Guest post: A guide to cyber threats (by Alvin Kwok, Bryan Lam, Bryan Li and Michael Tong)

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 11.14.54 AMThis post is contributed by Alvin Kwok, Bryan Lam, Bryan Li and Michael Tong. For their PYP Exhibition, they have inquired into various cyber threats, how they work and how we can protect ourselves. Along with my teaching partner, Fion Poon, I have been mentoring the boys. I am proud to share their work on my blog. Special thanks to the boys’ class teachers, Melisa Baldwick and Julie Xiao for their guidance throughout the process.

We are students from Victoria Shanghai Academy in Hong Kong. We are honoured to be writing about cyber safety on Mr. Hill’s PYP blog. We are going to talk about four major threats on the internet: cyberbullying, malware, phishing and hackers. We hope that you will learn from this post.

1. Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is bullying people online via an electronic device. We will outline some methods:

  • Flaming: an online fight that may include harsh messages.
  • Harassment: offensive messages over and over. These may include harsh words and may lead to offline fights.
  • Exclusion: boycotting a person on a site or chat room. It usually refers to kicking someone out of an online community.
  • Outing: making fun of someone specifically. It may include the victim’s personal data, personal images and other personal information.
  • Masquerading: creating a fake account to cyberbully someone anonymously.


Many cases of cyberbullying start with real life problems. Other reasons are the anonymity of the internet and too much free time. Now that we know what causes cyberbullying, here are some tips to address it:


Keep evidence of cyberbullying so you can show it to someone you trust. But there are also things not to do, such as flaming back at the bully. Remember that he/she wants a response so don’t snap back. It is best if you ignore the bully, then report or block them.

Do not be a bully. Think of how you would feel if you were bullied. Be a good digital citizen.

2. Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, is one of the most dangerous threats on the internet. Many of the horrors on the web are malware, such as worldwide ransomware Wannacrypt. There are more types of malware such as viruses and Trojan horses. We will list some of the main types of malware.  

  • Viruses: this malware can disrupt your computer systems. They are able to self- replicate. Unlike worms (below), they are not able to replicate themselves without help. They need a human action such as running a file.
  • Worms: like viruses, but they are able to replicate themselves without human help. Unlike viruses, they don’t need someone to run the infected file.
  • Ransomware: malicious software that locks your computer tight so that you can’t access your files until you pay a certain amount of money/online currency.


Why do people use malware? Sometimes, malware is used for practical jokes. Other times, it’s used to make money. Spyware, for example. can log your keystrokes and gain access to passwords and personal information.

Furthermore, it’s fast! Malware like worms and viruses can spread to multiple computers with a mere click. Take the WannaCrypt as an example. Wannacrypt spread to thousands of computers in one night. A single hacker can’t do that without help, but malware can.


  • Make sure you have antiviruses on your computer:

Antiviruses are software programs that battle malware. But if you don’t update your antiviruses, then they will not be strong enough to protect your computer from incoming malware. Do regular antivirus sweeps. Make sure you do it at least once per week. The antivirus software should remind you to update. If not, the list of update information should show on the main page of the antivirus program.

  • Do not click on links that look suspicious

This is a common rule for phishing and malware. If you have the slightest doubt about a website, don’t risk it. It could contain malware. When you see a hyperlink, make sure you check the link before you click. A secure website has a padlock symbol at the top left-hand corner of the page. It is best if the link starts with ‘https’.

  • Do not open spam emails.

Spam emails are created by a spambot, trying to send malware or overcome your computer with a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service). DDoS attacks are computer attacks that overload your computer with too much information, thus making your computer crash. Click here to read an example of a DDoS attack

3. Phishing

Phishers are people who use sites that look like trustworthy websites but are actually fake ones that will try to get your money. Seventeen years ago, a website imitated PayPal. The website was named PayPaI (with a capital ‘i’ at the end). This website was created by scam artist Alexey Ivanov. Click here for more information about this event. Very recently, people have been sent phished Amazon emails. Mr. Hill was sent one recently and shared this experience with us. Click here for more information.


Why do phishers phish? Their reason is because they think it is easy money and easy to get away with. It is very difficult to catch them.


  • Be sure to check the website link carefully

Hover over hyperlinks before clicking them. Many phishing website links look the same as the real website but actually, they are a bit different. For example, a phisher might use (look carefully at the spelling).

  • Make sure you see who sent the email to you

Many companies have custom email addresses, but when someone phishes you, their email address is different.

  • Don’t enter personal information

Many scam artists pretend you signed up for something you didn’t sign up for. Then it requires personal information. Do not fall for that trick. This was similar to the Amazon scam that was sent to Mr. Hill. It was a fake receipt for an item that he did not order. He almost typed in his account information for a refund!

