Hey there! We’re back for the 2017-2018 school year at Bits N’ Bytes Cyber-Education. I can’t wait to see what this school year has in store. First off, one exciting new change for BNBCE is our new “Anecdotes” edition on our website. This year, we will be featuring educators, cybersecurity professionals, and tech moguls on our website, to give a taste of how cybersecurity and the skills we are learning here are applied in the real world. Our first one is Ms. Angela Cleveland, M.S.Ed., M.Ed., MA, cofounder of ReigningIt, inspirational advocate and activist for Women In Stem, consultant, and distinguished educator. We are so excited to spread this Anecdote, and hope it gives you a better picture of the importance of the digital footprint, for all humans. Here we go:
Situation 1: “Let’s find out how secure our passwords are,” the teacher said. “Go to Password Strength Meter and find out how long it would take to crack your password.” A chorus of exclamations of shock rang out from the students: “5 seconds!” “2.3 seconds!” “4 minutes!” The students were stunned. Their thoughtful, seemingly-secure passwords were “like leaving your front door wide open,” according to the website.
Situation 2: “Let’s talk about social media,” the teacher said. “Raise your hand if you have ever vented about something or someone in your life on social media, maybe something you wouldn’t want your parents or principal to see.” Some reluctant hands go up. A student added, “My settings are on private, though. Only my friends/followers can see what I post.” Another student disagrees, “A friend of mine had settings on private, but it was on “friends of friends” settings, so it wasn’t really private. And people can take screenshots.”
What do these two situations have in common? You might be surprised to know that both of these examples are real situations I have been in. In both examples, the “students” were actually educators at workshops. These adults made some assumptions about their digital security and privacy settings. They felt they were informed, and they were stunned to learn otherwise.
Even though nothing the educators were sharing online was terribly personal, they still didn’t want family vacation photos, their posts venting frustrations with their cell phone company service, or funny photos of their children to be public. And they certainly didn’t want to have an “open door” to their banking information, email, and more by having an easy-to-crack password.
Cybersecurity and digital citizenship isn’t just something we relegate to once-a-year conversations, whether we are talking with adults or children. Understanding how to stay safe, secure, and responsible online are shared goals for everyone of every age. Our digital footprints are long-lasting. Identify theft can have lifelong consequences. As educators and students, the tech-savvy and the tech-novices, we must never assume we know it all. Organizations like Bits N’ Bytes provide current, meaningful information for digital consumers. You don’t have to know it all, but you should know where to look for reliable information on a regular basis. This ancient proverb holds true today: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
This article was prepared and accomplished by Ms. Angela Cleveland in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of any specific organization.
Angela Cleveland, M.S.Ed., M.Ed., MA advocates for equity and access to STEM opportunities, she consults for the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)’s Counselors for Computing division, PBS’s SciGirls, and Accepted to School.
Angela has 15 years of experience as a professional school counselor and is a Google Certified Educator. She is an executive board member and webmaster for the New Jersey School Counselor Association (NJSCA). Angela co-founded ReigningIt, a non-profit dedicated to creating a STEM dialogue inclusive of every woman.
Thanks for joining us this week, and a big thanks to Ms. Angela Cleveland for sharing her thoughts. As always, use your expertise to be a safe digital user! Remember that your digital footprint is your face to the outside world.