Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Attorney General Releases CyberSafety Plan

Attorney General Martha Coakley released a plan to fight cybercrime last week according to an article in the Boston Globe. Part of the plan includes a partnership with Microsoft to train 250 law enforcement officials on computer forensics. The training will involve teaching the law enforcement officials how to investigate IP addresses, websites, emails, chats, IM’s and other important techniques needed when processing digital evidence. The attorney general's office recently received a $207,679 grant from the Justice department to help the state fight cybercrime. Attorney General Coakley’s plan includes six key priorities for fighting cybercrimes which not only includes training but also includes funding for cybercrime programs, and amending existing law.

The BPS cybersafety mentors must have had a positive effect on the Attorney General this summer when they traveled to her office and presented their cybersafety products to her and her staff. Read about it on the OIIT blog. You can read the Attorney General’s plan here.

The Attorney General’s website has some internet safety resources on in, including an internet safety video entitled “Ask the AG about CyberCrime”.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BPS Presents CyberSafety Campaign at CEMA Conference

Felicia Vargas and Joe Kidd of OIIT presented at the Connecticut Educators Computer Association Conference in Hartford, Connecticut on Tuesday. The title of their presentation was "Designing an Internet Safety Campaign" and was about the initiative in Boston to bring cybersafety to its schools and community members. Felicia Vargas, who is the director of TechBoston, leads the effort in the district to educate all BPS community members on internet safety. She was featured last year in an article in Ed-Tech magazine in which she states the importance of educating children about cybersafety. Felicia and Joe presented to approximately 60-70 educators from Connecticut about how Boston's cybersafety initiative began and where it was headed. Educators who attended the session received sample internet safety materials that BPS high school students created including buttons, trading cards and posters. Many of the teachers asked questions about iSAFE and how the curriculum was being implemented in schools across the district. Some of the teachers stayed afterwards to get more information about the BPS initiative and expressed that they would like to start their own internet safety initiatives in their school systems. We look forward to future collaboration with those teachers and their schools!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

CyberSafety at the Community Transition School

Technology Support Teacher, Alexis Oosting of the Community Transition School has been working with her high school students to educate them about cybersafety. The first topic that they explored was intellectual property and copyright. She started with a background of what intellectual property and copyright are as well as how they are related to plagiarism. She then incorporated the lesson into the school’s unit on entrepreneurship. She used stories about illegal file sharing court cases and quotes from famous artists about the issue. She then had students support or ague against the issue of whether or not file sharing is copyright infringement. This type of lesson might become more and more important as record companies begin to seek monetary retribution from people who illegally share music files online. In a precedent setting verdict handed down by a federal jury earlier this month, a Minnesota woman was ordered to pay $222,000 for sharing copyrighted music online through the Peer 2 Peer sharing network, Kazaa.

Alexis also taught a lesson around online predators and personal identity theft. She told me that the students watched some video clips from iSAFE and discussed the dangers of giving out too much information on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. She also did a jigsaw activity about different internet safety tips. She told me that she was personally surprised at the amount of her students who told her that they have or know someone who has met up with people they met over MySpace. Unfortunately, some children put themselves into danger by chatting with strangers and then meeting them offline. One example of this was in a Boston Globe article today in which a 13 year old girl was allegedly assaulted after meeting a 20 year old college student with whom she had been chatting with online. He allegedly told her that he was 16 years old.

If you have a lesson or internet safety event that you want to share with the BPS community, please email me with the details at .

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Personal Information is Valuable

October has been named National Cyber Security Awareness Month by the National Cyber Security Alliance. Their website, has listed their "Top 8 Cyber Security Practices to Stay Safe Online." CyberSecurity tip #1 is "Protect your Personal Information. It's Valuable." Personal identity theft can cause major problems for your credit. Although you can not always prevent your valuable personal information from ending up in the wrong hands, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. The National Cyber Security Alliance has tips on how to help you keep your important personal information private including:

  • Don't open unsolicited or unknown email messages.
  • Shred junk mail, especially credit card applications.
  • If you are shopping online, make sure the vendor is using a secure website to process the financial transaction. A lot of times, you can tell the site is secure by the url. If the site has an "https" address, it is a secure transmission. You would also see a lock icon on the browser status bar. However, this does not always mean it is secure as some scammers will place false security icons on their sites.
  • Do not give personal or financial information through email request. Companies, especially financial institutions do not ask for personal information through email requests. If you are not sure, call the company and talk to a customer service agent on the phone.

The Federal Trade Commission calls personal identity theft one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and can have devastating consequences on its victims. Their website has a lot of valuable information about identity theft including a video that helps to explain the dangers of having your identity stolen.

How would you know you are the victim of identity theft? Some things you might notice are:

  • Fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit reports
  • Receiving credit cards or credit card bills you didn’t apply for
  • Being denied credit for no apparent reason
  • Getting calls from debt collectors about merchandise you did not purchase

You should check your credit report with one of the three major credit bureaus. You are entitled to a free credit report once every 12 months. The FTC has information on how to request your credit report.

What should you do if you are a victim of personal identity theft?

You should immediately contact one of the three major credit bureaus and put out a fraud alert on your information. Once you call one of the major credit bureaus, they will alert the other two. Another thing you should do is call your bank and credit card companies to send you new cards and account numbers. Finally, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling their Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). You may also need to file a police report in the community where the identity theft took place.

You might not always be able to prevent identity theft, but you can take steps to minimize the dangers and know what to do if it ever happens to you.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Internet Safety Webcast!

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a free online internet safety webcast will be broadcast on Wednesday October 17, 2007 at 10:30am Eastern time. The broadcast will feature an interactive play geared toward 4th and 5th grade students that will cover a variety of internet safety topics. The play will touch upon cyberbullying, communicating in cyberspace, cyber etiquette, keeping personal information private, and more! Registration to be part of the webcast will come on a first come, first serve basis. Please click here if you would like more information about the event.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month!

The National Cyber Security Alliance has announced that October is “National Cyber Security Awareness Month”. Their slogan for the month is “Protect Yourself Before you Connect Yourself” provides “free and non-technical cyber security and safety resources to the public, so consumers, small businesses and educators have the know how to avoid cyber crime.” The website also includes the top 8 cyber security practices. We will look at each of these practices a bit more closely during the month of October. Stay Safe Online also has cyber safety information split into different sections for home users, K-12 educators, small businesses, and higher education.