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Center for Safe Schools Launches Toolkit to help parents address Cyber-Bullying


Internet safety tips from the Ascentive team

Center for Safe Schools has partnered with the Highmark Foundation to produce the Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Toolkit that will help parents, educators and professionals serving youth prevent bullying and support children affected by it.

The toolkit is available in print and online and includes specific information about how to differentiate between bullying and conflict, how to respond to cyberbullying, and potential legal implications of bullying-type behaviors. In addition, it contains tools such as a step-by-step guide for connecting children to relevant assistance, a sample letter informing the school of a bullying incident, and a list of vetted resources on bullying prevention, intervention and support.

The new toolkit was supported with funding from the Highmark Foundation and developed by the Center for Safe Schools with input from an interdisciplinary group of stakeholders focused on identifying strategies for improving the availability of resources and supports for children affected by bullying. This group includes Pennsylvania Department of Education, PennsylvaniaCommission on Crime and Delinquency and Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General; along with other state agencies, nonprofit and public health organizations and parents.


“In addition to helping parents, the toolkit is especially valuable to schools that do not have bullying prevention programs in place and to agencies typically called upon in crisis situations,” said Center for Safe Schools Director Lynn Cromley. “It ensures that families and various agencies have a fast-track to assessing and meeting needs when a bullying situation occurs.”

The toolkit is a continuation of the Highmark Foundation’s commitment to bullying prevention. Through Highmark Foundation funding, nearly 400 schools and approximately 210,000 students in Pennsylvania have had access to the research-based Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The toolkit extends the foundation’s public health strategy by bringing information and resources related to bullying and bullying prevention to communities.

“The Highmark Foundation appreciates its continued partnership with the Center for Safe Schools. By working together we are helping to ensure the health and well being of all students,” said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. “The toolkit will help achieve the Center for Safe Schools and the Foundation’s shared goal of placing more adults in a position to help children so they can intervene appropriately in bullying situations.”

“Pennsylvania leads the nation in the breadth and scope of its bullying prevention efforts. Together, the partners in this work are changing attitudes, behavior and practice through cultivating safe and nurturing schools and communities for Pennsylvania’s children,” Cromley added.

To promote the new resource, the Center for Safe Schools will offer a webinar providing an introduction, content review and suggested uses of the toolkit. Besides parents and teachers, the Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Toolkit is designed as a resource for anyone working with youth – including childcare workers, healthcare professionals and coaches. The pre-recorded webinar will be available beginning January 23, 2012.

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National Cyber Security Alliance Announces New Agreement to Promote Cyber Security Education Programs Nationwide

AscentiveInternet Safety information from the Ascentive team

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) – a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cyber security awareness and education for all digital citizens – has announced that on behalf of the National Cybersecurity Education Council (NCEC) it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to formally institute and promote cyber security education programs in K-12 schools, higher education, and career and technical education environments nationwide.

The new agreement paves the way for the continuation of the recently established public private partnership known as the National Cybersecurity Education Council to build a consensus on the future of cyber education in the United States. The multi-stakeholder effort will bring together government, industry, nonprofit, academia and other educational organizations to make recommendations and suggest guidelines on cyber education.  The collaboration will also include all parties participating in a working group to identify the cyber education needs of all young people and the foundational knowledge, skills and competencies needed by government and industry to build a workforce that can protect America’s vital digital assets.

The MOU’s partnership supports many of the educational efforts responding to President Obama’s 2009 Cyberspace Policy Review, which called for the nation to “build an education system that will enhance understanding of cyber security and allow the United States to retain and expand upon its scientific, engineering, and market leadership in information technology.” Toward this end, in the spring of 2010, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) within the U.S. Department of Commerce led a team involving many departments and agencies across the government in launching the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). The goal of NICE is to establish an operational, sustainable and continually improving cyber security education program for the nation to use sound cyber practices that will enhance the nation’s security. NICE includes four focus areas, or tracks:  cyber security awareness, formal cyber security education, cyber security workforce structure, and cyber security workforce training and professional development. The public/private partnership, which the MOU fosters, will advance efforts of the formal education track, particularly responding to the needs identified in the Cyberspace Policy Review for a K-12 cyber security education program for digital safety, ethics, and security and for expanded university curricula.

NCEC members are also cognizant of the inherent demand for improved cyber security education in bolstering America’s future workforce.

Today, the U.S. faces a deficit in the number of cyber security professionals in our country, and predictions of our future needs are worrisome. Estimates from a recent study by (ISC)2 and Frost and Sullivan reveal a need of more than 700,000 new information security professionals in the Americas by 2015. What’s more, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that there will be 295,000 new IT jobs created in the U.S. between 2008 and 2018 – many of which will require cyber security expertise. This data points out a great responsibility within the U.S. education system and other industry groups to help produce cyber capable citizens.

