If you are working remote or at the office, it’s important to always remember to be safe when you are online. In addition to working virtual, some school aged children may have made the switch to attending school remotely and find themselves on the computer more than usual. As parents and children navigate through remote learning during this uncertain time, it’s helpful to keep in mind ways for kids to be safe on the internet. Cyber security is for everyone, kids and adults. Here are some quick cyber security safety tips for parents and children to discuss.
Be Aware of Phishing Emails
It’s good to chat with your kids and remind them about the warning signs of fake emails known as phishing emails. Cybercriminals use phishing emails as a way to steal sensitive information. This is important to know, whether you are a child or an adult – you need to protect your identity. Hackers use phishing emails as a way to collect personal information. Help your child know how to spot this form of a cyber attack. Here are a few signs to share with your child as a reminder of what to look for in a phishing email:
- An email that is asking for personal information. Do not share any form of personal information in an email sent to your regular email address or to an email sent to a social media account.
- Broken links or links in an email that do not take you to a correct website. Parents and children can both use their mouse to hover over a link in an email to view the url before clicking on it. This is a good tip as you can see the actual website address for the link at the bottom left corner of your computer screen. Links in a phishing email can lead a user to a malicious website.
- Several misspelled words and grammatical errors in an email.
- Files attached to an email from an untrusted source. Do not download and open any attachments in an email from someone you do not know.
Protect Your Password
Teach your children early on to not share passwords. We definitely want to spread the word to any child that is using a device such as a laptop or tablet to not share their password. With remote learning, kids are using programs such as Google Classroom to store their projects or classwork. It’s important to share with your child to not share their password with anyone else. This is to help keep their personal information and their classwork, tests, and reports safe. For children who have social media accounts, it’s important to remind them to not share their social media account passwords with anyone as well.
In addition, teaching children when they are young to create strong passwords will help them maintain keeping personal data safe as they get older. A strong password should be over eight characters long, includes upper and lower case letters, and includes numbers and some websites may require using a special character also. Avoid using personal information such as your birthdate, phone number or address in a password.
Another way a cyber criminal can reach children or adults is through fake ads. Share with children how to spot a fake ad. Some warning signs are the information in the ad is not true or images may be misleading. Fake ads can be linked with urls that do not lead to a legit website. For a safe online experience, instruct your child to not click on any ads that pop up on their computer screen.
Be cautious of using public Wi-Fi. For older kids such as middle schoolers, high school or college students who are studying in public places such as libraries, coffee shops, etc. make sure to use a secure wireless network. As a managed IT service provider we suggest using a VPN connection method which will provide an extra layer of security when accessing Wi-Fi. When at home, use a secure Wi-Fi network that is password protected for your computer, tablet, or mobile device.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your child is to be aware of the signs of an online scam. Protecting yourself and your child can help improve internet safety and promote cyber security awareness. The more you and your child are aware of what to avoid when you’re online will help keep your computer network and personal information safe and secure.