Digital Smarts Blog

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13
Aug

Watch Out for that USB Device

When it comes to school projects involving groups, one of the greatest inventions has been the USB drive for carrying files from house to house and home to school. Hackers are now taking notice of this kind of digital device, including keyboards and mice, and loading malware onto the inexpensive chips that go into USB devices. If you have acquired a virus and can’t figure out the source, be mindful of the USB devices you and your family use.

13
Aug

Watch Out for that USB Device

When it comes to school projects involving groups, one of the greatest inventions has been the USB drive for carrying files from house to house and home to school. Hackers are now taking notice of this kind of digital device, including keyboards and mice, and loading malware onto the inexpensive chips that go into USB devices. If you have acquired a virus and can’t figure out the source, be mindful of the USB devices you and your family use.

12
Aug

Securing Your Phone

How easy would it be for someone to access the data on your phone? Do you use a lock screen or passcode? Think about all of the sensitive data that would be compromised if your device was ever lost or stolen. Securing your phone with a passcode might be an inconvenience, and you may wonder just how secure that passcode even is. Many people choose easy to guess codes, such as a birthdate or address, if they even have one at all. A recent article in USA Today looks at the various alternatives to passcodes including fingerprints and puzzle-style codes called Pattern or Knock Code.

12
Aug

Securing Your Phone

How easy would it be for someone to access the data on your phone? Do you use a lock screen or passcode? Think about all of the sensitive data that would be compromised if your device was ever lost or stolen. Securing your phone with a passcode might be an inconvenience, and you may wonder just how secure that passcode even is. Many people choose easy to guess codes, such as a birthdate or address, if they even have one at all. A recent article in USA Today looks at the various alternatives to passcodes including fingerprints and puzzle-style codes called Pattern or Knock Code.

11
Aug

Proposed Legislation to Protect Student Data Privacy

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the US Senate to help protect the privacy of students. Called the “Protecting Student Privacy Act”, this legislation would set limits on how companies collect and use student data and would require companies to:

  • Have policies and practices in place to secure student data;
  • Keep records of other outside entities that have access to the data they store;
  • Destroy personally identifiable data once it is no longer needed; and
  • Provide access to student data they hold when requested by a parent;
  • Provide a process to challenge, correct, or delete any inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate data in any education records

Do you know how your school district handles student data? School districts and the ed tech companies they work with hold large amounts of sensitive data on students, including test scores and disciplinary records. This proposed legislation would help ensure that the data is used appropriately and not compromised.

11
Aug

Proposed Legislation to Protect Student Data Privacy

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the US Senate to help protect the privacy of students. Called the “Protecting Student Privacy Act”, this legislation would set limits on how companies collect and use student data and would require companies to:

  • Have policies and practices in place to secure student data;
  • Keep records of other outside entities that have access to the data they store;
  • Destroy personally identifiable data once it is no longer needed; and
  • Provide access to student data they hold when requested by a parent;
  • Provide a process to challenge, correct, or delete any inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate data in any education records

Do you know how your school district handles student data? School districts and the ed tech companies they work with hold large amounts of sensitive data on students, including test scores and disciplinary records. This proposed legislation would help ensure that the data is used appropriately and not compromised.

7
Aug

The Changing Stance on Privacy At Facebook

The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, once famously was quoted as saying that privacy was no longer a "social norm" in a society that seemed compelled to share everything. Since then Facebook has had a tricky relationship with privacy. The company often seems to have a very hard time understanding what users do and don’t want to share with particular people, or the whole world for that matter, and has made a number of faux pas by changing its privacy settings without letting users know that their pages were suddenly accessible by more groups of people. In June, Facebook began collecting  information from across the Web, rather than just within its network, to determine what kind of ads it should show users. Nearly all companies that rely on online advertising do this, but privacy advocates from the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue -- a collection of consumer groups from the U.S. and Europe that focus on a number of social policy issues -- have argued that this dramatically increases the amount of data Facebook holds and that users were not properly notified about the change.

