Cyber security

This presentation by the Swinburne Cyber Security Club is open to club members and the public.

Building a Personal Security Brand
Date: September 9, 2013 (Monday)
Time: 6:30 PM (1 hour)
Venue: Lecture Theatre EN413, EN Building, Swinburne University, Hawthorn (See campus map here – EN Building is located at D5)

Guest speaker: Duncan Alderson, Security Manager, PriceWaterhouseCoopers
PriceWaterhouseCoopers is the world’s largest professional and finance services firm. Duncan is a Security Manager with lots of experience in the industry and will be talking about building a personal security brand, his experiences in the industry and will be around for questions and discussions after the presentation.

Setting the example

How many times have you been distracted by a phone when talking to your children? Do you Facebook, or text, or answer the phone when you are parenting?
You are the person your child looks to as a role model for how to use technology effectively, responsibly and with appropriateness.
We expect our children to show respect, and so we as adults must also show them respect. Simple processes, such as no phones at the dinner table, tech free time where the family has a break and talks… It doesn’t have to be for hours….showing our children that there is a lot of fun stuff away from the keyboard too!
How will you model good use of technology with your children?

Unplug this summer

A few timely thoughts about ways to celebrate and balance your lives from Commonsense Media 

“What’s topping your kids’ holiday wish lists this year? Chances are it has a screen, Internet access, and games. And if they’re lucky enough to unwrap a Nintendo Wii U or an iPad Mini, then it’s up to you to figure out how to balance the fun with family time. (See our editors’ picks for Wii U games and iPad apps.)

As much as we all love and depend on our high-tech toys, our reliance on them — let’s face it — can get in the way of the warm and cozy family time we so carefully scheduled (probably on our electronic calendar!).

An outright ban on digital devices won’t win your kids’ respect — or compliance. But with a little planning and intentional involvement, you can balance your family’s tech activities with much-needed face time. Here’s how:

1. Be jolly — but firm. Explain to your kids that you want to downsize — not demolish — your family’s reliance on technology over the holidays. Let them know that you’ll be enforcing stricter time limits to create more quality family time. And tell them that the rules will apply to the grown-ups as well!

2. Make a list (and check it with your kids). Schedule some daily tech time for yourself and your kids. Get their input on which devices they absolutely can’t live without, and allow some limited use.

3. Have a download derby. Browse the app store together. Look for games and activities that the whole family can enjoy, like our Multiplayer App recommendations.

4. Make setup fun, not frustrating. No matter how easy to use companies make new devices, there’s always some (often frustrating) setup time. Truth be told, kids often figure out thorny tech glitches faster than parents, so involve your kids in the process. Use that time to discuss responsible use of the new device.

5. Try some tech togetherness. Unplugging for its own sake isn’t the point. Family time is. Plan a night of video games, movies, or maybe preselected YouTube videos that you can all enjoy together.

6. Combine on- and offline activities. Many new devices offer cameras and video-capture cababilities. Have fun documenting your family memories and consider compiling them intojournals, cards, and scrapbooks. This is a perfect time to share your own holiday memories with your kids.

7. If no creatures are stirring … don’t check your email. Remember, your kids learn their media habits partly from you. Use quiet time to reflect on ways you can maximize the benefits of technology without letting it take over your family’s life.

8. Have an old-fashioned holiday. Challenge your family to choose low- or no-tech versions of favorite activities. Generate fun on your own steam — no WiFi, data, or plugs. When you balance these activities with your usual routine, it may actually make your kids more appreciative of what they have.”

How will you be unplugging this Summer? I have made the stipulation that there will be no game based presents this year for Christmas…. they have what they need, and can buy their own.

Making sure we have a balance of disconnected activities, playing outside, being a role model, and leaving my computer and phone off and away when we are having family get togethers.

Some food for thought…

Strategies for parents of connected kids

I don’t think there are many parents around who haven’t sighed, pulled hair out and wondered how to reconnect with their teens. The kids are often so tech obbsessed, they rarely spend time away from one connection or another. Teens on Facebook, texting, playing computer games… is this healthy? What can we as parents do to help out children develop into well rounded individuals?

