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Ransomware, Phishing and Cyberattacks Scare Parents – How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

Updated: May 9, 2023

Most people assume that cybersecurity is an issue that affects only big corporate companies. However, cybercrime can affect everyone with access to the internet. In the US alone, millions of cyberattacks occur every day, with the number steadily growing each year.

While companies and government agencies beef up their cybersecurity to keep up with the ever improving cyberattack methods, little can be said about the cybersecurity protocols practiced in people’s homes.

Every day, more and more internet connected devices are used in homes. Today, almost every appliance around the house is a smart appliance, meaning it can connect to the internet. From laptops and phones to smart TVs and smart kitchen appliances, all these are easy gateways for hackers. This means that your data and identity are linked together through the connectivity of these devices.

When you fail to protect your children from cyberattacks, the cost of ransomware can range from identity theft to online grooming and sometimes child trafficking. Families have become attractive targets for cybercriminals because they have less cybersecurity compared to businesses or companies.

On any given day, millions of children connect to the internet through smart devices around the home. The best way to protect yourself and your children is to learn some basic cybersecurity protocols.

How to protect your children from ransomware, phishing, and cyber-attacks

Assessing your risk

The first thing any parent should do to improve cybersecurity around the home is to understand their risk of attack. This is the best way to know which area of your cybersecurity requires the most improvement.

Performing a cyber-security assessment is the best way to identify your vulnerabilities as a household and create an action plan. Generally, the action plan should include training your kids, advice on protecting information assets in your home, and offering guidance on the safe use of online platforms.

Adapting cyber-security best practices

Training your kids

Your children’s lack of knowledge about cyber threats can be the leading cause of data loss to cybercriminals since they are the direct paths to your internet system at home whenever they are online. It is important to train them on the best internet practices to minimize the likelihood of attacks. We recommend Level 2 of the Cyber Civics curriculum that has a unit on online safety and security to help with this.

The training topics for kids include:

  • Browsing good practices

  • How to spot a phishing email

  • How to avoid suspicious downloads

  • The importance of creating strong passwords

  • Ways of protecting sensitive data

Use of antivirus programs

All computers connected to your internet server should be protected with the best antivirus programs. One of the recommended antiviruses is Bitdefender. It protects your computers from malware, spyware, and any other form of cyber-attack.

Always ensure that your cybersecurity software is updated regularly. Most software vendors provide security patches regularly and offer updates on their programs to address any new security threats. Ensure you configure your security program in a way that it installs updates automatically.

If you cannot do this yourself, you can outsource computer security to a company.

Secure your networks

Ensure you protect your internet connections using a firewall and encryption. When using a Wi-Fi network, create a unique password for it and use Wi-Fi protection protocols to safeguard it from hackers.

You can hide your Wi-Fi connection from hackers by setting up a wireless access point or router to prevent the connections from showing the network name. This is referred to as the Service Sent Identifier password that protects access to the router.

Using strong passwords

One of the easiest ways to improve your home’s cybersecurity is by using strong passwords for all computers and connections. Ensure you use a variation of passwords for all accounts to make it harder for cybercriminals to guess.

The strongest passwords should include:

  • At least ten characters

  • At least one letter in uppercase

  • At least one letter in lowercase

  • A number

  • A special character

It can be difficult to remember all of our strongest passwords. That's why it can be helpful to use a password manager.

Using multifactor authentication

Multifactor authentication is a process that requires a user to use additional information to get access to a program, file, or connection; usually, a security code sent to a mobile phone. When working with vendors, ask whether they avail multifactor authentication for their services. Be sure you educate your children on the importance of this method of encryption.

Backup data

Ensure data on all computers around your home are backed up regularly. This will prevent the loss of important data or documents in case of an attack. If possible, set up your system to backup data weekly and ensure the copies are stored on the cloud.

Just like insurance, cybersecurity is something most people put off until they need it. You can get ahead of cybercriminals by following the guidelines in this article to keep yourself and your children at home.

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