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Episode twenty five

The Virtual Staffroom Podcast

Episode 25 – The data detective

 

Joachim Cohen:

Welcome to the Virtual Staffroom, a podcast made for teachers by teachers and all with a dash of educational technology thrown in. My name is Joachim Cohen. And today I'm joined by Yvette Poshoglian, an awesome member of the Technology 4 Learning team. Welcome, Yvette.

Joachim Cohen:

In this episode, due to the release of a brand, new New South Wales Education cyber education resource, we have a special guest in the staffroom. New South Wales Education cyber expert, Mona Sidhu. Welcome, Mona, and tell us a little bit about your role as our cyber expert.

Mona Sidhu:

Hi, everyone. Thanks for the introduction, Joe. Great to be here. My role as the Cyber Awareness and Education Manager at New South Wales Department of Education, as the name suggests, I look after cyber safety training and awareness in the department. As we all know we are being hit with a lot of spams and scams, and we all know that it's coming in recent times. So what is happening is there is an increasing need to learn how you can adapt to this changing digital threat environment and be cyber smart.

Mona Sidhu:

And you can only do this if you have good online safety skills, and you have the knowledge and you build them as habits. Your change in behavior. So I'm working very closely with Cyber Security New South Wales and the Esafety Commissioners Outreach Education team as well. And we have developed a fantastic Cybermarvel Program for our primary schools that we are launching this year.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Great to have you here, Mona. So excited about this program that you've developed and worked on. There's so many incredible resources that are coming up for students and teachers and the whole community online.

Mona Sidhu:

I'll talk to you a little bit about Cybermarvel and we are very lucky to be partnering with the T4L team. They are an amazing bunch of people. You guys have just been amazing support staff in this program.

Mona Sidhu:

So Cybermarvel, as I just said, is an online safety awareness program for primary schools. And we are partnering with other states in this initiative. We've got Queensland, we've got Tasmania, Victoria, Northern Territory, South Australia, on board. And we have launched a website on the T4L Teaching and Learning Resource section for Cybermarvel. So there's a page for teachers. There's a page for principals. And there's also resources for parents.

Mona Sidhu:

So in this program, we have teacher and parent webinars. We've got student classroom activities. We've got professional learning for principals. And all resources and activities are linked to the best practice framework from the Esafety commissioner. And the theme for that program this year, also from the Esafety commissioner's best practice framework is students' rights and responsibilities in the digital age.

Mona Sidhu:

So this is the focus to make students aware of what they should or should not do in the online space. And also that it is okay to seek adult help if they're not sure, if they feel unsafe. So we're going to touch on those points and making sure that students know how they can become more digitally mature than what they are at the moment.

Joachim Cohen:

Mona, absolutely amazing program. I know I'm excited to go and take a dive and a jump into it. And I think every one of our listeners will be going, "What's the website address?" It's in the show notes, people. That's for sure. So go and take a look and it's on the T4L website.

Joachim Cohen:

And Mona, coincidentally enough, on today's episode we've really decided to dedicate a little bit of time to unpacking more about digital footprints and cyber awareness. So I'm hoping you might want to hang around and join us for the rest of the episode. What do you think?

Mona Sidhu:

Yeah, sure. Why not? Let's do it.

Joachim Cohen:

Fantastic. Well, our guest today is going to blow your mind and really drill home the importance of cyber awareness. So listeners, we've all heard of Indiana Jones and been inspired by the way he looks into the past to solve problems. But what does a modern day Indiana Jones look like? Someone who can use data and information and the whole range of technology tools to gain insights and solve problems. Maybe you're thinking MI5, SAS, or in 2021 it might just as easily be a marketing executive or a human resources expert. It's all about intelligence.

Joachim Cohen:

We all know how to Google, but do we know how to do it well? What could a power searcher, an intelligence minor do and discover from our collective and global online footprint? Well, with the launch of the Cybermarvel Program we thought we needed to find out, and who better to ask than an intelligence expert. And today we are lucky enough to be joined by someone who leads an organisation called OSINT Combine, or Open Source Intelligence Combine. Chris Poulter, founder of OSINT Combine, welcome to The Virtual Staffroom.

