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As Safer Internet Day comes to a close, one expert in the field warns that there can be no safety without security. John Colley is managing director of (ISC)2, a non profit organisation which runs a program helping volunteers visit schools, clubs and parent evenings. They also support council appointed e-safety officers in their efforts to promote Internet Safety and Security. He says, "We must realise that it is the young people that continue to use the internet in new ways and take risks in a world where their parents and teachers are ill-equipped to guide them. Children are only just beginning to understand how to protect themselves online".

Colley suggests that it is important that kids receive guidance on security online as well as safety, since they have little understanding of how their actions present risks for themselves, friends, family or even the work place.

Findings from (ISC)2 classroom sessions revealed:

  • 85% of over 750 kids in one school said they had personal computers in their bedrooms, with 75% of them admitting to being online after 11 pm on a school night.
  • About half the children visited by volunteers admit to using peer to peer networks to download music illegally, allowing the accidental download of malware to present a much more prolific risk than paedophilia, affecting both the schools’ systems and parents’ work systems as well as the personal information kids are counselled to keep safe.
  • Children share their parents home or work computers and take homework to school on unprotected memory sticks.
  • Half of the students didn’t secure their or their home computer log in with passwords.
  • Out of the 774 11-14 years old that attended sessions with a volunteer in one school, Over 443 (nearly 60%) had contacts on their list that they had never met.
  • Ninety one (over 11%) had agreed to meet someone that they had never met, most of them in a public park.

Colley observes "We need to address the total impact of this new world on our children. Too many are coming to school too tired to learn, while they don’t realise the risks of their computers being hijacked or having their, or their parents’, information and identity stolen. The threat to parents using Internet banking is obvious, while personal photos don’t have to be posted on Facebook to be at risk. We need to understand that there is no safety without security and ensure our kids are empowered to act responsibly".

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