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Security

Putting an End to Cyber-bullying

Facts About Cyber-bullyingThere’s a show on The Style Network called “Too Fat For Fifteen Fighting Back” in which teens that are dealing with morbid obesity have chosen to live healthy lifestyles. What does this have to do with security, you may ask? Well, on a recent episode, many of the counselors and teens talked about how they had been bullied and a bullying expert discussed ways to stand-up to bullies.

However, with the high adoption of technology by the younger generation, bullying has left the playground and entered the cyber world. Today it is common for children to be bullied 24-hours a day, 7 days a week! Cyber-bullying is different to traditional harassment because humiliating rumors, threats and vicious taunts can be viewed by millions and can be devastating to youth and their families. How are children and adults expected to fight now?

How to prevent cyber-bullying is a hot topic, not only with education, but the government. On March 10th the White House held its first Conference on Bullying Prevention to address best ways to prevent cyber-bullying. However, though facts about cyber-bullying and prevention may be a hot topic, many schools still don’t teach kids how to handle cyber-bullying incidents. According to a survey released by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Microsoft, it was revealed that only 26 percent of K-12 teachers taught kids how to handle incidents of cyber-bullying, while only 15 percent spoke to students about online “hate speech.”

There is good news. Today schools can stop cyber-bullying before it happens. With the advancement in technology, network security has become more and more important not just for keeping hackers out, but for also protecting students.

How does WatchGuard stop cyber-bullying in its tracks?

Easily. WatchGuard Extensible Content Security (XCS) features the ability to block or flag cyber-bullying, slander and comments related to depression and suicide through traditional email, webmail (such as Gmail) and Internet sites including Facebook. This means that attempted posts to Facebook can be blocked due to the nature of the words used in the post. The user only sees an error message, and would believe that either Facebook has blocked the post, or Facebook is currently down.

Discussion

One thought on “Putting an End to Cyber-bullying

  1. Nice ambitions but a few points to be raised. First off is that children are in school roughly 30 to 35 hours a week, meaning they are out of school nearly 5.5 days per week. Controls at the school can only mitigate the behavior from occuring at the school. This doesn’t stop cyber-bullying, it merely moves it to another more conducive environment. Completely stopping cyber-bullying is a unrealistic just as stopping bullying has failed. Especially the expectation that technology can accomplish this.

    Certain political leaders are essentially bullies and create an environment where bullies thrive. Similar environments exist elsewhere in society. The reality is that technology creates gated barriers surrounding a village within the greater community, trying to shield the village from the greater evil, yet the villagers must leave the village and attacks move to the areas outside the village.

    Behavioral changes within society are truly needed, technology just helps us enforce the rules within a limited context. The real issue is actually mentioned in the post above, we have failed to teach our children and society how to respectfully coexist. The XCS and other filtering systems are only tools to help restrict activities. Myriad means to bypass these controls exist. Students will use proxies, sites that aren’t monitored, compromise privileged user credentials, etc… in order to circumvent technological controls. Where they fail, they will often seek out unrestricted systems outside of the school.

    The article states 26 percent of teachers teach students how to handle cyberbullying, yet I’d be willing to venture that more than 26 percent know at one or more proxies or at least how to find ways to circumvent technological content filtering controls.

    Posted by Alan | May 18, 2011, 10:05 pm

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