There is much discussion over the amount of time teens and young people should be allowed to spend online, I am not a psychologist, or an expert, just a parent who has a gut feeling when the kids have taken it too far. This happens in my classroom too, where I do have to remind my students about appropriate use of technology, and it must be for specific learning tasks if used in the classroom – this doesn’t include checking Facebook status updates!

Many students are using iPads, tablets, netbooks, desktop or laptop computers for school, how do you know when to say enough? Are they using the devices for appropriate tasks? There are places you can go to to check what tasks your children are supposed to be working on: Daymap, Moodle or in some cases teachers set up Facebook groups. You can check on what tasks they should be working on, you will need to log in under their username and password to check this.

So onto the strategies:

1. You are the adult/parent, YOU set the boundaries your children need to abide by…some of the boundaries I have found helpful are below

2. No technology in the bedrooms – this is just asking for trouble. Computers should be in an open family space. There may need to be quiet times for homework etc, but you should be able to wander past and see what is being done online.

3. Allow free time for Facebook/games etc, but limit that time, and stick to it – if necessary remove the device, or turn off the modem. I use 2 hours, but it depends on the individual.

4. Talk to your children – develop an understanding of what it is that your child feels is important when they are online. I know my son is into online gaming, and we have had many interesting conversations about how he works and develops relationships with other people online. It was interesting to hear that as he works as a part of a team, he doesn’t want to let them down – what a brilliant life skill to develop, and something that they often lose when they come to secondary school.

5. Listen to your children – different to the talking, listening to how they are emotionally. Are they more quiet than normal? Are they aggressive? If you notice changes in how they are acting/behaving, go back to strategy 4 and TALK to them, let them know they have options that don’t involve being online.

6. Disconnect – find a time, or a day when the family connects by disconnecting, it might just be for a walk after dinner, or or a whole day, but something where you have quality engaged family time.

7. Remind the kids they don’t have to be “available” or “online” 24/7 (this is a great strategy for adults too, as work/life balance seems to blur more and more) Turn off phones at night, turn off devices, remind them they don’t need to check in on Facebook every minute, it will still be there later.

8. Schoolwork first – Of course homework should be completed before accessing games/Facebook etc

Of course these strategies won’t work for everyone, but can be a starting point if you are having trouble with a teen who is not sleeping, or doing homework, or is  getting grumpy, or spending too many hours isolated and online. The key point has to be starting the conversations, developing a set of guidelines that works for your family.

Do you have strategies for dealing with your connected teens? Share them in the comments section.

Are you Tech Obsessed?  Interesting article from The Age a few years old, but still relevant.

eParenting some interesting information and advice.

Internet Trolls – not the monsters under the bridge

Internet or Cyber trolls… this phenomena is one of the prime examples of bullying online. Cyber trolls are people who follow many people online through Twitter, Facebook or other social networks, with the sole purpose of making hurtful comments or creating insulting and offensive images, using fake identity. So they are cowards who hurt others while not revealing who they are, and often not even knowing the person they are hurting.

This was recently highlighted by the online bullying Charlotte Dawson was subjected to, which lead to her being hospitalised. SMH – Twitter Trolls send Charlotte Dawson into Despressive spiral Ms Dawson was subjected to a barrage of death threats and urges to suicide. She tried to throw it back at the trolls, tried to be strong about it, but the feeling by some experts is that by acknowledging their comments it lead to worse comments being made until she was not able to tolerate it. Ms Dawson is 46, an educated and experienced woman, and yet she fell victim to the bullies. After the media attention many more celebrities came forward to tell their stories of having been bullied by unknown cyber trolls.

If adults can be so badly affected by hurtful  and offensive comments, what chance do our vulnerable children have? How do we protect them from these namesless and faceless threats. I know my own children have had issues of bullying, face to face as well as online. The face to face ones at least can be followed up by school (if that’s where it happens) or by parents if it is outside school. What do we do when it’s happening online? How do we help them develop positive strategies? How do we know it is happening??

One of the rules in our house is no computers in the bedrooms, so there is a central computer that all of my children can use, and they also have wifi access to ipads and ipods. iPods can be tricky as they use them for alarm clocks, so need them in their rooms, just make sure the modem is turned off at night – that way the internet can’t be accessed when they should be asleep.