Chris Poulter:

Thanks for having me. Thanks for the generous introduction.

Mona Sidhu:

Okay. Now, Chris, we're very curious. Tell us a little bit about what you and the OSINT Combine Open Source Intelligence team do.

Chris Poulter:

So, we run an Australian based open source intelligence company and we focus on three key areas, being software, training, and services. And what we're all about is open source intelligence capability development within organisations. We work in the commercial side and we also have a philanthropic side of the business, which looks at things like counter human trafficking and missing person support. And we do that not just in Australia from a customer base, but from a global perspective as well.

Joachim Cohen:

Wow! Okay. Now I've got a little bit of an image forming inside my mind, Chris, and I really want to know what a typical day for you looks like. Are you out in the field inside a car with tinted windows or are you inside a locked, dark, secure room?

Chris Poulter:

No, well, neither of those. It is all online though. We're not out in the field doing field based activities. But it's all publicly available information in the online medium that we essentially look at for the different aspects of our role.

Chris Poulter:

So a typical day, it varies. It really is situation dependent. So we have the business as usual stuff where we're doing, obviously, business development around getting our platform and our training offerings into customers to build their capabilities so they can service their own mission sets and operations. But then on the other side, we do a lot of, as I mentioned before, the philanthropic side. So a lot of work in the counter human trafficking space and counter terrorism, and support the non-profits and non-government organisations for their particular activities.

Chris Poulter:

And so I have a services team, an intelligent services team that purely works on that. So their day shifts dynamically. It depends on what situations are presenting and how they can potentially support. And then obviously, the business side of the house is working to see how we can better service our customers in looking at that online landscape really.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Chris, there's so many different avenues that you're following up on. So many different types of intelligences that you're gathering. And I've got this image in my mind, a little bit of what Joe was touching on of maybe M from James Bond or Q even. What types of intelligences are you talking about when you're talking about this kind of gathering of information. How does it work?

Chris Poulter:

Right. So, it's definitely not the dark and spooky and the exciting stuff, although we are very excited about the work we do and the people we support. But it's all looking at publicly available information, and primarily from the online medium. And looking at how you can collect that, analyze that, and drive some form of meaning, which leads to that intelligence output.

Chris Poulter:

And so that's essentially the types of Intel we play with. And then organisations will fuse that with their own other offerings, depending on what organisations you work with. Some people may just have open source or publicly available information. Government organisations will have different holdings and other disciplines of intelligence. But for us, all about the publicly available stuff.

Joachim Cohen:

Now Chris, publicly available, I'm just a little bit lost. What kind of data are you talking about there? Are we looking at census data? Is this where we're getting into Google searching? Tell me a little bit more. Unpack it for me a bit.

Chris Poulter:

Right. Everything and all of that. So, anything that is accessible from someone in any form. And so that could be something like your census data. It could incorporate all the social media activity and with a digital footprint that individuals leave behind. It could incorporate government public records beyond that. It can incorporate things like situational awareness data for disasters, what's unfolding. It can be simple as news reporting.

Chris Poulter:

So it really is just taking anything and everything that is in the public domain that you can find yourself without limited access or restricted access. And then use that to support your analysis to then drive some form of intelligence on the back of it, knowing that we only start with information.

Chris Poulter:

And often people look at, "Well, I've got all this information, doesn't that tell me something?" It's not until you put it through a cycle of analysis that you drive some form of meaning. And that's where we get to the intelligence output at the end of it.

Joachim Cohen:

Oh, I see. I'm starting to get an idea here now. And I'm going to do another little bit of a film analogy here as well, because it does sound a little bit like you're a modern day Indiana Jones, where you're using what every one of us would just look at and go, "It's a rock," when you are looking at data, but you're actually able to interpret it. And you're also like an imaginably, amazing librarian. Are we on the right track? What do you think?

Chris Poulter:

I would say so more on the librarian side because you're really trying to understand that meaning and connect the dots. It really is all about that. Everyone paints a mosaic of their life online and there's little snippets here and there.

