8 Steps To Secure Shopping Online

Posted on
The Cookie Monster

This Cyber Monday & in the run up to the festive season many of us will be getting ready to buy online.

We would never leave our home without locking the front door to keep our valuables safe.  So why would we not protect our personal data and be mindful of its value when we are browsing and shopping online?

Cyber security global leader Kaspersky Lab has put together a short video called “The Data Dollar Store” that reveals the lack of value that some shoppers put on their personal data.  It is a thought-provoking piece that will hopefully make us all stop and think before giving our personal data away for free the next time that we go online.

Take Steps

However, there are lots of ways that we humans can take ownership and take concrete steps to protect our own data, which cost us nothing or next-to-nothing!

So, before you get online and go shopping, here are eight tips to keep you and your valuable personal and financial data secure.

  1. Web Browser: savvy online shoppers use incognito mode

Lots of airlines are running Cyber Monday sales and many of us now use incognito mode to book flights online.  Have you ever noticed that a flight price has changed after searching it a few times in your browser? Based on the cookies in your browser, flight prices do go up when a particular route is repeatedly searched.  The site wants to frighten you into booking the flight quickly before prices get even higher. If you search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode, the cookie will not be able to track you and you will be able to see the lowest prices.

However, even if you are already using incognito mode (or any other browser’s private modes) note that the following parties will still be able to snoop in on your network activity:

  • Internet service providers
  • System administrators in charge of the network at your school, workplace, or wherever you get online
  • Google, or whoever made your browser

If you want reasonably private browsing (as no system can ever be 100% secure), you could think about using Tor.

  1. Browse in private with Tor

Tor stands for “The Onion Router”. It uses multiple onion-like layers to mask network activity. It’s free, open source and easy to use.

  1. Mobile Phone: Turn on your phone’s password protection

Thumbprint ID is better than nothing, but it’s often not sufficient – you can’t change your thumbprint if an attacker ever gets hold of your mobile.

Thumbs down to Thumb Prints?

An attacker usually gets ten tries before a phone will completely lock them out. So, if your four-digit password is one of these common ones, you should change it ASAP: 1234; 9999; 1111; 3333; 0000; 5555; 1212; 6666; 7777; 1122; 1004; 1313; 2000; 8888; 4444; 4321; 2222; 2001; 6969; 1010

  1. Password: Use different passwords for each service

Don’t use the same password in more than one place. Pick a strong password.

A strong password consists of at least six characters (and the more characters, the stronger the password) that are a combination of letters, numbers and symbols (@, #, $, %, etc.) if allowed. Passwords are typically case-sensitive, so a strong password contains letters in both uppercase and lowercase. Avoid obvious dictionary words and combinations of dictionary words. Any word on its own is bad.

Use a Strong Password

Think about using a password manager to save you trying to remember your passwords – or maybe go old school – buy a small hardback copy book and record all of your passwords in this – as a hard copy it is technically “unhackable”. (Just don’t lose it!)

  1. Texting: Send encrypted text messages

Signal & Telegram are popular free, private messaging services. You can do all the things you would normally do through text messages, like have group messages and send photos and videos. Except that everything’s encrypted.

  1. Email: Use two-factor authentication on your inbox

Did you know that if your email inbox is compromised an attacker can not only read your emails, they can also use it to reset your passwords for social media accounts, bank accounts – and a whole lot more?

So, improve your personal security by turning on two-factor authentication on your inbox.

Two-factor authentication adds a second layer of security when signing into your email account. It usually involves receiving a phone call or text message with a special code whenever you sign into your account.

If you use Gmail, you can activate two-factor authentication here.

  1. PC: Encrypting your hard drive

Did you know that Windows and MacOS both have built-in full-disk encryption? The user just needs to turn it on.

  1. Search Engine: Search in private

If you don’t want to install Tor you can still search privately using DuckDuckGo, the search engine that does not track you.

DuckDuckGo isn’t as sophisticated as Google (it just does not have the same engineer resources), but it has a handy little a shortcut to enable you to get encrypted Google searches whenever you need them. How? You just need to prefix your search with !google.

Happy Online Shopping!

Happy online shopping to you all – and don’t forget to check out our very own Cyber Monday deals!


5 Key Skills for Learners in 2018

Did you know that sixty percent of jobs that will exist by 2030 are unknown?

Education in 2018 is about facilitating the student to become a lifelong learner. Knowing how to learn to adapt to the challenges of new technology and having agility to adapt are becoming key attributes in education as we move towards an inflection point in technology with the rapid advancement of AI and robotics.

