- Posted by Alliance Technologies
Bring This Conversation Home: Cyber Security and Kids
Are Your Kids Safe Online?
All of us, no matter our age, have become incredibly comfortable with the Internet. It’s made life simpler. Our devices respond more quickly and intuitively than ever.
Sometimes, we forget we’re connected at all. It’s easy to press a button, tap “I Agree,” or auto-enter personal information without thinking about the consequences.
But simplicity of use does not equal “safe.” It’s vital each of us teach the young people in our lives how to protect themselves when they’re online. Thankfully, the Department of Homeland Security has published some incredible tip-sheets.We, at Alliance Technologies, would like to recommend them to you. (Download those tip-sheets HERE.)
Though we still recommend digging in yourself, we’d like to point out a few of the recommendations every family should discuss at the dinner table (or on a phone call from a savvy aunt, uncle, grandparent, or family friend).
Protect Your Online Reputation and Identity
Remind kids never to share “sensitive information” online. “Sensitive information” is any data that can be used to steal your identity or harm your reputation.
This extends to any website that asks for social security numbers, date of birth, or financial information. Any of this data will give cybercriminals a leg-up in stealing your identity.
On social sites, remind kids the Internet doesn’t contain a “delete button.” Instruct kids never to post:
- Controversial opinions that may be held against them later.
- Sensitive pictures or videos.
- Mean statements.
Finally, social sites want to track your location and allow you to share it from time to time. Let your kids know this is a bad idea. Criminals who want to know where you are and what you’re doing can use this information against you.
Secure Your Devices
Every device you or your kids own, if it connects to the Internet, is susceptible to attack: computers, mobile phones, tablets, and IoT (Internet of Things).
Fortunately, Internet-connected devices provide security patches often. Make sure you continuously update all apps and device operating systems.
Also, when it comes to passphrases and identification, don’t take the easy way out.
- Passphrases should be sentences at least 12 characters long.
- One should have different passphrases for each account.
- If a site or device presents options for added layers of security, use them: biometrics, one-time codes, special questions, and security keys.
Guard Against Email Fraud
Teach young people to enable their spam filters and to report instances of spam to their email provider (there’s usually a button to click).
And let them know it’s best not to display personal email addresses on online profiles. Hackers and fraudsters comb the web for this information.
When it comes to email, help your kids identify malicious links. Statements hackers use to try to get your information include:
- “Act quickly.”
- “Your account has been compromised.”
- “Your order can’t be filled.”
- “Update your credit card information immediately.”
If an email looks like it comes from a legitimate company, but you hover over the link and see a web address that is not associated with that company, it’s likely a scam.
The Department of Homeland Security’s recommendation: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Take Care When You Leave Home
There are several ways hackers can access devices when we’re out and about. It’s important to make sure we protect ourselves and our information in a world where we can be blind to cyber threats.
First, don’t allow your device to auto-connect to WiFi or Bluetooth. Disable both features. If you decide to connect, make sure you’re clicking on the correctly named connection and not a fraudulent one.
Additionally, guard your device. If you set it down or walk away for any reason, lock it, and be sure it’s passphrase-protected. Even better, take the device with you. It’s easy for criminals to steal, and it likely contains a lot of personal information.
Finally, beware of public WiFi—it’s rarely, if ever, secure. While it’s best to connect to the Internet using your mobile device instead (you own that connection), never enter credit cards, passwords, or exchange any sensitive information while on someone else’s WiFi.
Don’t Let the Conversation End Here!
We’ve touched on a few of the top tips from the Department of Homeland Security, and we recommend sharing them with the young people in your life. And remember to check out all of their advice by downloading these tip sheets.
We’d also like to hear from you. What cyber-security warnings or tips do you try to instill in your loved ones?