Cybermum Australia – McAfee Blogs https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com Securing Tomorrow. Today. Wed, 11 Sep 2019 05:58:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Cybermum Australia – McAfee Blogs https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com 32 32 How To Practise Good Social Media Hygiene https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/how-to-practise-good-social-media-hygiene/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/how-to-practise-good-social-media-hygiene/#respond Wed, 11 Sep 2019 05:58:33 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96695

Fact – your social media posts may affect your career, or worse case, your identity! New research from the world’s largest dedicated cybersecurity firm, McAfee, has revealed that two thirds (67%) of Aussies are embarrassed by the content that appears on their social media profiles. Yikes! And just to make the picture even more complicated, […]

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Fact – your social media posts may affect your career, or worse case, your identity!

New research from the world’s largest dedicated cybersecurity firm, McAfee, has revealed that two thirds (67%) of Aussies are embarrassed by the content that appears on their social media profiles. Yikes! And just to make the picture even more complicated, 34% of Aussies admit to never increasing the privacy on their accounts from the default privacy settings despite knowing how to.

So, next time these Aussies apply for a job and the Human Resources Manager decides to ‘check them out online’, you can guess what the likely outcome will be…

Proactively Managing Social Media Accounts Is Critical For Professional Reputation

For many Aussies, social media accounts operate as a memory timeline of their social lives. Whether they are celebrating a birthday, attending a party or just ‘letting their hair down’ – many people will document their activities for all to see through a collection of sometimes ‘colourful’ photos and videos. But sharing ‘good times’ can become a very big problem when social media accounts are not proactively managed. Ensuring your accounts are set to the tightest privacy settings possible and curating them regularly for relevance and suitability is essential if you want to keep your digital reputation in-tact. However, it appears that a large proportion of Aussies are not taking these simple steps.

McAfee’s research shows that 28% of Aussies admit to either never or not being able to recall the last time they checked their social media timeline. 66% acknowledge that they have at least one inactive social media account. 40% admit that they’ve not even thought about deleting inactive accounts or giving them a clear-out and concerningly, 11% don’t know how to adjust their privacy settings! So, I have no doubt that some of the Aussies that fall into these groups would have NOT come up trumps when they were ‘checked out online’ by either their current or future Human Resources Managers!!

What Social Media Posts Are Aussies Most Embarrassed By?

As part of the research study, Aussies were asked to nominate the social media posts that they have been most embarrassed by. Here are the top 10:

  1. Drunken behaviour
  2. Comment that can be perceived as offensive
  3. Wearing an embarrassing outfit
  4. Wardrobe malfunction
  5. In their underwear
  6. Throwing up
  7. Swearing
  8. Kissing someone they shouldn’t have been
  9. Sleeping somewhere they shouldn’t
  10. Exposing themselves on purpose

Cybercriminals Love Online Sharers

As well as the potential to hurt career prospects, relaxed attitudes to social media could be leaving the door open for cybercriminals. If you are posting about recent purchases, your upcoming holidays and ‘checking-in’ at your current location then you are making it very easy for cybercriminals to put together a picture of you and possibly steal your identity. And having none or even default privacy settings in place effectively means you are handing this information to cybercriminals on a platter!!

Considering how much personal information and images most social media accounts hold, it’s concerning that 16 per cent of Aussies interviewed admitted that they don’t know how to close down their inactive social media accounts and a third (34%) don’t know the passwords or no longer have access to the email addresses they used to set them up – effectively locking them out!

What Can We Do To Protect Ourselves?

The good news is that there are things we can do TODAY to improve our social media hygiene and reduce the risk of our online information getting into the wrong hands. Here are my top tips:

  1. Clean-up your digital past. Sift through your old and neglected social media accounts. If you are not using them – delete the account. Then take some time to audit your active accounts. Delete any unwanted tags, photos, comments and posts so they don’t come back to haunt your personal or professional life.

  1. Lockdown privacy and security settings. Leaving your social media profiles on the ‘public’ setting means anyone who has access to the internet can view your posts and photos whether you want them to or not. While you should treat anything you post online as public, turning your profiles to private will give you more control over who can see your content and what people can tag you in.

 

  1. Never reuse passwords. Use unique passwords with a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols for each one of your accounts, even if you don’t think the account holds a lot of personal information. If managing all your passwords seems like a daunting task, look for security software that includes a password manager.

 

  1. Avoid Sharing VERY Personal Information Online. The ever-growing body of information you share online could possibly be used by cybercriminals to steal your identity. The more you share, the greater the risk. Avoid using your full name, date of birth, current employer, names of your family members, your home address even the names of your pets online – as you could be playing straight into the hands of identity thieves and hackers.
  1. Think before you post. Think twice about each post you make. Will it have a negative impact on you or someone you know now or possibly in the future? Does it give away personal information that someone could use against you? Taking a moment to think through the potential consequences BEFORE you post is the best way to avoid serious regrets in the future.

 

  1. Employ extra protection across all your devices. Threats such as viruses, identity theft, privacy breaches, and malware can all reach you through your social media. Install comprehensive security software to protect you from these nasties.

 

If you think you (or one of your kids) might just identify with the above ‘relaxed yet risky’ approach to managing your social media, then it’s time to act. Finding a job is hard enough in our crowded job market without being limited by photos of your latest social gathering! And no-one wants to be the victim of identity theft which could possibly affect your financial reputation for the rest of your life! So, make yourself a cuppa and get to work cleaning up your digital life! It’s so worth it!!

Alex xx

 

 

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How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/how-to-spring-clean-your-digital-life/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/how-to-spring-clean-your-digital-life/#respond Tue, 27 Aug 2019 03:45:59 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96514

With winter almost gone, now is the perfect time to start planning your annual spring clean. When we think about our yearly sort out, most of us think about decluttering our chaotic linen cupboards or the wardrobes that we can’t close. But if you want to minimise the opportunities for a hacker to get their […]

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With winter almost gone, now is the perfect time to start planning your annual spring clean. When we think about our yearly sort out, most of us think about decluttering our chaotic linen cupboards or the wardrobes that we can’t close. But if you want to minimise the opportunities for a hacker to get their hands on your private online information then a clean-up of your digital house (aka your online life) is absolutely essential.

Not Glamourous but Necessary

I totally accept that cleaning up your online life isn’t exciting but let me assure you it is a must if you want to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

Think about how much digital clutter we have accumulated over the years? Many of us have multiple social media, messaging and email accounts. And don’t forget about all the online newsletters and ‘accounts’ we have signed up for with stores and online sites? Then there are the apps and programs we no longer use.

Well, all of this can be a liability. Holding onto accounts and files you don’t need exposes you to all sorts of risks. Your devices could be stolen or hacked or, a data breach could mean that your private details are exposed quite possibly on the Dark Web. In short, the less information that there is about you online, the better off you are.

Digital clutter can be distracting, exhausting to manage and most importantly, detrimental to your online safety. A thorough digital spring clean will help to protect your important, online personal information from cybercriminals.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for its victims. It occurs when a person’s personal information is stolen to be used primarily for financial gain. A detailed set of personal details is often all a hacker needs to access bank accounts, apply for loans or credit cards and basically destroy your credit rating and reputation.

