With a wide array of fun games and educational material just one click away, it’s clear why the internet has become such an important resource in every child’s life. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are aware of this and oftentimes target kids for their own gain.
In an effort to ensure everyone has the resources necessary to be safe and secure online the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) created National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Held every October, this year’s theme of “Own it. Secure It. and Protect it.” has several lessons that can be incorporated into your child’s internet usage to ensure they are safe, maintaining their privacy and online device security.
Many aspects of your child’s life, including school and communicating with friends, are dependent on devices that are connected to the internet. While these internet-based devices do offer opportunities for your child’s development, they also put them at risk of being compromised by cyber criminals. With that in mind, it is important to make sure your children fully understand their digital profile, as well as the devices and applications they use daily.
The Importance of Privacy Online
When discussing online security with children, start by explaining the role keeping information private plays in strengthening their online security to keep them and your family’s data safe. With many online activities require personally identifiable information (PII) such as your name and date of birth, your children must know where and when they should post this type of information. For older children, this extends to banking information as well. While it may seem obvious, it’s crucial that your child understands that they should never share their account details with anyone online, outside of official and verified representatives, and should minimize the amount of PII they make available overall.
Create Online Guidelines
You cannot always control what your children do online, however, establishing a set of rules to follow while online will help to protect them. Having specific lists of websites and applications children can use allows parents to determine how they use the internet, guaranteeing their safety. The same principles can be applied to social media, as parents can create guidelines for what is acceptable to share, and who their children can connect with.
While teaching your children to understand their digital profiles goes a long way in ensuring they are safe online, it does not always guarantee their security. Learning the security features that are built into the websites and applications your children use, as well as applying additional security layers to their devices will make it more difficult for cyber criminals to breach their profiles.
Defend Against Cyber Threats
As most know, personal devices and online accounts have become prime targets for cyber criminals looking to steal personal information. For this reason, it is of paramount importance that parents make sure their own devices, and their child’s devices, are secure.
For online accounts, security starts with using a strong password. Some best practices to follow include making a new password for every account, as well as avoiding the use of common phrases. Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the next step in bolstering account security. MFA works by adding an extra step to the login process to verify identity. This is usually done in the form of a unique code being sent over email or text to a user-confirmed mobile phone number attached to the account that must be entered before the account is logged into. MFA is highly recommended for financial accounts, so if your child has an independent bank account, make sure they have it set up.
With regards to device security, a significant threat stems from the network your child is connected to. Unsecure networks, such as public Wi-Fi are often used by cyber criminals as a way to gain access to devices that are connected to it. When using public wi-fi confirm the network name and exact login credentials with the appropriate staff before logging in.
Protecting your child online encompasses aspects of both owning and securing their internet usage. Ultimately, maintaining an understanding of what children do online, as well as making sure they are secure, culminates in online safety.
Even when your child’s online accounts and devices are secure, it is still important to monitor their online activity to make sure they are not overstepping into areas that could put them at risk. One suggestion, keeping the computer in a public area, allows parents to easily intervene if they see their child misusing online resources.
Parents of older kids should be careful to monitor that online purchases are made from secure sites. Furthermore, recent threat research from FortiGuard Labs shows that ecommerce platforms have been under increased attack and that there has been an increase in card skimming scams to steal financial data. Monitoring your children’s credit reports ensures you can step-in if you see suspicious activity that may indicate your child’s personal information has been compromised.
With the internet becoming a mainstay in every child’s life, protecting them online has become a necessity for all parents. National Cyber Security Awareness Month explores the themes of securing and protecting your online identity in great detail. Parents can join the in-depth discussions on different cybersecurity threats and learn cybersecurity best practices, making this a great resource for any parent looking to protect their child online.