Posts

Personal Information – How safe is yours?

Personal Information – How safe is yours?

At Gooseberry Planet, we deal with hundreds of schools every day.

What I am noticing more and more is the number of teachers’ email addresses that are getting hacked.  I must receive 10 emails a day from teachers which contain an attachment with a Purchase Order? or payment information and a link to follow.  I know that these have been generated by an account that has been hacked.

Are we really taking enough care to protect our passwords and our personal information?  Once a person has access to our email accounts, they have the freedom to access ANY of our accounts and reset passwords.  As a school you should ensure that all staff are aware of the risk of being hacked.   v Phishing emails are commonplace and look so innocent.  They ask you to follow a link and enter your personal information.  Pop-up ads may do the same, perhaps masquerading as a genuine company but in fact using malware to re-direct you to a different website altogether, which then misuses the information that is unwittingly divulged.   I know school networks have been put down completely due to one member of staff not being vigilant.  Staff should know never to enter personal information via a link – always go to the website directly, check that it uses securely encrypted messaging (shown by “https” in the web address) before sending personal details.

I am also noticing how many staff use their personal email for work and work email for personal bits.  This should really be discouraged.  Some teachers also use their school email to access private apps on school networks.  These Apps, if not from reputable sources, can also pose a security risk to your network.   This is a particular concern to schools in light of their responsibilities for data protection.

The first line of defence for any organisation is passwords.

Staff should know how to set a strong password (you would be amazed how many people use “123456” or “password”).      I do love our password system in the Gooseberry Play.  We are already teaching children as young as 5 to generate passwords that have 3 words in.  You might think, how on earth do you teach a 5-year-old to do this?    Well, we use pictures.  For example, bluedog5, is a picture of the colour blue, a picture of a dog and the number 5.  Teachers love this and so do the students but best of all, it is the beginning of the educational process about how to stay safe online.

The irony is that we are teaching our children how to protect their data when many staff seem not to know themselves.  I know that 71% of teachers use Facebook and this platform (and others) there are often quizzes.  People seem unable to resist answering questions that are often quite simplistic and offer very little informed feedback to the user.  Be wary of these.   They may ask questions about your children’s names, your star sign, your pet’s name, your favourite colour.  They are collecting personal information which can be useful to criminals trying to guess passwords in order to hack accounts.  Resist the urge to complete online quizzes!

This month’s alert is about Personal Information and advice on how to protect it.  As usual, we offer this advice to Students, Parents and Teachers, all with conversation starters.

Interesting facts for social media & personal information

BBC article https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47016671

More than £190,000 a day is lost in the UK by victims of cyber-crime, police statistics show.

More than a third of victims in that period fell prey to the hacking of social media and email accounts.

Action Fraud said £34.6m was reported to be stolen from victims between April and September 2018, a 24% increase on the previous six months.

The City of London Police, which runs Action Fraud, has warned people to keep separate passwords for online accounts.

The figures show 13,357 people in the UK reported cyber crimes over six months.

More than 5,000 of those people were hacked via their social media and email accounts, costing victims £14.8m.

 

 

Christmas can be stressful

I was talking to an acquaintance this week who was clearly thrilled to have received what he described as “the first nice email from my ‘ex’ almost forever”.  They had a child together and his ‘ex’ had written to say what a joy the child was and to thank him for being a part of their life and helping to bring the child up.  We discussed how much more readily we complain about the negative things in life and yet, what a warm glow can be created by the simple act of saying something positive.

Christmas can be a stressful time for many and we are constantly reading about the growth in mental health issues in our young people.  Let’s tell them how much we love and appreciate them – how special they are to us and what joy they bring.  For some, this may be a much-needed boost to their self-esteem, and even if it’s not strictly needed, we all feel better for being appreciated.

So, in this season of goodwill, can I encourage you all to create a warm glow for one or even lots of your family and friends.  Let’s all make an effort over the coming weeks to say something positive to our partners, our children, our parents and yes, even our in-laws and “ex’s”.  You don’t need to wait for something spectacular to happen – we all know that the bedrooms will still be untidy and the bins still left for us to take out!  But a heartfelt acknowledgement or thanks for something they do or say or even that, just by being around, they make you feel happy or grateful could make a really big difference – and it doesn’t cost a thing!

If you want to find out more about Gooseberry Planet or even have a free 2 week trial please just click the below button.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

We all have a responsibility to help

 

Did you put Anti Bullying Week in your diary?  Have you made plans yet?

We all have a responsibility to help both the child that is being bullied and the bully.  How the school responds is key, and can make such a difference to all parties that are involved.  I hear so many stories from both parents and Schools where children could have been supported in a better way.  Just because your member of staff has read KCSIE or the Anti Bullying Policy, it doesn’t mean they have understood or even know how to deal with it.  This subject is too complex for just a tick in the box.

