To Keep Families Safe Online

Written by Marguerite Cheng

The internet is an extraordinary place. Kids, teens, and adults can find joy and countless hours of entertainment day and night. Unfortunately, dangers lurk everywhere, and they’re not always easy to spot.

Protecting you and your family when sharing events and pictures, researching reports, or playing games online is crucial. From inappropriate content, identify theft, online predators, and cyberbullying, everyone needs to understand basic internet safety.

No matter your age or level of experience, you could be at risk. To keep your family safe, here’s what you need to know.

Dangers that Lurk Online

  • Account Access - Passwords are the first layer of security. If your password or PIN falls into the wrong hands, it could spell trouble. Make sure your passwords are unique and not easily guessed, and change them at least once a year for added protection.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication - Also called two-factor authentication, this is an extra step to keep your accounts safe. Social media, emails, banks, and other sites allow you to set up a connected device, fingerprint scan, phone call, or text message to verify your identity before logging in.
  • Social Media - In addition to social media being a platform for cyberbullying, it’s also a target of cybercriminals to gather your personal information. Watch what you share because nothing you post is private.
  • Mobile Devices - Most public Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those at coffee shops, airports, and hotels, don’t offer a truly secure connection. A hacker can quickly gain access to your smartphone, tablet, or computer to collect your login information and see the content of your online browsing.

10 Tips to Keep You and Your Family Safe Online

1.    Educate your kids.

Teach your kids the value of being good cybercitizens. Set an excellent example of how to safely and responsibly use the internet. Installing security software with parental controls can help keep your kids from accidentally ending up on the wrong site. And encourage them always to tell you if something seems unusual or out of place online.

2.    Don’t disclose personal information.

Identity theft isn’t only a risk for adults. Children can fall victim to this type of fraud, too. When on the internet, be careful what you share. For instance, don’t provide your date of birth, address, Social Security number, current location, or the name of the school your children attend.

3.    There’s no such thing as privacy.

Online privacy is a misnomer. Websites and apps collect your information all the time for advertising and marketing purposes. The law requires you to be aware, but most kids and adults accept privacy policy agreements without reading them. Anyone, including law enforcement and cybercriminals, can access your data.

4.    Avoid public Wi-Fi.

It’s everywhere and convenient because it helps to cut down on your plan’s data usage. But the connections are rarely secure. If you do use public Wi-Fi, avoid logging into banks and entering your credit card information to shield that information.

5.    Be on the lookout for phishing scams.

A phishing scam is when something looks legit but isn’t. You might get an email that appears to be from a friend or internet retailer, but the link could be malicious. Some connect to fraudulent sites that attempt to collect your data, and others could trigger a computer virus to download. Don’t click anything unless you’re 100% certain it’s a legitimate link.

6.    Set the right settings for social media.

When posting on social media, don’t let your guard down. It’s tempting to share photos and details of your life, but it’s a massive source of information for cybercriminals. Check your privacy settings to see who has access to view your profile. Also, beware of fake accounts that may try to lure you into establishing an online relationship or connection.

7.    Secure your home Wi-Fi network.

The safest place to be is at home, right? That’s only true if your home Wi-Fi network is secured correctly. If a hacker has access to your router, they can control your smart devices, including your home security system, smart doorbells, gaming consoles, mobile devices, and more.

8.    App scams.

Never download an app from an unknown source. If you aren’t sure, always look for third-party reviews before opting into the program. It’s easy for a hacker to disguise malware as a game or even a flashlight app to steal your personal information.

9.    Don’t share passwords.

Nothing good ever comes from sharing passwords. Aside from your spouse needing access to certain joint accounts, don’t give your passwords to family, friends, or anyone you meet online. This applies to screen lock passwords and pins, too. And educate your kids on the dangers of giving out passwords and screen lock codes, so they don’t share them with their friends either.

10.    Watch what you post.

When it comes to the world wide web, there is no undo button or delete key. Any comments or images you put online will be there forever. A good rule of thumb is never to share anything you wouldn’t want your mom, grandmother, or future employer to see.

Taking an active role in internet safety can help ensure a positive online experience for you and your family. Discussing concerns at family meetings is a good first step. Remember that online threats are changing all the time. Keeping communication open and encouraging your kids to share their experiences with you is key to keeping everyone safe.

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