Contact Us

Photo Leaks: The Latest Scary Digital Trend

By Steven Woda on January 2, 2015 at 3:18 PM

Today, news stories about teens getting caught up in sexting and resulting photo leak scandals are a dime a dozen. As parents, we usually say to ourselves “that could never happen to my child” when we see stories like these, but the truth is that a digital slip-up like a photo leak can happen to anyone.

Just a few years ago, advancements in video, photos and messaging technology all seemed so harmless. Now, sexting seems to be all the rage as teenagers experiment with these advances in technology. Disturbingly, sexting photo leaks appear to be becoming somewhat a trend among teens and, as sexting continues to be prevalent, the images are imprinted on technology forever.

Here are a few synopses of photo leaks that have happened in towns across the US. An especially disconcerting facet about these photo leaks is that each case has occurred in just the past six months:

  • In November, two students from McLean High School in Virginia acquired and organized folders containing compromising photos of 56 female classmates. They passed around the folders to other students in a carefully concealed Dropbox page. The 16 and 17-year-old teens plead guilty to three misdemeanor charges each for distributing obscene material.

Continue Reading

Internet Security For Children In Chat Rooms

By Tim Woda on December 10, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Chat rooms are one place on the Internet that can cause a lot of fear and worry in parents. With a multitude of stories coming out about terrible things that have happened to children and others as a result of chat rooms, the concern is understandable.

Ultimately, chat rooms are not recommended for children. There is endless potential for online predators and identity thieves to be lurking around chat rooms and disguising themselves as being young and friendly. If you choose to allow your child to visit them, here are a few chat room tips that can help put your fears at ease: 

Moderators Of The Service 

Continue Reading

5 Ways To Stay Secure on Public Wi-Fi Networks

By Tim Woda on December 8, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Free public Wi-Fi can be compared to free public restrooms. While a wireless hot spot may be very appealing, particularly when you are out and about without a data connection, you must remember to use caution just as you would no matter how desperately you might need to access a public restroom. 

It might be a good idea to review some important tips with your family members, including children who are heading off to school or doing any sort of traveling. Anyone using a laptop, smart phone or tablet needs to be aware of some of the dangers lurking out there, so it is important to use some safety tips in order to choose a network wisely.

Make certain that the network you connect to is legitimate, not just a facade for someone who wants to intercept your data. How can you be sure it's legit? 

  1. If you are out in public, such as in a restaurant, coffee shop or even at the public library, verify the name of the network they are offering for free.

Continue Reading

iCloud Safety: What Parents Can Learn from the Celebrity Photo Hack

By Steven Woda on November 7, 2014 at 1:27 PM

It's likely that you have heard about the recent celebrity photograph hack incident, where the private photographs of numerous celebrities were stolen and leaked on the Internet. It is reported that the photo hack stemmed from a criminal either breaching the iCloud system or hacking stars' personal account usernames and passwords.

Although the attacker responsible for this crime was clearly targeting celebrities, it is important for parents to know that these kinds of breaches can happen to anyone. Learn about how to secure both account usernames/passwords and the iCloud service.

The Cause of the Celebrity Photo Breach

There is a dispute regarding the source of the hack and this, in itself, is an indicator of how tricky security can be. The photos were obtained from Apple's iCloud service, but the exact nature of the iCloud breach remains in question - Apple maintains that the pictures were obtained through targeting usernames and passwords, but others suggest there was a more fundamental breach of the iCloud.

In reality, for the purposes of many people, the source of the hack is a secondary consideration - both methods are entirely plausible and whichever was used here, either could be used in the future. In consequence, to ensure security of things such as pictures, both factors should be given consideration. Parents seeking to ensure their children's privacy should take steps to ensure both that usernames and passwords are secure and robust, and that a future iCloud breach has only limited information to steal anyway.

It Can Happen to Anyone

Continue Reading

Should You Use Facebook's New Privacy Checkup Tool?

By Steven Woda on October 9, 2014 at 6:47 PM

In September 2014, Facebook began rolling out a privacy checkup tool for users. It's an attempt to by the network to encourage privacy among its millions of users. 

It's a bit of a strange move coming from Facebook for a number of reasons. First of all, in regards to online privacy, Facebook is practically the antithesis of that. While other social media sites like Twitter allow members to create a username and never display their full names if they prefer, Facebook requires such personal information as a full name (of course, inputting your true name is optional), city and town of residence, and encourages users to include even their school and workplace. It's become a quick way to look up old friends, lost family members, and anyone you've just met.

Continue Reading

Public WiFi: a Threat to Internet and Mobile Safety?

By Steven Woda on September 17, 2014 at 12:23 PM

For parents, the concept of protecting children has changed drastically even over the past couple of years. The popularity of smartphones has skyrocketed, making mobile and Internet safety more difficult to keep track of than ever before.

Who hasn't heard about cyberbullying, child pornography, or malware that takes control of a computer's web camera? Just a few years ago, all a parent had to do was keep track of their child's use of the family computer (or, for the lucky kids, their own computers) and possible threats were relatively easy to contain. 

