With technology now so central to our modern lives, it can be difficult to know how to keep ourselves safe online, let alone keeping our children (who seem to know more about it than we do) safe too! To help out with this, we have created a brand-new course for this year, Cyberspy Academy, designed to teach children all about digital security and staying safe online.
The concept of ‘digital security’ can seem extremely daunting and hard to understand - but whilst Cybersecurity can be a very complex topic, some basic understanding and a few simple steps can do a huge amount to keep you safe online.
One of the quickest ways for cyber criminals to gain access to your online identity is through insecure passwords – having good passwords is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself, and something that children should be taught from an early age. Be sure to use at least 12 characters, with a variety of capitals, numbers and symbols, and not to share your passwords with anyone else or write them down. At our camps, students learn all about password best practice, the history of encryption, and even try their hand at some code breaking and ethical hacking! Using a password manager such as LastPass (www.lastpass.com) is a great way to keep things secure – these are services that allow you to store all of your passwords in one place, and will automatically fill them in for you when you want to login to a website. This means you can use complex and long passwords for each site as you don’t need to remember them! Everything is then just accessed with 1 single ‘master’ password – and it’s all stored on extremely high security encrypted servers.
Something else where a small amount of knowledge can go a long way is with phishing scams – this is where someone will send an email claiming to be something it isn’t, usually involving you giving them money first in exchange for something else that you never get. These emails can take any form from the classic long-lost family member’s fortune, to a message that looks like it has come from a courier asking you to pay customs duties on a package. It can be hard not to get taken in. Check for things like the email address the message has come from – is it really from the company they claim to be? Is it addressed to you personally or is it just Sir/Madam? Are you being asked to update a subscription you don’t actually have? If in doubt, always call the company directly using the phone number from their website to check.
On our courses, students run a mock ‘investigation’ into some alleged spies and must spot clues in real examples of phishing emails to find the culprit. We strongly believe that practical learning is the key to both getting the most out of an activity and having fun whilst doing it!
Another easy way to limit the chance of something going wrong is simply keeping all of your devices up to date. It can be all to easy to keep putting off that update as you don’t want to restart your computer, or not having enough space left on your phone to keep every app up to date with the latest version. Software updates are usually for one of two things: fixing a problem, or adding new features. More often than not, the problem they are fixing is security related, and by not updating you are leaving yourself open to attackers looking to exploit a weakness that has been discovered with a particular piece of software.
Here at Tech Camp, our mission is ‘Inspiring Tomorrow’s Inventors’ – not just teaching them! Cyberspy Academy has a host of fun activities all relating to cybersecurity, including learning the basics of coding by making laser tripwires and alarms, lockpicking, invisible ink, secret messages and more. We also have a residential option, which includes a host of other evening activities such as laser tag, live science shows, reverse engineering, gaming nights and more! Find out more about Cyberspy Academy here.