On Your Side: FBI Agent shares how students can stay safe online

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News 12 This Morning/Tuesday March 11, 2014

(WRDW)--"It's really important for the kids not to be obviously scared of going on the Internet, but that there's a lot of things out there," said Craig Ham.

Giving students at Westminster Schools a defense against online threats is the reason computer science teacher,Ham, got them involved in the FBI's national Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge.

Sixth grade student Erin Colley tells me the number one lesson she's learned from the experience is "not giving too much information on the Internet."

"Because it can be easy to think that everybody in the world is nice, but that's not the case," Colley went on to say. "So, to just be careful on how much you say and what you say."

That's the first step to keeping students alert while online, FBI special agent Brian Ozden tells me.

He says another good rule of thumb: only communicating with folks you've met in person.

"You can't really trust the people on the Internet if you don't really know them," said Ozden. "So, if it's not somebody you've had physical contact with, if you don't know them from school and they can't verify that they've sent you that friend request or tried to talk to you, then there's a good chance it's not really who it's supposed to be."

Another important practice: not being afraid to report strange activity or take online issues to an adult.

"The FBI doesn't necessarily need to know every phishing email that you get, but if you get an email or get victimized of a crime, report things that are suspicious," said Ozden.

"Teachers, parents--we can't be everywhere and the kids have to know when they're on the computer by themselves and something makes them feel uncomfortable, it's not their fault, they need to talk to their parents," Ham explained.

"It makes me feel a lot more secure, just knowing what to do on the Internet and what not to do," said Colley.

If you ever need to make a report about online activities, you can at the following site: www.ic3.gov

Just head to that website, fill out the form with as much information as you can and that will send the report directly to the folks who need to see it.

Any school can utilize the FBI's SOS Internet Challenge. For more information about it, just click the attached link.

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