Being the father of teenage twin daughters, I’m continually surprised and impressed at the amount of technology they use in school and in their lives compared to when I was a teenager. Over the course of the last several weeks I have had the privilege of speaking to several classes at my daughters’ high school about cyber security and identity theft. The classes that I have been speaking to belong to the school’s “LIFT” program. This special set of classes prepares and competes in a really innovative event called Future Problem Solving or FPS.
While I love everything about this concept and event, especially with the subjects that they choose to tackle, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was asked to come speak on these subjects. Usually these kids have done tons of research and are very informed on their topics. To be fair, they had just started researching this one, but the most amazing part to me was the lack of basic security knowledge and understanding inside a group of very intelligent teenagers from a generation that has been completely saturated with technology their whole lives.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some things that they knew. However, when I started on the discussion of passwords and best practices surrounding them for protections, they were as surprised as the adults I often speak to. They had a general idea of what malware is, but no real understanding of how it works, spreads, or how dangerous it is. When I discussed social engineering, they hadn’t really heard of even the most basic and oldest concepts. I was very shocked.
To their credit, they did have some understanding of social media dangers, which makes sense and made me breathe a small sigh of relief. The most amazing part was that as I started connecting some of the dots for them and teaching about some of the real dangers out there and how identity really gets stolen digitally as well as just basic cyber security practices everyone should be aware of, they latched on and soaked up most of what I had to say.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not knocking these kids. They were all great and let’s be honest, the reason they didn’t know a lot of what I spoke about is because we, the generations ahead of them, have not taught them. Again, to be fair, I do this for a living and so I do take my own knowledge for granted sometimes, but many of the things I discussed were things that in my mind everyone should know and be on the look out for.
Honestly, speaking in front of these classes opened my eyes even further to the need for general education and training for everyone so that they can simply protect themselves. It was also a nice confirmation that the services we offer as a business are just as needed as I have suspected.
I do ask this of you, my readers. If you have kids, teenagers especially, please start teaching them good cyber security practices, password hygiene, and responsible social media usage as soon as you can. Also, please start using them yourself. Protect yourself! Your online presence has so much more information about you out there than you realize and you need to take care of it.
Remember that if you need help, advice, or services to help protect you, that is what Cyber Watchtower is here for. We are here for you and your family to make sure that you stay as safe online as you possibly can.