4. Hackers

Hackers are people who use different types of malware, codes and scams to steal, disrupt or show off. Some malware includes the WannaCrypt ransomware which causes you to pay a certain fine to recover your documents and files.

RW Map
Red counties have been infected with WannaCrypt

Other hackers, such as Kevin Mitnick (now reformed), hack to steal information. Overall, there are three main reasons why people hack:


  • Hacking for fun

Hacking for fun is when people hack just to prove they have good programming skills or just for the fun. This reason is uncommon compared to the one below.

  • Hacking to steal

Hackers can use stolen information to hack into more people’s accounts. They steal information in order to target people easily. Another Reason is that hackers can black-market that information and sell it to buyers.

  • Hacking to disrupt

Some hackers like to cause a lot of damage to big companies like Apple or Microsoft. Once, a hacker group hacked Sony Pictures and found personal data of every employee. Click here for information about that hacking event. Another time, Gary Mckinnon hacked into NASA because he believed that NASA was hiding information about UFOs. Click here for information about Gary Mckinnon.

According to Wikipedia, Richard Stallman’s hack categories were inspired by old Western movies:

  • White hat hackers

White hat hackers hack for a good reason. They hack to improve a computer’s security system. Some send malware to a computer to test if the antivirus system works. White hat hackers are often employed to do this job. This is now what reformed hacker Kevin Mitnick does for Microsoft.

  • Black hat hackers

Black hat hackers are the villains of the cyber world. They hack for greedy purposes such as money. These hackers think about the prizes, not the people who are affected.

  • Red hat hackers

Red hat hackers are like the vigilantes of the hacker world. Like superheroes, they hunt and destroy black hats. While white hats improve security, red hats hunt for black hats. They release malware to hunt the black hats.


  • Make sure your account is secure

Be sure to review all of your account activity. If you find something suspicious, change your password.

  • Use multiple strong passwords

Your password should be random yet practical. It should include both capital and lowercase letters. Also, try to include symbols and numbers. If you have multiple accounts, don’t use the same password for all of them. If someone knows your password, they would know all of your passwords! Click here for a list of the most common passwords. Avoid using these because they are easy to guess.

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi

Think about this: if you can use public Wi-Fi, won’t hackers be able to use it too? Hackers might be able to hack the Wi-Fi, monitoring every single action that someone does. They can get your password if you log on to something.

“If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked.”

Richard Clarke

From this post, we hope you learned more about the multiple dangers of the vast internet. Now, we wish that you will be responsible digital citizens and spread the word to your friends and family. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Here is some further reading you may find useful:

A guide to the internet

Types of malware

Types of Hackers


  1. Hi boys,

    Thanks for teaching me about hacking threats and how I should probably be more mindful of my lack of password variety last week! I enjoyed your exphebition, too; it appeared to be very successful.

    I am most impressed with the clarity and organisation of your inquiry, evident in this wonderful blog post (it certainly has attracted more attention than mine).


    Mr Healey

    1. Dear Mr. Healey,
      Thank you for your kind reply. We are glad you enjoyed our post. We sure hope that it would spread the word throughout time.

      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

  2. Hello Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael.
    I am so impressed by the depth of knowledge you have shown around your topic. It is clear that you have put a tremendous amount of work into your research. I also get the sense that this is a bit of a passion project for you!
    Well done. You should be very proud of yourselves. As a next step, could this be printed out and place in your school library?
    Just a thought!

    1. Dear Rachel Poff,

      Thank you for taking your time to write this comment. We appreciate your response to this piece of work. Indeed, this is sort of a passion project for us.

      Thank you,
      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

  3. Dear Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael,
    I am a grade 4 teacher in Canberra, Australia. Your work shows you are very knowledgeable and show a deep understanding of the concepts.
    Earlier this year my grade 4 students looked at cyber bulling in their Who We Are unit. I shared your exhibition with them and they were wowed by it. They thought your work would have been a good research resource for them.
    Thank you for sharing this outstanding work. My students now aspire to have exhibition presentation as good as yours.
    Mrs N.
    Red Hill School

    1. Dear Hazel Naidoo,

      Thank you for your comment, we are glad that your student could see our work and that we could help them.

      Best Regards,
      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin, Michael

  4. Thank you Gentlemen for this informative post. I was especially surprised to read about the Amazon scam. I love Amazon, and will make sure to properly read any emails I get from them.
    With thanks,
    MYP teacher in Tanzania

    1. Dear Tima,
      We appreciate your comment and hope that our post can help you be more careful online and maybe also teach your students.

      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin, Michael

  5. Great job, boys. Proud to see former 4A2 students taking the initiative. I’m looking forward to taking my Y4 class to your Y5 Exhibition so they see what they will be doing next year. You are setting a good standard for them to follow!