Chris Poulter:

Organisations have the same. The reporting aspect that comes out of, even through the news stream. But it's in isolation. Those bits of information might not mean something, but it's the combination of all those bits, where you tie all the strings and the threads together and connect the dots, and then you get your picture at the end of it. And then that might tell you something really valuable about what you are trying to understand, depending on the use case.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Chris, on the flip side with this information and intelligence gathering, what kind of businesses or organisations are coming to you? It must be a wide array, you sort of alluded to that.

Chris Poulter:

It really is because every organisation should be making intelligence- led decisions. Every organisation wants to arm them...

Chris Poulter:

themselves with knowledge so they can perform best or achieve the best outcome or make the best decision with the information they have available to them.

Chris Poulter:

In terms of the types of organisations, we work in three areas. So we work in government, and that'll be everything from law enforcement to the intel community through to the military. And then we'll work a little bit in the finance sector. So that'll be everything from banks through to consulting organisations. And a lot of that is looking at things like any money laundering and fraud and threats. And then we have the corporate customers, which is probably the start of this side, where you're looking at threat awareness to an organisation. You're looking at things like due diligence because anyone working in the finance sector or the corporate space needs to do a level of due diligence about every activity they're doing.

Chris Poulter:

At an abstract, I would say we play most strongly in the counter terrorism and counter human traffic space, but there are all these sub areas that connect. And there's a nexus between all of these different areas, and most organisations have some form of requirement to, again, do intelligence-based decision-making.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Wow. That sounds really interesting, Chris, I think what is coming to my head now as a common person in the community, when you're talking about money laundering and everything and the financial threats and things like that coming from a cyber perspective, the thing that is popping into my head is digital citizenship and digital footprints. What examples can you share that might make people sit up and take notice?

Chris Poulter:

So the footprint that you leave online, if you're an individual, and how that can be exploited. If you look at it from that perspective. And so things like if you get doxed. And doxed is where someone will take all of your information and publish it online. They might do it with a vendetta or in a negative way. Essentially, we have a right to an element of design to have privacy. We don't want some of that information, even if it's available, doesn't mean it should be put on, or exposed to, people who may not have been able to find it otherwise.

Chris Poulter:

Then you look at it from maybe a corporate or an economic perspective, high end execs or high value individuals who have a lot of exposure online, how they might be exploited from that the digital footprints to adversely affect, say, business decisions through to when you are talking about situational awareness in an area during unfolding event, being able to capture that information and understand things as they evolve so you can better position yourself to make a decision, whether that's relative to that particular event, or it's for something further down the track. And so that's when we talk about digital citizenship and footprints, there's a moral and ethical construct to it. There is a lot of back and forth in terms of what should and could be done versus what is occurring. And so yeah, there's a few layers of that onion.

Yvette Poshoglian:

I appreciate, Chris, you must see this behavior on a larger scale than maybe what our students and our teachers are considering when they're considering their cyber safety online. But do you have any advice for our listeners and for the students to stay safe online, and maybe some simple things to protect their info and their online intelligence?

Chris Poulter:

Yeah, so I think cyber awareness and the program you guys are running is fantastic. Getting that education in early is super important. The thing that people coming through who are digital natives, is the best way to describe it. They're comfortable with social media. They're comfortable with their information being out there. And it's also common practice for them to share everything when they sign up to just about anything. And so think about all those times you've gone to a random form, or you've you bought something from a Facebook ad, and you've filled in all your details for the 10000th time. That's going into a database somewhere.

Chris Poulter:

So think about what your backstops are. And by that, I mean, where if someone was to try and find information about you, and you need to anticipate that there's going to be a data breach, and you need to anticipate that your information is going to be exposed. So be cautious about what you share and what you need to share. And so when you're engaging in any online activity, decide what is most important for you? And so that could be as simple as, "Okay. I'm happy that at some stage, or I accept that at some stage, my name, my password, my email address will be shared online. But at no stage do I want my address to be exposed."

