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Smart bats for cybersecurity as online use surges due to pandemic

With the government imposing strict quarantine rules, more and more people are turning to the internet for their daily activities. Video conferences gained popularity during the lockdown as companies employed work-from-home schemes and schools shifted to online learning.

Participants streamed into the virtual auditorium to learn more about cybersecurity
Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is doing its share to promote safe and responsible use of the internet through #CyberSmart Cyber Security Beyond Digital virtual caravan—a learning series that aims to educate students and teachers on how to protect their digital life.

During the Luzon leg of Smart's online cybersecurity caravan, Eli Mendoza, Corporate Communications and Digital Publicity Manager at Smart, shared tips with students and teachers on protecting video conferences from getting hijacked by cyber criminals.

“Online meetings are one of the ways to share your information to the outside world. You are exposing not just your physical space but also your virtual environment when you share your screen,” said Mendoza.

Before going online, Mendoza reminded participants to prepare their space first. That means stowing away IDs or business cards that bear personal information like birthday, home address and social security number.

If high resolution videos are not required, he suggested using a standard web cam to avoid showing details of the room. Another option, he said, is using a background from the application itself to mask surroundings.

Mendoza also urged participants to use licensed software versions and to download them only from reputable sources. “Licensed or paid software often get service updates ahead of free-to-download versions,” he explained. And to keep up with the latest security features, he encouraged participants to always update their device applications.

Mendoza suggested keeping meetings private to filter out unwanted participants. Never post the link on social media and it's better to use a password or a private ID when you meet.

He also encouraged teachers to do a video roll call at the start of the meeting to ensure that only those who were invited are the ones in the meeting.

This was just one of the six Ted-style talks at the recent #CyberSmart cybersecurity online caravan that was rolled out in Luzon. Other topics included internet safety, identifying phishing schemes, beefing up social media account defenses, best practices in securing gadgets and devices, as well as spotting fake news.

The virtual caravan is an opportunity for students and teachers to learn about online threats and what they can do to protect their digital presence. With the government ban on large mass gathering, Smart hosted the event in cyber space. Around 2,000 participants from 500 schools in Luzon streamed into a virtual hall where they checked out interactive booths and played games while learning to identify cyber threats.

“We have become more aware that cyber threats can attack anyone from all walks and backgrounds, seeking to exploit sensitive information that users make available online. As our online presence increases, so does the risk of us getting attacked. And so, we must all make a conscious effort to make a habit of exercising good online practices. Always remember to be critical with what you see, read and share online,” said John Palanca, Head/VP for Customer Development at Smart.

Smart will continue to roll out the cybersecurity virtual caravan in other areas around the nation. Other than learning valuable information about threats on the internet, participants can walk away with goodies from Smart. Those who have attended the online talks and have completed the tasks also received e-certificates from Smart.

Topics: Smart Communications , #CyberSmart Cyber Security Beyond Digital , John Palanca
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