Saturday, November 17, 2007

Be a Cyber Savvy Parent: Stay Safe Online Seminar (17 Nov 2007, Saturday)

This afternoon, attended the seminar on Be a Cyber Savvy Parent: Stay Safe Online . Came across this from the newspapers... Though it happens in the 'unearthy' weekend afternoon... Overall, it was time well-spent - a solid 3 hours and have learnt some useful information, that I thought would be very beneficial to us, when we talk about the use of Internet and Education. This is especially so when Cyberwellness has become a hot topic in the recent weeks.

Who were the Participants? Parents and children! It's a pretty interesting encounter - first time attending workshop with young children. In fact, a couple of children, probably at upper primary - were so fluent in explaining some of the jargons - eg. avartar and trojan horses... that's really impressed me :D

The "flip" side of this is, to many of our teachers, especially those who have been in service for more than 10 years and are alien to the gaming world, they will be fearful to find such children in class. It was pretty obvious since the Baseline ICT Standards rolled out. Let alone the use of technology, many are concern over the "ICT" skills involved. What? The ICT skills involved? Are they exposed and should have been using them since the 1st Masterplan? Surprisingly, many teachers are still at 'entry level' despite we have 'sparkling' practices surfaced from schools... So now, what's more with all the strange things happening in the internet, and the kind of children we are teaching... who are breeded in such strange environment, and bring along with them strange behaviour and ways of thinking! They are not as forgiving as adults (I believe, inferring from how they are brought up nowadays and what I saw with my own eyes)... hence the interaction has to be different now... and unfortunately, it's the teachers who have to change to suit the current situation!

The seminar is jointly organised by HIP, Internet Industry Association of Singapore (iias) and Microsoft. There were several presentations in this seminar. Key points learnt from the presentations include:

(i) Making Cyberspace Safe for Our Children (Jeff Bullwinkel, Microsoft)

  • Changes brought about by the Internet: (i) The way communication takes place has changed, be it with family, friends or colleagues. (ii) The way we access to information, not just the way, and also the mode of information and the way we receive the information. Here, this information, of course, refers to movie, music that comes in the form of digital copies available via the network. (iii) Of course, internet has also become a means to learn, meet people and explore... it has widen the range and in fact, it offers a variety within the virtual world.
  • Parental Controls via Application Software: Discovered something new - that Windows Vista offers: It comes with parental controls that allows control and monitoring of activities on the computers. Well, prior to the seeing what Vista offers, am aware there are such softwares available to serve the same purpose. But, what I like is, it is so integrated - all comes in one, and more importantly, it looks user-friendly! The visual representation - a chart that looks like timetable is easy to read. Moreover, the admin can also set time limits and application restrictions.
  • Importance to raise awareness of Online Security: To tackle the threats to PC security are viruses/worms, trojan horses and spyware, suggestions steps to protect computer includes (i) Turn on the internet firewall (ii) Keep the OS up-to-date (iii) Install and maintain antivirus software and anti-spyware. This is linked to one article read recently that most people have the anti-virus software installed, however, less than 50% of these users renew and keep the software up-to-date.
  • Like the way some jargons are explained: (i) Internet Firewall - like a moat around a castle, creating a barrier between the computer and the internet. (ii) Antivirus software - like flu shots (and therefore it has to be kept up-to-date) (iii) Anti-spyware - is the computer defender that to prevent undesired surfers to lurk in to steal information.
  • 4 threats to personal online safety includes: Spams, Phishing, Hoaxes, Identify Thefts. (i) Spams are undesired email and messages that many of us encountered. This can be quite easily resolved by setting the email configuration. (ii) Phishing recently stirred up some ho-ha... several cases of were reported. Through email, victims click at the given websites to input confidential data such as userID and password. The targets were mainly banks, that include (DBS & HSBC). (iii) Hoaxes normally come in the form of email - to trick people into giving them money. In fact, just a couple of days ago, it was reported in the papers how people were tricked into giving money. Well, I think the key to all these problems is "GREED". It's really amazing that people are wiling to "give a little" for the sake of "bigger harvest". (iv) Identity Theft - a crime whereby one steals one's personal info and use it for some unlawful purpose.
  • Useful websites

