Online Security & Privacy Best Practices

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June 30, 2016

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

Online Security & Privacy Best Practices an Expert Guest Blog by

Our panelists offer concrete tips we can give our kids about online security, privacy and common sense, with an emphasis on sharing real-life examples

Key takeaways:

Teach kids to avoid communicating with strangers

    Predators, scammers and cyber thieves are great at making “friends” with your kids online. Teach them how to block, ignore or report strangers trying to initiate contact.

Give real-life examples

    Just saying, “Be careful; bad things happen on the Internet” will probably go in one ear and out the other. But if you tell your kids or students about real-life situations where somebody’s account was hacked, for example—and show them how easily it can happen—it will have a much bigger impact.

Don’t forget the basics

    Teaching kids to use common sense—for example, creating strong passwords and taking steps to protect them—is important. Don’t assume they already know online security.

Remind your kids and students that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is

    Some fake companies have been known to pose as major brands you know and trust on social media sites, offering great giveaways in exchange for private information. Make kids aware that scammers are out there and can be dangerous.

How to address "red zone" areas

All of those things that are posted on Snapchat, on Facebook, etc.—none of it disappears. —Dan Konzen
Dan Konzen headshot
Dan Konzen
Campus Chair
University of Phoenix

One of the most important things to address is that they have to be cognizant of everything they are posting. One thing we did at the University of Phoenix is create a live hack. We wanted to show people instead of just saying, "Be careful, be careful.” So I would pull up a website that shows all third parties who are tracking everything that they do on their computers: their IP addresses, their browser history, all of their contacts, etc. They don't realize this. Once we do this demonstration, I will grab a volunteer and I hack into their Facebook account (with their permission), all of the places that they have checked into over the last few years, where they worked last, etc. —Dan Konzen

This sounds a lot like the scared straight approach. You want to show them all of the online security dangers and motivate them to straighten out their digital footprint. —Kevin Haley

I want teens to know that nothing goes away. All of those things that are posted on Snapchat, on Facebook, etc.—none of it disappears. You put it behind a curtain so you can't see it for a little while, but it's still there. And this is public information. This is not something that a person with superior hacking skills is doing. These are things that anyone can find and view. —Dan Konzen

There is an app I learned about recently called MyPermissions that will analyze all of the apps that you are using and tell you what permissions they are helping themselves to in exchange. We are in a state now where when you are getting an app for free, you are giving up something, and in most cases it is privacy. Another thing I wanted to say is that when you’re talking about 13- year-olds being naive, it starts with us. Unfortunately, what has helped me teach what is right and what is wrong is by making a lot of mistakes myself. You want to keep the kids in the safe zone where they can make mistakes just like we do and then guide them to do better, but it starts with us learning online security ourselves. —Hayley Kaplan

Are there any scams out there right now that are affecting people on apps and social media sites?

If you are going to follow a brand, make sure that you are following the legitimate brand. —Satnam Narang
Satnam Narang headshot
Satnam Narang
Senior Security Officer

Over time we’ve had cases where there are fake profiles of companies appearing on Instagram and other social media sites. Someone claims to be from Nike or Apple and sends out links offering free shoes or free iPhones. If you click on the link, they start asking for personal information. It puts you, your family, and your students at risk.Certain apps such as Facebook or Instagram have a blue checkmark so you can verify the legitimacy of a company or brand. If you are going to follow a particular brand, make sure that you are following the legitimate brand. —Satnam Narang

What is the most basic thing you can do to protect yourself online?

Having a strong email password is very important. —Kevin Haley
Kevin Haley headshot
Kevin Haley
Dir. Security Response

One word: passwords. Do you know that a common password used is “password”? I hope it's not for you. Passwords are your first line of defense, and it is so important to be smart about them, because it isn't even people guessing it. It's a machine running tens of thousands of passwords at a time to crack your password.

But the longer it is, with uppercase, lowercase, special characters, etc., it’s more difficult to guess. Hacking can happen anywhere. To teach kids, I think we have to use stories and examples that relate to them. I can sit here and say "use a password," but that isn't as strong as telling them about a time when not using a password hurt me. —Hayley Kaplan

There are password managers that not only store your passwords but can also create strong passwords. So I think using 1Password, LastPass, KeyPass, or Norton IdentitySafe is really important. Some offer cloud-based storage and some offer local-based storage, and they are heavily encrypted. If they are storing in the cloud, they are going to segregate where they store your passwords and your user information. They take steps to make sure that your stuff is secure. —Satnam Narang

Do you know why passwords are like "The Lord of the Rings"? There is one ring that rules them all. There is also one password that rules them all—your email. If you forget your password anywhere else, you use your email to get that password restored. So having a strong email password is very important. —Kevin Haley

Another thing I think you should encourage your students to do is look into the social media sites they use like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and enable two-step verification. If you log into one of these sites from a location that the site doesn't recognize, it will ask you to provide a six-digit code that they send to your phone as a text message or through the application itself. If your service doesn't offer two-factor identification, you should probably contact them and encourage them to do so. —Satnam Narang

If people are going to walk away with one tip from you, what is it?

Passwords are the first line of defense. —Hayley Kaplan
Hayley Kaplan headshot
Hayley Kaplan
Cyber Safety Advocate

Passwords are the first line of defense. —Hayley Kaplan

Go back to your students and your kids and tell them to just be skeptical. Tell them to be skeptical of anything that comes on their email, social networks, websites, and things that pop up and tell you that you can get "free stuff." There is no such thing as "free stuff" on the Internet. —Satnam Narang

Be cognizant of what is out there and be purposeful of everything you do. When you click on something, make sure that it is for something specific that you want to do—not just because something caught your eye. —Dan Konzen

This post is an excerpt from our Digital Citizenship Conference event in 2016. The conference was a rich environment for educators and parents to openly discuss issues and solutions for helping students in the digital world.

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