Cybersecurity Tips

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Teachers today are tasked with finding solutions to cybersecurity issues that weren’t even considered a few years ago  This blog post discusses some tips for online safety for both teachers and students.  It is largely inspired by this article:  “Teachers Guide to Cyber Security” that I was directed to by a reader of a previous Solver Blog post who sent me an email and shared it. (Thank you Rebecca!)

As I’ve written many previous blog posts about the benefits of educational technology (like this one) and how we (teachers) can improve our practice by effective use of appropraite instructional technology tools (like this one), I felt like a post on the perils and potential dangers of online tools was merited.  Like anything, the more you know, the better equipped you are to handle the potential negatives that may occur.  This is also true for our students.  It is now our duty, as 21st century educators, to teach our students about the dangers, risks, and potential safety concerns from their online use.

Learning is digital in the 21st century

A good place to start (for both you and your students) is one of the many online quizzes that will assess how much you know about online security. Several are given in the inspiration article.  One,by the Pew Research Center, is called the Cybersecurity Knowledge Quiz.  Go ahead, try it! My results are below (just want you to know I’m legit! *smile*)

The inspiration article has a number of excellent infographics.  I’ve included many of them here for your convenience, including one giving a general set of tips regarding safe keeping of your online presence and an excellent pair of infographics on cyber bullying.

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Tips for teachers (& to share with students) on how to best safeguard your online reputation

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Useful definitions about cyberbullying

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Warning signs that your student (or child) is being cyberbullied

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How to avoid online predators and teach online “stranger danger"

Social Media Safety

Tell your students to:

  • Avoid naming their exact location and activities in photos on social media. There is no need to tell their friends or followers precisely where they are or what they’re doing.
  • Turn off automatic geotagging on all their devices. Hackers can’t steal location metadata if it doesn’t exist.
  • Wait to post photos from outings until they’ve arrived back home. This prevents burglars from using this information to break in.

To me, one of the best (and most common sense) tips provided is the simple concept that the best way to protect our students is to teach them about it explicitly.  Sample lessons or ideas for lessons are given for topics like cyberbullying, phishing, public wifi precautions, avoiding malware, and cautions for social media use.  

The quote to the left gives three tips that teachers can give to their students regarding safety in their social media posts.  I can personally attest to the need for this type of direct instruction as the majority of my students don’t even consider the dangers of what they post online, particularly when it comes to their personal information, locations, and activiites. 

I also like that the author of the inspiration article make a point of telling teachers it’s not our job to police our students social media accounts, merely to educate them about the risks so they can make better and more informed decisions about what they want to post (and what may follow them the rest of their lives).

While some teens think ahead regarding their social media reputations, statistics from the Pew Research Center indicate that roughly two-thirds do not.

The inspiration article also provides a nice collection of addtional resources.  I’ve included several in the references section below.

As always, I'd love to hear from you.  Especially, I would love to hear if you have any additional cyber security tips to incude, or if you have other comments about this blog post!

References:

LINK for STOP. THINK. CONNECT.TM, a resource of videos, posters, tip sheets, etc. provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance

LINK for 12 Great Lesson Plans for Internet Safety 

Free Cyber Security for Beginners COURSE

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Author:  Dr. Diana S. Perdue

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