6 Ways to be Cyber Secure

October 14, 2020

Cybercrimes are on the rise. According to the Star Newspaper on Sunday 12th April,  2020, cybersecurity cases rose by 82.5% during the MCO compared to the same period in 2019 (18th March to 7th April).

As parents and teachers, we have to be aware of cybercrime. Anyone who uses the Internet should exercise some basic precautions while they are online. How do you know your computer system has been hacked? Here are some signs that you should be aware of:

  • You get a fake antivirus message
  • Your internet searches are redirected
  • You see frequent, random popups
  • Your friends receive social media invitations from you that you didn’t send
  • Your online password isn’t working
  • Your mouse moves between programs and makes selections
  • Your online account is missing money
  • You’ve been notified by someone you’ve been hacked
  • Confidential data has been leaked

Being vigilant and protecting yourself against it before it happens can help you avoid the troubles later on. We bring this topic up into classrooms as children are easy victims where they can’t quite decipher the issue like an adult. 

Here are 6 ways you (as a parent or teacher) can play your part:

Create the awareness early

Today’s children and young students were born into the digital age and have never known a world without the Internet. They take technology classes every day, they surf the Web for their projects, and they use the Internet during their spare time too – playing online video games, sharing their experiences on social networks and doing all sorts of “digital things”.

Children and teens see the Internet as a great big thing that provides them with a ton of answers and information about everything. When used correctly, this can be of great benefit to their learning and awareness of the world around them. Used incorrectly, it can place them, and others, at great risk and leave devices vulnerable to hackers. Parents and teachers play a fundamental role in making young students aware that, if they are not careful, people with bad intentions can ruin their online experience – exactly as it can happen in real life.

Classroom Introduction

Criminals have found new ways to break into our lives through our screens. As adults, we can play a key role, training our children to become responsible digital users. It is important that we guide them and educate them on how to practice appropriate behaviour while they are using blogs and social networks, navigating Wikipedia, doing online research, and so on. 

Protect Your Devices

Today’s students think about their technological equipment as something ‘due’, something which is ‘normal’ for everyone. On the contrary, they should view it as a privilege. Teachers raise awareness on the importance of taking care of digital devices because they are precious and not invincible. A child must be educated on always being alert and active when encountering suspicious messages, links and pop-up windows to prevent their smartphones, laptops, and tablets from being infected with malware – such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses – that may attack while using their devices.

Responsible Browsing

The Internet is an immense storehouse of knowledge and answers. Diving into this large sea of information may make it difficult for children to explore and choose the valid and credible information. In school, they learn how to recognise trusted digital resources: for example, teachers provide students with a list of approved websites to use in class and give them advice on how to evaluate sites in order to make responsible decisions while surfing the Net.

Say No To Cyberbullying 

Students have daily interactions with one another via group chats, chat rooms, blogs, and social networks. They are free to write about anything – and above all anyone – forwarding their opinions to many with just one click. With social media, people can post their thoughts and opinions anonymously. When these opinions are bad or hurtful, they damage the image of a victim. This is called cyberbullying. The consequences can be devastating, resulting in emotional stress, withdrawal from school, and even suicide.

It is fundamental to discuss the problem with your child. Students must be encouraged to report inappropriate online interactions to their parents, teachers, counsellors, whether they are a victim or bystander. In addition, it is important that you monitor the activities of your child when using electronic devices. One way of doing this is by ensuring electronic devices are only used in a common area in your house. 

In school, teachers teach about cyberbullying in ICT and PSHE to help students understand the importance of addressing this concern and strategies they can use to deal with it.

Think Before Posting

A child needs to be educated on the importance of “thinking before posting”. They have to understand that once they post something online – a picture, an opinion, a video – they make it available for the world to see or read. Although they may be able to delete what they have posted at a later date, it still leaves a digital footprint that cannot be deleted. 

To promote a positive ‘digital self-image’, we should all ask ourselves these four simple questions before posting anything:

  • Will this post hurt anyone’s feelings?
  • Will this post affect my future career?
  • How do I want to be seen by others?
  • How will others feel if they read or see my post?

If you should have any negative feelings about any of these questions, the best thing to do is not post the information.

The Internet is a huge part of many people’s everyday lives. It’s fun, useful, and informative, but can also be dangerous – no matter how safe you feel while browsing. By getting into the habit of using good Internet safety practices, you can protect your information and your identity for years to come. More importantly, protect your child from harmful attacks that will create a dent in their futures. We all must play our part and keep safe online!

Mrs. Manglesh has been teaching since 2002, and her University of Western Sydney qualification has trained her to teach IT and Computer Science to all levels. Her background as a Vocational Training Officer for Application Development and a Multimedia Designer for the Ministry of Human Resource Malaysia allows her to express the substance of the subject and build graduates of technology through trust. She also enjoys teaching and helping children grow, allowing them to discover their potential.