Parent Tech Briefing – Session 6

PlatoThe final session in this course! So far we have looked at what technology is, desktop basics, search and problem solving, graphic design, website design and coding. Although a real whistle-stop tour, the aim has not to go into great depth, but rather than get a sense of a range of different ICT arenas, issues and skills. Big picture stuff.

In this final session we will look at security and what ICT technology means for our children.


Security Threats

  • Hackers vs crackers
  • Who hacks and why?
  • Social Engineering
    • Kevin Mitnick was one of the world’s most famous hackers: when he was arrested in 1995, he was top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Whilst technically skilled, Mitnick is best known as a “social engineer”: essentially, talking and tricking people into giving him confidential information. The following video tells some of his story:

  • Eavesdropping
    • Traditionally, eavesdropping means to listen in to a conversation. Some modern versions include:
      • Man-in-the-middle
      • Keystroke logging
      • Password watching
  • Phishing
    • Phishing is the art of tricking people into going to a fake, parallel system in order to give up some confidential information. The video explains more:

    • Phishing attacks often make use of something called subdomains:
      • The domain name of the bank HSBC is
      • HSBC can put subdomains in front of their domain, such as,
      • Only HSBC has the right to do this, as they own the domain.
      • However, there is nothing to stop me from buying (or similar), and putting hsbc infront of it as a sub domain:
      • If I use in a phishing attack, I may trick people who see hsbc, and feel safe. However, those who understand how sub domains work, understand that because it is on the left of the domain, it is not the real HSBC, and so cannot necessarily be trusted.
    • You might find the Anatomy of a Phishing Scam poster useful.
  • Identity Theft
    • Stealing and assuming someone’s identity.
    • This is often done in order to commit a crime, whilst setting someone else up to take the blame.
  • Malware
    • Includes all kinds of malicious software, such as:
      • Viruses
        • A malicious program which can replicate itself.
        • E.g. Stuxnet
      • Rootkit
        • Software which gives a user unauthorised administrator access to another system
      • Keylogging
        • Software which records the keys pressed by a user
      • Spyware/Adware/Crapware
  • Spam
    • Unsolicited, bulk emails.
    • Often spam is a nuisance, but it is also often have malware is delivered and installed.

Protecting Yourself

  • Now that you know some methods by which you can be threatened online, how can you stay safe?
  • Read through and think about these ideas, which can help keep you safe.
    • Be aware, vigilent, sensible
    • Install only “safe” software
    • Keep all software up to date (when software wants to be updated, it is often to fix security holes which crackers might exploit.
    • Create offline backups (if your data is lost, an offline backup (e.g. one that is not attached to your computer), can help you to recover).
    • Learn to recognise spam, phishing and scams.
    • Use a strong password, pin or lock pattern to secure all devices and accounts.
      • A good password should be “easy to remember, and hard to guess”.
      • Try to use at least 8 characters (10+ would be better), and combine uppercase, lowercase, numbers and punctuation.
      • XKCD provides us with a good model, which we can make more complex with some extra characters.
    • Use 2-factor authentication on your main email account(s) (if some gets into your email, they can reset all your other passwords, so email should be highly protected).
    • Always log out or lock screen before walking away from a device
    • Use anti-malware apps to scan and protect from viruses, Trojans, keyloggers, etc.
    • Be careful about what personal data you share, especially geolocation information.
      • For example, if you take a photo in your house, and your phone adds your location (aka geolocation), you should not share this photo online, as someone can use it to find where you live.

ICT & Kids

A lot of people today worry about “the kids” in relation to ICT technology. This is an age old generational game…the last generation fretting over the moral development of the next generation:

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”
Plato, 4th Century BC

In fact, a lot of people worry about technology in general: also not a new thing:

“[Writing] will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.” – Socrates, as recorded by Plato

And, with some good reason, we see a lot of fretting over our current technologies (The Twitter Trap, The Shallows, You Are Not A Gadget).

The truth is, all technology is a trade off, and we have only limited control over the technological arc in which we live (you can get rid of your smartphone, but no one else will).

So, with the aim of finding some way to guide, rear, influence and inspire our own children, let’s consider the following collection of books:


As a parent and educator I ultimately take the following approach:

  • Kids are tougher and smarter than we give them credit for.
  • Kids like it best when we are honest and open with them.
  • It is not possible to protect our children from all danger (physical, moral, etc), and neither is it desirable.
  • Rather, we need to be aware of how, where and when our children are growing up, and give them the support and nurturing needed to deal with hardship and moral challenge.
  • Failure and hardship, combined with support and nurturing, give children a chance to develop positive character traits (e.g. grit, resilience, empathy) and make healthy decisions themselves. Highly restrictive rules do no.

Finally, whilst some parents find it hard to really look at youth culture (because we are old and boring), if you really want to understand kids, look at where their culture comes from (whether they engage with these sites directly or not):

Wow….that was a lot of content and ideas.

Credits: image of plato by Ricardo André Frantz on Wikimedia shared under CC BY-SA. Book covers copyrighted by their respective owners, used under fair use.

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