How To Do a Digital Spring Clean

The good news is that digital spring cleaning doesn’t require nearly as much elbow grease as scrubbing down the microwave! Here are my top tips to add to your spring-cleaning list this year:

  1. Weed Out Your Old Devices

Gather together every laptop, desktop computer, tablet and smartphone that lives in your house. Now, you need to be strong – work out which devices are past their use-by date and which need to be spring cleaned.

If it is finally time to part ways with your first iPad or the old family desktop, make sure any important documents or holiday photos are backed up in a few places (on another computer, an external hard drive AND in cloud storage program such as Dropbox and or iCloud) so you can erase all remaining data and recycle the device with peace of mind. Careful not to get ‘deleting’ confused with ‘erasing,’ which means permanently clearing data from a device. Deleted files can often linger in a device’s recycling folder.

  1. Ensure Your Machines Are Clean!

It is not uncommon for viruses or malware to find their way onto your devices through outdated software so ensure all your internet-connected devices have the latest software updates including operating systems and browsers. Ideally, you should ensure that you are running the latest version of apps too. Most software packages do auto-update but please take the time to ensure this is happening on all your devices.

  1. Review and Consolidate Files, Applications and Services

Our devices play such a huge part in our day to day lives so it is inevitable that they become very cluttered. Your kids’ old school assignments, outdated apps and programs, online subscriptions and unused accounts are likely lingering on your devices.

The big problem with old accounts is that they get hacked! And they can often lead hackers to your current accounts so it’s a no-brainer to ensure the number of accounts you are using is kept to a minimum.

Once you have decided which apps and accounts you are keeping, take some time to review the latest privacy agreements and settings so you understand what data they are collecting and when they are collecting it. You might also discover that some of your apps are using far more of your data than you realised! Might be time to opt-out!

  1. Update Passwords and Enable Two-Factor Authentication

As the average consumer manages a whopping 11 online accounts – social media, shopping, banking, entertainment, the list goes on – updating our passwords is an important ‘cyber hygiene’ practice that is often neglected. Why not use your digital spring cleaning as an excuse to update and strengthen your credentials?

Creating long and unique passwords using a variety of upper and lowercase numbers, letters and symbols is an essential way of protecting yourself and your digital assets online. And if that all feels too complicated, why not consider a password management solution? Password managers help you create, manage and organise your passwords. Some security software solutions include a password manager such as McAfee Total Protection.

Finally, wherever possible, you should enable two-factor authentication for your accounts to add an extra layer of defense against cyber criminals. Two-factor authentication is where a user is verified by opt-out password or one-off code through a separate personal device like a smart phone.

Still not convinced? If you use social media, shop online, subscribe to specialist newsletters then your existence is scattered across the internet. By failing to clean up your ‘digital junk’ you are effectively giving a set of front door keys to hackers and risking having your identity stolen. Not a great scenario at all. So, make yourself a cuppa and get to work!

Til Next Time

Alex xx

 

 

 

 

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How To Help Your Kids Manage Our ‘Culture of Likes’ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-help-your-kids-manage-our-culture-of-likes/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-help-your-kids-manage-our-culture-of-likes/#respond Wed, 14 Aug 2019 03:29:33 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96421

As a mum of 4 sons, my biggest concerns about the era of social media is the impact of the ‘like culture’ on our children’s mental health. The need to generate likes online has become a biological compulsion for many teens and let’s be honest – adults too! The rush of dopamine that surges through […]

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As a mum of 4 sons, my biggest concerns about the era of social media is the impact of the ‘like culture’ on our children’s mental health. The need to generate likes online has become a biological compulsion for many teens and let’s be honest – adults too! The rush of dopamine that surges through one’s body when a new like has been received can make this like culture understandably addictive.

 

Research Shows Likes Can Make You Feel As Good As Chocolate!

The reason why our offspring (and even us) just can’t give up social media is because it can make us feel just so damn good! In fact, the dopamine surges we get from the likes we collect can give us a true psychological high and create a reward loop that is almost impossible to break. Research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, shows the brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are also activated when teens see large numbers of ‘likes’ on their own photos or photos of peers in a social network.

Likes and Self Worth

Approval and validation by our peers has, unfortunately, always had an impact on our sense of self-worth. Before the era of social media, teens may have measured this approval by the number of invitations they received to parties or the number of cards they received on their birthday. But in the digital world of the 21st  century, this is measured very publicly through the number of followers we have or the number of likes we receive on our posts.

But this is dangerous territory. Living our lives purely for the approval of others is a perilous game. If our self-worth is reliant on the amount of likes we receive then we are living very fragile existences.

Instagram’s Big Move

In recognition of the competition social media has become for many, Instagram has decided to trial hiding the likes tally on posts. Instagram believes this move, which is also being trialled in six other countries including Canada and New Zealand, will improve the well-being of users and allow them to focus more on ‘telling their story’ and less on their likes tally.

But the move has been met with criticism. Some believe Instagram is ‘mollycoddling’ the more fragile members of our community whilst others believe it is threatening the livelihood of ‘Insta influencers’ whose income is reliant on public displays of likes.

Does Instagram’s Move Really Solve Address our Likes Culture?

While I applaud Instagram for taking a step to address the wellbeing and mental health of users, I believe that it won’t be long before users simply find another method of social validation to replace our likes stats. Whether it’s follower numbers or the amount of comments or shares, many of us have been wired to view social media platforms like Instagram as a digital popularity contest so will adjust accordingly. Preparing our kids for the harshness of this competitive digital environment needs to be a priority for all parents.

What Can Parents Do?

Before your child joins social media, it is imperative that you do your prep work with your child. There are several things that need to be discussed:

  1. Your Kids Are So Much More Than Their Likes Tally

It is not uncommon for tweens and teens to judge their worth by the number of followers or likes they receive on their social media posts. Clearly, this is crazy but a common trend/ So, please discuss the irrationality of the likes culture and online popularity contest that has become a feature of almost all social media platforms. Make sure they understand that social media platforms play on the ‘reward loop’ that keep us coming back for more. Likes on our posts and validating comments from our followers provide hits of dopamine that means we find it hard to step away. While many tweens and teens view likes as a measure of social acceptance, it is essential that you continue to tell them that this is not a true measure of a person.

  1. Encourage Off-Line Activities

Help your kids develop skills and relationships that are not dependent on screens. Fill their time with activities that build face-to-face friendships and develop their individual talents. Whether it’s sport, music, drama, volunteering or even a part time job – ensuring your child has a life away from screens is essential to creating balance.

  1. Education is Key

Teaching your kids to be cyber safe and good digital citizens will minimise the chances of them experiencing any issues online. Reminding them about the perils of oversharing online, the importance of proactively managing their digital reputation and the harsh reality of online predators will prepare them for the inevitable challenges they will have to navigate.

  1. Keep the Communication Channels Open – Always!

Ensuring your kids really understand that they can speak to you about ANYTHING that is worrying them online is one of the best digital parenting insurance policies available. If they do come to you with an issue, it is essential that you remain calm and do not threaten to disconnect them from their online life. Whether it’s cyberbullying, inappropriate texting or a leak of their personal information, working with them to troubleshoot and solve problems and challenges they face is a must for all digital parents.

Like many parents, I wish I could wave a magic wand and get rid of the competition the likes culture has created online for many of our teens. But that is not possible. So, instead let’s work with our kids to educate them about its futility and help them develop a genuine sense of self-worth that will buffer them from harshness this likes culture has created.

