It’s never too early to think about the perils of the internet.

That was the message brought by KPMG to the students at Triple C School on Friday, when Iain D. Kenny and Marlon Joseph presented a lecture on cybersecurity in the internet age.

Mr. Kenny, a former detective with the Technological Crimes Unit of the Edmonton Police Service, told the students they need to be careful with the way they present themselves to the world.

“Everyone is affected by cybercrime now, whether they’re youth or adult. Everyone has smartphones, email addresses and they’re using websites,” said Mr. Kenny, KPMG’s director of advisory services. “Almost every person has an online presence. And as a result of that, everyone is at risk. Of course, it’s better to be educated before you become a victim, to avoid becoming a victim.”

Mr. Kenny and Mr. Joseph were speaking to an assembly of around 250 students between Year 6 and Year 12, and they peppered their address with references to popular websites and applications.

The students were taught not to clink on links within emails unless they are sent from a reliable source, and they were told not to open attachments unless they knew who sent them.

Mr. Kenny and Mr. Joseph explained the concept of phishing scams to the children, and they asked them if they have ever received that kind of email. Many of the children raised their hand.

“Have any of you actually received a million dollars?” Mr. Kenny asked.

Mr. Joseph, a manager at KPMG, spoke to the children about social media and emphasized the healthy ways that those sites can be used. But he also cautioned that there’s a downside to posting on the internet, namely that there may be people who are trying to use your information against you.

“Whatever we post on the internet is always there,” he said. “Ten or 15 years down the line, you might forget what you posted a few weeks or a few years ago. But it’s still there.”

The students were also cautioned against using the same password for all of their accounts, because if one account gets compromised, that gives cybercriminals an easy entrance to the rest.

Petri Basson, left, Iain Kenny and Marlon Joseph of KPMG have teamed up to bring a cybersecurity awareness lectures to local schools.

Mr. Kenny and Mr. Joseph cautioned the students against accepting friend requests from people they do not know, and they were told to think twice before they post anything online. Before the assembly, Mr. Kenny was asked if there was a chance the students would be too young to grasp the lesson.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “We can see now that kids that are three years old know how to use iPads and play games on them. I honestly think that many of the kids in the room will be more knowledgeable about technology than their parents. They have their peer groups and they have access to devices at school now pretty readily. In a school environment, there are controls over what people can look at.… But as soon as they leave the confines of the school, there’s no restrictions.”

KPMG has been putting on these assemblies all over the world during October, which has been internationally recognized as Cybersecurity Awareness Month. KPMG intends to visit a school in Cayman Brac soon, and Mr. Kenny said it’s important to spread the word near and far.

“Parents just don’t have the knowledge or the experience to be able to educate their kids sometimes,” he said about the subject of cybersecurity. “And in 40 minutes, we’re not going to make them cyber experts. But we want to make them aware of some of the risks that are out there.”

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now