“Our children live in an interconnected technology-based world with a growing need for digital skill sets,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “An education that incorporates tools to understand, navigate and operate technology will encourage students to exercise awareness when using digital platforms while helping better prepare them for the jobs of the future.”

“This important MOU will add another dimension to the public/private partnership that is key to cyber security awareness and formal cyber education,” said Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator, Howard Schmidt.  “Through the partnership, we will continue to increase public awareness of safe cyber behavior, as well as expanding the availability of the cyber education so vital to the future of our workforce.”

“Our future depends on a digital citizenry that can use the Internet safely, securely, ethically and productively,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. “Today, the United States faces a daunting challenge. We need to build a cyber security ready workforce trained to deal with a constantly changing digital infrastructure that is protected against a broad range of cyber threats. This broad effort is critical because cyber security and digital safety touches everyone.”

“With cyber threats on the rise, career opportunities in cyber security will continue to grow and students need to have the access to the necessary foundational STEM education and other prerequisites needed to pursue them,” said NICE National Lead, Dr.Ernest McDuffie. “Higher education and technical training must lead to skills and competencies that meet the hiring requirements of government and industry to fill the growing need for cyber security professionals. This working group will help pave the way to achieving this goal.”

“We are proud to convene and lead this new nationwide effort to help make cyber security education widely available and accessible,” said John Havermann, of EMC Corporation and president of the NCSA Board of Directors. “There is no organization or government agency that can tackle this problem alone. It’s going to take a diverse partnership between government, industry, academia and others to work together to develop shared priorities and a path forward.”

Cyber education is also critical to our nation’s economic growth as evidenced by a recent survey, conducted by Zogby International for NCSA and Symantec, of U.S. small business owners that shows a high portion of businesses need employees with cyber security skills. When employers were asked to rate skills necessary for new hires, U.S. small businesses report the following skills are very relevant or essential:

Understanding privacy (51%);

Importance of protecting intellectual property (49%);

Basic knowledge of using technology ethically (47%);

Basic knowledge of Internet security practices (passwords, identifying secure websites) (44%).

In addition, NCSA and Microsoft recently conducted research on the state of cyber security education and the results make clear better cyber education is needed in America’s K-12 classrooms.


More than one-third of U.S. K-12 teachers (36%) received zero hours of professional development training by their school districts in issues related to online safety, security and ethics in the past year. (86% received less than six hours of related training).

Only 51% of teachers agree their school districts do an adequate job of preparing students for online safety, security and ethics.

Few K-12 educators are teaching topics that would prepare students to be cyber-capable employees or cyber security-aware college students. In the past year, a mere 4% taught about careers in cyber security; 20% taught about knowing when it is safe to download files; 23% taught about using strong passwords; and just 7% taught about the role of the Internet in the U.S. economy.


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Cybercrime Statistics Expose Five Industries Most Susceptible to Phishing

Business news from the Ascentive team

Internet security awareness training firm KnowBe4 has released new cybercrime statistics that identify the nation’s most Phish-prone industry sectors, which are those most susceptible to cybercrime ploys. The top five industries vulnerable to cybercrime include travel, education, financial services, government services and IT services. These findings are based on a recent phishing experiment KnowBe4 conducted among small and medium enterprises featured in the latest Inc. 500 and Inc. 5000 listings.

Using the website to obtain domain names and a free data-gathering service to find publicly available email addresses, KnowBe4 sent out a simulated phishing email to employees at more than 3,500 companies. Individuals who clicked the link were directed to a landing page that informed them they had just taken part in phishing research. The emails were successfully delivered to about 29,000 recipients at 3,037 businesses; and in nearly 500 of those companies, one or more employees clicked the link. Because of the potential for Internet security breaches among these businesses, KnowBe4 dubbed them the “Fail 500.”

“Any business that provides access to email or access to its networks via the Internet is only as safe from cybercrime to the degree that its employees are trained to avoid phishing emails and other cyberheist schemes. The more employees within an organization that use email or go online, the greater the risk of exposure to cybercrime,” said KnowBe4 founder and CEO Stu Sjouwerman.

KnowBe4 conducted a comprehensive data analysis of its FAIL500 study results, which included categorizing the companies into 25 industry sectors. The findings revealed that some industries are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime. Based on the percentage of companies in each sector that responded to the phishing email, the most Phish-prone industries are:

  • Travel – 25%
  • Education – 22.92%
  • Financial Services – 22.69%
  • Government Services – 21.23%
  • IT Services – 20.44%

Cybercriminals have become very sophisticated in their tactics, and Sjouwerman notes that they often target businesses through official-looking emails that appear to be sent by government agencies, business partners or even company executives. “Many of the top Phish-prone industries are regulated and subject to compliance rules, so well-meaning employees can be tricked into clicking a link if they believe an email was sent by a government or law enforcement agency, or by someone they know and trust. And with just one click, malware can be instantly uploaded to a system – bypassing both antivirus software and IT firewalls. A cyberheist can be underway within minutes.”