Alex xx

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How to Book Your Next Holiday Online and NOT Get Scammed https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-book-your-next-holiday-online-and-not-get-scammed/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-book-your-next-holiday-online-and-not-get-scammed/#respond Mon, 17 Jun 2019 04:04:44 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95632

Taking our tribe on an annual family holiday has always been a top priority for my husband and me. But with 4 sons – who all eat like ridiculous amounts – this can be an expensive exercise. So, like most people, I am always on the lookout for deals and ways to save money to […]

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Taking our tribe on an annual family holiday has always been a top priority for my husband and me. But with 4 sons – who all eat like ridiculous amounts – this can be an expensive exercise. So, like most people, I am always on the lookout for deals and ways to save money to our favourite holiday destinations.

But according to research from McAfee, our need to secure a great deal to a hot destination may mean we are cutting corners and taking risks online. Over one-third of us (32%) report that we are likely to use a website we have never heard of before just because it offers great deals!

And cybercriminals are fully aware of this, so they spend a lot of time and effort creating malicious travel websites and fraudulent links to lure us ‘travel nuts’ away from the reputable online travel players. Their goal is to get us to their fraudulent site, install malware on our devices so they can steal our personal information, passwords and, ideally, our money!

How Many Aussies Have Been Scammed?

McAfee’s research also shows that 1 in 5 of us have either been scammed or nearly scammed when booking a holiday online with many of us (32%) signing up for a deal that turned out to be fake. And horrifyingly, 28% of holiday scam victims only realised that they had been scammed when checking-in to their holiday accommodation!! Can you imagine breaking the news to the kids? Or worse still having to pay twice for the one holiday?

Cybercriminals Also Have Favourite Holiday Hot Spots

Not only are cybercriminals capitalising on our need for a deal when booking a holiday, but they are also targeting our favourite destinations. The findings from McAfee’s research show holiday hot spots such as Thailand, India, the Philippines and the UK generate the riskiest search results when people are on the hunt for holidays online.

The top holiday destinations for Aussies that hackers are targeting via potentially malicious sites:

  1. New Delhi, India
  2. Bangkok, Thailand
  3. London, England
  4. Phuket, Thailand
  5. Manila, Philippines

Cybercriminals take advantage of the high search volumes for accommodation and deals in these popular destinations and drive unsuspecting users to their malicious websites often using professional looking links, pop-up ads and even text messages.

What You Can Do to Avoid Being Scammed

With Aussie school holiday just a few weeks away, do not despair! There are definitely steps you can take to protect yourself when booking your Winter getaway. Here are my top tips:

  1. Think Before You Click

With 25% of holiday bookings occurring through email promotions and pop-up ads, it’s essential to properly research the company behind the ads before you proceed with payment. Check out reviews and travel forums to ensure it is a legitimate online travel store. And it’s always best to use a trusted online retailer with a solid reputation even if it costs a little more.

  1. Use Wi-Fi With Caution

Using unsecured Wi-Fi is a risky business when you are travelling. If you absolutely must, ensure it is secured BUT never conduct any financial or sensitive transactions when connected. Investing in a virtual private network (VPN) such as McAfee Safe Connect is the best way to ensure that your connection is secure and your data remains private.

  1. Protect Yourself

Ensuring your device has current comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, will ensure any malicious websites will be identified when you are browsing. It will also protect your device against malware – which could come in handy if you are tricked into visiting a fraudulent site.

So, next time you come across an amazing, bargain-basement deal to Thailand, PLEASE take the time to do your homework. Is the retailer legitimate? What do the reviews say? What are the terms and conditions? And, if it isn’t looking rosy, remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

‘till next time

Alex xx

 

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What You Can Do to Reduce Your E-Waste This World Environment Day https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/world-environment-day/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/world-environment-day/#respond Wed, 05 Jun 2019 01:49:23 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95487

Our love of technology and often biological need for new devices has created one of the biggest environmental issues of our time – e-waste. Today is World Environment Day – a great opportunity to ensure we are doing all we can to minimise landfill and protect our precious environment. Over the last 12 months, BYO […]

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Our love of technology and often biological need for new devices has created one of the biggest environmental issues of our time – e-waste. Today is World Environment Day – a great opportunity to ensure we are doing all we can to minimise landfill and protect our precious environment.

Over the last 12 months, BYO shopping bags, paper straws and ‘truly recyclable’ takeaway coffee cups have dominated our national environmental dialogue as essential ways to minimise future landfill. But with the average Aussie family generating a whopping 73 kg per year of e-waste, it’s critical that we turn our attention to our growing e-waste crisis this World Environment Day.

What is e-Waste?

E-Waste refers to old technology that you are no longer using. It includes microwaves, computers, TVs, batteries, screens, chargers, printer cartridges and even kitchen appliances.

High amounts of non-renewable resources such as plastic and precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, nickel, zinc, copper and aluminium) are found in e-waste. So, recycling these materials to make new electronics not only makes good financial sense but it also prevents products from winding up in a landfill.

According to experts, the average Aussie household own a startling 17 devices with predictions that this will increase to 27 by 2022.  So, it’s clear that our e-waste problem needs to be tackled head-on.

How Much e-Waste Is Generated Annually?

In January, the United Nations and World Economic Forum reported that the world produces 50 million tonnes of e-waste a year – around the same mass as 125,000 jumbo jets which is more than all the commercial aircraft ever built!

But interestingly, e-waste isn’t all bad news. In 2017, the UN University estimated the value of raw materials in e-waste to be worth  $US62.5 billion annually which exceeds the GDP (gross domestic product) of 123 countries. So, the opportunities contained in effective e-waste management are not only environmental but financial as economies could be bolstered and jobs could be created.

What Can We Do to Minimise It?

There are definitely steps we can all take to reduce our e-waste. While the obvious (less popular) strategy is to STOP purchasing new electronics, focussing in recycling and repurposing will go a long way to reducing our e-waste footprint. Here are my top tips:

  1. Repair or Refresh Your Current Devices

While we all love the idea of a shiny, new device, it’s often possible to repair or rejuvenate devices to avoid spending big bucks on a new one. Most devices can usually be repaired and even enhanced with a little expert ‘know-how’. I have spent a large chunk of my parenting career repairing and rescuing smartphones that were dropped, ‘washed’ or just deemed not ‘cool enough’. But the good news, it doesn’t take much to fix these issues: screens can be replaced, faults can be rectified, and new covers can be purchased to re-energise ‘the look’. And don’t forget the power of a software upgrade to ensure your phone is operating at its peak performance. If you are an Apple user, why not book a visit to their Genius Bar and let their staff show you how to get your device working at its optimum level?

  1. Sell or Give Away Your Unwanted Electronics

One of the easiest ways to manage your unwanted electronic devices is to rehome them. Gumtree and eBay are great online marketplaces to make a bit of extra cash by selling your obsolete devices. I know my boys have taken great delight in making a few extra bucks selling old phones and iPads over the years. Many charities also welcome donations of pre-loved smartphones or laptops so they can rehome them to people in Australia and overseas who just can’t afford to purchase their own. But don’t forget to wipe the data from your devices, remove your SIM cards and ideally do a factory reset of the phone to protect your privacy.

