Friday, April 23, 2010

What You Can Do to E.N.D. Cyberbullying

1 in 5 kids ages 12-18 has admitted doing something wrong online.  
Is your kid one of them?  
Are you wondering what they did?  

20% of kids 12-18 told a recent survey they had cyberbullied someone.   
Phoebe Prince and Alexis Pilkington are the most recent victims of cyberbullying.  If you have a kid in high school or college, they have probably been bullied and have not told you about it.  

In one survey conducted by PEW Internet and Life Studies, 72% of teens reported being bullied and 90% of them said they did not tell an adult .

I recently talked with 3 students attending Queens University in Charlotte.  All 3 of them had friends who were victims of cyberbullying.  They had no idea how to help their friends or that the cyberbullies were breaking the law.

See our interview here:  Charlotte's CBS WBTV Interview.

North Carolina recently joined other states in anti cyberbullying efforts.  NC House passed a law last year, House Bill 1261, which makes Cyberbullying a criminal offense punishable as a misdemeanor.

The House Bill is posted at:

Cyberbullying is real and has consequences.  Just as you teach your kids self defense against teasing or fighting, you can adopt 3 steps to END bullying.

How to E.N.D. Bullying
1.    E:  Educate & encourage your kids to come to you if they are being bullied online
2.    N:  Network with other parents and discuss cyberbullying and alerting each other if you see it occurring
3.    D:  Do block the cyberbully online and on your kids’ phone and report them

Take this Cyberbullying Awareness Quiz - You May Be Surprised at the Results: 
1.  If my kid is a bully, cyber or physical, it is not an indicator that he or she will have problems later in life.

Answer:  False.  According to research cited by, nearly 60% of boys who researchers classified as bullies, in middle school and their early high school years, were convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24.

2.  Most victims of cyberbullying tell an adult (parent or teacher) about their experience.

Answer:  False.  In a recent study by PEW, high schoolers and college kids did not tell an adult.  Several said it was because they did not want to lose online privileges!

3.  Cyberbullying is mostly happening by boys to other boys.

Answer:  False.  Both boys and girls are being bullied online. 

4.  Which of the following can be considered "cyberbullying"?
A. Harassing text messages
B. Posting mean web messages
C. Sending or posting embarrassing pictures of someone else without their permission
D. Threatening someone on MySpace, Facebook, or another site
E. All of the above

Answer:  E.  All of the above

5.  You should not call Law Enforcement if someone threatens your kid’s safety online.

Answer:  False.  You should call the police if someone threatens your kid’s safety, asks for a face to face meeting, or asks your kid to do something that breaks the law

“No Bully Zone”
Ask your kids to refrain from bullying others and ask them to tell you if someone bullies them.

Have a family discussion asking your child to alert you if someone is mean to them online.  Promise them you will not overreact and that you will decide together how to handle it.

Social Sites:
If the bullying is occurring on MySpace or Facebook, contact those service providers.  They have handled complaints of bullying before and may be able to remove the offensive remarks.


Cell Phone:
If the bullying is occurring via text messages, talk to your cell phone provider about blocking the bully’s address.

If the bullying happens via email, most email services will allow you to block a specific email address.

Signs that Your Child May Be a Victim of Bullying:
·      Your child becomes withdrawn.
·      Obsession with being online or offline that does not match usual patterns.
·      Compulsive secrecy about their phone and email messages.

Suggestions for Your Kids’ School:

·      Inquire at your kids’ high school and college if they have a zero tolerance bullying policy; ask them to include cyberbullying.
·      Ask & Encourage the schools to teach the concept in the classroom about how to spot and report cyberbullying.

Other Resources:

1.   Say No to Bullying:
2.   Stop Bullying Now:
3.   Online Safety Tips:
4.   Cybersafe Family:
7.   A Way Through:
8.   Sue Scheff:
9.   National Crime Prevention Center: 
10.                 Statistics on Cyberbullying:
11.                 Information about what to do if your kid is a victim:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today is the Last Chance to Win a Free PG Key - Enter at WBTV

PG Key Sweepstakes at WBTV:

Are You Worried About Your Kids' Online Safety? Article + Enter to Win a Free PG Key

Are you struggling with keeping up with the latest list of “bad sites” that you need to protect your kid from tripping upon?  

You are not alone!


That’s the number of 8-17 year old kids in a recent Norton survey that socialize online roughly 5 hours per week.  


The same survey found that you are having a hard time setting rules to keep your kids safe because it was not around when you were a kid.  

I recently met with a group of Moms, some of which are also Grandmoms.  They have thrown their hands up in disgust at what to do about the smut and scum on the internet.   They know their kids and grandkids are exposed but they cannot keep up with the latest "Chatroulette" or other pages that crop up.

You do not have to cross your fingers and just hope for the best.

3 Steps You Can Take to Help:
1. Rules – Set ground rules and monitor their usage
2. Show – Show them safe surfing and how to avoid sites you don’t want them to see
3. Safe Zone - Allow access only through kid friendly sites or tools – keep the home computer where the family spends time 

There are several tools that you can use to shape your kids’ online activities.  This is getting easier to do thanks to improved options in software.

There are several great, free tools out there that you can use.  

I have highlighted 3 tools you may want to explore:
Yoursphere Basic Service:

Kidzui Basic Service:

Norton’s Online Family Service:

My 7 year old tested Yoursphere and Kidzui and gave both a thumbs up.  He has not tested the Norton suite yet.

There are many wonderful products out there.  

I am highlighting one tool called the PG KEY.  PG KEY Allows you to insert a "Parental Guidance" key card into any computer and it provides online safety tools while your kids surf.  

Sweepstakes to Win a Free PG Key:

For those of you that want to purchase a parental safety key to use on any of your home computers, the company PGKey is offering our viewers a special deal of 25% off and free shipping!   Go to: or the code ProtectKids. 

There are many sources you can go to for advice regarding kids and online safety.

Parent Advocate Sue Scheff :

Linda Criddle – online consumer and kid safety expert

Dr. Michele Borba, Child Expert:

Mary Kay Hoal, Child Internet Safety Expert

Monica Vila and her team cover kids online safety topics:

Cammie at Moms Material:

Perry Aftab and Perry Heston cover kids online safety issues:

Oakland County Moms:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Botnet Herders - Some info + a report you may find of interest

I recently received an Anonymous post regarding a piece I wrote about Botnet Herders and how to keep your loved ones safe from this scam.  The post said:   “Seems to me that some credit should be paid to the presenter of this material to which you based your story:

Anonymous – thank you for the post.  I had actually not seen the report by Kevin Stevens before creating my segment, although it is an excellent source of information on “pay-per-install” (PPI) - a growing problem for law enforcement.

In researching topics for consumers, I focus on issues and resources that non-tech readers need to be aware of and in terms they can relate to.  I pull from my work experience as a CIO while also checking a few sources on and off the web.  Some of the sources I used for the Botnet Herder story were on Wikipedia and a few other websites: (good information, but I recommend blocking this site from your browser!) (good commentary, some of which questioned whether this practice is illegal).

I also talked to a few university officials and professors and former law enforcement to get their views on this ongoing issue.

With that said, I would like to give a shout out to Kevin Stevens and his company SecureWorks at .  For the technically minded, you can find his paper on PPI at  It was presented at the Black Hat conference, a technical conference that brings together thought leaders in the security world.  Impressive work and I am now following Kevin on Twitter.