Explaining Technology Security to Parents

IMG_4938-editAs a parent in this Internet of Things (IoT) age we have to find a balance with allowing technology in our homes and protecting our kids from the dangers of being connected online 24/7. A new series of blog posts I will be writing about here at St. Louis Dad will be all about security and how it relates to technology and parenting.

With everything being connected to the Internet it is important to understand the potential risks involved with being connected 24/7 with the devices you and your children use everyday.

Each post will highlight a particular technology and will hopefully be explained in plain English for any parent to be able to understand how that technology works and why it is important to know about it. I will be providing tips on how you can keep your devices secure and functioning to their full potential. This will not be a fear based series of posts, but more along the lines of an informative and example based type of post. While it may seem scary, fear not as the topics are important and are more for education rather than trying to get you to throw out your gadgets.

There will be some new terminology that you may not be aware of. Don’t get yourself frustrated over complicated terminology. Some of those words will be defined in each post as I continue on with this series. At the end of each post will be a list of words that will be clearly defined.

The first topic that I will be discussing in my next post in this series will be about PII and what can be considered PII. What is important for many parents to know is that their child’s personal identifiable information is worth more to a hacker or scammer than an adults. This is because the info is new and the kids are young. So before they even know what a credit card is they could already be signed up for 15 cards by a hacker. A 9 year old isn’t going to know to check their credit report for fraudulent activity. So the hacker gets away with it for much longer than say if it were yours or my info.

So I will be getting into topics such as this and will expand in them as much as possible. I think the information could be helpful and if you have any particular topics or questions you would like me to field then just drop a comment below.

Finally, before I get to your parental homework (it’s easy, I swear)… Let me mention one more thing that I feel involves not only your children’s security but also your own. Congress is working towards modifying Rule 41 to allow local law enforcement to “hack” into your computer legally. This will have a huge negative impact on many technology applications and devices we all love and use everyday. We need to be sure to stand together and make sure congress knows that we will not stand for this. We need to stop the modification of Rule 41 and EFF.org has a few ideas on how you can help.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has pointed out some of the biggest issues with modifying Rule 41. Here are the biggest takeaways.

  • Government agents hacking into computers more frequently is a recipe for disaster. Law enforcement will increase their exploitation of security vulnerabilities in common software products, meaning vulnerabilities that could affect millions will be left open instead of patched.
  • Law enforcement will forum shop, finding government-friendly magistrate judges to sign off on warrants with a loose connection to the judicial district.
  • Law enforcement will pressure judges to sign off on remote searches of thousands of computers with a single warrant—a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment and a pattern we’re already seeing.


Parent’s Homework

Definition of PII
PII (Personally Identifiable Information) – or Sensitive Personal Information (SPI), as used in US privacy law and information security, is information that can be used on its own or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person, or to identify an individual in context. PII can be sensitive or non-sensitive. Non-sensitive PII is information that can be transmitted in an unencrypted form without resulting in harm to the individual. Non-sensitive PII can be easily gathered from public records, phone books, corporate directories and websites.

Sensitive PII is information which, when disclosed, could result in harm to the person whose privacy has been breached. Sensitive PII should therefore be encrypted in transit and when data is at rest. Such information includes biometric information, medical information, personally identifiable financial information (PIFI) and unique identifiers such as passport or Social Security numbers.

Take a look around your computer, if you search your social in your computers local search box will you find it? How about health records or any other PII type of data? Do a few local searches so you can feel comfortable looking up this information on your computer. When I say search, do not search Google or Bing. Use your local search box. Don’t know where to find it? Just hold tight and I will cover all things PII in my next post.


Definition of Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things is a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. “If one thing can prevent the Internet of things from transforming the way we live and work, it will be a breakdown in security”.

Think of anything that has access to the Internet or cloud for it to function. Your SmartTV, Amazon Echo, a Nest thermostat. Devices like that are all considered Internt of Things. These devices are our future and IoT will only be included more and more. A consumers we need to demand security on these devices. Real security and not a plain text password.