  1. Repurpose Your Old Smartphone

Instead of throwing out your old phone, why not repurpose it? Consider using it as a standalone GPS device in your car or perhaps dedicate it to your family’s music collection? Or why not turn it into a stand-alone home security camera?  Or even a baby monitor or a Google Home speaker? The possibilities are endless

  1. Turn Your Smartphone into a Child-Friendly Entertainment Device

If your little ones are after their ‘own phone’ then why not turn your old one into a custom child-friendly device? It’s super easy to set a passcode and turn age-appropriate restrictions on. Within minutes, you can lock down the device and turn off access to anything you don’t want your child to get involved with. This includes the camera, web browser and permission to install apps. Genius!

  1. Organise Your Current Fleet Before You Buy Anything New

Before you invest in new devices, organise what you already own to make sure you really need to make that purchase. A clean-up of desks, cupboards and kitchen drawers may yield a stash of chargers, USB sticks, hard drives and even old smartphones you had forgotten about. And consider sharing gadgets and chargers between family members to avoid buying new items.

  1. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

But if you decide, it’s time to say farewell to your old devices, PLEASE recycle them properly. Many e-waste experts, including Craig Reucassel environmental champion from the ABC’s ‘War on Waste’, believe the biggest challenge to reducing e-waste is getting devices out of people’ s drawers and garages and into designated recycling stations.

But the good news is that there are a number of user-friendly recycling options available:

  1. TechCollect is a free Australia-wide e-waste recycling initiative which is funded by some of the leading tech brands with the aim of avoiding landfill. Check out their website for the closest recycling centre to you.
  2. Mobile Muster provides mobile phone recycling facilities in Australia with over 3000 drop locations. Check out your closest drop-off point on their website.
  3. Many local councils also offer recycling options for e-waste. Why not contact yours to find out your options?
  4. Consider recycling your smartphone to support your favourite charity. It is now possible to recycle your phone and benefit your favourite charity at the same time. For no cost to the consumer, the Aussie Recycling Program (ARP) will recycle your phone and donate the profits to your nominated charity. They will either sell it on, recycle it or break it down into small parts that can be sold to manufacturers.

With e-waste set to become one of the biggest environmental issues of our generation, it’s time we all took responsibility for our unloved tech goods. If you are a closet hoarder, it’s time to workshop these issues quickly. Because our failure to take action could mean our discarded devices with their toxic by-products end up in landfill potentially polluting our waterways and food supply. So, let’s make this a priority!

Alex xx

 

 

 

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Privacy Awareness Week 2019 – Are You In The Dark About Your Online Privacy? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/privacy-awareness-week-2019/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/privacy-awareness-week-2019/#respond Tue, 14 May 2019 01:03:50 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95255

If you haven’t given your online privacy much attention lately then things need to change. In our era of weekly data breaches, the ‘I’ve got nothing to hide’ excuse no longer cuts it. In my opinion, ensuring your privacy is protected online is probably more important than protecting your home and car! A sloppy approach […]

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If you haven’t given your online privacy much attention lately then things need to change. In our era of weekly data breaches, the ‘I’ve got nothing to hide’ excuse no longer cuts it. In my opinion, ensuring your privacy is protected online is probably more important than protecting your home and car! A sloppy approach to online privacy can have devastating ramifications to your financial health, your career and even your physical wellbeing.

This week is Privacy Awareness Week in Australia – a great reminder to give our online privacy a ‘check-up’ and work out what we can do to ensure the information we share online (and who sees it) is locked down.

What Do We Need to Protect?

When we think about online privacy, we often think about protecting our password and financial data online. But it’s a little more complicated. There are 2 categories of information that we share in our online life that requires protection.

  1. Personally Identifying Information (PII) – this includes our name, birthdate, address and Medicare number
  2. Non-Personally Identifying Information – this includes the information about what we do online. It’s a combination of the websites we visit, what we buy online, our online searches and the pages we like on our social media profiles. Our online activity creates a digital folder about ourselves and many companies just love this data so they can send targeted ads your way. Ever wondered why you receive ads about holiday destinations after a few wishful holiday Google searches?

Without adequate online privacy, all the information about our online activities can be collected and analysed by third parties. In fact, data collected (legally) about you by websites can be very lucrative! Companies, known as data brokers, collect and maintain data on millions on people and charge handsomely for their services!

Why Do I Need To Worry About My Online Privacy?

Just think for a moment about some of the information that is stored about you online…

  • Your PII is stored in the background of probably every online account you have including social media, news and banking
  • Your online banking and superannuation sites contain details of all your accounts and your net worth
  • Your health and taxation records maybe accessible online which may contain sensitive information you would prefer not to be shared
  • If you haven’t disabled location services on your phone, your whereabouts can be tracked by clever parties on a daily basis
  • Your pictures and videos

While some of this information is stored without your control, there are steps you can take to tighten up access.

Now, think about your daily online activity…

  • Anything you order online via your web browser can be recorded
  • Anytime you send an email with sensitive information, there is a risk this will also be shared
  • Anytime you pay on the go using a facility like Apple Pay, your purchase will be tracked
  • Anything you search for, the articles you read, the movie tickets you buy and even your weekly online grocery order can be tracked

If this comes as a shock to you then you’re not alone. Many Aussies have been in the dark about what information is available about them online. But, don’t throw the towel in – there are strategies to tighten up your online privacy.

How To Get Your Online Privacy Under Control

There are a few simple steps you can take to lock down your valuable online information. So, make yourself a nice cuppa and let’s get to work:

  1. Manage Your Passwords

Your online passwords are as important as your house keys. In fact, in many cases, it is the only thing stopping cybercriminals from accessing our vital information that we have saved online. So, if you want to tighten up access to your online banking, your social media platforms and your favourite online shopping sites then you need to think carefully about how you manage your passwords.

Passwords need to be complex and unique with at least 8-10 characters and a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. And each of your online accounts should have a separate password which should be changed regularly. Too hard? Consider a Password Manager which creates and manages complex passwords for each of your online accounts – a complete no brainer!! McAfee’s Total Protection software includes a Password Manager which stores, auto-fills and generates unique passwords for all your online accounts. All you need to do is remember one master password! Easy!

And don’t forget, if one of your online accounts is affected by a data breach, then you need to change that password ASAP. If you have a password manager, simply have it generate another password for you.

  1. Use Public Wi-Fi With Caution

If you are serious about your online privacy then you need to use public Wi-Fi sparingly. Unsecured public Wi-Fi is a very risky business. Anything you share could easily find its way into the hands of cybercriminals. So, please avoid sharing any sensitive or personal information while using public Wi-Fi. If you travel regularly or spend the bulk of your time on the road then consider investing in a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your activity which means your login details and other sensitive information is protected. McAfee has a great VPN product called Safe Connect. An excellent insurance policy!

  1. Use 2-Factor Authentication

Adding an additional layer of security to protect yourself when accessing your online accounts is another great way of guarding your online privacy. Turn on two-factor authentication for Google, Dropbox, Facebook and whatever other site offers it. For those new to this option, this means that in addition to your password, you will need to provide another form of identification to ensure you are who you say you are. Most commonly, this is a code sent to your mobile phone or generated by a smart phone app.

  1. Keep Your Software Updated

Software updates and patches are often designed to address a security vulnerability so ALWAYS install them so the bad guys can’t take advantage of security hole in your system. If it all becomes to hard, why not automate the updates?