All of my children are my “friends” on Facebook and Twitter – I have done this since they started their accounts, and try not to make too many “Mum” comments on their pages, but I am able to see their threads and discussions, and can monitor any I am concerned about, following up with conversations about appropriate decisions.

My 16 year old was having a conversation a few months ago that kept popping up on my ticker (the section on the right side of the facebook page, which lists posts from friends as they happen). He was chatting with someone who’s name I didn’t know… no biggie…he needs to be able to spread his wings a bit. The conversation deteriorated into this other boy making abusive and insulting comments about my son…. I was about to storm down to the kids computer to protect my son…and my husband suggested we watch, and see the reactions to see what decisions our young man made. My son was responding, taking the comments lightly, more lightly than I was…. we continued to monitor. He was making very mature choices, I was very proud of him, but still angry with this other boy. The end result is my son decided to remove this person from his friends list. This was one on one…and the right decisions were made by my son. How would it have been with a more vulnerable child at the receiving end of the abusive comments?

This set us up for a dinner table conversation on appropriate ways to talk to others online. Why do some people think it’s ok to be nasty. I think this is really important, talking about these things with our children, reminding them it is not OK to be abusive online, people can get hurt just as easily as they can face to face.  The other things we need to remind them of is:

  •  it’s ok to turn off the computer and walk away,
  • tell someone if you don’t feel comfortable with something that has been said to you, (parent, teacher, friend)
  • if someone has been agressive or rude to you, they are not a friend, and should be deleted from your friends list.
  • set privacy settings to high to avoid cyber trolls leaving comments to you on an open page
  • you can set different privacy settings for different people, perhaps limit access to some areas if you are worried about some people on your friends list
  • make sure you actually KNOW the people you have on your friends list

Parents, look for the signs, they are often the same as if your child is being physically bullied, changes in outlook, sadness, quietness, aggressive, sometimes as a parent you just have a gut feeling…. make sure you start the conversation. We often watch the current affairs shows together, as a starting point for family discussions on a range of topics. Perhaps ask if any of their friends have been bullied online, what did they do, who did they tell…. sometimes its easier for them to talk about someone else’s experience.

Commonsense Media has a huge range of resources for parents, helping to start the conversations.

Has your child been bullied online? How did you find out? How did you handle it? How did your child handle it? I would love to hear your comments or feedback.

The Social Games

The Games are over, and even before they started they were being tagged as “The Social Games” a title they certainly lived up to. Our young athletes found there were many pitfalls to using social media, many the hard way, and some, found it hard to learn the lessons.

At the Beijing Olympics Twitter was relatively new, and now the number of Twitter users is incredible. The number of tweets during the opening ceremony lead to a Twitter melt down..

But what have we learned from these games? I am hoping our young people watched and listened objectively, and perhaps start to realise what some of the negative traps are they could fall into.

Our athletes cheered for Twitter and the way it gave them a voice to talk with their fans, until the expected gold medals didn’t appear… and then that was the fault of Twitter putting too much pressure on them, and distracting them??? Some athletes went into self imposed or coach imposed social media black outs. This is the area I think we need to remind our children about… that they don’t need to be connected 24/7. It’s good to take a break, study without distractions like Facebook and Twitter, do their best, achieve their goals, and then share with their friends either in real life or virtually through social media.

Balance and thinking before they click are two areas I believe we need to focus on with our young people. Balance between virtual and reality, taking time to get away from the connections, chat with the family, walk the dog or read a book. Thinking before they post images or words which could be hurtful, or inappropriate.

How do you help your children to remember to balance their lives?

Do you know the kind of images your children post online?

Are they contributing positive or negative elements to their digital footprint?


