Category Archives: security

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

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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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ABC’s 20/20 Episode Proposes a solution to Bullying Epidemic

AscentiveCyberbullying news from the Ascentive team

The ABC news magazine show 20/20 recently reported on what one school is doing to help combat the problem of in-school bullying and cyber-bullying. The Alliance School, an alternative Milwaukee public school, uses the Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) program to teach students key lessons such as respect and conflict-resolution.

LifeSkills Training promotes healthy alternatives to risky behavior by helping students develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence and by enabling them to effectively cope with stress and anxiety.  Not only is LST the top-rated substance abuse prevention program in schools today; a recent study also showed that LST prevents physical and verbal aggression as well as delinquency and fighting in schools.

“Bullying is an epidemic that affects everyone—victims, bystanders, and the bullies themselves. An effective school-based prevention program can help build an atmosphere in schools so that kids feel safe, and when they feel safe, they learn better and thrive,” said program developer Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin. “I am proud that LST is an integral part of this.”

The Alliance School is a charter school of the Milwaukee Public School system that strives to provide a safe, student-centered, and academically challenging environment to meet the needs of all students. The 6th – 12th grade school, which opened in 05, teaches LifeSkills Training to help reinforce a safe and accepting environment where students are treated fairly regardless of sexuality, ability, appearance, or beliefs.

Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) is a highly effective evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program with more than 30 years of peer-reviewed research behind it. Studies testing its effectiveness have found that LST can reduce the prevalence of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80 percent. The program was developed by Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College and director of Cornell’s Institute for Prevention Research.

LST has been used with youth in all 50 states, the District of Columbia,Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and in 32 countries around the world. LST is included in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) and has been selected for prevention excellence by numerous organizations including the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (part of the U.S. Department of Justice). Recently LST was selected as a Top Tier prevention program by the Coalition for Evidence-based Policy, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization in Washington, DC. Visit http://www.lifeskillstraining.com for more information.

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US Dept of Homeland Security Nation Cyber Security Division & Idaho National Laboratory Win National Cybersecurity Innovation Award

AscentiveCyber Security News from the Ascentive Team

The SANS Institute announced today that Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Security Division and Idaho National Laboratory have won the 2011 U.S. National Cybersecurity Innovation Award for building Cybersecurity skills needed to defend the power grid and other control systems.

The Controls Systems Security Program (CSSP) at the Department of Homeland Security and Idaho National Laboratory have created a series of training programs for managerial and technical people in the industries using control systems (power, oil and gas, electrical, water, and several others) that are packed with up-to-date information on cyber threats and mitigations for vulnerabilities.

The goal is to reduce industrial control system risks within and across all critical infrastructure and key resource sectors by coordinating efforts among federal, state, local and tribal governments, as well as industrial control systems owners, operators and vendors. The CSSP coordinates activities to reduce the likelihood of success and severity of impact of a cyber-attack against critical infrastructure control systems through risk-mitigation activities.

One innovative course provides intensive hands-on training on protecting and securing industrial control systems from cyber-attacks, including a Red Team/Blue Team exercise that is conducted within an actual control systems environment.  This training has been transformational for technologists and managers who previously underappreciated the power of cyber-attacks or the ease at which they can be executed.

The Department of Energy – Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability has partnered with DHS to provide the Red Team/Blue Team training specifically to the energy sector asset owners and create lessons learned from the energy sector.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Idaho National Laboratory wins the 2011 National Cybersecurity Innovation Award for developing a long-term, common vision where effective risk management of control systems secturity can be realized through successful coordination efforts.

The National Cybersecurity Innovation Awards recognize developments undertaken by companies and government agencies who have developed and deployed innovative processes or technologies which are innovative in that it has not been deployed effectively before, can show a significant impact on reducing cyber risk, can be scaled quickly to serve large numbers of people, and should be adopted quickly by many other organizations. Nominations included most senior government officials involved with Cybersecurity as well as those from major Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs).  Corporations and individuals, including SANS instructors also nominated innovations and each nomination was tested by the SANS Institute research department. More than 50 nominations were received and 14 were selected.

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. SANS is the most trusted and by far the largest source for information security training and security certification in the world.  In addition to world-class training, SANS offers certification via the ANSI accredited GIAC security certification program. SANS offers a myriad of free resources to the Infosec community including consensus projects, research reports, newsletters, and it operates the Internet’s early warning system – the Internet Storm Center.  At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners in varied global organizations from corporations to universities working together to help the entire information security community.

