(From Vista Magazine, June 2007)
This digital life (version 2.0)
Nick, a recent addition to Microsoft, is a long time blogger, presenter and geek. Read Nickâ€™s exploits and stories at http://www.nickhodge.com. A part of Nickâ€™s â€œjobâ€ at Microsoft is to collect and record Australiaâ€™s Geek Stories. Turn your web browser to http://thegeekstories.com. To hear what Nick is doing almost on a minute by minute basis, catch Nick on http://twitter.com/nickhodge
Being a master of your own digital identity is a new life skill. Similar to riding a bike, driving a car or learning how to read â€“ ensuring that your digital information is protected is paramount.
Recently I attended a corporate event where the senior manager of IT of a large bank was presenting. As he was talking about the bankâ€™s use of technology, I coincidentally received what the industry terms a phishing email. Phishing is where nefarious criminals attempt to use electronic means to steal your login ids, passwords for financial institutions and other valuable online identifiers.
If you have email, you are likely to have received one of these in your Outlook, too. The email would have contained strange statements about â€œchanging your account settingsâ€ or similar.
For younger people, social networks that once existed via the phone, are now online using instant messaging (IM) applications like MSN Live Messenger. Parents and teachers express surprise at how kids connect both to their school friends; and like-minded friends all over the world. Long gone are the days of pen-friends in different countries.
Banking, superannuation, communication, health, photos, messaging, telephone, government information â€“ services that we all use to live in our society â€“ are online, or fast moving to primarily online.
Where do you learn to be safe online? And more importantly, how do we ensure the younger ones in society are safe, and learn the â€œrules of the roadâ€?
As much as software and networking technology adapts and adds barriers to cyber-criminals, sadly the state of human nature results in a continual process of development to block the nasties. Learning to carefully question what you read and see on the internet is as important as watching other drivers on the road.
NetAlert (http://www.netalert.net.au/ ) has a good starting resource for the younger audience. Netty for the 2-7 year olds and CyberQuoll for the 8-12 year olds — online characters and cartoons for the young.
We cannot ignore the internet and global connectivity, and learning how to behave in the online community is a life skill. Be safe out there, and enjoy the views from the cyber-highway.