If you are tech savvy, you usually notice things related to technology that friends, family and work colleagues may not. This includes a very broad realization that most computer users have difficulties staying safe on the Internet. Not because they do not want to, but because they do not know or do not care about basic security concepts that keep a computer and its users safe on the web.
While that's a problem of users of all ages, teens and children deserve special attention. And that's what Microsoft tried to do by publishing the Own Your Space digital book.
The book is freely available at the Microsoft Download Center. Downloads are provided for the whole book, and any of the 17 individual chapters.
The book consists of 16 different chapters, that explain security and safe computing concepts, from cyberbullies to nasty "ware", taking spam off the menu to getting help.
Each chapter begins with a real world example, before the safe computing concepts are explained in detail. Warnings and Definitions are highlighted in the text. They provide additional information and safe computing tips.
Teens may be able to relate to some of the introductory scenarios of the book:
Braden is a typical 14-year-old. Over the past 6 months, he’s grown three inches, gained four shoe sizes, and eaten his way through nearly a ton of pizza. He’s also unintentionally trashed his family’s computer no less than 12 times. First, he downloaded some cool emoticons to use with his IM messages. Those smiley faces came with embedded adware that overwhelmed him with pop-up ads and slowed down the speed of virtually everything.
The book is pretty large, and most teenagers will probably get bored pretty quickly if they have to read it on their own. Parents and teachers need to step in here. It may for instance be a good idea to concentrate on one chapter at a time.
It is also recommended that parents and teachers read the book as well. First, most can probably learn a thing or two as well, and second, they can better aid the teens in understanding the safe computing concepts.
The book is aimed at children but it sometimes goes way overboard, take the following chapter for instance.
The second way that users are hijacked is harder to avoid. It’s called a DNS poisoning. DNS poisoning occurs when a hacker breaks into your local DNS server. The DNS server (spelled out Domain Name Service) is what translates the domain name you type into the correct numerical Internet address. You type in www.google.com and it takes you to the specific Internet address where Google Safe Cyber Shopping 105lives. This greatly simplifies using the Internet for you, since it’s a lot easier to remember a named URL like www.CNN.com than it is to remember an Internet address like 126.96.36.199.
Own Your Space is an extensive safe computing guide. It describes many concepts in details, sometimes to many, so that the book may become to complicated for its core audience. A version of the book at half the size, without many of the advanced concepts, and shorter explanations would have been much better, in my opinion. In its current stage, adults need to read the book as well to walk their children through it.
Having said that, the book is an excellent read for adults who want to know more about safe computing. Your parents maybe?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.