How-To Videos for the
technology classroom

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Teaching students about their online identity

Do your students realize how vulnerable they are, when using the Internet and social media? Are you teaching them appropriate use? The guest post below, featuring the video above, is an excellent resource to share with students.

What a 'Mind Reader' Can Learn About Your Online Identity

by Amy Coleman

Q: "When does your personal online identity become fair game to mind readers and Internet thieves alike?"

A: "When you share too much personal information irresponsibly on the web."

This point was made quite clear in recent weeks, when an Internet awareness video (above) went viral, featuring a Belgian mind reader holding court in a tent in Brussels.

The mind reader 'Dave' startled people with his clairvoyant insights into their personal lives. He told them secrets that they never would have expected to hear from a stranger about their personal lives. He told young woman about the tattoos on their lower backs; he surprised a young man by revealing the asking price of the house he's trying to sell. Another woman was shocked to hear that 'Dave' knew her bank account was overdrawn. How was he doing that?

Near the end of each person's 'mind reading,' the interior tent sides dropped to reveal a group of black-clad computer hackers working to unveil information made public by the person all over the Internet. From Facebook status updates, YouTube videos, Twitter posts and more, each person's information was displayed on large monitor screens. The people in the tent were both amazed and shocked to learn that all of the information that 'Dave' knew about them was in fact provided willingly by them on the web.

In fact, 'Dave' was an actor, a good one at that. And the point was made that hackers and Internet thieves can get to know you, through the personal information you leave behind on Internet sites. Here is the full video below. Read down further for tips protecting yourself against Internet theft.

For over a decade, identity theft has been the most reported consumer complaint in the U.S., according to the Federal Trade Commission. Internet security firm Lifelock reports that in 2011, nearly 12 million U.S. adults claimed identity fraud. This fraud cost amounted to about $18 billion in damages to consumers and businesses, according to researchers.

So how can you protect yourself against Internet theft and cyber robbery? October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and web security experts recommend the following tips to help you maintain an impenetrable online defense.

Maintain High Security

Many companies offer online security fixes for your PC and mobile devices. Use them frequently and keep them updated. Internet theft prevention companies like Lifelock recommend that having the latest security software and opting in for an online monitoring service are your best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

Limit Password Sharing

Create and remember unique password settings for all of your devices. Don't share these passwords with strangers. Keep an offline record of your passwords. Limit the numbers of persons with whom you share information.


Experts suggest using both capital and lowercase letters combined with numbers and symbols for more secure passwords. Use different passwords for each account you own online.

Secure Web-Connected Devices

Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

Be Smart About Wi-Fi

Don't check your personal bank accounts at local coffee shops. Be smart about using public Wi-Fi access. Some suggest that using your phone's 3G or 4G network is safer than public servers.

Using these tips above can help you keep your online identity away from 'mind readers' like 'Dave' and keep you personal sanity strong.


Amy Coleman Amy has carried a briefcase to school since first grade because she wanted to be the boss. She holds an MBA from Wharton and works for a Fortune 500 company where she has her eye on the corner office.

 Subscribe in a reader