  1. Invest in Security Software for ALL Your Devices

Installing comprehensive security software on all your devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones adds another layer of protection to your vital online information. Check out McAfee’s Total Protection software that will ensure you and your devices are protected against viruses, malware spyware and ransomware.

  1. Consider a Search Engine that Doesn’t Track Your Every Move Online

If you would prefer that your search engines didn’t collect and store the information you enter then consider an alternative ‘privacy focussed’ search engine. Check out DuckDuckGo that doesn’t profile users or track or sell your information to third parties.

  1. Delete All Cookies

Cookies are another way your online activity can be tracked. While some are harmless and used to simply remember things about you such as your login information and language, others known as  tracking cookies remain permanently constantly gathering information about your behaviour and what you click on. So, let’s get rid of them! Head into your web browser’s Privacy settings and clean them out.

So, let’s get our online privacy under control this Privacy Awareness Week. But don’t forget about your kids and elderly relatives too! Proactively managing one’s online privacy needs to be a priority for everyone. Why not start a conversation at the dinner table? Perhaps give the family a daily privacy related task every day during Privacy Awareness Week? For example:

Monday – Clean up your passwords or set up a Password Manager

Tuesday –  Research a VPN

Wednesday – Set up 2 factor authentication

Thursday – Ensure all your software is up to date and set up auto-updates where possible

Friday – Research privacy focussed search engines and delete all cookies

Over to you mums and dads. Would love to hear how you go.

Alex xx

 

 

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It’s World Password Day – the Perfect Excuse to give your Passwords an Overhaul! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/its-world-password-day/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/its-world-password-day/#respond Wed, 01 May 2019 20:47:12 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95085

How much of your personal data is stored online? Well, if you are anything like the ‘average Jo’ – the answer is a lot! In 2019, the vast majority of us bank and shop online, have official documentation stored online, have all sorts of personal information stored in our emails and let’s not forget about […]

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How much of your personal data is stored online? Well, if you are anything like the ‘average Jo’ – the answer is a lot! In 2019, the vast majority of us bank and shop online, have official documentation stored online, have all sorts of personal information stored in our emails and let’s not forget about our photos and videos.

And the scary thing – the only thing that is stopping cybercriminals from accessing our vital information that is saved online is our passwords.

Today is World Password Day – a perfect opportunity to give our password strategy a health check.  Because if we are serious about protecting our vital data that is stored online then we need to get SUPER serious about managing our passwords!

So, let’s give your passwords an overhaul. Why not schedule some time in your calendar to ensure your passwords are in the best shape? Here are my top tips on what you can do today to ensure you are doing all you can to protect your private online data.

How To Give Your Passwords A Health Check:

1. Check To See Whether Your Passwords Have Been Exposed

The first step is to see whether your passwords have been compromised in a data breach. Check out  www.haveibeenpwned.com.au to see whether cybercriminals have already discovered your passwords. If so, then they need to be changed wherever they are used ASAP.

2. Commit to Not Using Common Passwords

Using common passwords such as ‘password’, ‘123456’ or ‘qwerty’ is quite frankly, a waste of time. It would take cybercriminals a matter of seconds to unlock your online banking data. Also avoid using simple personal details within your passwords such as your birthday, name or kids and pet names as a quick scan of your social media accounts would allow cybercriminals to find this in just seconds. Always make your passwords random and obscure. Why not consider a nonsensical sentence?

3. Add Numbers and Symbols to Your Passwords

When you are setting up a new online account, many organisations will require you to add a number or symbol to your proposed password to give it additional ‘password strength’. Passwords that include a variety of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols are far harder to crack so get creative and layer up your passwords.

4. Ensure Every Password Is Unique

Many people use the same password across all of their online accounts. And while this makes life easier, it increases your risk of your vital online data being compromised big time. Remember, if a hacker discovers just one of your passwords – and it’s the only one you use – all of your online personal information is at risk! Therefore, it is crucial to ensure all your passwords are different! I know, it sounds like a lot of work and brain power!

5. Simplify Your Life with a Password Manager

If the idea of creating individual complex passwords for each of your online accounts – oh, and changing them every 2 months, is giving you palpitations, then I have a solution – a password manager!

McAfee’s Total Protection includes Password Manager, which stores, auto-fills and even generates unique passwords. Creating and remembering (!) complex password for each online account is taken care off. All you need to do is remember one master password in order to access the rest of the passwords! And if there is a data breach, it’s super easy to quickly change a password too.

6. Set up Two-Factor Authentication Where Possible

If you have the option to enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication with any of your online accounts, then do it!! In simple terms, this will mean that you need to provide more than one way of identifying yourself before gaining access to your account. Often it is your password plus a code sent to your smartphone or even your fingerprint. It’s an absolute no-brainer as it adds another layer of security making it harder to cybercriminals to access your vital online data.

Now, if you are thinking about skipping out of your password overhaul, then please think again! Passwords are the first line of defence to protect your vital online data from cybercriminals. So, put the kettle on and make today the day!

Till next time!

Alex xx

 

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The Ultimate CyberParenting Hack – Managing Your Family’s Cybersafety with the help of your Wi-Fi Router! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-ultimate-cyberparenting-hack-managing-your-familys-cybersafety-with-the-help-of-your-wi-fi-router/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-ultimate-cyberparenting-hack-managing-your-familys-cybersafety-with-the-help-of-your-wi-fi-router/#respond Tue, 26 Mar 2019 06:14:28 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94788

Managing your family’s cybersafety can often feel overwhelming. But one thing I have learnt in my 22 years of parenting is that there are no silver bullets for any parenting issues. Whether it’s toilet training or driver training, it takes time and often a combination of strategies. Teaching your kids about online safety is no […]

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Managing your family’s cybersafety can often feel overwhelming. But one thing I have learnt in my 22 years of parenting is that there are no silver bullets for any parenting issues. Whether it’s toilet training or driver training, it takes time and often a combination of strategies. Teaching your kids about online safety is no different. Yes, you need to put in the hard work and continue to have the conversations. BUT if it was possible to supplement the talking with some strategic parental controls and an automatic layer of cybersecurity, then I would consider that to be a parenting no brainer!

Well, this parenting no-brainer exists. Let me introduce you D-Link’s latest D-Fend Router which not only includes McAfee’s Secure Home Platform which automatically protects all your Wi-Fi connected devices but some pretty impressive parental controls too. And all this happens while users are delivered fast wireless connectivity with increased range and reliability. Awesome!

Being a First-Generation Digital Parent Is A Tough Gig

As a generation of parents, I believe we are the busiest yet. Not only are we juggling our brood of kids and their lives but many of us are also managing ageing parents, plus our own careers, relationships and social lives. And just to complicate things a little further, we are also the first generation of digital parents. Managing our kids and their fleet of devices comes with no guidebook or tried and tested generational wisdom, which makes our job even more complex. How easy did my parents have it – all they had to do was buy the Atari console in the 80’s!

But the job of a digital parent is only set to become more complex with Gartner estimating that by 2020 there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices operating in our world.

Many Parents Don’t Know Where To Start With Cyber Safety At Home

When I speak with parents about how they manage their kids and devices, there is a recurring theme – many parents know they need to be doing something to protect their kids from online risks, but they often don’t know where to start. As a result, nothing often happens. Research from McAfee confirms this too with almost a third of Aussies taking no steps at all to install security protection on either their own or their kids’ internet connected devices.

