Tuesday, March 22, 2016

10 Top Cyber Security and Online Safety Tips: TCEA Favorite Finds from Digital Citizenship Sessions

Digital Citizenship, data breaches and vulnerability, data thieves, student data, your private info and passwords, shopping online, using Wi-Fi and storing in the cloud. The recent deluge of password security breaches at major retailers and companies heightens our awareness of the risks of cyber-criminals.  As educators we want to prepare our students to be well informed Digital Citizens and I was on the hunt for TCEA sessions that would provide information and safety tips.

The message: protecting your identity and online reputation is 100% our own responsibility. What steps have you taken to safeguard confidential data at home and work?

Privacy online: Recognize it, take it seriously, report it and for students, involve parents.

This blog provides some basic points about vulnerability, password information, resources and provides you with some tools that can help protect your cyber security and online privacy.

Your passwords, digital safety, basic security and knowing how to attack the problem of hackers along with being a well-informed, vigilant individual helps keep you from being a target.

Your IT department is responsible for firewalls, updates and patches, antivirus, securing the networks, spyware defense, handling destructive malware and provide the services that we need to work. You are responsible for protecting your data, your identity and online reputation.

TCEA speakers Ms. Diana Ybanez and Mr. Enrique Pretel with Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD shared this password security website with campus administrators at the conference.

Tip #1: Test your Password: https://howsecureismypassword.net

Shift your thinking from 'passwords' to 'passphrases' 

Passphrase example where 'o' is replaced with '0':  'I enj0y bird watching 2016'

Observe how much more secure this passphrase is vs. the password above.

A strong passphrase:
  • is 20 to 30 characters long
  • is a series of words that create a phrase
  • does not contain common phrases found in literature or music
  • does not contain your user name, real name or company name
  • is significantly different from previous passwords or passphrases
  • hard to guess by intuition - even someone who knows the user well
  • easy to remember and type correctly
  • for better security, any easily memorable encoding at the user's own level can be applied
  • not reused between sites, applications and different sources
Create different passphrases: 
Low security: Basic web registrations
High security: mail, bank, student data and work network

Tip #2: Use 2-factor authentication. 

Helps prevent unauthorized use of your account unless they have your username, password AND your smartphone.

Tip #3: Encrypt all confidential data. 

Avoid carrying confidential data on flash drives, but if you must, encrypt it first. 

Tip#4: Avoid phishing scams via email links. 

And, don't click on email attachments. Save them to your computer and scan them first.

Tip #5: Protect yourself when you click, browse and buy online. 

McAfee offers a list of scams. This website provides info Mobile SMS Scams, Seasonal Travel Scams, Deceptive online Games, Shipping notification scams, Bogus gift cards, fake charities, romance scames and phoney E-tailers.

For complete article: 12 Scams for the season  http://tinyurl.com/m8ohefm

Tip #6: Think before you click: If you're not paying for it, you become the product: your secrets aren't safe

Consumer reports (July 2014) wrote an easy to read and understand (6 page) comprehensive article which addresses computer hacks, scams, smart phone hacks, malware, social media, at the doctors office, in the cloud, shopping, travel and how to protect your digital life. It includes a field guide to passwords, how to encrypt and software available to assist.

I encourage you to take time to read and apply these tips to help you attack the problem of hackers and keep you from being a target. http://tinyurl.com/q4yrfav

Tip #7: Check Privacy Settings Regularly

Check your privacy settings on all social media to ensure they work the way you want them to...ask for help if you are'nt sure what you're seeing. 

Tip #8: Protect your finances

Use a different email with 2 factor authentication for bank accounts and financial transactions.

Tip #9: Password Do's and Don'ts

Here are a few tips compiled from the KrebsonSecurity blog   http://tinyurl.com/q8kuwrb
  • Don't use a family members name or passwords with combinations of your confidential information, such as your Social Security or phone numbers. 
  • Don't use the same password for your secure accounts (banking, financial and credit cards) as you use for your email accounts. It the email account is hacked, your password is at risk for all your accounts. 
  • Complexity is good in a password, but length is the key to a good password. The more characters, the harder is is to attack. 
  • It's OK to write down your password information but don't leave it in plain site. Best practice is to write down your username and website information which you access and put a password hint beside this information.
  • There are several third-party programs that help to manage passwords, such as Roboform and PasswordSafe.

Tip #10: Important Password Tips Everyone Should Know

Vicki Davis writes on CoolCatTeacher and suggests switching to a passphrase, never saving passwords in a web browser, using the site name in your password, using a password manage and substituting numbers and letters. Again, the recommendation of using a unique password for your bank account and email is a reoccurring tip and recommended to change now.


TCEA has provided links to session handouts. Click here to check them out.
Cybersecurity in the Classroom for Teachers: http://www.tceaconvention.org/2016/handouts/files/Session-161691.pdf
Top Security Tips for Teachers: http://tinyurl.com/tcea16
New threats for raising digital kids. https://usblog.kaspersky.com/securing-todays-kids/6894/
12 Scams for the season  http://tinyurl.com/m8ohefm
United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips
Urban Legends and Folklore - http://urbanlegends.about.com/
TruthOrFiction.com - http://www.truthorfiction.com
Symantec Security Response Hoaxes - http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html
McAfee Security Virus Hoaxes - http://home.mcafee.com/VirusInfo/VirusHoaxes.aspx
Microsoft Safety and Security Center: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/online-privacy/default.aspx
Family Online Safety Institute: https://www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting/cyber-ethics/
Google Digital Citizenship and Literacy Curriculum https://www.google.com/goodtoknow/web/curriculum/
Partnership for 21st Century Learning: http://www.p21.org/our-work/resources/for-educators

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