5 Ways to Protect Your Children From Cybersecurity Threats

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Today we are going to be discussing how to protect your children while they use the internet.  Children are using the internet more than ever and as a parent, there are a few things that you can be doing to help keep your child safe.  We’ll discuss what these things are in today’s episode.

In 2020, many students around the world went digital and went to school online.  My son has been going to school virtually since March of 2020 and he’s most likely going to be online for a while more.  If you child is anything like my son, they spend an incredible amount of time on these devices.  When the pandemic hit, many activities that children participated in got cancelled.  One year later, things are slowly starting to open back up, but my son still spends a good amount of this time on digital devices.  As a cybersecurity professional, I often find myself thinking about how I’m protecting my child from the internet.  I wanted to share five things that you should be doing to maximize your child’s safety while using the internet.  Two of them are going to require you to have difficult conversations with your kids, but I believe that if you execute on these two strategies well, your child is going to be more likely to actually listen.  The last three are more disciplined types of suggestions and I would only recommend you follow up on them if the first two options do not work.

Talk about the dangers of the internet with your kids:

The internet is a dangerous place.  No matter how hard we try as parents, our kids are eventually going to stumble upon something that they shouldn’t.  Rather than disciplining your kid when this happens, you should converse with your child and let them know that they need to be careful online.  I have personally sat with my son and explained to him that there are criminals, dangerous websites, viruses, and other bad things on the internet.  I’ve explained to him that he should only be on websites and youtube channels that we have reviewed together and deemed appropriate for him.  If he ever wants to venture into a new territory, it’s fine, but we just need to review them to make sure they are safe for him.  I’ve explained to him that he can’t trust people on the internet.  He needs to be cautious of what information he puts out there and should limit his communication to his friends and peers that he knows in the real world.  I can’t be there with my son for every interaction he does.  I have to hope that by building trust, he’ll notify me of things that he knows he shouldn’t be doing.  For example, he knows not to tell other players in roblox where he lives or any personal details about himself.  When he wants to talk with his friends, they open up a Facetime session and discuss through that medium.  I’m not too worried about him going to unsafe websites, but there have been occasions where he’s been asked to download something for a game.  Because I told him we do not download random things from the internet, he knows that he needs to ask and brings these things to my attention.  I know it’s not perfect, and trust is key for this tactic to work, but so far, it has worked wonderfully for my family and I’d recommend you try it as well.  It’s much better than disciplining kids when they make a mistake because they don’t know the dangers of the internet.

Empower your kids to make good choices:

My son is well versed in the world of cybersecurity.  He knows not to click on links he didn’t specifically request.  He knows not to download anything.  He knows he’s not supposed to provide any personal information.  He sticks to websites and games that have been approved by his parents and whenever a new opportunity pops up, we all review things together to make sure they aren’t going to harm him.  With this backbone in place, my son is able to make good decisions for himself.  If a friend tells him to play a game that isn’t approved, he doesn’t just fire up the game. My son makes sure he goes through the proper channels to make sure I’m aware of the game.  My son knows what he is and isn’t able to do online.  But what is important here is that I explain to my son why he isn’t able to do certain things.  I explain with examples he can understand and for the most part, I do not have to worry about my son making the wrong decision.  I’ve armed him with the right reasoning so that he can make the right choice when I’m not around to help him out.  I encourage you to talk to your kids and empower them to make the right choices.  

Know what they are doing online:

It is important to know what your kids are doing online.  There is an infinite number of things they can be doing or watching and it is important to stay on top of that.  Monitor YouTube channels and websites.  Know which games they are playing and the ratings for each game.  Know what sites they might be visiting that might be compromising the cybersecurity integrity of your home network.  Know what they download to their computers as this might introduce threat vectors to your home computers and/or network.

Know who they are talking to:

It is important to know who your kids are talking to online.  The internet allows you to hide your true identity.  If you remember the old movie First Kid, then you probably remember the relationship the president’s son developed with someone in a chat room.  Eventually that relationship was exploited and the bad actor tried to kidnap the president’s son.  While this is a hollywood movie, it is important to know that these things can happen.  This especially true with teens.  Be mindful of who your children are talking to.  You never know when someone might try to use your kids to pull off a social engineering attack on either them or you.  

Parental Controls:

Finally, and this one as old as the internet, set up parental controls.  They are there for a reason.  Limit websites and time that your children can be online.  While this is clearly a way of enforcing safer internet practices, it does come at the expense of trust.  Whenever someone is told they can’t do something, they always try to find a way around.  Setting up parental controls might be effective, but rest assured that they can be easily bypassed.  You might even fall victim of a social engineering attack from your child in an effort to retrieve the parental control password.  I have parental controls for my kids but strictly for websites that I know they should never under any circumstance visit.  But, everything else, I let them make their judgement.

