Harper Woods to host virtual cyber safety workshop

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published February 21, 2021

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HARPER WOODS — Harper Woods is planning a cybersecurity and safety workshop to help residents stay safe and surf responsibly when online.

During the workshop, a panel of experts will share with a virtual audience how to be savvy on the web. It will take place on Zoom and will begin with a networking session at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, and continue with the panel and a Q&A session starting at 7 p.m. The meeting ID number is 840 6032 9721, and the password is 582431.

“There were a lot of requests for a program like this. In these times, these are very relevant subjects,” said event co-organizer and City Councilwoman Cheryl Costantino. “It’s going to be a combination of how to protect yourself online as well as etiquette and safety in the cyber world. Right now, the way we live now is through computers and through cyberspace.”

The event came out of the Crime Reduction and Law Enforcement Committee, a local group consisting of city officials, law enforcement members and residents.

“This is something that the Crime Reduction and Law Enforcement Committee came up with,” explained event co-organizer and City Councilwoman Ernestine Lyons. “Several citizens want the community to remain safe, and this is part of that. We touched on cybersecurity last year during other events, but this is more focused on cyber safety.”

She added that not taking steps to be safe on the web can have very real consequences in the real world.

“We want to protect families from spam and dangerous situations where kids can be kidnapped or talking to people they shouldn’t be,” said Lyons. “We want to talk briefly about cyberbullying and intimidation on social media — it doesn’t just apply to kids either. We want to touch on making sure, if you are shifting more online for your business, how you can help avoid scams and not have to deal with issues with malware and things of that nature.”

The workshop will cover a variety of topics including protecting people from spam, predators, hackers, malware and other information risks, spotting misinformation on social media, understanding and addressing cyberbullying, and learning basic business continuity and disaster recovery concepts.

“There will be some things about cyberbullying and cybersecurity,” said Costantino. “We’ll talk about the signs that someone you know is being cyberbullied. We’ll talk about how to avoid phishing, what procedures you should follow if you are victimized. It’s a lot of people coming together to put this on to make sure we talk about everything relevant. There’s something for everybody.”

“We will have a panel of experts where people can ask questions. We’ll have several presentations and then afterward let the audience speak and ask their questions,” added Lyons. “There will also be a short networking time beginning at 6:45 p.m. beforehand as well, for people to get to know one another and share ideas.”

Lyons said that becoming knowledgeable about this topic is no longer optional. There are numerous risks that stem from the web that can cause harm if the public is not savvy to the warning signs.

“It’s a workshop about staying safe on the web and making sure you know what’s real,” she remarked. “We live in an age of deepfakes and false stories, so we want people to know how to protect themselves in cyberspace.”