Continue Reading

4 Foolproof Ways to Protect Your Reputation on Social Media

By Steven Woda on September 12, 2014 at 1:03 PM

We’ve all heard it by now: the Internet is forever. A bad social media presence can follow anyone of any demographic down the road. Think of how many times you’ve heard on the news that a teen was expelled, cyberbullied, or rejected from colleges based on one digital mistake. Countless adults have been fired from jobs and penalized by the law based on poor social media choices.

The beginning of a new school year is as good a time as any to make sure that you and your kids are in control of your digital reputations. Use these tips to ensure that you are maintaining reputable social media accounts:

1. Be selective about who you're friends with on social media.

Continue Reading

The "TMI" Epidemic: Are My Teens Oversharing Online?

By Steven Woda on August 6, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Oversharing online - the act of posting sensitive personal information - is one of the leading dangers affecting teenagers. In fact, independent studies have suggested that most teenagers are oversharing online. How bad is it for your teenager?

The Facts

As noted in the McAfee Teens and Screens study, 52% of teens have gotten into a fight because of things they either shared themselves or saw someone else share. And if you don't think your teens are seeing things, think again - 87% of teens have at least witnessed some form of cyberbullying. Here are some other facts to consider:

  • 39% of teens have never changed their privacy settings on social media - whose baseline usually

Continue Reading

Tyler Cohen Wood's Catching the Catfishers

By Steven Woda on June 10, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Tyler Cohen Wood’s Catching the Catfishers explores the digital footprints that we all leave behind, whether we realize it or not. The book sheds light on a comprehensive set of online security components and teaches readers how to best protect their personal information from being put out and circulated on the web. Catching the Catfishers teaches parents and kids alike the value in being aware of the implications that every digital imprint we make can have.

The author is a senior officer and cyber branch chief for the Defense Intelligence Agency within the Department of Defense. Wood clearly demonstrates her authority on all matters of Internet security throughout the book. With a plethora of examples and nuances from recent pop culture and past experiences, Wood shows just how easy it is for people with little to no training to learn everything that they want to discover about someone through the web.

Continue Reading

Colorado Anti-Cyberbullying Law Rejected by State Legislature

By Tim Woda on April 29, 2014 at 4:25 PM

One of the vexing problems brought about by the Internet and social media is the phenomenon of cyberbullying. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying does not involve actual physical confrontation. Indeed the cyberbully who posts harassing and threatening messages on Facebook and other social media is often not even identified. As a result, some victims of cyberbullying have been driven to suicide, so powerless do they feel to stop it. Many states have attempted or are currently attempting to invoke real change for cyberbullying victims by passing anti-cyberbullying laws.

Earlier today we published a blog post about a new anti-cyberbullying bill sweeping through Florida's legislature. A few months ago, a similar bill in Colorado received massive support and approval from the state's House of Representatives. However, the Colorado cyberbullying law was recently rejected by the Colorado Senate. 

The Colorado legislature was striving to equip the state’s law enforcement agencies with tools to combat cyberbullying. According to Channel 7 News in Denver, HB 14-1131, was a bill that would have specifically made cyberbullying a crime. Initially, the bill was successful, as it passed the Colorado House Education Committee unanimously and passed the state Senate in a 54-10 vote.

Continue Reading

Guidebook for the Social Networking Site Twitter

By Steven Woda on April 28, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Twitter Quick Facts:

  • Twitter's original code name was twttr

  • The idea of short online updates derived from text messaging

  • “The definition [of “twitter”] was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds'. That’s what the product was."

  • Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) is the most popular person on Twitter with about 12 million followers as of mid-2011

  • 51% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands or products on social networks

  • Four of the five most popular Twitter feeds belong to pop stars; President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) holds down the third slot

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a real-time information network where people get the latest news, ideas, and opinions about what interests them. Twitter is organized around Tweets, which are small bites of information up to 140 characters long.

Continue Reading

How to Navigate Formspring, the Question-Asking Site

By Steven Woda on April 28, 2014 at 4:44 PM

What is Formspring?

Formspring is a social network for asking and answering questions. Questions and responses range from funny to insightful to thought-provoking. It can help friends get to know each other in a new way, but it can also enable cyberbullying through its anonymous question feature.

How do you sign up?

People sign in with their Facebook account or register with an email and birth date. Formspring is open to users 13 and over, but any minor's account will be removed if requested by their parent.

Who can ask/answer questions?

Questions might be asked of only one person, a group of friends, or the entire Formspring community. People who ask questions can choose to include their identity or hide it. Both questions and responses can include photos, videos, and links.

Continue Reading

3 Ways to Restore Self-Esteem & Sense of Privacy to Digital Teens

By Tim Woda on April 24, 2014 at 11:33 AM

This article was originally published on McAfee Blog Central by Toni Birdsong.

While kids today are the beneficiaries of amazing technology, there are casualties to growing up digital we can’t deny. We know the hit that education, relationships, and even a child’s very health can take when we don’t help kids balance their tech. But what about the more subtle losses our kids are incurring that are harder to spot? What about the slow forfeit of precious things such as self-esteem, privacy, and a sense of personal safety? These are just a few of the many “losses” I’ve been noticing in my own teens as they live digital.

