These days, children of all ages, even very young ones, spend a lot of their waking hours on smartphones, tablets and computers. This is the world we live in, and while there can be certain advantages of this tech, there are also numerous issues that come along with it.
As a parent, you’re no doubt concerned about who might come across your child’s identity and other personal information. Unfortunately, there are many predators who keep coming up with ways to break into computer systems. In fact, according to research, more than one million children were victims of identity theft or fraud last year.
As such, you must take steps to protect your family. Read on for three key ways in which you can keep your children safer online.
Utilize Security Software
One of the simplest things you can do is utilize security software on all the devices used by your family. Search for quality software that provides a range of coverage, including antivirus protection, along with security against ransomware, spyware, spam, malware, etc.
Excellent products are those that keep passwords and other online information safe from prying eyes and that protect against a variety of identity- and data-stealing applications. Also look for something that will help maintain user privacy when browsing the internet and that will block incoming dangerous attachments and emails, as well as suspicious websites and links.
Make sure you add firewalls to your devices, too. This adds another layer of protection for sensitive information and is a line of defense when hackers use the internet to try to get into systems and networks. Firewalls work to filter out possible threats from real, secure, credible data that comes in when you’re browsing online or downloading information.
To keep cybercriminals from learning details about your children, continually update all these protection tools. These won’t be able to work at optimum levels if you don’t update them when manufacturers release new versions (which they do when they discover there are security gaps that need to be plugged). Always set up software to update automatically, so you’re continually running the latest versions.
Use Hard-to-Crack Passwords
Another top step to take is to protect devices and the information on them as well as accounts you and your kids log in to, with hard-to-crack passwords. Many hackers are able to learn sensitive details because people don’t use proper codes on their computers, tablets, smartphones, other internet-enabled gadgets and the like.
Teach your children how to create, the kinds of passwords that really protect. These codes are eight characters in length at a minimum and made up of a mixture of symbols, upper- and lower-case letters and numbers. It’s also necessary to avoid using words, phrases or numbers meaningful to you and your kids because hackers could guess it from public information. For example, avoid details shared on social media sites relating to things like birthdays, names, addresses, lucky numbers and so on. Of course, you must also steer clear of generic passwords such as the word “password,” or the numbers “123456.”
Educate Your Children on Do's and Don’ts
Lastly, help your children protect themselves now and into the future by educating them about some of the key dos and don’ts for online security. For example, make sure your kids know not to open emails or attachments from people they don’t know or to accept friend requests on social media sites from those they’re not properly familiar with.
Children also need to learn to be careful about which links they click on when they’re browsing online or reading emails. For instance, a common scam known as “pharming” can be a real issue. This term was created to reference a particular type of phishing attack where cybercriminals post links to seemingly commonly-visited and trusted websites (think social media pages, popular blogs, and big news sites), which are really fake versions created to look like the real ones.
If people click on these hacker-created websites, they’ll be asked to login or otherwise provide personal details. Many consumers, including children, get stung here because they think they’re inputting their sensitive details into proper accounts, but really it’s just cybercriminals finding a way to hijack data and accounts. Teach your kids, then, to only ever type in the URL address of sites where they need to login rather than following a link to get there.
Jackie is a content coordinator and contributor that creates quality articles for topics like technology, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the internet community.