There you have it.  Your how to keep your children safe while online guide 101. Which of these methods are you currently implementing? Are you thinking of implementing a new tactic that you might now have known about? One last thing I want to leave you with.  When it comes to cybersecurity in your home, it is important that everyone be onboard.  If the adults are trying really hard to not get hacked, but your children are introducing malware to your computers, you clearly have a vulnerability in your house.  Teach your kids about cybersecurity and how to use the internet safely.  Failure to do so could result in a cybersecurity attack.  

Can You Trust Your Operating System’s Privacy Settings?

Photo by Thomas Windisch on Pexels.com

Today we are going to be taking a deep dive into your Operating System’s privacy. Piggybacking off my episode last week, I want to explore different popular operating systems consumers own and see which one protects your privacy the most.  Maybe it is time that you change up your computer. 

Continuing with our theme of privacy, I wanted to take a deeper look at how our operating systems are protecting our privacy.  I had heard a lot of things about Windows 10 spying on their users.  For this episode, I’m going to stick to discussing just computer operating systems.  In a future episode, I’ll compare iOS with Android.  We spend a lot of time on our phones, and I think it’s worth going deeper and discussing how our phones track our every move.

The three main operating systems I’m going to be discussing today are: Windows 10, Mac OS and Ubuntu.  The first two are pretty well known, but the third one is one of the more popular Linux distributions that most people use.  Similar to my last episode, I’ll be reviewing privacy settings and policies that each operating system has.  You might be surprised with what I find.  I haven’t done the research yet, so I’m expecting my research to confirm my suspicions.  I predict that Windows 10 will be the worst operating system in terms of protecting your privacy.  I predict Ubuntu to be the one that protects your privacy the most.  Let’s see if I’m right.

Windows 10: 

Let’s start with the most popular operating system of them all.  Windows 10.  Microsoft started doing a very interesting thing with Windows 10.  If you’ve been around computers for a while, then you probably remember service packs.  It would take years to develop an operating system and every once in a while, you’d download a massive update.  These updates were far and few.  With Windows 10, Microsoft releases an update twice a year now.  Usually in the form of a Spring and Fall update.  With each update, Microsoft revises their privacy policies and opt users back into configurations that they have had changed before.  Windows 10 comes with an advertising ID.  You can turn this ID off if you do not want to receive personalized ads.  Windows 10 is also consistently sending data back to Microsoft so that they can improve your Windows experience.  If you are jumping between multiple Windows 10 computers that you own, Microsoft has something called activity history that allows you to switch computers and pick up where you left off.  A great convenience feature that comes with a significant cost to your privacy.  If you have a laptop, you can bet that Microsoft is tracking your location as well.  Windows 10 also has access to your camera and microphone.   This means that Microsoft can potentially hear and see you.  As you can see, Microsoft does a lot of tracking.  There is a privacy setting that allows you to toggle all these settings, but I’ve heard that Microsoft has the tendency of reverting these values back to their default (opt-in) values every time you update.  I personally haven’t seen this happen, but I’m going to keep an eye out for future updates. Let’s talk about Mac Os next.

Mac OS:

Apple does things a little differently here.  While Mac OS is tracking you a bit, it does so with a little more finesse.  Location tracking is enabled on your mac, but you have to allow apps to use the data.  Even within the Find My ecosystem, Apple claims that only you can see the location of your personal devices.  This means that Apple and other 3rd party entities can’t see your computer’s location.  Similar to Windows, Apple does collect some data to help improve the overall experience. And that’s about it.  Mac OS isn’t trying to make money off of you and Apple encourages you to use Safari since it will also work to protect your privacy.  Apple has their voice assistant and they do not associate your requests with your identity.  Every request is from a random identifier.  Apple can’t read your iMessages either. It’s all encrypted.  Apple’s newest computers come with an onboard machine learning chip that allows Apple to enhance the user experience without ever having to send data back up to Apple for processing.  Overall, Apple values your privacy a lot.  Let’s see how these two OS’s stack up against the free Ubuntu.

Ubuntu:

Similar to the other two, Ubuntu collects data from your computer to help improve the overall experience.  Like with the other two, you have the option to opt out of this.  Ubuntu is transparent with what they collect and nothing too personal is ever collected from you.  And that’s it.  Like Apple, Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, really do care about your privacy.  

There you have it.  Your operating system 101 guide. Which operating system are you currently using? Are you thinking of making a switch based on the information presented?  I know that I use all three operating systems and I’m going to be reviewing my Windows 10 settings to make sure Microsoft stays away from my private data.  

Why Do We Need Cyber Security

Photo by Travis Saylor on Pexels.com

If you do any business online, you need to be aware of your cyber risks.  Just like a physical business will put up cameras, hire security guards, put up fences, you need to take actions to protect your digital assets.  It’s a scary world out there, and there is a legitimate threat from bad actors that spend their days targeting businesses and trying to find vulnerabilities to exploit.  Because of all of this, and much more, we all need to be a little more aware of what cyber security is and our roles to help promote good practices.  Regardless of whether you own a business or not, if you use the internet, shop online, go to school online, or do anything online, you should be paying more attention to your digital habits.  In this episode we are going to start peeling back the layers of cyber security.  When practicing safe cyber and information security, there are three main things we want to take into consideration.  We want to focus on prevention, detection, and recovery.  In other words, we want to be proactive and do whatever we can to prevent something bad from happening.  If something were to occur, we want to be able to act quickly.  Finally, in the unfortunate event that something bad does happen, we want to have a plan to get back to our baseline.  Let’s explore each of these topics in today’s episode.

