Online safety for kids of all ages

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Fraudsters boldly entered the store to plant skimming devices.
There is a need for all the people who are engaging with technology to understand retail threats.

Target and other retail chains have made headlines recently after becoming victims of cyber attackers. In the aftermath, which saw millions of customers' sensitive data compromised, these organizations have plenty to address. As part of this process, many often provide year-long free credit monitoring.

To the average Joe and Jane this offer sounds pretty helpful, but while such services can't hurt, they likely fall short of expectations, too. Shortly after Target went public with its free credit monitoring offer for all its customers in the U.S., not just those impacted by the recent breach, news groups aplenty were talking to various credit experts who explained that credit monitoring only susses out changes on a credit report that could indicate that someone is using personal information to open new accounts in a victim's name. Since no Social Security numbers were compromised in the Target breach, this service founders.

As well, typically after a year is up, credit monitoring will become useless since an assumption kicks in that the risk to one's information has passed. According to experts, then, millions of victims who sign up for such services end up with a false sense of security.

I could say more on this specific topic, but I use it as an example to show that still there is a huge need for all the people who are engaging with technology and, as a result, all its cyber benefits and risks, to understand more about the threats and the many ways they can account for these before and after something goes down. There are a ton of initiatives out there to help on this front, but a couple that have cropped up recently are specifically worth mentioning.

First up is from Prevendra Consulting and Christopher Burgess, former CISO of Cisco and an ex-CIA official who co-founded and now heads up the Washington-state-based consultancy. Called Senior Online Safety, or SOS, the website (senioronlinesafety.com) provides plenty of assistance to what seems like an often-overlooked portion of our population who use the internet with a furor and who are frequently targeted by online thieves. In addition to a blog that provides advice and tips to readers, SOS also is creating an app to send out daily online safety reminders to subscribers – at a cost of about $11 a year, according to comments from Burgess on the site. To help its audience stay safe, the entity has also partnered with other service providers to offer such services as ID theft monitoring and remediation, secure online storage and more.

The second cool project is the brainchild of long-time industry expert, Christofer Hoff, and some of his IT security friends who created HacKid, a nonprofit charitable organization which aims to organize regional, national and international cyber security conferences for kids and their parents. The next HacKid Conference (hackid.org) is set for April 19 and 20 in California at the San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation and, though not a new event, it's one that could use some volunteers to flesh out the program and support the day's happenings.

Touted as “a new kind of conference focused on providing an interactive, hands-on experience for the entire family –  kids aged 5-17 and their parents  –  in order to raise awareness, excitement and understanding of technology, gaming, mathematics, safety, privacy, networking, security and engineering and their impact on society and culture,” the event boasts sessions on everything from staying safe online and cyber bullying to online gaming safety and hardware/software manipulation.

These are just some examples of how industry professionals are trying to bolster the knowledge of all of our friends and family members and they're well worth a look. If you know of other worthwhile efforts, we at SC Magazine would welcome the opportunity to hear more about them.

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