Chances are, your child is more tech savvy than you are. The online world can be as natural to children as the backyard. It’s where they can play, meet new friends, discover new information – and get into trouble.
With all of the hackers, crackers, black hats and other bad guys roaming the wild, wild web, your children may not realize the dangers of online activity, anymore than they recognize the dangers in the backyard. By nature, children are trusting – willing to give out sensitive, personal information, and that can be dangerous.
So here are some tips to keep your kids cyber-safe and your family’s personal information private. By protecting your children from the online bad guys, you also protect your own personal data – everything from your address to your credit card number – the kind of information hackers are after.
1. Create password-protected accounts for each computer user in the house. This simple step can prevent children from accessing your sensitive data. Each computer account has a separate password so each child has his or her own “account.” And you have your own account, locked away from prying eyes. Use the control panel of your computer’s operating system to create as many user accounts as needed. Help your children create their own passwords to access their own accounts. Then, keep each child’s password tucked away so you can access each child’s account to see what’s been going on.
2. Bulk up computer users’ passwords. Avoid using birthdays, pet names, street addresses and other data that hackers may use to gain access to your online accounts. Add numbers, symbols, punctuation and other alpha-numeric symbols to make hacking a thing of the past.
3. Never open an email unless you know who sent it. Hackers employ a variety of methods to break down the barriers between your personal information and identity theft. Simply by opening an email, you or your child can launch a virus, inject a worm or Trojan horse and leave your home computer open to attack – even while you’re asleep.
4. Never give out personal information. We don’t want to scare kids when it comes to computer use, but children must learn that not everyone they encounter online is a friend. Teach your children to keep personal information private. Simply put, don’t use your real name, never give out a home address or telephone number, and never make a purchase online without a parent standing by.
5. Log off. When your children’s online sessions are completed, instruct them to log off the computer. Close the browser. When your child is off line, hackers can’t attack. Never leave the browser open when not in use. Teach your children to log on, conduct their business and log off.
6. Limit computer time. If your child spends six hours a day online, at least some of that time he or she is exposed to hacker attacks. Limit computer time to an hour or two for social activity each day. Conducting research for a school project is a different matter, but teach your children to log on, get what they need and log off.
7. Place the home computer where you can see it. If the family computer is locked in your child’s room, you can’t track where your child is going and what he’s doing. Playing games, posting to social media sites, research – you just don’t know. However, if the computer is centrally located, you can always glance over to see what your child is up to without making a big deal about it.
8. Check your child’s browsing history. Computers use browsers to surf the web. Examples of browsers are Microsoft’s® Internet Explorer®, Mozilla’s Firefox® and Google’s Chrome®. Each browser keeps a history of where computer users go. Click on the “History” link to reveal a list of where your kids have been. If the surfing history shows unsavory sites, lock out your child from these troublesome sites using the “Parental Controls” option on the browser’s control panel to keep him from visiting inappropriate sites.
Older kids may cry “foul” when you lock them out of their favorite sites, but you’re the one who guards the digital gate. Keep the bad guys out and keep your kids safe. Teach them to protect themselves against identity theft and other dangerous online activities. Protect them and yourself from black hats, just as you do in the real world.
Click here for more information from Nevada State Bank about Online Security and Identity Theft.
Information provided is for informational purposes only. Please contact a professional before making investment decisions. Investment products are not insured by the FDIC; are not a deposit or other obligation of, or guaranteed by, the depositing institution; and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of the principal amount invested.
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