Only the other day I was speaking with a school concerning a vulnerable child and the Safeguarding Lead’s response was “We have 500 children to deal with in the school and cannot focus on one child”.  Wrong Answer??   You can imagine my response.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing schools that are so on top of this topic.  Only yesterday, I was with the Head of Education for 15 Schools and it was so refreshing to listen to how sensitively they deal with issues across the board, not just bullying, but grooming and sexting too.

According to research from UKIE, 64% of 12-13 year old’s didn’t know who to talk to about being bullied.  I know from my own personal experience that I never told my Mum that I was being bullied at school; it went on for 3 years.   Could we be doing more and do we have the right mechanisms in place to respond?  Just make sure that the way you respond to incidents is the same as your anti-bullying policy.

I am sure your school has it covered and that your policies are in place but most importantly we need to support both students.  Sometimes we focus so much on the person that is being bullied but fail to also consider the bully and why they are behaving that way.  What’s going on in their life? What’s going on at home? Is their bullying a sign of inadequacy masquerading as strength?  Are they being bullied themselves?  Are they seeking to impress their peer group by bullying a weaker student?  Can we change the attitude of their peers to remove the incentive for bullying?  I know there is no easy fix, but maybe if we focused on the cause, (why the bully bullies) and the wider peer group, as well as supporting the victim, we might have a bigger impact.

Our latest Alert is advice for the whole school community, feel free to share with your parents.  To access the resource login or register it will only take a few seconds of your time.

We are very pleased to say that we have created a great partnership with Kidscape.  We are supporting the charity and helping to launch their Friendship Friday theme kidscape.org.uk/friendshipfriday.  There are FREE PDFs for Primary Schools  with advice for schools, Parents and children.

If you have any questions or queries please feel free to call.

Anti Bullying resource in Partnership with Kidscape.

 

Anti Bullying resource in Partnership with Kidscape.

Very excited to be able to offer every Primary Schools in the UK a free resource.  There are 5 documents in total all covering and promoting Anti Bullying Week in November.  To access the resource just go to our website and sign up for Gooseberry Alerts.

36d. Top Tips for Parents & Carers – Anti Bullying with Kidscape
36c. Top Tips for Schools – Anti Bullying with Kidscape
36b. Friendship Friday Primary School Pack with Kidscape
36a. Friendship Friday Fund Raising Pack with Kidscape
36. Anti Bullying Week Written by Kidscape

Gooseberry Planet & Kidscape

Sitting in my kitchen a few years ago with my sister discussing how much her children were online and her challenges of trying to reduce the amount of time her boys were spending on a screen.  Trying to talk to our 2 boys about the risks involved were ignored and dismissed.  Like most parents we all have challenges with our children thinking we know nothing about the world of being.  My eldest son was off to secondary school and so desperately wanted a smartphone. He had a flip phone, which did the job perfectly, but not what he wanted to take to school.  My youngest was just working out iPads and laptop but still too young for phones.  Like most young adults, he didn’t think I knew anything about being online.  I did try the talks and then resorted to Google to try and find something that I thought realistically a 12-year-old would engage with.  I found a large amount of information for me as an adult and very little for him.  There were bits, but the level of content was far too young for him.

Gooseberry Planet was born out of my own frustration of not being able to find anything suitable for my sons and to help parents like my sister, who struggle with the digital divide.  I wanted to create something for the whole school community.  I don’t believe that it is solely the school’s responsibility, I feel that it is all our responsibility. I knew my children loved playing games so why not create an education tool using gamification.  It was quite literally a light bulb moment and the concept was born. The games that we have produced are conversation starters. The children love Taff, collecting stars and scoring points, but it also helps teachers create a conversation without rolling eyes and “here we go again, online safety”. Being a parent myself, I know how hard it is to stay up to date with the latest trends, this is what drives me.  I want parents and teachers to be armed with all the tools.  I have so many friends that struggle with the digital divide and it became my mission to help both teachers and parents as well as the students.

I wanted to make sure that schools have a complete toolkit and to cover the areas that are most difficult to talk about which include grooming, sexually exploited and bullying.

Bullying is very close to my heart. I was bullied badly for 3 years of my secondary school life, I never told my Mum and I kept it quiet.  For me it wasn’t too bad. At the end of the school day I went home and could shut the doors on my life at school.  I was safe, I was at home.  I feel for young people of today there is no escape being online is one of the most important aspects of young person life and no matter what us adults say this is their way of communicating.  We need to support and educate young people in blocking and talking to someone.  I am so please that we are working with Kidscape, one of the longest establish Anti Bullying Charities in the UK.  It means we can both reach as many children as possible and help support families that might be experiencing being bullied.

I am incredible passionate about what I do and broadening conversations around online safety and protecting young children online.

If Gooseberry Planet can save one child from being bullied, groomed or sexually exploited, then it has achieved my goal