Prevention

While not always easy, you want to prevent bad things from happening.  Looking back at our first post, you want to protect your data and resources.  Unfortunately, a lot of businesses believe that they can get away with a minimal effort here.  As seen in the news countless times, the number of companies that get hacked is overwhelming.  In many cases, improved prevention could have created a different outcome.  And it’s not just businesses either, your personal information, company information that you have access to, it should all be protected. I’ve heard that it’s too expensive to invest into having good prevention, so some folks get by with the bare minimum.  This is a silly idea because it’s always more expensive to fix something later than it is to fix it before a crisis happens.  If you have any digital information or resources, protecting and preventing cyber attacks from happening to you should be your number one priority. Don’t skip this step.  The same way you put up cameras and alarms to protect yourself, you should be taking the appropriate steps to prevent cyber attacks from happening to you.  We’ll go over specific details on how to prevent it in future posts.  For now, we are laying the foundation of cybersecurity, but rest assured, we’ll get into specific actions you can take.

Detection

Assuming you did everything you could to prevent a cyber attack from happening, the next step is to be able to detect it.  Cybersecurity is a constant, evolving game.  A policy you set up at the beginning of the year, might be obsolete by Summer.  The tactics and strategies that hackers use are constantly changing.  Your security policies have to change along with them otherwise, when an attack is successful, you’ll be crippled.  If someone is successful in attacking you, you need to be able to quickly and swiftly detect the attack.  

Recovery

If you did everything you possibly could to prevent and detect an attack, then comes dealing with the aftermath.  After an intrusion, or even a natural disaster, the road to recovery can be a long one depending on how much you prepared for this moment.  Right now, while everything is calm, you should be taking action to document everything about your system, resources, and data.  You need to create a baseline that accurately allows you to know what “normal” looks like.  If you have this, when someone attacks you, it’s easier to detect anomalies because you have something to compare against.  If your systems get taken down and you need to rebuild, you know how to restore a system back because you have all the configurations, software, and details documented.  If you don’t have all of this handy when an intrusion, attack, or disaster strike, recovery becomes much harder.  You miss things and some things get forgotten.  Take some time and do what you can to protect your assets.  You need to have a solid strategy and recovery plan to come back online if something bad happens.  Every day that your business is down, is a day without revenue.  Not only will this hurt your wallet, but you risk losing the trust of your customers in the process.  Have a recovery plan!                           

News Roundup and Discussion

While you cannot prevent every cyber attack, you should try to do as much as you can.  Ransomware, an attack that is becoming increasingly popular takes advantage of companies that fail to prevent, detect, and recover appropriately.  Ransomware attacks can be easily mitigated if you have a great backup policy.  Ransomware attacks will typically encrypt your hard drive along with all your data unless you pay a ransom.  Even if you pay the ransom, you are not guaranteed that you’ll get your data back. If you have a great recovery plan, you should be able to get back online quickly with minimal downtime.  But, unfortunately, many do not prepare and when disaster does strike, they are left dead in the water.  Hospitals a common target for ransomware attacks, but just about any business can fall victim to this attack.  If you are not preventing or detecting attacks, you should at the very least have a good recovery plan.  Things will go wrong at some point, it’s only a matter of time.  

Actions for Small Business Owners

Cybersecurity can be expensive.  You should be investing money into protecting your assets and data.  With almost every business going digital, not practicing these basic cybersecurity principles could have serious consequences to your business should you ever become a victim of an attack.  Biggest action is to start investing in good cybersecurity practices.  At the very least, make sure you have a backup of your stuff.  If you do not have a backup and your data gets lost, you will have to rebuild everything from scratch.  This is something that could potentially put any business out of business.  

Actions for every day users of the internet

Attackers aren’t just attacking businesses, your personal computers can be in danger as well.  Know which computers are supposed to be on your network.  Be mindful of things you download from the internet and always have a backup of your data.  

Conclusion

It is a smart idea to try to stay ahead of an attacker whenever possible.  Every day, there is a new attack. If you have any valuable digital information, you should be doing everything you possibly can to protect it.  Do not wait for an attack to happen before you take action.  An attack is inevitable.  Even if you do not get attacked, computer systems fail every once in a while.  As a business owner your data is your business.  If you lose that data, you could risk losing your business as well.  Don’t prolong this.  Start today and start implementing basic cybersecurity practices in your life.  

