Review: The Basics of Cyber Safety

basics cyber safety

About the authors

John Sammons is an Associate Professor and Director of the undergraduate program in Digital Forensics and Information Assurance at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. He is a member of the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Michael Cross is a SharePoint Administrator and Developer, has a diverse background in technology, and has consulted and assisted in numerous cases dealing with computer-related/Internet crimes.

Inside The Basics of Cyber Safety

Where can I verify if a story posted online is legitimate, or a hoax? Do I own the information I publish on Facebook? Where should I store my files? How can I remove content from the Internet? What is encryption and how should I use it? How can I encrypt my mobile device? How can I protect myself on social media? What are the things I need to be careful about when using public computers? What should I check when looking to install a new app on my mobile phone?

What is the difference between a user, administrator, and guest account on Windows? How can I secure my web browser? What are cookies and how can they be bad for me? How can I configure my router? Should I share my Wi-Fi with others? What’s a strong password? What’s the best way to manage passwords? What’s a firewall, and how can I configure it? What types of malware exist? How to use an antivirus solution? How can I spot a rogue antivirus solution? Why is it important to keep my software updated, and how should I go about doing it?

How should I back up my files? How can I secure my email client, or my free email account? What is identity theft? What is social engineering – and how not to fall for it? How do hackers hack? What are the most usual types of online scams? What is ransomware? How can I secure my Facebook and Twitter account, and the information I post on it? Which security and privacy settings should I use?

How can I look for work online? How to spot fraudulent job posts? How can I clean up my digital presence? How can I secure my LinkedIn account? How do I protect my online reputation? Where to look when searching about myself online? What are Google Alerts, and how can I use them? How can I keep my online searches and browsing private? How do I delete my browsing history? What’s a VPN? How can I secure wipe files from my computer?

What should I do after a security breach? What’s netiquette? Can I be anonymous online? How to deal with abusive people? How and where do I report abuse? How do I go about dating online? How to use (and not to use) a web cam? How can I check whether a person is who they say they are? How can I protect my kids online? How can I monitor their online activity? How to locate a device (and therefore its owner)? What should I do if my phone gets stolen? How to talk to children about what is inappropriate online, and about privacy?

These are just some of the question this book gives an answer to, and it does so simply and clearly. You will have the answers you need without having to ingest more information than you actually need in that first particular moment.

The authors mention many tools – open source and not – that are widely used, but keep to 3-5 tools for each category. They explain how to use some of them (e.g. Windows Defender, as it comes installed with Windows 8x and 10).

The good thing is that once you learn where to find things online, or how to do things like securing a social media account, you’ll know where and what to look for next when it comes to securing other online assets, information, etc.

Through this book, the reader can learn generally about what the Internet offers, and get some good advice on things to look out for. Physical safety tips are also included (e.g. when it comes to online dating, what are the things to avoid when meeting people in the real world?).

Final thoughts

The book is heavily US-centric and Windows-centric, so keep this in mind when picking it up.

I would definitely recommend it as a gift for kids and youngsters and new Internet and computer users, as they will learn not just about keeping themselves and their devices secure, but also about the things they can expect to find online.

It definitely lacks depth and nuance, but that was, I think, a deliberate and good choice by the authors, as novice computer and Internet users are easily overwhelmed, and this book will definitely not do that.

This can be a good book to go through slowly with your children, so that you can answer any question they might have and is not answered in the book. It could also be a great gift for your tech-unsavvy, security-unsavvy friends.