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AmberWatch Foundation Launches AmberWatch TV VOD Channel

AscentiveCyberbullying news from the Ascentive team

The AmberWatch Foundation celebrated the planned launch of AmberWatch TV on Cablevision System Corp.’s iO TV® digital television service on Tuesday at a celebrity-filled, mid-day gala held at The Standard Hotel in New York City.  AmberWatch TV, a dedicated video-on-demand (VOD) channel, will be available across Cablevision’s nearly three million digital cable customers on iO TV® Channel 625 by the end of the month.

AmberWatch TV is the first interactive cable channel dedicated entirely to the preemptive protection of children. Delivered in partnership with global partners, AmberWatch presents a series of engaging and updated original content designed to educate kids, educate parents, and proactively inoculate both against the dangers of the modern world. Issues covered include cyberbullying, sex predator protection, online protection, and safe texting.

AmberWatch TV will break new ground as one of the first interactive VOD channels devoted entirely to parents, caregivers, and child safety.  The channel features a vast library of video-on-demand content and advanced features designed to drive awareness and viewer interaction.

To help celebrate the momentous launch event hosted by Chris Wragge of CBS’s The Early Show, AmberWatch was joined by key partners including Protext Mobility, MetLife and celebrities who have rallied in support of the Foundation and the launch of this important new TV channel.  McAfee and Protext Mobility made major technology and child-protection announcements benefiting both the Foundation and the local tri-state community.

Some of the Foundation’s Celebrity Champions include Selena Gomez, Ray Romano, Al Roker, Cheryl Hines, and Blair Underwood. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Miss New York USA 2011, Amber Collins were in attendance.

AmberWatch TV is the shared vision of the AmberWatch Foundation, its partners, its “Foundation Champions”, law enforcement experts, and supportive parents nationwide, all of whom collectively decided that the time had come to make child safety a national priority. The interactive, on-demand channel is designed for parents and caregivers to help them make sense of the world that we live in and to equip them to make safe and healthy choices in the most important moments.

“Through engaging media and interactive on-demand content,” says Keith Jarrett, Founder of AmberWatch Foundation, “AmberWatch TV will teach parents and caregivers how to keep their kids safe and then supply them with all of the resources to do just that.”

“Cablevision’s branded VOD channels provide a wide array of organizations and advertisers a dedicated platform to engage directly with viewers,” said David Kline, President and COO of Cablevision Media Sales.  “AmberWatch TV is the latest VOD channel expanding the range of unique, targeted information services available to our iO TV digital cable customers.  We are pleased to be the first cable provider to offer AmberWatch TV, bringing educational information that will help the communities we serve stay more informed about child safety.”

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New Survey Shows Gap Between Americans’ Online Security Perceptions and Actual Practices

AscentiveInternet Safety News from the Ascentive team

More than nine in ten Americans (92%) believe that a safe and secure Internet is crucial to our nation’s economic security and 81% of Americans want to learn more about being safe and secure online, but there still exists a visible disconnect between Americans’ perceptions of their online safety practices versus the reality of their actual safety practices. These insights were revealed in the 2011 National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)-McAfee Online Safety Study, released today by the NCSA and McAfee.

While the study found progress in a number of areas regarding online safety awareness, perception versus reality gaps continue to exist in critical areas:

70% of Americans say that they represent their child/children’s primary source of information for online safety, yet 48% of parents are not completely confident that their children can use the Internet safely.

32% of consumers either back up data only once a year—or never (20%).

15% of Americans have never checked their social networking privacy and security account settings.

According to the survey, only 7% of U.S. parents are worried about cyberbullying even though 33% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Survey.

“This new study shows that vast majorities of Americans believe that cyber security is important for our personal safety and our nation’s economic security,” said NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser. “Yet this survey also shows that we can do a better job of protecting ourselves and those around us and really focus on the notion that a safe and secure Internet and digital experience represents a shared responsibility.”

“As our digital usage grows exponentially each year with a multitude of different devices connected to the Internet, cyber threats have grown more sophisticated and widespread than ever before,” said Todd Gebhart, co-president, McAfee. “This new survey demonstrates the fundamental importance of better online safety and security awareness for ourselves, our communities, our schools and our businesses.  Consumers need to think beyond just PCs, and also protect their web experiences, their data, and very importantly, their children on all the devices they use.”

Key Findings:


Security Perceptions

Less than half of the population (46%) reports that they feel safe from viruses, malware and hackers while on the Internet.

When it comes to the issue most Americans are concerned about regarding online safety and security, 43% of respondents reported they were most worried about identity theft; 13% were concerned with loss of privacy; and 12% reported their biggest concern was someone monitoring or recording their online activity.