Chris Poulter:

Now that'll be in a database somewhere, but you might set up backstops on how you can protect that. So you might obfuscate, unless you're getting something obviously shipped to an address, that's a different story. But if you're setting up just a general Facebook account, or you setting up your social media accounts, be reserved in what you are sharing, but assess that based on what you are happy to accept that will be exposed. And I think that's the biggest thing, is we live in a world now where we need to manage our risk because we do need to share information to be a digital citizen and have a digital footprint that's accepted. And so manage the risk, and understand what you are sharing.

Chris Poulter:

So I'd say backstops. I'd be reserved in what I share. And I would anticipate, down the track, that anything I put online, at some stage, will be exposed.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Yeah, that's some really good advice there, Chris, as a way to think when we are engaging online, is that fact that it's a reality. It's going to happen. If people can go to the trouble of putting it together, then we have to try and help them not be able to put together the puzzle in the right way. So sounds really, really salient advice, that is for sure. Now look, I guess we've heard a little bit of a snippet about the ideas you're talking about with human trafficking and those things as being a non-commercial focus, and that's the focus of intelligence for good. Can you tell us a little bit about how we can use intelligence for good in that and other ways?

Chris Poulter:

Yeah, absolutely. And this is something I'm very proud of with the company and the team we've built. Because we pour a lot of effort into this, and it's all in a philanthropic perspective because it's trying to use what other people are using to exploit you online. We are doing it in a reverse fashion where we're trying to, whether it's protect life directly, or it's trying to support people so they can recover from exploitation.

Chris Poulter:

And so in the human trafficking, which is the first one, that's working with organisations who are actively trying to target and break down and support law enforcement with their efforts. So we're not a single organisation that's trying to do these things. We work with other organisations and build OSINT capability. So then they can work more effectively, and potentially leverage skill sets of private industry to look at what that means. And it could be something as simple as looking at these online trafficking networks that have an online presence. They use the internet as their engagement medium. They groom, and then they engage with, unfortunately, young kids online. And then that's how then they hand them off to other areas. So trafficking, people think of it as people going into cars and getting exploited. It's also the trafficking of exploitation material online. So whether that's exploited imagery and videos, unfortunately, and how that is distributed. And there's a lot of unfortunate stuff that occurred during COVID where there was an uptick, online activity increased, people's exploitation online increased because the exposure of what was increased.

Chris Poulter:

So that's that side of the exploitation, or for the trafficking side. Then there's anti-slavery. So this is as important when you work with large organisations. Understanding who's in their supply chain. That second, third, or fourth tier in their supply chain is actually part of, or employing slaves, or putting people into servitude with no reward or compensation. And that's a huge problem. There's over 40 million people in a form of slavery globally. And so there's a responsibility. And I know Australia's got some legislation that supports that, but there's more that can be done in that space. And it's about supporting organisations to be aware of what they might not know. They might not know that they've got people in their supply chain that are being exploited, and it's trying to arm them with that information to help on that side.

Chris Poulter:

And then the third piece is really around the missing person side. And that's where the digital footprints actually are beneficial. So when someone goes missing, whether it's they've chosen to or they've been exploited, that's not for us to judge. But you've still got families and people that are involved in that process that want support. You've got law enforcement that are doing such an amazing job, but a resource restricted because of the sheer volume of the problem set. And that's where things like the hackathons and the crowd source intelligence play such important role. Because you can leverage the mass to at least establish some digital footprints that might support a resolution with a case. And that's what that's all about across those three areas of the philanthropic part of what we do.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Chris, thanks for illuminating those really serious applications that the intelligence gathering impact that it can have. Because I think many of us have maybe only brushed up against these major ideas, particularly in times like this where we're more aware of scams happening. But they're really deeper issues that I can see that this work really is solving. And on that note, lots of our listeners, our teachers and, in turn, our students are often thinking about the skill sets they might need to come into industries like yours. And I'm wondering if you can tell us a little bit about those career skills? And maybe a little bit, too, about your academy and its role?

