Summer Cyber Camp
In July I had the pleasure of helping elementary students at the AFCEA Summer Cyber Camp in Pensacola, FL learn about the importance of having strong passwords and password safeguards. It was rewarding to see students engage in information security (and internet safety) concepts, and I was happy to be a volunteer.
Some interesting takeaways:
- Even at the elementary level, most of the attendees already use passwords or passcodes in order to access home or school devices.
- Depending on students’ reading/writing skills, a strong password may introduce them to parts of the keyboard they haven’t used yet.
- For the most part, students already know not to write passwords down or to leave them physically near their devices.
- Some think the idea of sharing passwords with friends is OK, but we discussed why it is important not to. Of course, we also indicated that sharing passwords with parents/guardians is a good idea.
- The students enjoyed using howsecureismypassword.net to test out simple passwords and ridiculously long ones. It can help reinforce the idea that short passwords get guessed/cracked very quickly.
If you’re looking to teach strong passwords to kids between the ages of 7-10, remember that internet-accessible accounts will need the strongest passwords and you should keep the child’s abilities in mind when mixing in symbols or uppercase letters. Not sure where to start? I recommend NetSmartz Kids: http://www.netsmartzkids.org/LearnWithClicky/ThePasswordRap.
When it comes to children, teaching internet safety techniques is just as important — if not more so — as when it comes to adults. While adults may have access to more sensitive information, especially in the workplace, kids and teens are typically more susceptible to engaging with ill-intentioned individuals and revealing their personal info. This can be particularly dangerous for teens and even younger kids who may be targeted for sextortion (a topic I covered in an earlier post). We must be diligent about getting kids to think about internet safety as early as possible.
NetSmartz Kids is a great resource to teach your own kids about internet safety. The site features dozens of fun and informative videos that help kids understand the dangers that exist online and how to avoid them. Remember: it’s never too early to start teaching these concepts to internet users. To keep our children safe, we should make it a priority.