10 Security Tips for Kids

stc logoI received another reminder on the importance of security. In the mail was a new credit card followed by a letter from Costco Photo about the potential for stolen data. While these reminders are discouraging, there are steps everyone can take to reduce the likelihood of thieves accessing personal information. By everyone, I mean children as well.

Cybercriminals are not only targeting adults with credit cards. Looking at Intel Security’s most dangerous celebrity list, thieves are exploiting teens love of free music. The number one most dangerous celebrity to search for is DJ Armin Van Buuren combined with the terms such as “free MP4”, “HD downloads”, or “torrent”. When kids click on these sites, they have a 1 in 5 chance of landing on a website that tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.

Popular apps are also a target. Last year, Snapchat a social network popular among teens was hacked. A website posted 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and their corresponding phone numbers. They attained this information by exploiting Snapchat’s “Find My Friends” feature. Since many teens use the same username for all their accounts, this hack could expose information beyond Snapchat.

For National Cyber Security Awareness Month, StopThinkConnect and many security companies are sharing tips on how families can protect their devices. To keep technology safe and secure requires all family members to be aware of potential harms. Here are 10 tips to share with your kids about how to keep their devices safe.

10 Cyber Security Tips

Stick with Trusted Sites

Children should be cautious when downloading free stuff such as ringtones and cheat programs for games. These popular activities could lead to a nasty virus if they are not careful. Before downloading, families should check out reviews online and remember if it does not look right, it probably is not.

Turn on 2-factor identification

Once this feature is turned on, a person trying to get access to an account has to enter a password plus a code before they can login. This unique code is sent to a trusted device chosen in advance by the user. Some popular apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Tumblr  offer 2-factor security.

Create Strong Passwords

A strong password has at least eight characters and has numbers, letters and symbols. Children may find it easier to remember these long passwords by coming up with a simple phrase and writing it as a short text. Every account should have their own strong and unique password. Kids should occasionally change their passwords. No child should have the same password from elementary school to high school.

Set a password/pincode on devices.

Phones contain a great deal of personal information. Without a password, if it is lost or stolen, anyone who finds it will have access to open accounts, texts, phone numbers, etc. Friends, in an attempt at humor, may also access an open phone and send a not so funny message. The easiest way to avoid all this trouble is to set a password on the device.

Don’t Click on Links

A curious kid, receiving an email from a company, may be tempted to click on the link. But, this type of email is often phishing. Phishing is a method used by Internet scammers who imitate real companies in messages to entice people to share user names, passwords, account information. Kids should never click on links in emails, texts or messages. Families should go directly to the company website to check on an account.

Turn off geo-location

On #Being13, parents were surprised by the photomap in Instagram. Here, a child’s pictures appear on map identifying where the picture was taken. Kids can remove these geo tags from their Instagram pictures. For other pictures, kids should look for an option to turn off GPS or Location Services in the camera or phone settings.

Download security software

Just like a computer, phones and tablets need virus protection. If you have an Android phone, teens can download security apps in Google Play. iPhones have their own security but they may want to download the Find My iPhone app to protect their phone if it is lost or stolen.

Answer incorrectly

Unfortunately, kids and adults often have the answers to many security questions on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other networks. Kids should keep answers to security questions off social media or not use correct answers. For instance, if their favorite singer is Taylor Swift, they may want to answer Kanye West for “who is your favorite singer.”

Keep Software up to date

Kids with a phone tight on space may neglect to update software and apps. While these files take up more space, these updates often contain important security patches. Kids and teens should delete apps they are not using and keep all current apps up to date. If possible, they should make security software updates automatic.

Log out

We teach kids to check and make sure the doors are locked when they leave the house or car. In the same way, parents need to remind them to lock up their accounts. Before they leave a computer or device, they need to make sure they have not just closed the window but locked the door by logging out. The same is true for mobile devices. On a few apps once a user logs in, they stay logged in even after closing the app. Anyone, who picks up their phone, can go in to these open apps.

For more security tips, StopThinkConnect will be sharing how to keep your family safe online on Twitter this Thursday.

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