Extra Credit: Know Your Apps
Your child may have hundreds of apps on their phone. You may not have heard of any of them, but you should. There are some apps that have hidden features that could potentially enable your child to hide data from you. Take some time to go through your child’s device and write down all of the apps that have been installed or better yet purchased. Some apps that may have been installed may not longer be on the device, but they are still tied to an account, so knowing what has been installed along with what is installed will be super helpful as I continue this series.

Take the Cheerio Stack Challenge!


Life of Dad challenges you to see how high you can stack cheerios on your sleeping baby’s face! Stack em as high as you can before you wake the little rascal up. I didn’t have any cheerios but we had some fruit loops. So I gave it a shot and got some nice results.

Follow Life of Dad on Facebook to see more dads rise to the challenge.

Can you top 5? Prove it when you do! #CheerioChallenge

A photo posted by Life of Dad (@lifeofdad) on

My New Bloggin’ Machine

IMG_4732For the most part when I am on the computer I am sitting in my home office on my desktop computer. It is a nice desktop that I custom built myself. I have a nice large monitor and my keyboard and mouse conform perfectly with my hands. It’s my own cozy little space. Sometimes though I am forced out of my space and into the family room or the bedroom.

In a perfect world I would just use my work laptop for blogging. But it’s for work and I don’t want it messed up by my kids if I set it down on the table or couch. It’s a really nice laptop that I only like to use for work. So when I need to work on something for myself I would typically use my trusty Acer Aspire One netbook. It is a little beast and does exactly what I needed it to do. It has started to get a little sluggish, so I tossed in a solid state drive to hopefully speed things up. It did, but not by much. The little netbook has shown it’s age, so I began to look for different options.

My first choice was a Dell Inspiron that I had just recently acquired. It was decent enough but a little heavy and the battery wasn’t that great. My next option was to commandeer my daughters laptop that she never uses. She’s five and is an iPad addict so I didn’t think it would be much of a challenge to check out her laptop to see if it would fit my needs. It is a pink ASUS laptop. It has some good specs and I think it is light enough for my needs. So this was going to be the one. I don’t mind that it is pink. I think that actually makes it a little unique in a way. But how was I going to convince a five year old that I was going to take her laptop for myself.

IMG_4873First things first was that I had to clear it with mom. She wasn’t home so I shot her a text asking if it would be okay to use her laptop. She said she didn’t care but wanted to make sure I had something for her to use if she wanted to play a game or watch a movie. I have plenty of extra devices so I knew that wouldn’t be an issue. So with the boss’s permission I thought up a way to get this laptop. I had the netbook and the Dell so I figured I could talk her into a trade.

So I called her into the room and I asked her flat out, and surprisingly she agreed.  She said she doesn’t use it much and that I can have it. I told her that she was very sweet for allowing daddy to use her computer. I also told her that I would be setting up this little netbook for her to use. Her eyes lit up bright and was super excited to get a small little laptop. She liked it a lot because it’s not as heavy and I told her she can put stickers on it.

So here I am now on my new to me pink ASUS bloggin’ laptop. It has been updated with a solid state hard drive and loaded with Windows 10. It is particularly speedy and I am pretty happy with my update. I have already added a few stickers for some much needed flair for the laptop. I don’t think it will take away from the bright pink, but I think it definitely makes it stand out.

StLouisDad.com Instrumentals Vol. 11

StLouisDadcom Instrumentals Vol11

We are back with another installment from the StLouisDad.com Instrumentals series with Volume 11! This group of instrumentals are particularly funky and country enough that you might just want to get your square dancing on. I even pulled one track out from my very old, very amateur pile. Project 51 is one of the very first instrumentals I have ever worked on. I hope you like them!

StLouisDad.com Instrumentals – Vol.11 will be released under a Creative Commons license. Read more about the specific license attached to these instrumentals here. If you have any questions about any of the instrumentals I can do my best to answer them, just send me an email.

Please comment below or email me with a link to your project if you use one of these instrumentals. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did making them and be sure to subscribe and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook to find out when Vol. 12 will be released!

Listen to a sample of this download!