But there is no doubt that many parents are concerned about the risks. Research by Life Education in partnership with Hyundai Help for Kids shows that an overwhelming 95% of Aussie parents rated online safety as a very important issue which is very encouraging.

What Online Risks Concern Aussie Parents the Most?

Aussie parents have many concerns about the risks posed by the online world. I believe however, the following are the ones that increase parents’ blood pressure the most!

Screen time – The time our kids spend glued to screens is a huge concern for many Aussie parents. Whether you are concerned about ‘tech neck’, the growing rates of childhood obesity or simply, the lack of conversation at home – you would not be alone! Research by The Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that 12-13 year old Aussie kids are spending a whopping 3 hours a day in front of screens during the week and then 4 hours on the weekends. No wonder many parents are concerned.

Gaming – Recent research conducted by McAfee shows that some Aussie teens are spending up to 4 hours a day gaming. And while parents naturally worry about the opportunity cost associated with the time, their greater concern is around the risk of online grooming and of exposure to inappropriate and violent material.

Cyberbullying – This is the big one for many parents and rightly so. Cyberbullying can be absolutely devastating for victims. A quick google provides just far too many examples of young adults who have suffered significant psychological trauma or even lost their lives as a result of unchecked cyberbullying. Last year, our e-Safety Commissioner reported a 35% increase in cases of reported cyberbullying as compared to the previous year.

But Why Aren’t Parents Taking Action?

As a group of parents, there is no doubt we are concerned about screen time, gaming addiction, online grooming, and cyberbullying but many of us aren’t taking the necessary action to intervene and protect our kids. So, McAfee probed a little deeper in recent research and discovered that almost half of Aussie parents believe that their children can manage their own cyber safety from the age of just 10. Now, when my boys when 10, they were barely able to manage their own lunchboxes! So, this belief truly stuns me.

So, we have some parents who just don’t know where to start and others who believe it isn’t their responsibility. Regardless, there is clearly a need to take some decisive action to protect our kids from both online risks and problematic anti-social behaviours.

What Steps Can Parents Take Now to Protect Their Kids Digital Lives?

The good news is there are a few simple things parents can do to protect their kids and their growing fleet of internet connected devices. Here are my top tips:

  • Check a Device’s Security Track Record

Before buying any connected device, always research the brand and read reviews on a product’s security (or lack of). A quick web search will give you some pretty fast insight into the potential device’s security standards. Going with a notable brand that has a proven security track record is often the best option.

  • Always Change Default Settings, Use Strong Passwords & Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Default and weak passwords are the biggest threat to the security of internet connected devices. Hackers are very familiar with both default and obvious passwords which makes it super easy to access the data on your devices. Know these passwords and use them to access the data on your devices. If the thought of remembering several passphrases daunts you, go for a password manager. While a strong and unique password is a great place to start, enabling two-factor authentication on your devices and accounts will mean you’ll need to verify your identity with something that you (and only you) have access to. This is most commonly a mobile device, which ensures a higher-level of security.

  • Keep Your Devices Up To Date

Device software updates are often always designed to protect your device from recently discovered security bugs, vulnerabilities and threats. If you’re in the common habit of ignoring update notifications, turning on auto-update will ensure you apply these patches in real time and have maximum protection.

  • Invest in a Router that Protects Your Devices & Offers Parental Controls!

Investing in a Wi-Fi router with built-in protection like McAfee’s Secure Home Platform is one of the easiest ways of both managing and protecting your family’s fleet of devices. Not only does it automatically protect any device that connects to the Wi-Fi but it comes with some very strategic parental controls. So not only can you take back control and proactively manage your kids’ screen time but you can set up customised profiles to ensure they are visiting only suitable sites.

As a mum of 4, I believe that managing the risk in our kids’ cyber lives needs to be a genuine priority for us all. So, yes, let’s keep talking to our kids about online risks and the need to self-regulate our online behaviour. But, if we could also add in a later of automatic protection for our kids’ devices from McAfee’s Secure Home Platform and some savvy parental controls to ensure our kids are on track then I think that’s a pretty compelling parenting hack for us first generation digital parents!

Take Care

Alex xx

 

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Safer Internet Day 2019 – Together for a Better Internet https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/safer-internet-day-2019/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/safer-internet-day-2019/#respond Tue, 05 Feb 2019 00:15:17 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94075

What You Can Do Today to Help Create a Better Internet   Today is Safer Internet Day (SID) – an annual worldwide event to encourage us all to work together to create a better internet. Celebrated globally in over 130 countries, SID is an opportunity for millions of people worldwide to come together to inspire […]

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What You Can Do Today to Help Create a Better Internet

 

Today is Safer Internet Day (SID) – an annual worldwide event to encourage us all to work together to create a better internet. Celebrated globally in over 130 countries, SID is an opportunity for millions of people worldwide to come together to inspire positive change and raise awareness about the importance of online safety.

The theme for 2019 is: ‘Together for a Better Internet’ which I believe is a timely reminder of the importance of us all working together if we are serious about making the internet a safer place. Whether we are parents, carers, teachers or just avid users, we all have a part to play.

The 4R’s of Online Safety

In order to make a positive change to our online world, this year we are being encouraged to focus on four critical skills that many experts believe will help us all (especially our kids) better navigate the internet and create a more positive online environment. Let’s call them the 4R’s of online safety: Respect, Responsibility, Reasoning and Resilience. So, here is my advice on what we can do to try and incorporate these four important skills into our family’s digital lives

  1. Respect – ‘I treat myself and others the way I like to be treated’

I firmly believe that having respect for others online is critical if we are going to foster a safer and more supportive internet for our children and future generations. While many parents realise that our constant reminders about the importance of good manners and respect must also now be extended to include the online world, not everyone is on the same page.

Keyboard warriors who fire off abusive comments online, or harass and troll others clearly do not have any notion of online respect. Online actions can have serious real-world implications. In fact, online actions can often have more significant implications as the dialogue is not just contained to a few, rather it is witnessed by everyone’s online friends which could stretch into the 1000’s. Such public exchanges then create the opportunity for commentary which often further magnifies the hurt and fallout.

It is therefore essential that we have very direct conversations with our children about what is and isn’t appropriate online. And if there is even any confusion, always revert to one of my favourite lessons from my Sunday School days: treat others how you would like to be treated yourself.

  1. Responsibility – ‘I am accountable for my actions and I take a stand when I feel something is wrong’

In my opinion, teaching our kids online responsibility is another important step in making the internet a better place. Ensuring our kids understand that they are not only responsible but accountable for their behaviour is essential. If they harass or bully others online, or are involved in sending inappropriate pics, there are consequences that could quite possible include interactions with the police department.

But being responsible online also means getting involved if you feel something isn’t right. Whether a mate is on the receiving end of online harassment or a cruel joke, getting involved and telling the perpetrator that their behaviour ‘isn’t cool’ is essential.

  1. Reasoning – ‘I question what is real’

Teaching our kids to think critically is an essential survival skill for our kids in our content-driven online world. We need our kids to question, analyse and verify online content. They need to be able to identify reputable and credible sources and think carefully before they share and digest information.

The best thing we can do as parents is challenge our kids and get them thinking! If for example, your child is researching online for a school assignment then get them thinking. Ask them what agenda the author of the article has. Ask them whether there is a counter argument to the one laid out in the article. Ask them whether the source sharing the information is trustworthy. The aim is to teach them to question and not take anything they find online at face value.