What is Technical Program Management (TPM)

hoto by Canva Studio on Pexels.com

I’ve wondered about this question for almost two years now.  I’ve held this position at two different companies and both places had completely different interpretations of what Technical Program Management is.  I decided I wanted to do my own research and went to the internet to see if I could find an answer.  I didn’t find much.  Most of the information I found was from a few years ago and my search results didn’t return anything more recent.  I then turned my attention to Twitter and put out a message to my followers that I was looking for Technical Program Managers.  No responses came back even though I know that people that are technical program managers based on their profiles.  After a few weeks of just searching for what this great profession is all about, I decided that the best way to get information was to create the information myself.  Since I couldn’t find anything concrete, other than a few high level articles, I decided I wanted to create the ultimate resource on Technical Program Management in case there were other people out there pondering about what it means to be a Technical Program Manager.

Technical Program Management falls in between two roles. The first role is project management. Most project management professionals learn how to manage well defined projects. They learn the skills to manage schedule, budgets, and risk. They know how to plan, how to triage, and how to communicate project statuses well. The other role is that of a Scrum Master. The Scrum Master helps guide a software team towards completion. They know the software, they know the architecture, and they know what the priorities for the software team. A Scrum Master sometimes helps with the planning and triaging of software related issues. They also have to be able to communicate really well. As you can, the roles between a Scrum Master and project manager are similar, but yet completely different. Enter Technical Program Management.

Technical Program Management is a position that requires you to be technically competent, understand software/hardware, and be extremely organized. The role is more demanding that regular project management because software is unpredictable. If a project manager tries to manage a software project with traditional PMP level techniques, they will most likely fail. Or, they will probably be very frustrated because software does not behave like a bridge or building behave. Software is research and it is always changing. Software is never done, which by itself is a problem for project management because there is typically an end to a project. Technical Program Management requires skills in not just planning, but in communication with multiple different stakeholders. TPM is not just managing a software project, it is managing all the teams and different stakeholders that have to come together to build a project. It also requires that you have ability to have difficult conversations and challenge team members. Scrum Masters can make good Technical Program Managers, but being a Technical Program Manager is much more involved. Technical Program Managers have to worry about all aspects of a project, not just what the software team is doing. It requires constant communication with leads from other technical and non-technical teams.

As you can see, the field of Technical Program Management can be exciting. It is a job that will not allow you to be bored. It requires constant communication in all forms of expression. An effective Technical Program Manager will know how to build trust and community with their teams. They’ll know how to influence a team to go above and beyond to deliver a world-class product. Technical Program Management is an amazing field that requires many different skills to all come together to help deliver a product. In the next article, we’ll explore the role of a Technical Program Manager in more detail. Stay tuned!

Introducción a Scratch 3.0

¿Qué Es Scratch?

Scratch es un lenguaje de programación desarrollado por la gente del MIT. Es una excelente manera de introducir a los estudiantes en la programación de computadoras. Scratch utiliza una interfaz gráfica que hace que aprender conceptos de programación reales sea divertido y sencillo. La plataforma está bien documentada y hay cientos de tutoriales que muestran todas las diferentes cosas que puedes hacer en Scratch.

Audiencia:

Scratch está destinado a ser lo suficientemente fácil de aprender para cualquier persona de cualquier edad. Cualquiera que desee aprender a programar puede crear fácilmente una cuenta y comenzar a aprender a programar. La codificación es una habilidad tan poderosa para aprender, y para muchos ingenieros de software, su primera línea de código está escrita en Scratch.

Scratch es ideal para las siguientes personas:

  • Padres
  • Educadores
  • Estudiantes

Cualquiera puede aprender a codificar. Este tutorial lo guiará a través de todos los pasos necesarios para obtener su propia cuenta de Scratch.

Qué Necesita Antes de Comenzar:

  • Computadora con acceso a internet.
  • Un padre o un adulto, si es menor de 13 años.

Qué Aprenderá:

Cómo crear su cuenta de Scratch.

Creación de Cuenta Scratch 3.0

1. Vaya a Scratch.mit.edu para crear su cuenta.

2. Haga clic donde dice (Join). En la página inicial, verá algo como lo siguiente:

3. Proporcione un nombre de usuario y una contraseña.

Haga clic en Next para ir a la página siguiente.

4. Indique el país en el que vive.

5. Proporcione su mes y año de nacimiento.

6. Proporcione su género.

7. Por último, proporcione su correo electrónico.

¡Bienvenido a Scratch!

Y eso es. ¡Ahora está listo para la siguiente parte, que consiste en crear su primer proyecto Scratch!

The Best Browsers for Your Privacy in 2021

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Today we are going to be taking a deep dive into browser privacy. Piggybacking off my article last week, I want to explore different popular web browsers and see which one protects your privacy the most.  Maybe it is time that you change up browsers. 

What is browser privacy

Every browser is created differently.  Most browsers are completely free and some even come bundled with your computer.  Every browser comes with their specific methods of tracking its users.  If you value your privacy, you may pick one browser over another.  If you value speed or scalability, you might pick a different browser altogether.  Today, we are going to be taking a closer look at popular web browsers and compare their privacy policies.  