With this rise, there has been a lot of coverage in the media recently about robots taking jobs away from humankind (think Blade Runner 2049) and this has led to an interesting debate on how education can play a vital role in helping to prepare people to be resilient and able to adapt to the technological advances that will eventually impact their everyday lives.

Opening Night at Web Summit 2017

The technology conference Web Summit 2017 was held on November 7th to 9th in Lisbon. I was fortunate to be invited to the Opening Night on November 6th  where I heard Bryan Johnson of Kernel, Stephen Hawking and the European Commission’s Margrethe Vestager, talk about a diverse range of topics: hacking into the human brain; ethics and responsibility in the development of AI and robotics; and competition law, how it works to drive innovation by protecting SMEs from the data controlling giants of the technology sector and allowing smaller businesses to compete for business.

Alpha Stands

My personal focus at the event was on learning both inside and outside the classroom. I visited VR, AI and AR alpha stands where I met and chatted with numerous Start Ups. Virtu Oso (co-founded by Scottish vets Rory Shearer and William Seymour) is using AR and 4D video to develop bespoke hardware and software for use in education. ZREALITY (founded by Geman Kai Utzinger) has developed “VR Timetravel” a VR sightseeing experience in Luxembourg into the year 1867.   Many others that I met are ideating and developing software and hardware to enhance learning in a virtual world.

Lisa at the Virtual Reality Start Up Stands

Magic Shows

I also attended many talks and presentations on VR, AI and AR and discovered how this rapidly advancing technology can be used to make learning and information more engaging and dynamic.

Ambarish Mitra of Blippar spoke on the Creatiff Stage about AR and how it can be indistinguishable from magic.  He showcased the launch of his new product the AR City App. The app helps you navigate and explore 300 cities worldwide using augmented reality and computer vision at scale.

A Journey of Lifelong Learning

Another talk which took place on the Future Societies Stage “Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom” was particularly insightful and relevant to my business, online and distance learning course provider Kilroy’s College.

The talk was hosted by FRANCE 24’s Marjorie Paillon and with a panel of expert educators:  Duolingo’s Gina Gotthilf, Coursera’s Jeff Maggioncalda, UNESCO’s Mmantsetsa Marope and University of Sydney’s Michael Spence. This panel took the premise that we are living longer and travelling further and that many of today’s jobs didn’t exist a decade ago or have moved in directions unimaginable to our younger selves. They shared their thoughts on the response of educative institutions and technology to our need for lifelong learning in the face of this massive technological shift.

Be All Things to All Men

Education now needs to produce specialists in specific areas – trans-disciplinarians who can apply multiple knowledge, as well as being a specialist in a certain field.  They should be multi-literate and not just adept at the traditional three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic).  They are health literate, they understand the interaction of data, knowledge and skills and they are tech savvy with a desire for good.

Lisa in Lisbon – blown away by the Web Summit!

5 Key Attributes for Learners in 2018

At the University of Sydney, they are mixing traditional education with educational technology.  The five key attributes that they strive to equip their graduates today with to future proof them are: –

  1. Critical thinking
  2. To be able to step outside their discipline (e.g. take a second major degree)
  3. To have an international and global perspective (e.g. having knowledge of a second language)
  4. To work in a multi-disciplinary team
  5. To be able to solve world problems – not just to give students internships but to give them a real, strategic problem in an organisation to solve to develop core intellectual skillsIn this way learners will be set up to be more resilient in the face of the vast technological changes that are already impacting the workplace on a regular basis. 


    The Ed Tech Perspective

    Educators need to be facilitators and use technology to enhance skills learned inside the classroom.  A good example of how this works is by utilising a language learning app in the classroom.  Teachers can work with the app and figure out what skills are needed and then curate and direct the learning for their students.

    The virtual world can work effectively with a physical environment. It offers flexibility as well as open access and smart providers are thinking more effectively about how they can work together with blended content.  It is not either or – education should be able to call upon multiple resources and media to use them as required both inside and outside the classroom.

    The future of education is a hybrid that learners will demand.  For example, by blending the delivery of a new language the student and educator can keep this activity going all week long and the learner can continue to practice using online resources.


    We are now seeing more Master degree programmes in innovation and entrepreneurship being offered at university.  Education needs to blend this rapidly changing knowledge and to continue to provide institutions that can adapt as and when needed.

    There are some jobs that do not even exist when a student enters College or school, but if the students gets a good foundation to cope and is agile enough to pivot they will be equipped with the necessary skill set to adapt when they graduate.

    Final Thoughts

    The take home message for me from Web Summit 2017 is that we should not try to leverage or master technology at any cost.  Each of us must take the responsibility of the ethical use of technology on our own shoulders and ensure that this brave new world is a welcoming place for our children to live, learn, work and thrive in.