When asked how people would like to learn about staying safe online, 37% of Americans are willing to receive regular information from an organization about safety best practices; 15% are willing to educate others; 13% would attend an in-person education session; 20% are not willing to do any of these and 15% are not sure.

Crime and Law Enforcement

When asked what puts Americans most at risk of a cybercrime or a loss of personal information the largest number of respondents, one-third (33%) said they believe connecting to an unsecured wireless network puts them most at risk yet more than half (53%) of Americans said they have logged onto a wireless network without entering a security password.

One in 5 (18%) Americans have been the victim of a cybercrime and 38% know someone who has been victimized, and 65% of all respondents do not think their local police department is equipped to handle reports and investigate Internet crimes.

Of the 17% who were victims of cybercrime but did not report them, 34% were either unsure what exactly happened or were not sure who to report it to.

More than half (53%) of Americans indicated they have received fake anti-virus warnings but 87% said they did not believe the warning was legitimate. From 2008 to 2010, fake anti-virus scams have grown by 600% and are estimated to victimize one million Internet users per day, according to McAfee research.

Safe Computing Practices

54% of Americans don’t back up their data regularly; with 21% backing up just monthly; 12% backing up only once a year and 20% of consumers never backing up.

21% say they don’t think it’s necessary to change account passwords regularly even though experts believe this is a basic online safety practice.  More than a million password-stealing malware samples were discovered from January 2011 –June 2011, according to McAfee Labs.

25% say they never change their passwords unless prompted.

Social Networks

26% say they are sharing more information on social networks today than one year ago.

Nearly half (47%) of Americans are confident in their ability to use privacy and security account settings in their social networks, but another 47% are only somewhat confident with 24% saying they are not confident at all.

15% of respondents have never checked their social networking privacy and security account settings and only 18% said the last time they checked their settings was in the last year.

Meanwhile, one out of ten (11%) Americans reported that their social network has been hacked in the last year, while 81% did not.

Children and Online Safety

70% of Americans say that they represent their child/children’s primary source of information for online safety, yet 48% of parents are not completely confident that their children can use the Internet safely.

According to the survey, parents worry most about contact with strangers (38%) online, 7% worried about bullying and harassment and 9% were worried about identity theft even though 140,000 minors are the victims of ID fraud each year according to ID Analytics.

The concern that ranked second according to parents was exposure to adult content yet 44% of parents admit they have not discussed Internet pornography with their children and 44% don’t have content-filtering software on their computers.

48% of the parents surveyed say they know their child/children have seen pornography online and of the parents who aren’t sure if their kids have seen adult content, 68% think it unlikely that they have.

Of those parents who don’t have content-filtering software, 34% say they trust their kids.

Workplace Cyber Security Practices

The survey also polled a sub-sample of Americans cyber security practices and attitudes in their workplace.  The survey found that a majority say their employer has a formal work Internet usage policy (59%) while 26% do not.

But respondents are split as to whether or not they have had training on keeping their work computers safe and secure (43% to 43%).

Seven in ten (69%) say that a safe and secure Internet is dependent to their job, 45% of which say it is very dependent. Six in ten (61%) say that losing Internet access at their job for 48 consecutive hours during a regular business week would be disruptive, 43% say it would be extremely disruptive.

A 2011 NCSA/Symantec study of small businesses finds that two thirds (66%) say that their business is dependent on the Internet for its day-to-day operations, two fifths of which (38%) would characterize it as very dependent.  Two thirds (67%) of small business owners describe their businesses as more dependent on the Internet than it was 12 months ago.

Age Disparities

Respondents ages 18-54 feel that individual users are most responsible for keeping the Internet safe and secure, whereas users 55 and older believe that it is the Internet service provider who is most responsible.

As the age of the user increases, so does their concern over identity theft, with 40% of 18-29 year olds, 39% of 30-49 year olds, 47% of 50-64 year olds, and 50% of those 65+ citing this as their largest concern.

As respondents’ age increases, a smaller percentage feels safe using smartphones with 23% of 18-29 year olds, 11% of 30-49 year olds, and 2.5% of 50-64 year olds feeling safe accessing the Internet using their smartphones.

Gender Attitudes Towards Cyber Security

If a computer were infected by a virus or malware, and the user was provided step-by-step instructions to fix it, only 31% of females feel very confident in fixing the computer on their own versus 53% of males who feel very confident about pursuing this task.

Nearly one in every five males (or 19%) backup their data and digital information on a daily basis while a less amount of females – only 12% – do so each day.

Thirty-eight percent of females have undergone training to keep their computer safe and secure at work, while 48% of males received training about safe and secure cyber security practices in the workplace.

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