Chris Poulter:

Yeah. So there's the intangibles, the character markers, if you will. And that really is you anyone working in this field, particularly in the open source intelligence field, I won't speak out of school for the other intelligence disciplines. They have their own established curriculum. But particularly in the OSINT space, an inquisitive mindset. And you couple that with critical thinking, and for two reasons. The inquisitiveness is just constantly chasing that next thread and trying to connect the dots. But the critical thinking's important because the amount of disinformation that's out there, or it could be misinformation or disinformation, and the way those things that an analyst needs to critically think about at what they're looking at. No different to the academics sphere. But as you're doing that in a more rapid fire environment.

Chris Poulter:

And then looking at being adaptive to rapid changing circumstances because the situation evolves so quickly, and being comfortable with technology if you are going to get involved in the OSINT space. Because you need to know how to go and collect the information before you can start analyzing it. And that's where you need to be adaptive to tech. So for digital natives, that's fairly simple. But it's trying to couple these things together, and putting a layer of tenacity on the back of it. So that would be the intangibles.

Chris Poulter:

Then there's the fundamental skills. And so the raw skills. So we have our OSINT Combine Academy. And on that, we have a series of self-paced, online self-paced courses which teach OSINT fundamentals. And then we have a glide path into advanced skills. So we can take someone from basic or no intelligent skills at all, and give them fundamental intelligence training. So understanding the intelligence cycle and the principles of bias and cognitive thinking, and then take them all the through to how you actually collect information. What is the scale of open source, publicly available information, and all the sources that are relevant to that? How do you then go and collect that and analyze that with your analytical techniques? And then going everything from surface deep down to dark web. So we look at all those techniques and those skill sets, and we bundle in a healthy appetite there of cyber training as well so people are aware of where and how that plays a role. Because cyber is often thought of in systems, but people are the biggest vulnerability and that the biggest exploited space that lead to cyber compromise these days, and that still rings true.

Chris Poulter:

So we bundle all that together. And then outside of the academy, we run a series of bespoke courses. We normally run one or two a month, and we do that where we work with the customer to understand what is their requirements. Because everyone has such a divergent mission set. It's trying to work out what is most appropriate and getting acute training.

Chris Poulter:

So yeah, that's that teaches fundamental OSINT capability. And we do a lot of free stuff with the hackathons to build that, to support Australia's uplift of OSINT skill sets.

Joachim Cohen:

Yeah. It's certainly an area where I don't think a lot of people have really thought about the opportunities that are there. And with what you were saying earlier about so many commercial enterprises, there's really actually needing to be able to back up their decisions with proof. And this is where that intelligence capability really comes to the fore. I can see it growing and see students and teachers really keen to provide a pathway for their students.

Joachim Cohen:

And what could students be thinking about doing now to develop their curiosity, to these key skills that you're talking about? Is there a subject that they should be focusing on? Is there something that they can be doing right now to prepare to become the cyber intelligence experts of tomorrow?

Chris Poulter:

So it's an interesting question because a lot of it comes down to what area they want to work in. And so it's being made aware of the subject matter that they're engaging with. Do they want to get into national security stuff? Do they want to get into corporate intelligence and understanding, or finance intelligence? They're all separate disciplines. But right now, if they're interested, I would recommend jump on Twitter, go and look at #OSINT, and just follow a lot of the threads there.

Chris Poulter:

What you're going to get is a lot of skills based and knowledge sharing. Then how you take that, and what you apply that to, is really up to the individual. Because they'll have their own entry. It could be as simple as if they just want to enable themselves to be more efficient in whatever they're doing, buying a car, moving house, all the way through to actually trying to support missing persons cases. There's crowdsource activities. Using and being comfortable in how you collect information and analyze it.

Chris Poulter:

OSINT and publicly available information, it doesn't always need to be the really exciting stuff at the other end. It can just be yourself being comfortable with how to search better to find the information. And I guess the key part there is we live in the information society. There is more information out there that we can consume, and how you refine that and data reduce you're searching down to what you need, that's the key part. So step one, Twitter and #OSINT. Step two, learn some advanced Google searching techniques. Start there and then build on where you actually want to apply into those next areas.

