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K-12 Cyber Awareness Month 2021

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K-12 Cyber Awareness Month 2021

The past 18+ months have shifted the way we rely on and interact with technology. In all areas of our lives, we have seen an unprecedented increase in the use of technology and the internet for staying connected, for recreation, for online learning, and more. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we learn to protect ourselves online.

October is internationally recognized as Cyber Security Awareness Month to help the public learn more about the importance of cyber security.

Just as we lock our doors and secure our homes, visit the doctor to support our physical and emotional health and find peace in meditation to quiet our busy minds, caring for our online presence and digital footprint is just as important.

This year’s theme is “Cyber awareness as self-care!” – Adopting safe, secure and healthy habits online is caring for your online presence and digital footprint, while helping to ensure you and your family are protected online.

Find topics and tips below, and be sure to visit the Educational Computing Network of Ontario (ECNO) website for more information and resources. You can also view the video playlist below to explore the different weekly themes for Cyber Awareness Month 2021.

Show your devices and accounts some love. Fortifying and locking down our devices and online accounts should always be a priority.

Our devices and accounts are what we use to stay connected, to create and publish content, access online services, and play games. They are the doors to our online presence. We use our devices to authenticate who we are, communicate through email, texting, social media, and other tools, and we also use our devices to store personal information locally or in the cloud.

Many of us have multiple devices and accounts. Some are personal and some are for work, and some personal devices may be shared with other family members. Keeping track of it all can sometimes be challenging but it is important to do so.

This week take stock of your user accounts and devices and learn how to better protect them.

Topics and tips include:

  • Enabling the strongest authentication tools available on your devices and online accounts. (e.g. biometrics, multi-factor authentication, and strong passphrases or complex passwords).
  • Keeping all software on your devices up to date. Setting your devices to automatically update.
  • Installing anti-virus / antimalware software on your devices and keeping it up to date.
  • Updating privacy and security settings on your devices and applications.
  • Backing up your devices regularly.
  • Setting age-appropriate parental controls on children’s devices and setting screen time and device boundaries.
  • Knowing your school’s BYOD and acceptable use policies and following them.

Pay attention to your home network and Wi-Fi connections. Safe and secure Wi-Fi connections are just as important as having secure devices and online accounts.

Nowadays most devices are connected to the internet through our home network, our school or office network, a data plan, or a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Many of the applications installed on our devices require an internet connection to access online services and function properly. Our devices will often look to connect to available Wi-Fi hotspots irrespective of whether that Wi-Fi connection is safe or not. It is up to the device user to ensure appropriate security and safety measures are taken when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots or deciding not to connect.

Topics and tips include:

  • Securing your home network and actively managing it. Considering updating your network router every 3-5 years to take advantage of improvements in security features.
  • Taking stock of devices connected to your home network and monitoring for unusual activity.
  • Setting up a guest network for your friends and visiting family members to separate their access and activity from all your home devices.
  • Setting up a separate network for your smart devices, so if compromises occur, the threat remains isolated from your personal devices that contain personal and sensitive information.
  • Kid-proofing your home Wi-Fi network to make it safer for children.
  • Avoiding untrusted public Wi-Fi access; using a personal data plan or personal hotspot or using VPN when having to connect through an untrusted Wi-Fi hotspot.

Care for your personal information – it is valuable! It is more important than ever to protect our personal information.

With personal devices, smart devices and the internet becoming a routine part of our lives, as we use them to work, learn, exercise, entertain ourselves and socialize, it is more important than ever to protect our personal information and teach our kids to develop habits that will make it part of their day-to-day routine. Like how children learn to be safe outdoors, children need to learn to be safe online.

Topics and tips include:

  • Protecting your personal information as it is valuable to you but also cybercriminals.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the terms and conditions of applications you use as some may be sharing your personal information with third-party organizations.
  • Avoiding phishing attempts and online scams.
  • Staying safe on social media and not oversharing personal information.
  • Maintaining privacy while online and gaming.
  • Reviewing and updating privacy settings and making it a habit.

Be mindful of your online presence and digital footprint. It’s important to manage your online presence and digital footprint!

This past year, kids have faced unique challenges, as many of their in-person activities have been replaced with an increased use of technology. This has resulted in an unprecedented increased online presence and digital footprint for most of us, adults, and kids alike.

Everyone should assume that what is shared online will remain online forever. Every action you take online, and information posted about you contributes to your “digital footprint” which can straddle our personal, student and professional lives. Improving our awareness of the traces of data we leave online and recognizing how our individual digital footprints vary can help to improve the protection of our data online.

Topics and tips for this week include:

  • Understanding what you post shapes your online reputation and becomes part of your digital footprint.
  • Minimizing the risk of being a target of online harassment.
  • Knowing that posts are not always private.
  • Deleting accounts (and associated information) that you no longer need – old accounts and data can be risk.
  • Navigating safely.
Updated on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.
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