Internet safety 101: 15 tips to keep your kids and family safe online
Authored by a Symantec employee
Kids today are able to access more information than any generation before. Tablets, laptops, and smart devices are common at school and at home. The internet brings a wealth of information that can enrich our lives. But it also can harm us and the people we love.
You want your children to have access to information, but you also want them to be safe. How can you get both things? That’s the challenge of living in a connected world.
The bad guys may be smart, but you and your kids can be smarter. These internet safety tips can help.
Tip #1: Educate your kids
When it comes to cyber security, kids are often one of your family’s weakest links. Teach kids about suspicious activity online and encourage them to ask for help if something seems unusual. Install security software that helps keep kids from clicking on the wrong links and visiting the wrong sites.
Tip #2: Remind kids why their identity is important
Sometimes kids expose themselves to identity theft by disclosing personal information online because they believe they have nothing to lose. A child’s identity can have as much value as an adult’s identity, if not more. Scammers can trick kids into disclosing their Social Security number and other details to commit identity theft. Remind children not to reveal too much information about themselves. Their date of birth, address, and SSN are all personal information and they shouldn’t share them freely.
Tip #3: Know that private may not be private
With more websites and applications collecting information and using it for advertising and marketing purposes, make sure your family knows the value of online privacy. Many apps have privacy policies which disclose that the apps collect and share their users’ information. Kids and many adults often accept these policies without reading them.
Even if your settings are set to private, remember nothing is private. Even the so-called private browser is not private. Law enforcement, website administrators, and hackers could have access to your so-called private information.
Tip #4: Watch out for phishing scams
You may be sophisticated enough to know not to click on a URL that’s supposedly from your bank or a friend, but does everyone in your household know that? Teach your kids about phishing and warn them not to click on URLs in an email or social network message. Install and use a security program that recognizes and blocks dodgy URLs.
Tip #5: Use a password management system
Passwords are the primary defense against hackers for most people, yet many people re-use the same password for multiple accounts, and use passwords that are easy to guess, because they’re also easy to remember. Bolster your defense with a password management program, which can remember unique passwords for all your accounts. Best of all, with a password manager, you only need to remember one password.
Tip #6: Keep social networks secure
There’s a good chance that someone in your house is on a social network. But social media can also attract cybercriminals. Keep a close eye on your social accounts. If someone messages you who hasn’t done so in a while, then be suspicious. Your friend’s account may have been hacked.
Tip #7: Understand the importance of data backup
Ransomware is popular among cybercriminals who can lock your computer so you can’t access your valuable files, like your private photos or tax information. One of the best ways to combat the threat of ransomware is to back up your data on a regular basis.
Tip #8: Realize cybersecurity is a moving target
Cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new threats. That means you need to be mindful about downloading the latest security updates and patches. Keep yourself and your family informed about new ways cybercriminals are doing business. Stay current and follow the news for any breaking threats.
Tip #9: Don’t share more information than necessary
It’s important for children and family members to know how much information is too much information. In their excitement to share their milestones, children may sometimes post their personal information online. For example, a driver’s license or a travel itinerary shared online could be valuable information for identity thieves and burglars.
Tip #10: Identify other vulnerabilities in your home
Your home Wi-Fi network is another entry point for hackers. Cybercriminals can hack home routers and gain access to various internet-connected devices like home security systems and smart doorbells. Make sure your home Wi-Fi system has a hard-to-crack password and consider security software that identifies “intruders” on the network.
Tip #11: Go private on public Wi-Fi
Stress the importance of avoiding public Wi-Fi networks. Kids may not think about hackers and cybercriminals when they connect to public Wi-Fi in malls and coffee shops. Always use a VPN, like Norton Secure VPN, when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
Tip #12: Don’t forget connected devices
Your smartphone and tablet need as much security protection as your PC. So do your thermostat, smart doorbell, home security system, and other internet-connected devices. Make sure you’ve got a security solution that helps protect all your connected devices
Tip #13: Close unused accounts
Unused accounts can be a rich source of personal information for cybercriminals. Sometimes kids create an account with their first and last name or their birthday in the user name. Cybercriminals can patch these data points together and steal information from other sites that the individual uses. If you think you won’t be revisiting the site, it’s best to close the account.
Tip #14: When in doubt, call support
The best security software programs offer 24x7 support. If you have any suspicion you’ve been hacked, call for help. If you think your device is under malware, spyware, or ransomware attack, call for help. A good security suite will have experts to help you resolve your problem.
Tip #15: Use a trustworthy security suite to help protect your devices
When buying a security suite, make sure you invest in software that provides comprehensive protection for all your family members and their devices.
Symantec Corporation, the world’s leading cyber security company, allows organizations, governments, and people to secure their most important data wherever it lives. More than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton and LifeLock comprehensive digital safety platform to help protect their personal information, devices, home networks, and identities.
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