  1. Resilience – ‘I get back up from tough situations’

Unfortunately, the chances that your child will experience some challenges online is quite high. Whether someone posts a mean comment, they are harassed, or worst case, cyberbullied – these nasty online interactions can really hurt.

Ensuring your kids know that they can come to you about any issue they experience is essential. And you need to repeat this to them regularly, so they don’t forget! And if your child does come to you with a problem they experienced online, the worst thing you can do is threaten to disconnect them. If you do this, I guarantee you that they will never share anything else with you again.

In 2014, Parent Zone, one of the UK’s leading family digital safety organisations collaborated with the Oxford Internet Institute to examine ways to build children’s online resilience. The resulting report, A Shared Responsibility: Building Children’s Online Resilience, showed that unconditional love and respect from parents, a good set of digital skills plus the opportunity for kids to take risks and develop strategies in the online world – without being overly micro-managed by their parents – were key to building online resilience.

So, love them, educate them and give them some independence so they can start to take some small risks online and start developing resilience.

What Can You Do this Safer Internet Day?

Why not pledge to make one small change to help make the internet a better place this Safer Internet Day? Whether it’s modelling online respect, reminding your kids of their online responsibilities, challenging them to demonstrate reasoning when assessing online content or working with them to develop online resilience, just a few small steps can make a positive change.

 

 

 

 

 

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How Safe is Your Child’s School WiFi? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-safe-is-your-childs-school-wifi/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-safe-is-your-childs-school-wifi/#respond Thu, 24 Jan 2019 03:15:43 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93950

School WiFi. For many of our digital natives, school WiFi may even be a more important part of their daily life than the canteen!! And that is saying something… You’d be hard pressed to find a child who rocked up to school without a device in their backpack in our digital age. The vast majority […]

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School WiFi. For many of our digital natives, school WiFi may even be a more important part of their daily life than the canteen!! And that is saying something…

You’d be hard pressed to find a child who rocked up to school without a device in their backpack in our digital age. The vast majority of schools have embraced the many positive learning benefits that internet-connected devices offer our kids. The traditional blackboard and textbook lessons that were confined to the four walls of the classroom are gone. Instead our kids can research, discover, collaborate, create and most importantly, learn like never before.

But in order for this new learning to occur, our kids need to be internet connected. And this is where school WiFi comes into play.

Do Parents Need to Be Concerned About School WiFi?

As parents, we have a responsibility to ensure our kids are safe and not at risk – and that includes when they are using the WiFi at school. Ideally, your child’s school should have a secure WiFi network but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that they do. School budgets are tight and top-notch secure WiFi networks are expensive, so in some cases, security maybe jeopardised.

The other factor we shouldn’t ignore is that our batch of digital natives are very tech literate. The possibility that one of them may choose to cause some mayhem to their school WiFi network should also not be ignored!!

At the end of the day, the security of a WiFi network is all about whether it has tight access controls. If it allows only approved devices and people to connect via a secure login then it is more secure than public WiFi. However, if it is open to anyone or easy for anyone to connect to it, then you need to treat it like public WiFi.

What Are the Risks?

An unsecured school WiFi network is as risky as public WiFi which, according to the Harvard Business Review, is as risky as rolling a dice,

Students and staff who use an unsecured WiFi network are at risk of receiving phishing emails, being the victim of a ransomware attack or even having their data or personal details stolen. There is also a risk that the entire school’s operations could be disrupted and possibly even closed down through a DDOS – a Denial of Service Attack.

What Can Parents Do to Ensure Their Kids Are Safe Using School WiFi?

There are several steps parents can take to minimise the risks when their offspring use school WiFi.

  1. Talk To Your School

The first thing to do is speak to your child’s school to understand exactly how secure their network is. I’d recommend asking who has access to the network, what security practices they have in place and how they manage your child’s private data.

  1. Install Security Software

Operating a device without security software is no different to leaving your front door unlocked. Installing security software on all devices, including smartphones, will provide protection against viruses, online threats, risky websites and dangerous downloads. Check out McAfee’s Total Protection security software for total peace of mind!

  1. Keep Device Software Up To Date

Software updates are commonly designed to address security issues. So ensuring ALL your devices are up to date is a relatively easy way of minimising the risk of being hacked.

  1. Schedule Regular Data Back Up

If you are the victim of a ransomware attack and your data is backed up then you won’t even have to consider paying the hefty fee to retrieve your (or your child’s) data. Backing up data regularly should be not negotiable however life can often get in the way. Why not schedule automatic backups? I personally love online backup options such as Dropbox and Google Drive however you may choose to invest in a hard drive.

  1. Public Wi-Fi Rules?

If after talking to your school, you aren’t convinced that your child’s school WiFi network is secure, then I recommend that your kids should treat it as if it was public WiFi. This means that they should NEVER conduct any financial transactions using it and never share any personal details. But the absolute best way of ensuring your child is safe using an unsecured WiFi network, is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN like McAfee’s Safe Connect creates an encrypted tunnel so anything that is shared over WiFi is completely safe.

As a mum of 4, I am very keen to ensure my kids are engaged with their learning. And in our digital times, this means devices and WiFi. So, let’s support our kids and their teachers in their quest for interactive, digital learning but please don’t forget to check in and ensure your kids are as safe as possible while using WiFi at school.

Take Care

Alex xx

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How to Get Technology Working for You This Christmas https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-get-technology-working-for-you-this-christmas/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-get-technology-working-for-you-this-christmas/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 09:10:32 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93320

Harnessing the power of the internet and technology this Christmas may just be what you need to get over this extraordinarily stressful period. While many of you maybe all sorted for the big day, there are still many of us who aren’t. Many of us are still attending daily Christmas gatherings, still working, still trying […]

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Harnessing the power of the internet and technology this Christmas may just be what you need to get over this extraordinarily stressful period. While many of you maybe all sorted for the big day, there are still many of us who aren’t.

Many of us are still attending daily Christmas gatherings, still working, still trying to entertain kids, shop & most importantly, work out what we are going to serve to 25 people on Christmas day!!

So, let me share with you my top tips on how we can all use the wonders of the internet and technology to get through:

  1. E-Cards

If you haven’t done these yet – and let’s be honest very few do now – then scrap this idea immediately. But if your guilt just can’t be silenced then check out ecards. I personally love Smilebox but Lifewire has put together a list of the top ecard sites. But remember, always use a reputable site so your recipients as more likely to open them. Cybercrims have been known to send unsuspecting recipients ecards with the aim of trying to extract their personal information.

  1. Online Gift Shopping

Getting to the bottom of the Christmas gift list takes time. So, if you still have presents to buy then avoid the crowds and get online. There are still plenty of retailers who are guaranteeing delivery before Christmas. So, make yourself a cup of tea and set the timer for an hour. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done when you have a deadline! Finder.com has put together a list of the top 50 Australian shopping sites – check it out! I do have to disclose I have a soft spot for Peter’s of Kensington, Country Road and Myer online. Great service and speedy delivery!

But please remember to observe safe online shopping habits. Only buy from trusted retailers, look for a padlock at the start of a web address to ensure transactions are encrypted, avoid offers that are ‘too good to be true’ and don’t ever use public Wi-Fi to do your shopping.

