Using the internet is an essential part of education and business. Its use, while valuable, also carries a number of risks ranging from annoying spam to stolen identity. Baltimore County Public Schools recognizes the risks and takes steps to prevent problems. However there are also things that parents and students can do to minimize their risks.
What are the risks?
- Spam: Mostly just annoying, spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail sent in bulk to unknown accounts hoping for a few clicks from unwary users, thus verifying for the spammer an active account. Active accounts thus receive more spam, more often. Some spam is malicious containing a link or code that will cause damage or steal information.
- Theft of personal information: Identities and passwords have been stolen. Homes have been broken into while families have been on announced vacations. Bank account and social security information has been stolen.
- Inappropriate content on the internet: Adult oriented web sites and online gaming are too often accessible by underage youth.
Baltimore County Public Schools approach to online security
- BCPS creates strong passwords for students grades 5 – 12 for accessing BCPS One and school networks. BCPS uses single sign-on with approved software vendors. These vendors are fully compliant with FERPA regulations regarding student data.
- BCPS uses filtering software to prevent students accessing inappropriate sites.
- BCPS restricts application downloads, preventing malware from affecting the network.
What can students do?
- Never share your passwords with others. If you create an account to subscribe to a web site outside of BCPS One, DO NOT use your BCPS credentials. Create a separate, strong password. Strong passwords are a combination of at least 6 letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Be careful about sharing personal information on social media.
What can parents do?
- Download software from only reputable sites to avoid malware.
- Don’t store payment information online if possible.
- Create separate strong passwords for separate vendors so if one is compromised, the rest aren’t. Keep a list of passwords on paper in a safe place away from the computer.
- Monitor your child’s use of the internet at home.
- Online safety (elementary)
- Online safety (middle and high)
- Protecting and respecting privacy
- Research and evaluation