As the recent Heartbleed vulnerability demonstrated, the Internet remains a target for identity thieves and cyber criminals, and protecting yourself as much as possible is critical for all devices that go online, Hardy Telecommunications’ Youth Advisory Board learned.
At their final meeting of the school year, the board heard about various programs that can help protect your personal information online. The protection is just as important for mobile devices like phones and tablets as it is for personal computers, said Hardy Marketing/Human Resource Director Derek Barr.
Derek informed the students about the recent panic concerning Heartbleed. Although none of the students was familiar with Heartbleed, it had a tremendous effect on businesses and websites around the world.
Heartbleed is a vulnerability in one of the most popular systems used to encrypt and protect data online. When visiting websites, people often are assured that information is secure, especially when they’re asked to input credit card or other valuable personal information. The security is often symbolized by a small picture of a lock appearing next to the web address, and the site’s address begins with “https” to indicate a secure connection. About two-thirds of websites and many mobile device operating systems used the OpenSSL security program that was vulnerable to Heartbleed.
Heartbleed is a bug in the OpenSSL software that allows attackers to bypass the security, enabling them to access communications, steal data and even impersonate other services and users.
Derek directed the students to mobile applications and websites that will test their systems for Heartbleed. Even that security is not complete, because a person could access a website that is still vulnerable, he said.
He urged the students to install virus and malware protection programs on their mobile devices. With more and more people doing business and making purchases with mobile devices, it’s just as important for those devices to have protection as it is for a personal computer. Microsoft Security Essentials for personal computers and Lookout Mobile Security for phones and tablets are both available for free, he said.
The board also visited Hardy’s South Branch office and viewed the company’s OneNet video equipment. Derek explained how OneNet uses large satellite dishes to bring down the TV signals, which are then decoded with special equipment. After that, the TV satellite signals are turned into an Internet signal that can be distributed to customer homes via fiber-optic cable connections.
Because the high-definition television is delivered via the Internet, Hardy can provide exclusive TV channels using Internet transmissions, such as OneNet’s 911 Emergency Scanner channel.
This year’s Youth Advisory Board members are Corey Whetzel, East Hardy junior; Ben Shirk, Moorefield junior; Rachel Wilson, East Hardy sophomore; Mitchell Martin, Moorefield sophomore; Kaitlin Kerr, East Hardy freshman; and Brock Dolly, Moorefield freshman. The board was created in 2007 to allow area youth to share their thoughts with Hardy about technology important to them. Each member serves a one-year term.