Youth Board Learns Internet Security

Internet security isn’t just for computers anymore; it’s also vital for your smartphone and tablet, Hardy Telecommunications Youth Advisory Board was told during a meeting February 21.

As smartphones and tablets like the iPad become more popular and are used to conduct business and access private information on the Internet, security for those devices becomes just as important as security for personal computers, Hardy Telecommunications Marketing/Human Resource Director Derek Barr told the students.

“Unfortunately, there are many folks out there who still don’t protect their computers, so installing a security program on their mobile phones isn’t even on their radar,” Barr said.  “But phones and tablets are the next big target for cyber-criminals.  If they can access your information and get your passwords, especially if you use your mobile phone for banking or buying things, then your identity is compromised.”

(Left to right) Hardy Telecommunications Marketing and Human Resource Director Derek Barr takes Hardy’s Youth Advisory Board on a tour of the company’s Moorefield office. This year’s board members are Moorefield High Freshman Rebecca Merrill, MHS Sophomore Jared Beard, MHS Junior Brooke Shockey, East Hardy High Sophomore Miranda Cook, EHHS Junior Parker Baranowski, and EHHS Sophomore Brandon Benjamin.

There are many free security programs available for mobile phones.  Barr demonstrated the capabilities of Lookout Mobile Security, one such program.  Lookout will scan any applications that are downloaded to your phone to block malicious software.   Lookout also helps you locate your phone if it’s lost.  Barr showed the students how he can access his phone through Lookout’s Internet website and trace its GPS coordinates to within meters.  If you believe your phone has been misplaced nearby, Lookout even sounds an alarm on your phone so you can find it.

A paid version of Lookout gives users the capability to lock down and prevent anyone else from using a mobile phone if it’s lost or stolen, or even wipe all data from a mobile phone.

Barr also advised students to install spam and virus protection programs on their personal computers if they haven’t already done so.  Microsoft Security Essentials is free and not only scans your computer for viruses, but it also provides real-time protection to prevent a user from downloading malicious content in the first place.

The speed at which data travels on the Internet also makes it easy for computer viruses and malware to proliferate quickly.  Barr used a program to trace the path that an Internet connection takes in displaying a website on a computer.  He then showed that path on Google Maps, illustrating that an Internet connection can travel back and forth across the United States or even the ocean in just milliseconds.

“It’s just too dangerous nowadays to be active on the Internet without protecting your computer or smartphone,” Barr said.

Hardy formed its Youth Advisory Board in 2007 to educate students about Hardy Telecommunications and the telecommunications industry, and for the students to share their ideas and thoughts about technology important to them.  The group is comprised of students from East Hardy and Moorefield high schools.

This year’s Youth Advisory Board members are Parker Baranowski, East Hardy junior; Brooke Shockey, Moorefield junior; Miranda Cook, East Hardy sophomore; Jared Beard, Moorefield sophomore; Brandon Benjamin, East Hardy freshman; and Rebecca Merrill, Moorefield freshman.

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