Incognito Mode

But, before we jump into analyzing all the different browsers, I want to talk about incognito mode.  Most modern browsers have a special mode that allows you to browse the internet privately.  This is perfect for when you are trying to stay hidden online and avoid having to have your personal information tracked by websites.  The locations of websites you visit are forgotten and the login information you provide to websites are also not saved.  I like to use this mode when I’m trying to log into different accounts on the same website without having to fire up a different web browser.  But not all things are glorious when browsing privately.  You may have noticed that some websites basically do not work.  Some will complain that you have an ad blocker enabled and that you need to enable it if you want to continue using the site.  You might be logging into a website that requires your username and password, except that you cannot remember your password.  Or, the website might prompt you to do a 2FA every time because it cannot remember who you are.  Privacy comes with a price and for some, they do not mind paying that price.  Inconvenience when using the internet is the price you must determine if you want to pay when browsing privately.  Now, let’s look at how popular browsers manage your privacy.

Edge – The Browser for Business

Edge comes with every install of Windows 10.  I personally do not use this browser because I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the internet explorer days.  Edge touts two major things that I am observing on their website.  First, it’s compatibility.  Edge is supposed to work with all the legacy internet explorer apps.  The second is safety.  A good portion of their web page explains all the different ways that Edge protects you online from malware and other types of threats.  After some searching, I did manage to find a link on privacy.  What is interesting is how much Edge is marketed towards business and enterprise professionals.  By default, Edge is configured to follow your Windows 10 privacy settings.  This is bad because if you don’t know, Windows 10 likes to spy on you A LOT.  They also have a white paper on their privacy policy, which basically just state show they are tracking you. Microsoft is very transparent here on how they track you for your convenience. In conclusion, Edge is tracking you a lot to help Microsoft improve the overall experience of Windows.  Use at your own caution.

Safari

Another web browser that comes installed with every computer sold is Safari.  Every Mac has this browser installed by default. Let’s take a look at what Apple markets on their website.  Right out of the gate, they address speed and privacy.  Safari offers intelligent tracking prevention which identifies trackers and helps prevent them from following you across the web.  For every website you visit, a privacy report is generated which allows you to see all the trackers that were blocked.  Think of this like an ad blocker.  I really do not use Safari all that much, but I think it’s time I start giving it a shot.  

Chrome

Everyone’s favorite browser, Chrome.  Chrome is known for its speed, but most recently, it has received bad press because it takes up so many computing resources.  Interestingly enough, there is no mention of privacy on their website for Chrome. I’m not surprised as Google depends on being able to track your each and every move to enhance your experience and their profits.  There is a general privacy disclaimer, but it’s more of a generic Google privacy and nothing specific to the browser.  I think it might be time to switch browsers!

Firefox

Another fan favorite, Firefox.  Firefox comes out swinging with privacy as well.  Unlike other browsers, we have no financial stake in following you around the web.  Powerful words right there.  They offer a little interactive widget that allows you to see how Firefox protects your privacy when compared to other browsers.  They offer third party cookie blocking, fingerprint blocking, cryptominer blocking and much more.  Overall, Firefox is a solid browser that many already use. If I had to pick between Chrome or Firefox, I’d pick Firefox. I really need to get off of Chrome.

Opera

And finally, a browser that isn’t very well known but thought I would throw it into the mix.  You may remember Opera browser from our discussion on VPN’s.  Let’s see how they value privacy. With their built in VPN, privacy is obviously a high priority.   It also has built in ad blocking and cryptocurrency mining blocking.  If you aren’t a big fan of Firefox and you do not want to go to Chrome, I think Opera makes a good browser.  I’ve personally never given it much thought. I’m personally going to switch to either Firefox or Safari.  

There you have it.  Your browser privacy 101 guide.  I hope you take my advice here and go protect yourself.  Be mindful of what data is being collected from you while you browse the internet.  What do you think of my analysis?  Are you going to change your default browser?  I know that this research has opened my eyes and I will most likely be making some changes in the near future.  

How to Make Your First Scratch Program

Introduction:

With an account in hand, it is time to sign in to Scratch and create your very first program. When you are done with this tutorial, you’ll be able to create an awesome first project that you’ll want to share with your friends and family.

Audience:

cratch is intended to be easy enough for anyone of any age to pick up. Anyone wanting to learn how to program can easily create an account and start learning how to code. Coding is such a powerful skill to learn, and for many software engineers, their first line of code is written in Scratch.

Scratch is ideal for the following individuals:

  • Parents
  • Educators
  • Students

Anyone can learn how to code. This tutorial is going to walk you through all the steps required to get your very own Scratch account.

What You Need Before Getting Started:

  • Working computer with internet access.
  • A parent or adult, if under the age of 13.
  • A Scratch account to save and share your projects

What You’ll Learn:

How to create your first program. This program will allow you to move an onscreen character with your keyboard.

Tutorial:

Step-by-step instructions for creating your first program.

Step 1:

Log in to Scratch and start a new project.