Social Media Guidelines for Students

  1. Be aware of what you post online.  Social media venues including wikis, blogs, photo and video sharing sites are very public.  What you contribute leaves a digital footprint for all to see.  Do not post anything you wouldn’t want friends, enemies, parents, teachers, or a future employer to see.
  2. Follow the school’s code of conduct when writing online.  It is acceptable to disagree with someone else’s opinions, however, do it in a respectful way.  Make sure that criticism is constructive and not hurtful.  What is inappropriate in the classroom is inappropriate online.
  3. Be safe online.  Never give out personal information, including, but not limited to, last names, phone numbers, addresses, exact birthdates, and pictures.  Do not share your password with anyone besides your teachers and parents.
  4. Linking to other websites to support your thoughts and ideas is recommended.  However, be sure to read the entire article prior to linking to ensure that all information is appropriate for a school setting.
  5. Do your own work!  Do not use other people’s intellectual property without their permission.  It is a violation of copyright law to copy and paste other’s thoughts. When paraphrasing another’s idea(s) be sure to cite your source with the URL.  It is good practice to hyperlink to your sources.
  6. Be aware that pictures may also be protected under copyright laws.  Verify you have permission to use the image or it is under Creative Commons attribution.
  7. How you represent yourself online is an extension of yourself.  Do not misrepresent yourself by using someone else’s identity.
  8. Blog and wiki posts should be well written.  Follow writing conventions including proper grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.  If you edit someone else’s work be sure it is in the spirit of improving the writing.
  9. If you run across inappropriate material that makes you feel uncomfortable, or is not respectful, tell your teacher right away.
  10. Students who do not abide by these terms and conditions may lose their opportunity to take part in the project and/or access to future use of online tools.

Adapted From:


Today Tonight ran a story recently on the pitfalls many of our young and even the not so young, people face every time they jump onto social media sites, take photos and press “share”. They often don’t know where to draw the line and say, well that should just stay with me. Photos like those taken by the Australian swimmers in the US with guns, silly pics, shared with the world… they seem to forget the world is watching them. Many people who have travelled to the US may have done simillar things, but in the past these have usually only been shared in photo albums. The athletes have to remember they are public property, and what they do will always be put under the microscope, as a reflection of the Australian Olympic Team in this case, and as representatives of Australia.

Stephanie Rice in a bikini – although she competes in the water, clearly the AOC were not happy with her sharing of that image. We need to impress upon our children the social responsibility they should consider before posting, so they don’t post things which may harm them in the future. Many companies are developing Social Media policies, where people are made aware of responsibilities when posting online. Teachers, for example, should not bring teaching into disrepute by what is posted on social media. Everyone is conscious the media, and the world are watching.

Social Media

What exactly is it?

I first wrote about Social Networking a few years ago when I put together “The Redback Project” (an introduction to Web 2.0 tools in the classroom). Social networking was fast moving, and MySpace and Facebook were at the forefront, Twitter was just getting off the ground.

Today places like MySpace have fallen by the wayside to be replaced with many more sites which use networking techniques to provide connection for people. Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Orkut, Flickr… and more coming and going every day.

So the sites provide the networking, allowing people to connect with friends, or others with similar interests. People can become your contacts or friends even if you have never met them, or if they live on another continent. As an educator this is an amazing opportunity, as a parent it can be a bit scary – who excatly are my children talking to?? After all, just because someone says they live in Alaska, doesn’t mean it’s true on the internet… that person could live just around the corner. This is one reason why we, as parents and educators, need to reinforce with our children the sort of information which may and should not be given out to websites or other people.

The media side of Social Media is the fact that anyone can become the media. News journalists use sites like Twitter and Facebook to gather information on stories. The media shared can include audio, photos, drawings and video. People use hashtags # to follow stories on Twitter, or tobecome part of the conversation, adding comments which are then read out on news shows like Q and A, The Project or the news. To understand how quickly things can go viral, and people can lose control of the images they post is a vital skill every user of social media, and social networking sites needs to be aware of. An example of this was a friend who took a photo of a flooded racetrack, posted it to her “private” Facebook page…. I had the photo posted on my feed from about 4 different people within a couple of hours, it was also posted on a motorsport website, as well as on the Channel 10 news. She thought she was a skilled and confident social media user, but the speed with which the image went viral amazed her.

Following the trending conversations across the globeMashable is a great place to check out to see what is trending across the globe, as well as some great hints and tips from the developers and users of social media. What Social Media or Networking do you use? How secure is your personal space? Have you given out too much information? How do you know what is fact and what is fiction??

Over the coming weeks I will spend some time discussing a range of social media sites… their benefits and dangers. Let me know in the comments if there are specific areas you would like me to cover.