According to, small-business accounts suffered more than $40 million in cybercrime losses as of 2009. The website also cites FDIC figures indicating this type of crime increased five-fold within a 12-month period, and notes that the FBI is tracking hundreds of related cases. Small and medium-sized organizations have become the primary targets of the Eastern European hacker gangs behind this frightening new crime wave. These cybercriminals tend to prey on smaller businesses and banks that lack the cyber-fraud controls many larger institutions have in place.

Five Warning Signs for Freelancers

From the Finally Fast help desk:

In an ever-turbulent economy, more Americans are turning to freelancing to help them get by. But freelancers have to be careful when taking on work, as employers have the potential to exploit them, or conduct themselves in ways that can be costly to freelancers. If you’re thinking of giving freelancing a try, be on the lookout for these five warning signs when dealing with employers.

1) Employers who only Communicate by Phone:
Employers who prefer to communicate by phone certainly mean no harm toward freelancers, but those phone bills can be rather costly, and items may get missed in the conversation that need to be addressed. If an employer will only communicate with you by phone, be sure that they cover the cost for the calls. If they won’t agree to this, suggest that you conduct your calls on Skype. Skype allows you to make free Skype-to-Skype calls worldwide. In addition to being the most popular VOIP app in the world, Skype also allows you to make calls to regular phones with inexpensive international phone call rates.

2) Free Samples:
Another Employer behavior to watch out for is free sample requests. Although an employer may request a sample if your portfolio doesn’t cover the type of work that’s being offered, a free sample is a bad idea. Creating samples takes time, and if you don’t get the job, your time has just been wasted. Ask the employer to pay half price. And be sure to keep a copy of the requested sample for your work portfolio.

3) More Work, Less Pay:
Occasionally an employer will promise a freelancer more work for a reduced rate. This is only worth your time if you can actually survive financially working at this reduced rate, and the employer signs an agreement guaranteeing the full amount of the work that’s been promised. Otherwise, the employer can just walk away after having you complete a single job way below your regular rate.

4) Bad Feedback:
When reviewing employers on a freelance site such as Guru or Elance, be sure to check the feedback from other freelancers. Although anyone can be the victim of false feedback, the employer should be avoided if their feedback is consistently awful.

5) Endless Revisions:
Finally, when negotiating terms with an employer for a fixed price job, be sure to agree upon a set number of revisions. An excessive amount of revisions will force you to work for a longer duration than the job was originally worth, wasting time that you need to spend on finding new work. If the employer won’t agree to a set number of revisions for the work, switch the terms from a fixed price to an hourly rate so you will be properly compensated for your time.

10 Amazing Android Apps

From the FinallyFast help desk:

Although Apple’s iPhone is arguably the most popular handset currently available on the market, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S are picking up speed due to Google’s popular Android OS and its many applications. Here are ten Android Apps you should download the minute you buy your phone.

Phonebook: Phonebook is a contacts app that displays your contacts with pictures and contextual information like birthdays, missed calls, and unread text messages. The app comes with a landscape view & a dialer, and also allows you to synchronize and back up your contacts to your home computer.

Last FM Personal Radio: is a personal radio station for your Android. Choose an artist or genre and the app builds a personalized playlist. The app also allows you to skip songs and pull up concerts.

Hi AIM: Hi Aim is an AIM chat client for the Android. The app sends your data through the network, resulting in no SMS fee. Hi AIM also supports smileys and chat bubble styles.

Nightclock: Great for travel, Nightclock turns your Android into a bedside alarm clock that also plays your MP3s. You can customize the color and brightness of the large numbers as well as adjust the volume. The app also comes with a snooze option for those of you who need a few more minutes of sleep.

Twidroid: Twidroid is a full-featured Twitter client app for the Android that features native photo posing, location support, auto-completion, fully integrated notification, and news updates from Twitter Buzz.

Sudoku: Sudoku brings the world famous puzzle game to the Android with four difficulty levels and an intuitive interface. And if you don’t have time to complete your game, you can exit the app and it will save the puzzle to finish later.

NBA Gametime: NBA Game Time is the NBA’s first, official live basketball app for the Android. Check out games for any day arranged by their start times. The app also includes detailed scoring, a playoff bracket and stats.

Calorie Counter: Calorie Counter is a food and nutrition app that allows you to scan any barcode to find calorie and nutrition info. The app also has a searchable database for restaurants and a function that allows you to record and track what you eat.

Pacman: If you grew up in the 80s — or just wish that you had — then Namco’s Pacman is the game for you. The Android version even comes with TrackBall Mode.

Ringdroid: There’s no sense paying for ringtones when you can just use Ringdroid and create your own ringtones for free. Ringdroid also lets you edit any mp3 on your phone via its graphical waveform editor, which is currently the only waveform editor available for the Android phone.

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