    Join our happy community of lifelong learners today and help to future proof yourself for tomorrow’s world.

10 IT Job Skills In High Demand For 2017 & Beyond!

IT Job Skills In-Demand for 2017

If 2016 was a good year to be in IT, it looks like 2017 is going to be an even better year! Unemployment rates in the IT industry in 2016 were at around 1% in some areas – such as network and web security engineers and software developers and are forecast to fall even more in 2017. Given those numbers, it will come as no surprise that 81% of IT leaders have said that they have a real problem finding IT talent (as found in a recent TEKsystems survey).

10 IT skills that were in high demand for 2016:

  1. UI/UX designers/developers
  2. Full-stack Web & product developers
  3. Network engineers
  4. Security/web security professionals
  5. Mobile Engineers
  6. Data analysts
  7. IT project managers (vertical specific)
  8. Cloud architects/integration
  9. Data scientists
  10. Content Management Systems


So, even if you’re not a web security expert or a software developer, there’s still a lot of opportunity out there for you!

Interview With An Expert Recruiter

We spoke to one of the IT recruitment industry’s best in Ireland, Charlene Heaney. Charlene is Co-Founder & Managing Director at HP|konnect.

Charlene Heaney

We asked Charlene to forecast what the trends for IT recruitment will look like in 2017 for our IT students and graduates:

  1. Do you see the same dominance for recruitment of cyber security experts and software developers so far in 2017?

Absolutely, and it’s going to get stronger as time goes on.  I’ve read a few different articles across the web noting that by 2020 there will be 1 million more jobs, than IT skilled professionals to fill them.  That is a massive gap for any industry.  In our day to day work of recruiting IT professionals, I’m noticing this trend already.  There is so much competition out there for good IT professionals, I will emphasise “good”.  If your students plan their career strategy correctly, they will be in a position to chose what type of work they want.

2. Are there any emerging new trends for in-demand IT skills in 2017?

Much the same as above in 2016, UX/UI is hot right now, and a lot of people in the market moved jobs in 2016, this will slow down a little however the demand is still there.

Look at the last 5-10yrs evolution in both the IT and digital industries.  With the commercialisation of the internet (digital) it has changed how we do business.  Thus, if companies want to remain competitive they have to evolve with the trends which means that “practically” every business will have some sort of IT/Digital bow to their belt, hence the rise in demand of UX/UI designers.  Digital is now mainstream, it’s not the privilege of the big tech companies anymore.  Costs of operating a business online has never been cheaper, which in turn spurs new entrepreneurs to take the risk and creates more jobs in our economy.

So what does all this mean for your students, especially cyber security students?  The more businesses online, the more demand that will generate for cyber security professionals as more laws and compliance will be introduced to protect businesses from cyber threats.  This is a complex industry in itself, however very rewarding one.

For the remaining IT domains, UPC (now Virgin) released an insights report on the affects of digital economy in Ireland in 2014, forecasting a minimum of 150,000 jobs will be created by 2020 in Ireland.

3. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of changing career to enter the IT sector?

The IT sector is a vocation, and a profession in one.  I would encourage people who are thinking about changing careers to seek advice.  Understand what the role entails, talk to people who are currently in the role you desire.  Find out the good aspects and the not so good aspects.  Does this career fit into your ideal lifestyle?  Changing careers is a big decision and should be carefully considered as you may have to start at the bottom again.

The IT industry is one of the best industries to be in, you will be at the forefront of innovation, be part of something that’s bigger than yourself and could possibly change history.  It’s exciting, it’s very very challenging and IT is here to stay forever…

4. What qualities do you look for in the ideal candidate?
  • Education
  • Skills / experience
  • Attitude / personality
5. How can you best upskill to keep ahead of the pack?

Keep an eye on the market trends for your chosen field.  Network and find out what you should be learning.  Read industry blogs and attend events and meetups.  Meetups are a great way to network, and are pretty informal/friendly atmosphere.

Have personal projects – hiring managers love to see candidates who have personal side-projects.  It shows you are enthusiastic and passionate about what you do, while helping you to upskill and learn more about your chosen field.

Take The First Step To A New Career In IT Today!

To reflect the current trends in IT Skills, Kilroy’s College IT Department is proud to announce that it has just launched 2 new online CIW courses in Web Security and Data Analytics. Or take a look at our full range of IT courses to find an online course that really interests to you.

Each course can be completed in as little as 160 hours of learning effort and successful completion leads to a CIW certificate.  CIW is the most recognised vendor-neutral Web technology education programme in the world.

So, what are you waiting for?  Enrol today and start your journey towards a brighter future in this exciting, new and brave digital world!