Internet Safety

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Edmodo Hack Revealed

A recent hack of the educational platform Edmodo compromised tens of millions' user records and led to the revelation that the company was not only using ad trackers to monitor student and teacher behavior, but then forwarding the data to data brokers. The company issued a statement saying it is investigating the security breach and it has removed the "problematic" ad-tracking code from its platform. Edmodo is a platform that 78 million teachers, students and parents use to communicate about homework and lesson plans, and more.

Is Teaching Kids Ethical Hacking Essential?

Most kids do not grow up dreaming of becoming a hacker, but that may be exactly what the US needs according to David Brumley, a professor of computer and electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon. Brumly promotes the idea of a nationwide cybersecurity education program to bolster cybersecurity and protect the nation from attacks, and writes that we need to recognize that the hacking mindset - learning to think differently, being curious, and always experimenting - is very valuable and may be the only way to keep this country safe in the future.

After WikiLeaks – Cybersecurity Tips for the Concerned

WikiLeaks recently published a trove of documents that appears to detail how the Central Intelligence Agency successfully hacked a wide variety of tech products, including iPhones, Android devices, WiFi routers and Samsung televisions. That’s just about every major category of consumer electronics. So what does that mean for you if you own one — or several — of these gadgets?


For many people, it may mean nothing at all. The thousands of pages of documents refer to programs that attacked outdated versions of the software systems running on devices, and many security vulnerabilities have since been patched. On the other hand, many people may still use outdated software on their devices. And although the C.I.A. designed these tools to spy on terrorists in the interest of national security, the hacking tools may have ended up in the hands of a whole range of entities. So even if you aren’t worried about what WikiLeaks revealed about the C.I.A. right now for yourself, this article from USA Today entitled 9 cybersecurity tips for the mildly paranoid (plus 4 for the truly anxious) with tips for protecting your cellphones and other digital tools is a good thing to look at just to remind yourself to be more careful. Bottom line: Remember to update, update, update!

A Different Kind of Baby Monitor

How would you feel about a sound activated, WiFi speaker that is being touted as a device to help take care of your kids? Toymaker Mattel recently announced Aristotle by Nabi, a smart baby monitor device that has interactive capabilities. Aristotle is designed similar to an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, but programmed for children. Put another way, the hub is “an AI (artificial intelligence) to help raise your child,” as Fast Company described it. Mattel said that Aristotle could do everything from playing a lullaby for a crying baby to ordering diapers. It sounds like a device from the future and might make some people question how much is too much technology in our lives?

Are Parents Clueless When It Comes to Their Kids and Data Collection?

According to a new survey done by the Future of Privacy Forum entitled "Beyond One Classroom: Parental Support for Technology and Data Use in Schools," parents are still mostly clueless about the laws regulating the use of student data, and they don't buy into the idea that more laws will somehow provide the answers they want. Only one in five parents knew that there were federal laws restricting what companies can do with information collected from children online. Another 24 percent knew there were laws but didn't know the details. The remainder knew nothing about federal laws in particular. That contrasts with the 94 percent who responded that they felt they should be informed when their child's record was being shared so they would know with whom it was being shared and why. Do you know what data is being collected from your child and how is it is being shared and protected?

College Students Put the Use of Personal Data Before Privacy

About 98% of students want colleges and universities to use their personal data to improve the college experience, according to a recent survey by Wakefield Research. Students suggest they would like their data used to help them with things such as keeing track of graduation requirements and choosing courses. Of course, some of that data, including health information, may be pose a privacy risk but students seem to feel the benefits outweigh the risks.

Social Media Sites Band Together Against Terror

Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook have all announced that they will be sharing databases to prevent terrorist groups from using the sites to post content and recruit. "There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services," the companies said in a joint statement.

Given the recent discussions about the spread of fake news on social media, critics hope this new collaboration could potentially pave a path for the companies to work together on other initiatives going forward. The problem of false news raises questions about the potential role these companies should play in battling that content. Some feel these companies have no business being arbitrators of the news or what’s right and wrong — and it would be easy for the companies to keep themselves removed and escape all responsibility in the matter. However, because of their outsized influence on today’s web, these companies are beginning to wake up to the fact that they will be held accountable for the content shared on their platforms considering that content has the ability to influence everything from terrorist acts to how people perceive the world on a global scale.

Dealing with Bogus Pop-Up Alerts

Have you seen a pop-up alert saying your computer has been blocked and you need to call an 800 number to unlock it? What can you do to avoid this kind of scam? First, to get rid of the immediate problem, either close the pop-up window or if that doesn’t work, force-quit the browser: Hit the Command, Option and Esc keys on a Mac or the Ctrl, Shift and Esc keys in Windows, select the browser, and click “Force Quit” on a Mac or “End task” in Windows. Then read “Don't let sketchy pop-up ads scare you” on the USA Today site to understand more about where these scams come from and how to minimize your risk .

Safe Social Media Use a Challenge in Education

Social media is one of the biggest challenges for cybersecurity in the education sector, according to a report from Wombat Security Technologies. The report found that education professionals missed about one-third of assessment questions related to safe social media use. This serves as a good reminder for parents that they should take an active part in helping kids stay safe online and in using social media properly, and not entirely depend on schools to cover these kinds of topics.

What Do Companies Really Do With that Data They Gather on Your Children?

When you think of digital safety you probably think about cyberbullying, identity theft, and hackers... but what about the online dangers your children are exposed to through the data that is collected about them at school? To learn more about how this data is collected and used, take a look at the article How Companies Learn What Children Secretly Want to help safeguard your kids and understand the targeted marketing that is going on while children do their schoolwork.