(ii) An Introduction to Copyright (Koh Chia Ling, ATMD)

  • This segment is the vague-est amongst all... all because it concerns law... and therefore the lawyer has also been very careful in giving the pointers and advice...
  • 2 rules of the thumb before downloading and using any materials (especially from the internet): (i) Always read the terms and conditions - check and check.... (ii) if the T&C are not available from the site, the safest way is to write in to seek permission... of course, like what he said, if it's available in one website, it's sure available somewhere else... so, need not to stick to one!
  • That reminds me of one question from a principal last year - when we record a TV broadcast, is it alright to screen it for use. A similar question was brought up by one parent, who did volunteer work with the school, asking if it is alright to use a copy of book bought by the school, scan it so that it could be projected out for reading activity. I was surprise when Koh mentioned that the 'treatment of the case' would be different when he is not a member of the institution (ie. under MOE).
  • On the other hand, I believe that this is also one of the biggest concern of teachers back in the school!
  • The 10% guide was reinforced. However, another term comes in - ie. whether the 10% belongs to the substantial portion or not. OK, this is really vague and requires in-depth analysis - of course, it comes with the "subjective" element!
  • One point to note - the same guide applies to electronic books, too!
  • Another point to note: Although we might have paid for a CD... however, we have only paide for the licence to view and listen, but not for distribution.

(iii) Online Distribution of Music (Leong May-Seey, IFPI) (IFPI: International Federation of the Phonographic Industry)

  • This is an area of growing concern... it has also made Headlines on the papers - probably the first known case was Napster ... and the recent hoo-ha case where one ISP was asked to release info of users who downloaded files in bulk for legal action.
  • The presentation also shed light on P2P - which is very much heard of, but don't know what it is all about. This is really one of the key takeaways!
  • Leong shared a list of more common software that's meant for P2P distribution... what an eye-opener! It's amazing to hear how the "distribution methods" have evolved over time!
  • From the most primitive method - direct link from the Internet website, to FTP (that the more techno-savvy ones use)...
  • Then it moves on to Peer-to-Peer (P2P), through a 3rd party environment/software. If I interpret correctly (from the brochure), it's a software to be installed in the local system and open door (by creating a folder that can be 'shared out') to others to get stuff that's meant for sharing.
  • The scary part is, in one application, Bit Torrent, the downloader automatically becomes an uploader (ie. the distributor)
  • Peer2Mail is something new to me - shall I say it's a 'creative' way to 'harness' what email offers? By tapping on the huge email space, files were uploaded in the email space for others to download... well... with the userID adn password circulated via the discussion forum, etc. Brilliant, isn't it?
  • However, the more scary thing yet to come! There are software that requires the user to share a certain amount of information (eg. 1 GB)) and there were instances that children would upload the entire "C" drive in exchange of the files they want. Scary, right?
  • The most scary part was, lots of confidential information such as tax payers' returns, and even passwords were uploaded!!!
  • Leong also shared some licensed digital sites in Singapore:
  • 2 Useful guides: (i) Copyright & Security Guide for Schools and Universities (ii) Copyright & Security Guide for Companies & Governments

(iv) E Commerce Security (Kenneth Yuen)

  • Kenneth has shed some light on security of e-Commerce, which I thought he provided very useful information to teachers, especially those who teach Computer Applications.
  • Have heard much about eBay. However, the impression is really a "2nd hand store" where one can aunction stuff there - it's a place to sell and buy. Not it never occur to me that there are more behind these.... first of all, it's no longer a place that just sell 2nd hand stuff, but also new things! Then, there's this team of people behind the transaction that can do follow-up.
  • Some concerns on the use of e-Commerce include (i) Credit card info (ii) Quality of goods (iii) Goods not delivered.
  • Interesting, e-Commernce has not really picked up in Asia yet.
  • PayPal is something new to me - that does not require the consumer to enter credit card information.
  • Advice before making any transaction includes (i) check if there's any security system in use by the website (ii) Refund policy (iii) Purchase policy

(v) Mobile Connected Safe (can't remember name of presenter, iCell)


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