  1. Click on sign in on the top right corner of the navigation bar.
  2. Click on Create right next to the SCRATCH logo on the left side of the navigation bar.
  3. You’ll be greeted with a blank canvas. Here we will create our very first Scratch project. Let’s get started!

Step 2: The Scratch Editor

There is a lot going on with the Scratch editor if this is your first time. Let me show you around. The first thing you will notice on the left are all these colorful circles and puzzle shaped pieces. These are called blocks in Scratch and they are the foundation of Scratch. These blocks allow you to create program in a very simple, yet unintuitive way. There is a block for just about anything in Scratch. As we progress with these technical posts, you will explore more blocks and expand not only your knowledge, but also your programming skillset.

The big empty canvas in the middle is where you’ll drag and drop blocks to actually create your programs. Here, you will piece together multiple blocks which will allow you to “code” the functionality of your program.

The right side of editor window is where your program comes to life. The top right portion is where you activate your code and see the execution of the code you created.

Below that, you will see sprite pane. This is where you control the graphics that are utilized by your program.

Now that you know how to navigate around the editor, let us start to put together your very first Scratch program.

Step 3: Your First Program

Getting started – Setting up your program

First thing you will want to do is change out your sprite. You can keep the default sprite, or you can delete it and pick out a new one. For the purposes of this tutorial, we are going to swap out the sprite.

Start by deleting (click on trash) on the default sprite.

Click on the cat icon towards the bottom right corner.

Pick any sprite that you find interesting.

Let’s double check the costumes for your sprite. Each sprite will be different so if you do not feel comfortable, feel free to follow along with my example.

On the left side of the screen, click on Costumes.

From there, edit your sprite. I only need the one sprite, but if you want to animate your sprite, you can do so by creating additional costumes here.

Let’s switch back to the code editor.

Most Scratch programs start off with an event block. This block will allow you to “trigger” your program and bring it to life. Without this, most code will not run properly.

Click on events and then select “When (Green Flag) Clicked” block.

Drag and drop “When (green flag) clicked” to the coding pane.

Next, click on motion and then select “go to x: (0) y: (0)” block. This will allow you move your sprite around the screen. Connect the two blocks together as shown below.

Next, scroll down within the motion blocks and find the “set rotation style” block. Change the value from left-right to all around.

Now for some fun stuff. Scratch also has built in extensions that allow you to extend the capabilities of Scratch. We are going to be using the “Pen” extension with our first program to make a cool writing effect.

Click on the lower left corner to show Scratch Extensions.

Click on Pen to enable the special “pen” blocks.

Drag and drop the “Erase All” block. This will basically reset the canvas every time we execute the program.

Next, drag and drop the “set pen color to:” block. Configure the color value to whatever color you like.

Next, drag and drop the “set pen size to” block. Configure the size of the pen to whatever value you want.

Next, drag and drop the “pen down” block. This will enable the pen feature and give the appearance of a pen writing.

Making the character move

Now it is time to make the sprite write something.

Click on events to display all the event blocks.

Drag and drop the “When (SPACE) key is pressed” block. Change the value of space to right arrow.

Next, we are going back to the motion blocks and this time, drag and drop the “point in direction” block.

Drag and drop the “move (10) steps” block.

Now, lets go back to the pen blocks and select ” Change pen color by:” block.

Testing time. When you click on the green flag and then click on the right arrow key, your sprite should start moving right and a line should be shown on the screen along the path of your sprite.

Awesome, time to copy the code and enable the other directions.

Copy the entire set of blocks we used to make the sprite move to the right.

Edit the key pressed to left, up, and down. You’ll need to basically copy the code three more times, one for each direction. Your code editor should look like this:.

Next, for each of the new blocks of code, edit the point direction to reflect the arrow key pressed. You need the following values:

  • 90 degrees for right arrow
  • -90 degrees for left arrow
  • 0 degrees for up arrow
  • 180 degrees for down arrow.

And that’s it! You created your very first Scratch program. We have many more to go, so make sure you are following me on social media and our YouTube channel. If you’d like a video version of this tutorial, check out the video below. Don’t forget to like and subscribe!

Apetech Weekly (4/26 – 5/2) Digest – TLDR;

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

It’s been a long week! This past week, I mainly stuck to my commitments and managed to do at least 55% of my to-do list. This is much better than the 30% I got to last week. Let me tell you, having a planner really seems to do the trick for me. I write everything down that needs to get done for the week and every day, I cherry pick from the list and just get things done. Also, using the Pomodoro Technique and Live Streaming also helps me stay on track. In case you missed some of the amazing content I put out this week, here’s a TLDR. Thank you for your support and I hope you enjoy/learn something from the content I created this past week.

Podcast!

I got two great podcast episodes for you this week. If you have an iPhone, you may want to listen to my latest episode before you update to iOS 14.5.

  • iOS 14.5: Your Data, Your Choice – Why Privacy Matters
  • Botnets – The Victimless Crime?

Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs Cyber Security For All

Website: apetech.me/social Voicemail: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Email: letschat@apetech.me Twitter: @apetechda TikTok: @apetechda Show Notes https://apetech.blog/2021/10/17/comptias-additional-professional-certs/ — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apetech/support
  1. Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs
  2. Exploring CompTIA's Cybersecurity Certifications
  3. Exploring CompTIA's Infrastructure Certifications
  4. CompTia Core Certifications
  5. Interview with John Lunn Azure Cloud Expert

Blog Posts

Did not post any technical blog posts this week, but I have a few that I’ll be posting next week. I did manage to post a few medium articles:

TikTok

For some reason, my TikTok continues to grow at a stead pace. Here are some of the better performing videos from this week:

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s TLDR! Thanks for your support!

iOS 14.5: Your Data, Your Choice – Why Privacy Matters

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs Cyber Security For All

Website: apetech.me/social Voicemail: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Email: letschat@apetech.me Twitter: @apetechda TikTok: @apetechda Show Notes https://apetech.blog/2021/10/17/comptias-additional-professional-certs/ — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apetech/support
  1. Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs
  2. Exploring CompTIA's Cybersecurity Certifications
  3. Exploring CompTIA's Infrastructure Certifications
  4. CompTia Core Certifications
  5. Interview with John Lunn Azure Cloud Expert

Today we are going to be taking a deep dive into online privacy. Privacy has been in the news a lot recently, and if you own an iPhone with the latest update from April 26, iOS 14.5 then, you’ve probably noticed a new pop up that shows up on your screen when you launch an app.  Let’s take a look at what all this means and maybe help you make better decisions online.

Why you should care about your privacy?

I have nothing to hide.  Most people that do not worry about online privacy usually make that statement.  I mean, they technically are not wrong.  With all the data breaches that have happened, social security numbers, addresses, credit cards, passports, and the like, what part about you hasn’t been shared with the internet?  When you factor in all that we share on social media, pretty much anyone in the world can know almost every detail about lives if they tried.  No big deal right?  To be honest, I fall under a similar camp.  I’m not out on the internet committing crimes and really do not have anything to hide since I’ve been impacted by almost every single data breach.  But, if we take a page out of any celebrity’s playbook, then you might start to consider the value of privacy.  Most celebrities have little privacy.  There are always cameras following them around and the media loves to report on their every action.  When you overshare on the internet, something similar happens.  Maybe you are not directly impacted, but websites such as Google and Facebook make billions of dollars tracking your every move.  Again, you probably do not see the direct cause and effect, but at some point, if trends continue, everyone might start living through the privacy invasion that celebrities have to endure.

Does your privacy matter?

Privacy is a fundamental human right.  Everything you do on your digital devices should be kept private.  At the very least, you should have the option to allow your privacy to be violated.  Today, we really do not have that option.  Every website we go to, every time we pick up our phones, almost every interaction is monitored.  And if you’ve never stopped to think about what about you is being tracked online, then you are in for a surprise.  Every place we look up on the internet, every location we visit, conversations we have, the browsing we do online, all of that is being monitored by companies that rely on their ability to snoop on us to make money.  And those companies say that you want them to track you.  They make your life easier.  They make your life convenient.  Everything sounds great until bad things happen.  But, then there’s also the other side of the spectrum.  Too much privacy and people can get away with murder.  Afterall, this is why the Patriot Act was created.  As a way to be able to spy on people to help stop crimes before they happened.  It is also well known that criminals tend to take advantage of pro privacy platforms to coordinate and plan their attacks.  So, after all of this, I think I’m still right where I was when I started creating this episode.  How much privacy is enough and how much is too much?  But most importantly, who gets to decide?  Alright, enough of the theory, let’s talk about some real things happening in the world of online privacy today.

iOS 14.5

On April 26, Apple released this massive update on their iPhones.  This version changes the game for online privacy.  It will also change the way companies make money and entire business models will need to be reformed.  With iOS 14.5, every app that wants to track you must ask for your permission.  Before this update, every app was able to track you and every interaction you did with your phone.  While this may not sound like a big deal, believe me it is.  If you were ever messaging a friend about a new toy you want to buy and then go over to facebook and see an ad for that very same toy, then you have experienced app tracking.  This basically goes away unless you opt in.  Facebook and Google’s business models depend on being able to track your every move so that they can provide targeted ads.  Now, Facebook and Google will be blind to your activities unless you intentionally let them in.  I believe that while this is good for the public, it is going to drastically change the way Facebook and Google make money.  They will need to rethink their strategy and perhaps in the future, services such as Google and Facebook will start charging for their services.  In a future episode we’ll cover this topic in more detail and discuss social media tracking, browser tracking, Android tracking, and so much more.  