    1. Dear Mr McNeilly

      We appreciate that you support us and are glad to hear that you would like to get your class to visit us.

      Bryan, Bryan, Michael, Alvin

  6. Well done guys! Well researched, well presented and very informative. This information is important for children and adults. I also think it is extremely important that children are aware of the risks associated with using the internet, especially cyber bullying. Keep on spreading the word and educating others.

    1. Dear WarmSand,

      Thank you for supporting us. We hope this information will help you face the dangers of the web.

      Thanks again,
      Bryan, Bryan, Michael, Alvin

  7. Dear Bryan, Bryan, Michael and Alvin,

    Thank you for working so hard on this post. I am very proud to present it on my blog. You responded very well to my comments and suggestions and the end result is a fantastic showcase of your deep understanding. I can honestly say that I have learnt a lot from this and I have taken action regarding my own internet security. Thank you and well done!

    You have received many positive responses from educators worldwide. Thank you for responding so professionally.

    I have a question: what do you think Richard Clarke means in his quote? To what extent do you agree with him?

    Thanks again,

    Mr. Hill

  8. Dear Gentlemen,

    It is very impressive ! I learn a lot by reading through the blog and I look forward to seeing the presentation at VSA soon.


    1. Dear Coupdesign2,

      Thank you for your support! Hope to see you soon at exhibition.

      Thank you,
      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael.

  9. Excellent job boys! Very informative and great suggestions to keep us safe in the cyber world. So lovely to see Bryan Li and Bryan Lam’s exhibition work!

    1. Dear Ms. Tom,
      I hope you had a good time in your new school. Thank you for your encouraging comment.

      Thank you,
      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

    1. Dear #marshmallow clouds,

      Thank you for your encouragement, hope you do well in exhibition too!

      Thank you,

      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

    1. Dear Disvaporeonbedabbing,

      Thanks for your encouraging comment.

      Bryan, Bryan, Michael, Alvin

  10. Thank you for all of the helpful information. I wasn’t aware of all of the terminology surrounding internet security. The part about the black hat and red hat was neat. I don’t believe that it is common knowledge and I think people “think” they know all the terms, but they don’t. Keep up the good work! Questions: If I am someone that only uses the internet to check emails, an I at risk? If so, how am I at risk?

    1. Dear,

      Thank you for your support. To answer your question, sometimes spam bots and phishers send phishing links. Though it is pretty rare, there is always a chance that this will happen. Just be aware of these threats.


      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

  11. Well done, gentlemen. I am impressed with your research and how you organized the information so that people can understand and learn. Thank you for sharing. You are being models of good digital citizens.

    1. Dear Mrslueders,

      We are glad for your support. Throughout posting this blog, we thought carefully on how to organise each blog. Thank you!


      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

  12. Superb job boys! Very well expressed and hope people understand its importance too in their day to day life.

    1. Dear Komal Sarkar,

      Thank you for your motivating comment. We are glad you took time to write a comment on this post! We do hope people will understand the importance on online security.

      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

  13. Great work boys! you are on the right track of becoming responsible and aware global citizens.

    1. Dear Supriyaa,

      Thank you for your encouraging comment. We are glad that you learned more about online threats. Hope you would be a responsible and global citizen as well!

      Thank you,

      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

  14. Super job guys! Effort definitely equals impact! Very informative and practical tips about staying save online.

    1. Dear Ms. Baldwick,

      We are glad you enjoyed the blog post. Thank you for helping us throughout this post.

      Thank you,

      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

    1. Dear tinsingapore,

      Thank you for reading our informative blog. We are glad you enjoyed our piece of writing.

      Thank you,

      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and michael

  15. Really impressive work, chaps. Thorough, well-researched and with good examples of action. Some of our Grade 5s did a similar subject for their Exhibition – I’m going to pass this on to them for comparison.

    1. Dear @MrTomtheTeacher

      Thank you for your comment. We are happy you liked our guest blog. Hope your students do a good job in their exhibition as well.


      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael.

    1. Dear Meera,

      Thank you for your response. We appreciate the support.

      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin, Michael

  16. WOW! Great work guys! This was a very well written and informative piece with important and concise information that all children and adults need to know. I learned several things from this post and enjoyed reading it until the very end. You should be very proud of yourselves.

    1. Dear Jeff,

      Thank you for your response. We appreciate your feedback. We are glad you enjoyed our post.


  17. Awesome work boys. Very proud of you all for the hard work you have put into your Exhibition and this blog post. I really learned a lot about cyber bullying and safety. I found the information on the different types of hackers especially interesting.

    1. Dear Mr. Dawson,

      Thank you for the comment. We are glad you enjoyed the post. We also found our information interesting. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.


      Bryan, Bryan, Alvin and Michael

Share your thoughts