While that is being contested, Facebook is trying to clean up its act a bit. In April, there was another big push to better acquaint users with their privacy settings and make some settings more obvious. Also in April, Facebook made yet another change by allowing users to log in to outside apps such as Spotify or Flipboard without having to also share personal information from their profiles.  Zuckerberg now says that privacy is not about what users share with companies, but rather what users share with one another – meaning that Facebook can still collect what it wants about you, but it will “help” you be more careful about what you share with others. The truth is that the company is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars selling ads based on the user data it's harvesting. And regardless of how uncomfortable some users may be with what Facebook does with their data, they don't show any signs of slowing how much they share.

7
Aug

The Changing Stance on Privacy At Facebook

The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, once famously was quoted as saying that privacy was no longer a "social norm" in a society that seemed compelled to share everything. Since then Facebook has had a tricky relationship with privacy. The company often seems to have a very hard time understanding what users do and don’t want to share with particular people, or the whole world for that matter, and has made a number of faux pas by changing its privacy settings without letting users know that their pages were suddenly accessible by more groups of people. In June, Facebook began collecting  information from across the Web, rather than just within its network, to determine what kind of ads it should show users. Nearly all companies that rely on online advertising do this, but privacy advocates from the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue -- a collection of consumer groups from the U.S. and Europe that focus on a number of social policy issues -- have argued that this dramatically increases the amount of data Facebook holds and that users were not properly notified about the change.

While that is being contested, Facebook is trying to clean up its act a bit. In April, there was another big push to better acquaint users with their privacy settings and make some settings more obvious. Also in April, Facebook made yet another change by allowing users to log in to outside apps such as Spotify or Flipboard without having to also share personal information from their profiles.  Zuckerberg now says that privacy is not about what users share with companies, but rather what users share with one another – meaning that Facebook can still collect what it wants about you, but it will “help” you be more careful about what you share with others. The truth is that the company is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars selling ads based on the user data it's harvesting. And regardless of how uncomfortable some users may be with what Facebook does with their data, they don't show any signs of slowing how much they share.

6
Aug

What Does The Cellphone Unlocking Law Mean for the Average Consumer?

 So what does that mean for you? Take a look at this Q. & A. that Mashable put together to learn more.

6
Aug

What Does The Cellphone Unlocking Law Mean for the Average Consumer?

 So what does that mean for you? Take a look at this Q. & A. that Mashable put together to learn more.

5
Aug

Who is Responsible For Taking on Cyberbullying?

While the article Who's responsible for tackling cyber bullying? appears on the web site of an Australian newspaper, the Brisbane Times, the message is a universal one. Cyber bullying is an ongoing problem and it is up to all of us – government, school and home – to work together to find solutions. The article points out that promoting  positive digital citizenship to prevent bullying will always be more effective than trying to control it once it has begun. Technology will always find a way around control mechanisms put in place. As an example, the article discusses Snapchat, a popular photo messaging application, and how even the “safeguards,” such as being notified that a screen shot of the message was taken, can be circumvented. Wikipedia even informs users that running the Snapchat application in an ‘‘emulator’’ will bypass all restrictions. While it is important for safeguards and controls to be in place, teaching children to be digitally responsible is equally as important. Everyone has a role in keeping children safe online.

5
Aug

Who is Responsible For Taking on Cyberbullying?

While the article Who's responsible for tackling cyber bullying? appears on the web site of an Australian newspaper, the Brisbane Times, the message is a universal one. Cyber bullying is an ongoing problem and it is up to all of us – government, school and home – to work together to find solutions. The article points out that promoting  positive digital citizenship to prevent bullying will always be more effective than trying to control it once it has begun. Technology will always find a way around control mechanisms put in place. As an example, the article discusses Snapchat, a popular photo messaging application, and how even the “safeguards,” such as being notified that a screen shot of the message was taken, can be circumvented. Wikipedia even informs users that running the Snapchat application in an ‘‘emulator’’ will bypass all restrictions. While it is important for safeguards and controls to be in place, teaching children to be digitally responsible is equally as important. Everyone has a role in keeping children safe online.