For now, I’d like to give you a little homework assignment.  Seriously consider how important your online privacy is.  I know that I personally overshare a lot of my journey on building out multiple streams of income, but I do try to keep certain aspects of my life private.  However, there are certain aspects of my private life that I want to share internally with my family.  Many of the things that Apple is working on help you do just that.  In the end, it’s your data and you should be able to control the choices as to how your data is used.  But, know that the second you decide to favor extra privacy, many of the convenient things we have today for free will most likely go away.  Know that criminals might be able to carry out crimes that they will be able to cover up.  Privacy is a sensitive topic and I’d love to hear from you.  What do you think about privacy?

There you have it.  Your online privacy 101 guide.  I hope you take my advice here and go protect yourself.  Be mindful of what data is being collected from you while you browse the internet.  Make sure that you adjust your permissions based on how much online privacy you want or do not want.  Ultimately, as consumers, we are getting more power back with respect to how we are tracked and you should take advantage of that.

Advertisements

Botnets – The Victimless Crime?

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs Cyber Security For All

Website: apetech.me/social Voicemail: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Email: letschat@apetech.me Twitter: @apetechda TikTok: @apetechda Show Notes https://apetech.blog/2021/10/17/comptias-additional-professional-certs/ — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/apetech/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apetech/support
  1. Exploring CompTIA’s Additional Professional Certs
  2. Exploring CompTIA's Cybersecurity Certifications
  3. Exploring CompTIA's Infrastructure Certifications
  4. CompTia Core Certifications
  5. Interview with John Lunn Azure Cloud Expert

Today we are going to be talking about botnets. You might have heard about bots in the news or from a friend. Not all bots are created equal. There are good bots and there are bad ones. The good ones, like chatbots help businesses with common customer service activities such as answering common questions. Other types of bots scrape the internet and buy alert you when an event happens. For example, there are bots that update Covid vaccine statuses and notify you when an appointment becomes available. But, do not be fooled, there are bots that are bad. Botnets are the specific type of bad bots we are going to be discussing today.

What is a botnet

According to Kaspersky, a botnet comes from the words robot and network.  These bots, take over your devices, usually without your consent, and then go and do something on the internet.  Most of the time, they perform malicious attacks such as stealing data, causing servers to crash, or distribute other malicious software.  Like an invisible virus, users are usually unaware that their devices are being used for malicious activities.  

How are botnets used

Botnets are a tool that hackers use to help augment the damage of their attacks.  An attacker only has so many finite resources, but if you can build an army of devices to help you in your attack, well then you got something big brewing.  It all starts with a bot herder.  This person is orchestrating the attack and begins to create and distribute bots.  The bot herder will distribute the bots and infect other computers which become zombie computers.  This is why it is so important that you do not fall to social engineering attacks such as phishing scams or giving up your password to your computer.  Once your computer is infected with a bot, it can be controlled by the bot herder.  Your computer will operate mindlessly, without your consent and sometimes without you even knowing.  When the bot herder is ready to activate the bots, he does so remotely.  The bots mobilize and carry out their programmed attacks.  

Should you worry about botnets

Botnets are a different kind of malware that can cause some serious damage.  You might become a victim of a botnet attack, or you might become an accomplice.  Either way, you should try to stay away from botnets as much as possible.  Identifying social engineering attacks can be tricky, but the best way to avoid falling victim to a botnet attack is to practice safe internet browsing tips and tricks.  Never download anything you do not trust or recognize.  Challenge every email that comes with attachments or that asks you to visit a website to install something.  Scammers might even try to call you and convince you to go to your computer to download some software so they can help walk you through a process.  There are many different tactics an attacker can use to get a botnet installed on your computer.  Being vigilant and aware of their tactics is just one way to combat this.  

And it’s not just your computers that can be used by botnets, phones, infrastructure hardware, Internet of Things devices can all serve as a host to a botnet.  Basically, if it can connect to the internet, it can be used.  This is why, if you listen to some of my earlier podcast episodes, I urge you to change your default passwords and usernames.  Any device, smart home devices, routers, cameras, can be utilized to aid botnets.  

How to protect yourself

As scary as these botnets are, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.  First, if you haven’t already, change the default passwords of your connected devices.  Make sure you use a strong password (I have an episode on that as well).  Make sure you are buying devices from trusted vendors. I mentioned this before in a previous episode, but when you buy cheap devices, you are buying compromised security.  Be careful with email attachments.   If you didn’t request something from someone, do not download it.  An updated anti-virus will help keep you safe against known botnet attacks.  And finally, never click on any links in messages that you receive.  This can be via text message, social media DM’s, emails, etc.  If you receive a link, make sure you are soliciting the link.  Links can take you pretty much anywhere on the internet and hackers use malicious links to send you to malicious places where you’ll then obtain malicious software.  Once a botnet gets on your machine, it is very difficult to stop.  Always be on the defensive and be vigilant for malicious attempts against you and your devices.  

There you have it.  Your botnet 101 guide.  I hope you take my advice here and go protect yourself.  Be careful when you click on links on the internet.  Make sure you trust the sender and keep your passwords updated and safe.  Botnets are out there, stealing information from unsuspecting victims.  Do your part and do not offer up your devices to botnet hackers.

Advertisements