How to protect children from cybersecurity threats


Cybersecurity experts came together Wednesday to talk about theats, data breaches and criminals lurking on the dark web.

It was part of the Indiana Chamber’s Cyber Security Conference, held steps away from the Statehouse.

Carlo Sapijaszko, curriculum program manager with Western Governor’s University, said, “Our nation’s IT (information technology) infrastructure is under attack. That’s a fact. We need more cyber security professionals.”  

The experts said they need more students and working adults to become more educated about cybersecurity.

“I need to have more of those diverse perspectives available to me than what I have today,” said Bill Russell, chief information security officer with Cummins. The Columbus, Indiana-based business designs, manufactures and distributes engines, filtration and power generation products. 

“People need to be thinking about cybersecurity education,” Russell said. “Not just in community colleges and universities, but all the way down into elementary school.”

In many Indiana elementary schools, students are given iPads and other electronic devices to help learn in class. A conference panelist, Pam Schmelz of Ivy Tech Community College, teaches cybersecurity in elementary schools.

Schmelz said, “When that technology’s introduced, you’ve gotta have some cybersecurity with it. There are programs that address it from the kindergarten level all the way up.”

For one, Schmelz said, people should not “friend” people on social media they don’t know. Parents should not let their children post when the family will be away on vacation. Parents also should be mindful of the personal information children put on their devices that connect to the internet at school.

The Ivy Tech information technology department chair said, “Understanding that once something is posted on the network it’s there forever. No matter what you do, if you try to delete it, it’s still there. Don’t share your passwords. I don’t care if it’s your best friend. Don’t share your passwords.”

Bottomline, like a hawk, watch what children do online in or out of school so a hacker doesn’t steal information.

The state recommends people use encryption software that scrambles information sent over the internet. People who do that will see a “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser. That means your information will be safe when it’s sent. The state said to look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.

The state offers that tip and others on its website.

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