4
Aug

iPad Apps to Help Students with Dyslexia

More than 20% of the US population has some form of dyslexia and there are now apps emerging that are aimed at helping dyslexic students maintain the same level of learning as their peers. Mashable recently posted an interesting list of apps that can help dyslexic people of all ages, including a PDF voice reader, and an app called openWeb that makes web browsing more accessible by converting text into a more readable format. ModMath is an app that allows users to type math problems instead of writing them by hand, which can prove difficult for people with dyslexia or dysgraphia (not being able to write coherently). The app provides virtual graph paper and a calculator, and the user can print out his or her work or email it directly to a teacher. The app is also great for students who struggle to keep math problems lined up and legible. If you are struggling with teachers (or family members) who don’t really understand what dyslexia is and want to give them more information, try sending them the link for What is Dyslexia?

4
Aug

iPad Apps to Help Students with Dyslexia

More than 20% of the US population has some form of dyslexia and there are now apps emerging that are aimed at helping dyslexic students maintain the same level of learning as their peers. Mashable recently posted an interesting list of apps that can help dyslexic people of all ages, including a PDF voice reader, and an app called openWeb that makes web browsing more accessible by converting text into a more readable format. ModMath is an app that allows users to type math problems instead of writing them by hand, which can prove difficult for people with dyslexia or dysgraphia (not being able to write coherently). The app provides virtual graph paper and a calculator, and the user can print out his or her work or email it directly to a teacher. The app is also great for students who struggle to keep math problems lined up and legible. If you are struggling with teachers (or family members) who don’t really understand what dyslexia is and want to give them more information, try sending them the link for What is Dyslexia?

1
Aug

A Platform for Good

Wish you had someone other than your child to turn to when you have a question about the technology they use? The Parents Page of the A Platform for Good site can help. Videos on apps, social media, parental controls, privacy settings, reporting cyberbullying, digital reputation and more are available on the site and can help parents get a leg up on understanding what kids seem to find so simple.

1
Aug

A Platform for Good

Wish you had someone other than your child to turn to when you have a question about the technology they use? The Parents Page of the A Platform for Good site can help. Videos on apps, social media, parental controls, privacy settings, reporting cyberbullying, digital reputation and more are available on the site and can help parents get a leg up on understanding what kids seem to find so simple.

31
Jul

Facebook is So Yesterday….

An excellent article on the Common Sense Media site reviews 15 social media sites and apps that many kids are now using. The article includes a brief description of each app, an insight into why it is popular, and a bulleted list of what parents really need to know about it. It is a great read for all parents to look over as the school year begins to approach.

31
Jul

Facebook is So Yesterday….

An excellent article on the Common Sense Media site reviews 15 social media sites and apps that many kids are now using. The article includes a brief description of each app, an insight into why it is popular, and a bulleted list of what parents really need to know about it. It is a great read for all parents to look over as the school year begins to approach.

30
Jul

Your Digital Record

Have you ever wondered what information the federal government has file for you? An editor at Ars Technica found out what was on file about him from his international travel through his Passenger Name Records (PNR) and data created by airlines, hotels, and cruise ships whenever travel was booked. He filed a Freedom of Information Request, and after initially being turned down, he appealed and received 76 pages of data, covering 2005 through 2013. The data included his old IP addresses, full credit card number and notes on his phone calls to airlines, information that is all very revealing.

30
Jul

Your Digital Record

Have you ever wondered what information the federal government has file for you? An editor at Ars Technica found out what was on file about him from his international travel through his Passenger Name Records (PNR) and data created by airlines, hotels, and cruise ships whenever travel was booked. He filed a Freedom of Information Request, and after initially being turned down, he appealed and received 76 pages of data, covering 2005 through 2013. The data included his old IP addresses, full credit card number and notes on his phone calls to airlines, information that is all very revealing.

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