How to Keep Your Family Safe Online

Is your kid a computer whiz kid? How much time does your family spend on the Internet? Probably a lot. In that case you might be a bit worried about the internet security of your family. Needless to say, the internet is a dangerous beast and parents must constantly monitor the online activities their children to ensure they never stumble on the many pitfalls of the web.

Unfortunately, securing our safety on the web is a bit elusive – leave alone securing that of our families.  It’s even more difficult when it involves watching out for your under-age web savvy kids or old parents who are yet to find their way on the web. In this article we combine a few tips that will help you curve out a safe browsing haven for your family in a potentially harmful web.

Defend your home Computers

A safe browsing space starts with securing all your home PCs and other internet connecting devices. Previously we discussed how to harden your browser against malware and other online threats.  Talk to your kids about the risks of connecting unknown flash (thumb) drives with home PC, as it could infect them with viruses. Update all your security software regularly and look out for new patch releases to help you steer clear of online fraudsters trying to exploit zero day vulnerabilities in Operating systems and Web Applications.

Always download and install software form trusted developers with legitimate digital certificates. Most free downloads including games, movies, are ridden with malware and could compromise the online security of your family. If necessary prepare a list of trusted sites from where your kids can make downloads, and ensure they stick to it.  Also, talk to your family about turning off unnecessary requests to access personal information in devices before installing third party Apps.

More importantly, secure your router with a strong password. The Home Wi-Fi allows your kids to access the internet from anywhere in house making it difficult to keep an eye on their online activities. While a dictionary password may keep off free-loaders from your network, online fraudster are highly sophisticated and will go to any length to break in. To be safe, encrypt your wireless network, to hide it from strangers.

Strengthen your Passwords and Change them regularly

Frankly, your high schools kids won’t take password advice from mommy neither will your aging grandma like the Idea of two-factor password authentication system when she can barely find all the keys on the keyboard. To make it easy, let your family know about the dangers a weak password. Using 654321 as password is more like sticking your PIN number at the back of your credit card. Similarly, replacing letters with number “passw0rd” or using “password” as your password don’t work with hackers nowadays.

So develop strong passwords, using unique symbols, a mixture of lowercase and upper case and avoid common words and phrases. A trick that beats hackers is to intentionally misspell your passwords and avoiding password that can be linked with you or your family such as birthdays, anniversaries and social security numbers.

Better still, purchase and install a password management program such as eWallet or LastPass for your family. A good password manager will help your generate a strong password that is easy to remember and accepted in all sites. It will also help retrieve forgotten passwords hassle free. As rule of thumbs, never write down or save your password in your device. More importantly, help your family change passwords regularly and avoid using one password on multiple accounts.

Secure personal Information

Safeguarding your private information is key to staying unscathed on the web. Unfortunately, a good number of people and I bet your school going kids don’t know which part of their personal information to keep private. Teach your kids and grandma to safe social networking ABC’s such as keeping off their real address, names, or family plans on social media. Additionally, avoid uploading pictures with incriminating information such real location or car plate numbers. Switch off geo locating capabilities in your kids’ smartphones and other device.

Also watch out for the safety of your kids on live gaming sites such as Xbox Live. Online fraudster spend a great deal of their time in live gaming sites trying to lure kids into giving out their parents’ financial details.  To be on the safe side, ensure your kids don’t use real names or Avatars in gaming sites. If possible monitor how they play and who they play with from time to time. Also turn on the parental control measures on game consoles.

Watch out for Phishing Scams

Phishing or spear phishing is an old-age cyber threat that is widely used by online crooks today. Unlike typical hackers online spammers employer soft skills to target your vulnerable point and swindle your money. They warm their way into your bank through emails, direct messages and catch posts on social sites. Your kids are prime targets because they easily give out valuable information about you (the aging parents), good source of money.

To ensure your family is safe online, teach them how to identify and avoid phishing masters and their alluring antics.  Let grandma know that no sensible bank in the world will ask her to update her financial information, or her account details over the internet. Most scams employ alarming emails such huge lottery wins, or giveaways from your favorite stores.  Another common trick is to warn about detected unauthorized access to your bank account, or urgent request to update your software using provided links.

Identifying phishing scams only requires a good judgment and a keen attention to details. Most scams emails are deficient in grammar with obvious spelling mistakes and wrong punctuations. Another common give away point is the sender’s email address, counter- check it with the official one.  Look out for crafty errors in embedded links such as “www.googl.e.com” instead of the official www.google.com

Generally, to avoid phishing scams, be wary about emails from your service providers, such as banks, card companies and software providers. Never click on embedded links from unknown senders, if necessary go directly to your providers’ website.  Avoid opening attachments from unknown senders or open them in protected view. As a common rule, always call your service provider to authenticate the source of the email or message.

Top/Featured Image: By Geralt / Pixabay (http://pixabay.com/en/puzzle-family-father-mother-210786/)

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How to Keep Your Family Safe Online

by Lawrence Mwangi time to read: 4 min
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