Canada and the United States have set aside the month of October as Cyber Security Awareness Month. Where ever you may live, the tips provided by supporters of this endeavor are appropriate for all computer users.
To support the Cyber Security Awareness theme last year to "Protect Yourself Before You Connect Yourself", I scheduled a new "tip of the day" at Security Garden each day during October (Available in the Cyber Security label). Although it was a lot of fun, the theme this year is "Our Shared Responsibility".
With that in mind, where ever you may be, I challenge everyone who reads this to join in the endeavor – share the responsibility! As a home computer user or tech enthusiast, take responsibility for keeping yourself and your family safe online.
A starting point is ensuring that your family computer(s) have basic protection. Some months ago, I wrote a popular tutorial, Basic Computer Security for the Home User. If you are a “beginner”, that is a good place to start.
After your computer is protected with the basics, it is time to consider that the Internet is a virtual world with potential dangers and . . .
As part of "Our Shared Responsibility", teach your children, grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews that “stranger danger” applies to the internet as well as on the street. This is especially important today with the wide usage of social networking sites by young adults. Be sure your children understand the importance of maintaining their privacy. If you are uncertain where or how to begin, Microsoft has published a number of articles, available from the Microsoft Family Safety webpage:
- AAP and Microsoft collaborate on online child safety
- Age-based safety tips for kids
- Sample family contract for house Internet rules
- 4 steps parents can take to help protect kids online
- Basics to teach kids about the Internet
For those members of your family who are mature enough to participate in social networking sites, additional guidance is available from the Microsoft Family Safety webpage:
- Practice cyberethics
- Teach kids about hate and misinformation on the Internet
- How to manage your online reputation
- Online gaming: Help kids play safely
- How to help your kids use social Web sites more safely
- 11 tips for social networking safety
- Safety tips for blogging
- Online predators: Minimize the risk
- 10 tips for dealing with cyberbullies
Particularly for younger children, I suggest child care-givers use Windows Live Family Safety or Windows Vista Parental Controls to create age-appropriate filters for internet usage of the children in your care.
Additional information on Cyber Security Awareness Month is available at the following locations:
- Canada: http://www.safecanada.ca/cybersecurity_e.asp
- SANS: Cyber Security Awareness Month
- Microsoft: http://www.microsoft.com/protect/promotions/us/cybersecuritymonth_us.mspx
- NCSA: http://www.staysafeonline.info/
Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...