Digital Sidcot – Cyber Security

Digital Sidcot – Cyber Security

Our children know a lot about the internet. They know, for instance, that it can answer obscure questions, allow them to print something of to colour in, play games, do homework, the list goes on and on; but they (and probably some of us as parents) do not know so much about are: the virus, online privacy, social networking etiquette, phishing or any other internet safety/security issue you can think of.

How do children (and parents) get caught out?

The following list is just an example of the most common ways you can get caught out:

  • "Drive-by" downloads – when you are downloading something and another program is installed at the same time you did not ask for, but clicked yes to, because no one read the pop up box.
  • Links to malicious sites – which contain virus and malware which install because you clicked on the link.
  • Phishing – mainly emails taking you to malicious sites to get you to enter details which can then be used to obtain access to other systems e.g. online banking, email accounts.
  • "Fan sites" or "free stuff" websites, which often target children with their favourite bands, heroes, music, ringtones or anything else which might tempt them. They may well have 'free stuff' on them, however it will also most likely have virus and malware to go with them.

How do we guard against this?

  1. Make sure you keep your computer or device up to date. Those annoying Windows updates or the Mac iOS updates (which make you uninstall apps to have enough space) are really important, as they fix security problems.
  2. Be careful which website your children (and you) go to, unless it is a known company, if it is free be wary; nothing is ever truly free.
  3. Make sure you have an anti-virus installed, this includes android and Apple devices. Many people think there are no virus for Apple devices (there are less) but they do exist.
  4. Never give out your password, change them regularly and make sure the passwords are secure ones e.g. contain numbers, letters and special symbols e.g. £$%. For mobile devices use your fingerprint or a passcode.
  5. Where possible make sure you have a firewall turned on - Windows PC's do by default have this on.
  6. For mobile devices ensure you have a way of remotely deleting and finding the devices if it is lost or stolen, nearly all providers offer these features.

How to I talk to my children about this?

  • This topic is probably fairly easy to do so, as your children will not want to get exploited or 'ripped off' either.  
  • Explain to them that not everything online is what it seems, and if it is too good to be true it probably is.
  • When using the internet to buy things always use secure WiFi, public hotspots which have no password are  very vulnerable to attacks
  • only download programs and applications from a trusted source and from known companies
  • Keep revisiting the topic now and again just to keep them aware.

As always if you would like to know more please make contact with the School.

Some useful resources can be found on the Government's Cyberware website.

A free, very good, anti virus software by Sophos can be found here (this is the same as we use in school and although it may seem to good to be true is isn't!)

James Russell
IT Development Manager

Independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 - 18 in Somerset