Joachim Cohen:

That was just amazing, Chris, I can tell you. Being absolutely blown away. And I tell you, I'm going to have to really investigate and brush up on my searching skills, that is for sure. And make sure that I really go in depth when I am thinking about what I'm purchasing and what I'm sharing online. Okay. I've got some hints and tips. I can feel an edition of T4L kids coming on.

Mona Sidhu:

Yeah, it is. It is really interesting how Chris has presented such a wide spectrum of the skills that students can grab and run in the space. Could you tell us a little bit about your story and where you started? Maybe in primary school? Did you get an idea about this, or did you start exploring in high school or in university? And how did it let you start off with OSINT Combine?

Chris Poulter:

Right. So a bit of an interesting journey. I started out in the IT sector. If I go back to the schooling, I was always a nerd at heart. I was tinkering with machines and trying to self-taught programming. And I was always just inquisitive about IT in general. And so I started my career, actually, in the IT sector, little bit of software development, little bit of IT management and structure. And then somewhere along the line, I wanted to serve. So I joined the military. And I did something completely different in the military. I didn't work in the tech space. And I did that for over a decade, and found a lot of value. And that's where I really developed that understanding of that greater purpose and service.

Chris Poulter:

And then towards the end of my career, I wanted to continue value adding back into the national security space, and then combine those two worlds of my IT/cyber background with what I was doing in the military from a ground based perspective and fuse those together. And that's where I started OSINT Combine. And I did that a few years ago, and we started out as a training organisation. The initial intent was to develop fundamental skill sets in OSINT back into the national security space. But then from there, we really evolved quickly. Found that the curriculum that we developed solved a lot of problems and supported a lot of organisations with what they were trying to build up. And then that got some global traction and got it understood. It was after the piece. Understood the value to corporate.

Chris Poulter:

And so something we push now is a heavy private/public partnership where government needs to work with the private sector to get the best outcomes. And for people getting into this field or looking to learn OSINT, you can apply it to any part of your job because it just, at the end of the day, creates efficiency in finding information. And if you have information, you can analyze it. And if you have more than the next person, then you can drive better meanings and knowledge based outcomes. So OSINT applies everywhere.

Chris Poulter:

And then I build some software, Nexus Explore, which is our flagship platform, which is used around the world in a lot of complex problems. And then established our services team. So with that trinity, is what we call it, we look at ourselves as an OSINT capability developer. And we can support organisations with training, with leading-edge software platforms that are proven with mission success, through to services to help them understand the things that they may need to go on the journey with. Or when we're doing the philanthropic side, we can throw resources to actually go and support those particular objectives. And so yeah, that's my journey, a bit of a divergent path along the way, but I feel like I've brought them all together at the end. And I've got amazing team that all come from very similar backgrounds, and they do an amazing job. So I'm very proud of the work the company's involved in.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Really appreciate you sharing that storied career with us, Chris. We're really interested to see what comes next for you as well, and the team. Surely, not stopping right here. So looking forward to that. On that note, I'm wondering if you could let us finish up with a few words of wisdom from you. Do you have advice or wisdom for our listeners, or maybe even our students, who are preparing to be tomorrow's problem solvers and tomorrow's digital citizens, in fact, today's digital citizens? Any words of wisdom?

Chris Poulter:

Yeah. I always say remain, and it goes back to one of the principles is, stay inquisitive. So keep trying to find that bit of information. Because like I said, if you can arm yourself with that, you're going to be in a better position that than you were before. So stay inquisitive, and then be comfortable with that online landscape. And then once you get comfortable with that, then your world is your oyster because you'll be able to adapt to any situation that that comes forward. Because you're going to be armed with information and then, ultimately, knowledge once you've applied some analysis to it.

