The virtual world is full of dangers to your children. Kids are prime targets for phishing attacks, identity theft, and online scams.
The main reason for this is that they are more vulnerable than most adults. Even young children often surf the web without supervision, and may easily trust the wrong people.
Plus, parents often don’t notice straight away if their child has become the victim of a cyber attack. Child identity theft, for instance, often isn’t noticed until kids apply for student loans and are denied due to bad credit.
So what can you do to keep your children safe online? Here are five strategies to protect them.
1 – Monitor social media use
Knowing your child’s online habits is the cornerstone of keeping them safe in the virtual sphere. This especially goes for the use of social media and other interactive sites, such as gaming platforms and chat rooms.
Here, being aware of your child’s activities and the status of their profiles is crucial.
To begin with, make sure that their profile settings are adjusted for maximum privacy. Any publicly visible information throws the doors wide open for scammers and identity thieves.
In addition, regularly check your child’s profile for the type of content they post and re-post.
While you shouldn’t look into private conversations unless you have concrete grounds for concern, the content on your child’s profile will give you a general impression of the tone of the network in question.
Finally, make sure that your children are familiar with social media etiquette. Make clear what content is alright to post, and what they should keep private.
2 – Enforce password standards
Weak passwords are still one of the most common reasons for successful cyber attacks. According to recent statistics, the most frequently used ones in 2022 are still “123456”, “password”, and “qwerty”.
To protect them from cyber criminals, make sure that your children use complex passwords.
For instance, an 8-character lower case-only password takes hackers only milliseconds to crack. In contrast, an 8-character password containing numbers, upper- and lowercase letters, and special characters would keep the same hackers busy for 8 hours.
Alternatively, you can make sure that your children use a password manager. This program will automatically suggest and store new complex passwords. It also alerts you if any of your child’s passwords are too weak or have been compromised.
3 – Teach them to recognize and report attacks
Next, you need to give your children the talk. No, not that one. The other one. The cybersecurity talk.
Explain to them what phishing attacks look like and show them examples. Make sure that they know which red flags they need to watch out for, and what indicates a scam or a malicious link.
Many cybercriminals launching personal attacks on your children will make it their priority to keep their conversations with them secret. Your child needs to see this as the warning sign it is, rather than being flattered or intrigued.
4 – Install cybersecurity software on their devices
One very straightforward step you can take to protect your child is to install cyber security software on all of their devices. This includes antivirus, VPN, password managers, identity theft monitoring services, and maybe even parental monitoring tools.
Many providers of cybersecurity platforms now offer family plans that come with all of the above included.
Antivirus software will prevent malware your child might install accidentally from taking hold.
VPN (virtual private networks) will encrypt their internet activities.
Identity theft monitoring services will alert you if any of their personal data or accounts have been compromised.
And parental monitoring tools will let you keep an eye on all their virtual activities, including their use of apps.
5 – Restrict their access to your devices
Finally, it’s crucial to monitor your child whenever they use any of your own devices.
Your phone, tablet, and laptop contain sensitive personal information. From access to all of your financial accounts to your social security number and medical details.
If your child uses your devices unsupervised, the danger of this data being compromised increases.
There is no simple, single solution to protecting your children in the online world.
But you can take steps to keep them safe.
By following the strategies above, you’ll be able to minimize the danger of your child falling prey to a cyber attack.