shouldn’t extend to an individual about who so little is known – the online acquaintance and their online persona.  Parents can and should do their own due diligence on those at the other end of the online connection.  Parents can observe and monitor frequency and modes of contact.  In addition to the “no meeting” rule, the next most important rule is all online interaction will occur from a centralized (observable) locale (the laptop in the bedroom should never occur).

The parent can also advantage themselves to any of the numerous software offerings which will provide the internet protocol (IP) addresses with who their devices are engaged.  In this manner, the parent can note all interactions and highlight those worthy of further investigation. If your child’s interlocutor is coming into contact with your child from a variety of geographically diverse locales, that should be considered anomalous and worthy of deeper inspection.  If the child has their own device (laptop or desktop), then you may desire to put a time limit on when the device is allowed to access the internet (in the physical world, when the child leaves the home the parent knows where they are going, who they will be with and when they are expected to return) via regulating the router access.

Mobile telephony is often overlooked.  This is a means by which a child may circumvent the safety net provided by their parents within their home.  Text (SMS) messages, video messages, photos, emails, and chat are all a part of the normal offering from today’s smart phones and warrant the same level of observation provided to the devices within the home.  With respect to mobile devices one can review the device itself and also review the billing and call records in the same manner one would for the IP addresses.  Again, there is available a plethora of applications designed to lock-down and regulate the areas of the accessible internet writ-large for mobile devices.

The protection of your children is important.  You can honor their privacy and enhance their protection by guiding your child in the online world just as you would in the physical world.  In doing so, you will greatly reduce the opportunity for a malevolent person from making the adage “bad things to happen to good children” a reality.

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Norton online family protects families worldwide

This week Norton/Symantec announced that its award-winning online family safety service, Norton Online Family, will now be offered for free worldwide in 25 languages.

Previously available in English only, the new version of Norton Online Family is the first globally available free solution to give parents the comprehensive tools they need to not just block inappropriate websites, but truly connect with their children’s online lives and foster ongoing dialogue about safe Internet behaviors. According to the Norton Online Family Report, a global study that was released today, 62 percent of kids worldwide have had a negative online experience, underscoring the need for a service like Norton Online Family that helps create positive online experiences for their kids.

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