Joachim Cohen:

Good advice. That is for sure. And as a librarian myself, Chris, it is music to my ears. I can tell you that's for sure. Power over information sounds like a good mantra. Now, before we let you go, everyone who comes onto our podcast does get a challenge at the end. And the challenge is called Rocketship Robots. It's a little bit like Desert Island Disks from a very famous podcast over in the UK. But no, we don't want you to your favorite CD or your favorite tune. We want you to tell us, if you were in a rocket heading to outer space, what is the one piece of technology that you would take with you.

Chris Poulter:

Amazon Kindle, not even going to hesitate.

Joachim Cohen:

Wow.

Chris Poulter:

That's an amazing bit of kit. You could fit so many books on that thing. It's light. And you can notate. It's hands down, Amazon Kindle. Wouldn't take anything else.

Joachim Cohen:

I love it. That's the first time I think we've got that answer from anyone on the podcast, and it's one that's ringing true, I'm sure, to Yvette's heart, to my heart, and Mona's as well. Oh, thank you so much, Chris, for joining us. I think you provided us with so many insights, so much inspiration for Cybermarvel Action. Thank you again.

Chris Poulter:

Thanks for having me. Really appreciate it. And good luck with the rest of the program, and stay safe online, everyone.

Joachim Cohen:

So, Yvette and Mona, what would you do with all this online data and intelligence?

Yvette Poshoglian:

Look, I think it was really sobering to hear Chris's perspective on the power of the intelligence gathering and open-source intelligence can gather. And those really serious issues around some of the darker things we don't normally think about. On my level, I'm usually thinking about the really simple things like making sure my passwords and passcodes are up to date, but really understanding that need to understand and analyze data and also the power that comes not just with the curiosity, but as he kept mentioning the drive towards finding what the meat of the information provides. I think that was a definite takeaway that I've got from that discussion.

Joachim Cohen:

Oh, absolutely. I can totally hear what you're saying Yvette. If one of my passwords is compromised and they were all compromised, that's a really scary, scary thought. But I think what drilled home to me is the increasing importance of information literacy as well as digital literacy. So being a really effective searcher in 2021 is way more important than we could have ever imagined. And the power that you have with that ability to interrogate, to find, to discover, and then use it to justify decision making really blew my mind. And it certainly put me on a different pathway to thinking about, well maybe with data, it can actually help me to make decisions and also to, I think, propose different ways of thinking. What about you Mona?

Mona Sidhu:

Yeah, very strong for me as well. Because when you talk about data, you talk about whose data is it, who owns it, who are you sharing it with? So when you start talking about that, you start thinking about is a personal information, is it public information, and who has access to it, who am I sharing it with, and how long am I sharing it with them for, and what platforms am I sharing with them on? And you know, things like that. So those questions, I think our students need, and teachers, need to be in the back of their head every time they click share or share a post. Have they even read it? Do they support what they are sharing? Because it's going to come back and bite them if they haven't thought about the process before, clicking things.

Mona Sidhu:

So a click can go a very long way if you don't have a mature head behind it. So I think where Chris is coming from is a very powerful message. And I think the work that we are doing together will reinforce that for our primary school kids, because I think we need to start at the younger age rather than at the ... Once the students have passed stage five, we might have lost them. I think we need to grab them really early and start instilling these good habits at that early age.

Yvette Poshoglian:

That's right, Mona. And I think even ... We all know that to have a strong password or passphrase is crucial to being safe online. But I think that discussion really challenged me to think a bit more deeply about how I share my personal data and where we're leaving our footprint. So I'm sure that's going to be the perfect springboard for teachers to start with their students during Cybermarvel too.

Joachim Cohen:

So team we've seen the power of data and digital intelligence. What are some of the ways we can tame this power in the classroom and also help our students build a responsible digital footprint? Mona, do you have any more information on Cybermarvel?

Mona Sidhu:

Yeah, so we were talking about Cybermarvel. As I told you, we've got webinars, and one of the webinars we have for principals, which is hosted by Microsoft, is going to empower them to nurture cyber safe citizens. So it's being led by the very amazing Meagan Townes, who we all know, and Andrew Balzer our very own Andrew. I'm told that we've got professional learning for teachers as well on managing screen time. So their own digital wellbeing, looking after that. And also learning what the current technology trends are. So that's an offer for teachers and principals. For young students, we've got cyber safe and respectful online behavior through games such as Google's interland. They can also learn other good online habits through the virtual incursions we have from Olly online. That is getting a lot of registrations, so there's a lot of interest there. So teachers can register their class and let the fun begin in their lessons.