Often I file much of my kids’ peer fallouts online as teen “drama” but I’m realizing more and more, it’s not drama at all—it’s pain, real pain caused by real loss. It’s loss in the form of emotional staples that, ironically, most kids don’t even realize—or can’t pinpoint—that they have lost.

Think about it. The digital self-management required by teens today is absolutely mind-boggling. They aren’t just kids stumbling through adolescence toward adulthood, they’ve become virtual plate spinners. These plate spinners must: edit photos, respond promptly (either out of habit or pressure), out-post and out-funny others, inventory friend feeds, collect likes and followers, and calculate the social risk of various peer interactions. This list goes on and on . . . and on.

Continue Reading

Social Media Etiquette Tips for Teenagers

By Steven Woda on April 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM

This article was originally published on Psychology Today by Raychelle Cassanda Lohmann.

Computers and modern technology are taking up a lot of teens' time. While there are some perks to technology, there are also some negative things associated with it. A national survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids between the ages of 8 to 18 are spending an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day using entertainment media (e.g., phones, computer, television, mp3 players or other electronic devices). That's more than 53 hours a week! And because our teens are so good at watching TV while working on the computer or texting a friend, they have used their time-management skills to fit about 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7 hours and 38 minutes.

With teens spending so much time working on-line via social networking sites, emailing, texting, visiting chat rooms, or just surfing the net, it's important that parents review the following Cyber Etiquette tips with their teen.

Top 10 Cyber Etiquette Tips:

1. Exercise the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you wouldn't speak to the person that way face to face, then don't do it online.

Continue Reading

What is Facebook?

By Tim Woda on April 9, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Facebook Quick Facts:

  • Facebook is the largest social networking site on the planet

  • 845 million monthly active users as of December 2011

  • 80% of our monthly active users are outside the U.S. and Canada

Continue Reading

The Decline of Online Privacy

By Steven Woda on February 19, 2014 at 5:33 PM

High-profile data breaches and issues arising over who actually owns personal data have raised important questions about online privacy and the security of personal information. There is a growing sense of fear and powerlessness among the public as businesses and governments continue to gather more and more personal data. The truth is, digital privacy is becoming a myth and it will take a combination of personal responsibility and policy changes to change the tide.

Continue Reading

Is Public WiFi Safe?

By Tim Woda on February 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Public WiFi is any network connection that doesn't require a pass code or key code to access. They are open to anyone who is within range. Devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops will pick up a signal and begin to connect with it if their WiFi setting is turned on. It makes no difference if the signal is being transmitted from a person's home, the local coffee shop or a local business.

The question of safety is always on your mind when dealing with your children and your financial information. With more and more teens having internet capabilities on their cell phones and other devices, parents are concerned with the safety of public WiFi networks. The problem is not with the networks, so much as with the devices being used to connect with it.

Who Can Connect With Public WiFi

Once an internet signal is set up and broadcasting, anyone can access it that has the pass code or access to the router. If there is no code, anyone can pick it up. This includes

  • your children

  • your neighbors

  • people passing by in vehicles

  • people walking within a certain distance

  • hackers

Continue Reading

Digital Parenting: What Is Your Teen's Online Reputation?

By Tim Woda on January 28, 2014 at 10:42 AM

If you have a high school student who is interested in attending college, you need to check out this article from Psychology Today about digital parenting and your teen's online reputation. 

Soon it'll be that time of year when college bound seniors start gearing up to submit their college applications in anticipation to get that awaited message, "ACCEPTED".Just like many college bound students, Jake couldn't wait to hear back from his number one college pick.  Finally, the day came.  He logged on to his account and saw that he had notbeen admitted to the college of his dreams.  Shock and disappointment set in.  He knew his grades and test scores were border line, but he was very active in athletics and even held leadership roles in a couple of clubs at school.  Could there be another reason he didn't get accepted?

As the admission committee reviewed applications Jake was right on the fence.  What kept him from getting

Continue Reading

Teens Get Online 'Eraser Button' With New California Law

By Tim Woda on October 19, 2013 at 1:43 PM

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post by Kathleen Miles.

California teens get an online "eraser button" under a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday.  The law makes California the first state to require websites to allow people younger than 18 to remove their own postings on that website, and to clearly inform minors how to do so.

Continue Reading

Password Protection--Is Yours Too Easy?

By Tim Woda on October 14, 2013 at 3:35 PM

According to the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit “fact tank,” 85 percent of U.S. adults use the internet, and 56 percent of all Americans are smartphone users. Most of us have multiple email accounts, are members of social network sites, shop, bank, and store personal data online. As a result of the vast amount of sensitive personal information stored in these various places, you may find yourself wondering if your current password is an effective deterrent against online criminals looking to profit by accessing your personal data.

Your Personal Information is Easily Hacked
Your computer itself stores information about sites you frequently visit in the form of internet cookies and temporary internet files on your computer. Often forgotten about by web browsers, these files assist hackers in gaining access to your personal information.

Continue Reading

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all