Online security is a big concern for parents, with nearly 70 percent of those surveyed by the Pew Internet and American Life Project saying they worry about the impact a child’s online activity could have on his or her reputation and on his or her future job and educational prospects. Yet less than 40 percent of parents have helped their kids guard their privacy online. Talking to your kids about security is just step one to take to protect your family online.
Monitor Social Media
It’s too easy for you and your kids to reveal too much on a social media site. Think about the information you share on your profiles and how it can be used by unscrupulous people to steal your kids’ or your identity. LilfeLock reports that the more people share on social media, the greater the risk for identity theft and fraud.
A Carnegie Mellon study found that 10 percent of the 42,000 child identities scanned in the study had been victims of identity theft in 2011. Details that make families vulnerable to children’s identity theft are sharing the name of your high school, complete birth date and phone number. Keep your family safe by limiting what you share. Don’t just tell your kids not to share details, explain to them reasons why.
Guard the Computer
Your family’s information can be at risk even when you aren’t actively using a computer. Connectivity means that viruses and other malicious data can come through any time the computer is on and online. A savvy identity thief can find your data through an unguarded computer. One of the quickest ways to shield your family is to shut down the computer when you aren’t using it. Anti-virus programs protect your computer but aren’t fail-safe. Updating your computer’s software as needed means it’ll have the most up-to-the-minute security features and any prior vulnerabilities patched up.
A password is what stands between your information and a thief. Create strong passwords and teach your kids to do the same. Teach them to keep passwords secret. Use passwords to lockdown your wireless router at home, and limit who uses your home computer. Ideally, your password won’t be an actual word that someone could look up in the dictionary, nor will it be a name. Throw some special characters or numbers in there too, to make the password even harder to crack.
Don’t Forget Mobile Devices
According to Pew 37 percent of teens have smartphones and about 25 percent of them go online with their phones. More than 7 million phones were lost in 2012, according to Consumer Reports, but only 7 percent of smartphone users had programs installed that would wipe a phone if lost and only 22 percent of smartphone owners backed up their data. Treat your and your teen’s smartphones and other mobile devices like you would a computer. Add password protection, back up the data and have a plan in place in case you lose the device.
About the Author / Percy Willis
Percy is an ethical hacker from Montana who enjoys the thrill of breaking through high security systems.