Mona Sidhu:

All the students can enroll into Minecraft and coding challenges offered by Grock Academy. Also as I said, parents are a part of this journey as well. So we have webinars for parents, so popular apps for eight to 13 year olds. So as we all know, students use TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and things like that. And parents don't know how they can help their child be safe in those apps. So this webinar by Esafety commissioner will help them do that learning. We're also looking at another potential webinar from Amazon. Still in the development phase, and watch this space because it's coming. It's to do with using voice activated technology at home. So things like your Alexa and Google Home and things like that, and the privacy and the security for families to do with those devices. So really, really interesting, all these. I will join one of those sessions as well, because I'm really scared of Alexa and Google Home and things like that

Joachim Cohen:

When are they coming up. When is Cybermarvel's excitement happening?

Mona Sidhu:

All through October, but the site is published now, so you can feel free to go and have a look now. But most of the on demand sessions are in October. So all whole month of October is Cybermarvel.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Got to say Mona, you've curated the most incredible collection of resources. And you touched on the internet awesome campaign by Google, which is one of the resources I've taken a look at, and this is just a really interactive way of getting students to think seriously about online safety in a really fun gaming gamified atmosphere. So I'd recommend people check that out, because I think the students would really use this resource. And I just love that Cybermarvel is a month long campaign. It's not one day, it's not one week, but it's a whole month. And I think that obviously we want everyone to be cyber safe year round. So it could be a bit of a springboard for a whole school plan about cyber safety. The other thing I just wanted to mention was our department's digital citizenship page, which is another great source of information. I know that's also curated on there too, Mona. So really looking forward to October kicking off.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Joe, what have you got?

Joachim Cohen:

Oh yes. Absolutely. I'm so excited by October coming forward, and I'm going to continue down the whole information literacy path. And my resource is Google's search education page. So I know one of the things that Chris said was to become a really good effective Google search or researcher, and there's some great tips in there and how to get the most out of a search engine. So I really encourage people to go and find out. There's way more than just one search box, there are so many options and advanced features so you can start to narrow down and find what you need and make informed decisions. That's where I head.

Joachim Cohen:

So Yvette and Mona, are you going to be doing a little more thinking before hitting the accept button, sharing online, or even just clicking search from now on? Mona, what a blast it has been to have you as a special guest on our podcast. Thanks for joining us, passing on your wisdom and insights, and we will have to get you back on soon. All the best with the Cybermarvel program, and people, it's kicking off now, so jump online and enroll your students.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Mona, don't be a stranger. We'd love to have you back.

Mona Sidhu:

Thanks Yvette and Joe for having me. Thanks T4L for their amazing work and the support they've offered for cyber safety education for students. I wish that we continue on this journey for a few more years, and raise awareness. Thank you guys.

Joachim Cohen:

This podcast has been produced by the masterful Jacob Druce, with the assistance and supreme coordination of many more awesome members of a T4L team.

Yvette Poshoglian:

Just a little note. Please be aware that all views expressed by the podcast presenters, that's us, are our personal opinions and not representative of the New South Wales Department of Education. Discussions aren't endorsements of third party products, services, or events. And please note that as much as we sound like it, we are not experts in legalese, tech speak, or anything in between. We're just passionate people keen to boost technology for learning in the classroom and to help build the skills in your students, and for you to solve the problems of tomorrow. Do your due diligence, read further, and if we've got something wrong, let us know. We too are always learning and always improving.

Joachim Cohen:

Before we go, please make sure you send us through your comments, your word of techno wizardy wisdom, and your thoughts for new guests and segments. And if you liked the podcast, give us a rating. So more and more educators find us and be inspired to get a little techie in the classroom. Stay compassionate, stay safe, stay aware everyone, and thanks for joining us.