  1. Get Some Extra Help Online

If you haven’t yet used Airtasker to help you work through your to-do list, then you need to start ASAP. Airtasker brings jobs and helpers together in an easy to use app. If your house needs a clean or the garden needs a makeover before the relatives arrive, then log on and create a job and wait for Airtaskers to bid on it. So easy!

  1. Create an Online To-Do List

There’s nothing like a bit of planning to reduce pressure. Why not create a to-do list in Google Docs or an Excel spreadsheet to identify which family member is responsible for what on the big day? Alternatively, you could create your to-do list in an app like Todoist and then send each person’s task directly to their inbox? Very organised indeed!

So, let’s all take a deep breath. Christmas 2018 is going to be fantastic. Let’s get technology working for us so we can get through our to-do lists and be super parents – even though we all know they just don’t exist!

Merry Christmas

Alex xx

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How To Help Your Teen Organise a Party Online Without It Becoming a Public Spectacle https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teen-parties-and-instagram/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teen-parties-and-instagram/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 05:35:24 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93074 Teen Parties and Instagram. If your teen is keen to have a party, I can guarantee you that they will not be handing out paper invitations on the playground! It’s all done online now my friends and that means – it can get very messy. When my kids were in Primary School, I would make […]

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Teen Parties and Instagram. If your teen is keen to have a party, I can guarantee you that they will not be handing out paper invitations on the playground! It’s all done online now my friends and that means – it can get very messy.

When my kids were in Primary School, I would make party invitations on Smilebox. It was so easy to personalise your invitation – you could, (and still can) add pics and even videos. And then best of all, you can print them out, or email them directly to your guests. Perfect!!

But, unfortunately, my teen boys won’t have a bar of Smilebox. Parties are now organised on Instagram which is definitely not as clean cut as Smilebox.

How Parties are Organised on Instagram

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the process of party organising on Instagram, let me share with you the process. But first, please sit down, it may make your hair stand on end.

  1. Create a private Instagram account that is specifically for the party eg Alex’s 21st Birthday Party. Include a small blurb about the party and encourage interested people to apply – I’m not joking!
  2. Tell a few key friends about the event and have them share the account in their Instagram story. This is to attract like-minded people who might be suitable for the party.
  3. People who are interested in attending the party then request to follow the account. The person holding the party then decides whether they would like the potential guest to attend. They check them out online and see if they are the ‘right fit’. If the potential guest’s request to follow is accepted, this means that they have an invite to the party.

Now, you can just imagine how this could play out. The fact the party account’s existence is shared by nominated friends means a teen’s entire school year and social circle quickly finds out about the party. And teens want to be included – we’ve all been there – so, of course many apply to attend the party. But unfortunately, numbers are limited so they are excluded but in the public arena that is Instagram.

I totally appreciate that you can’t have unlimited numbers to social gatherings, but life in the pre-social media era made this far easier to deal with. You may have known, for example, that your math class buddy, Rebecca, was having a party and that you weren’t invited. But you didn’t have to humiliate yourself by applying, being rejected and then having to view the fabulous images of the night, usually taken by a glossy professional photographer.

Is There Another Way?

No 4 son recently turned 15 and was super keen for a party. He and I were both determined to avoid this cruel approach to party organising. While he couldn’t have unlimited numbers and couldn’t invite everyone, our aim was to keep it as low key as possible while trying to avoid hurting kids’ feelings.

So, we went old-school! He invited guests directly. He did use Instagram but each guest received a private message. He did consider doing a group message on Instagram however there was a risk that the guests could add someone into the conversation and share the party details publicly.

And I’m pleased to report that the party went off without a hitch! I think my 2 eldest sons who were the ‘Security Team’ were a tad disappointment that there were no issues. I was very relieved!

Empathy Is Essential

As a mother of four sons, I am very aware of the importance of robust mental health. The digital world in which are kids are growing up adds a huge layer of complexity and additional pressures to daily life that didn’t exist when we were young. No longer can issues be left at school or on the bus, social media means you have no escape. And it is this constant pressure that is widely documented to be contributing to an increase in anxiety and depression amongst our teens.

It’s no secret that humans are at their most vulnerable during their teenage years. So, I strongly encourage parents of teens to help their offspring rethink their approach to organising social gatherings. Ask them to take a minute to think about how it would feel to be excluded from a party, particularly after having to gather the courage to apply to attend. I know it would have an impact on my self-worth and I’m in my 40’s!! Encourage them to find an alternative way of organising their event.

Digital Parenting Can Be a Tough Gig

Parenting ‘digital natives’ is tough. Our generation of kids have technology running through their veins while we are doing our best to stay up to date. If your teens dismisses your suggestions about party organising and keep assuring you that they have it ‘all under control’, take a deep breath. Respect for others, empathy and kindness is what you are trying to instill – and these concepts have been around for thousands of years!! So, stay strong!!

Till next time,

Alex xx

 

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Holiday Stress Can Make You More Careless Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/holiday-stress/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/holiday-stress/#respond Thu, 15 Nov 2018 01:59:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92727

Holiday stress. Every year, come November, my resting heart rate starts to rise: the festive season is approaching. Not only is there so much to do but there’s so much to spend money on. There are presents to purchase, feasts to prepare and party outfits to buy. Throw in a holiday to fill the long […]

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Holiday stress. Every year, come November, my resting heart rate starts to rise: the festive season is approaching. Not only is there so much to do but there’s so much to spend money on. There are presents to purchase, feasts to prepare and party outfits to buy. Throw in a holiday to fill the long Summer break, and both the credit cards and my stress levels are starting to rapidly increase!

Holiday Financial Stress Results in Poor Decision Making Online

But did you know that this stress can affect our online safety? Research conducted by McAfee shows that almost 80% of us believe the holiday period causes financial stress. And nearly half of us (46%) believe the stress of the holiday season can cause us to behave carelessly online.  Risky behaviours can put our online safety at risk. For instance, using public Wi-Fi to snag a last-minute purchase. Or buying something from an unfamiliar website because it’s cheaper.

Aussie Shoppers Love an Online Bargain 

In 2017, Aussies spent a record $21.3 million online – a whopping 19% increase over 2016. McAfee’s research shows that Aussie consumers love securing a bargain online – who doesn’t!! But many will seek out a great deal even if it means potentially jeopardising their online safety. The research shows that 64% of consumers are willing to use an unfamiliar website if it means they can save money on their purchase. Even more concerning, a third of Aussies admitted to clicking links in suspicious emails for better deals!! Yikes!!

The Thing Is, Cyber Criminals Love Your Holiday Shopping Too

Cyber criminals work very hard to take advantage of us during the busy Holiday season. They come up with all sorts of ingenious ways to target time-poor and budget-conscious consumers online. They know very well that many of us will cut corners with our online security. Particularly if we think we can save money on presents, outfits or even a holiday.

And they scheme accordingly: charity phishing emails, fake online stores, bogus delivery emails, e-voucher scams and more. Cyber criminals have tried and tested strategies to either steal our personal information or our identity.

How You Can Stay Safe While Shopping Online This Holiday Season

So, don’t feel like you need to battle the crowds at Westfield this festive season. You can still shop online safely if you follow a few simple steps:

  1. Connect with Caution

Public Wi-Fi is just so convenient, but it is a risky business. Users could unknowingly share their personal information with cyber criminals who are snooping on the network. So, if you absolutely have to use public Wi-Fi for a great online shopping deal, always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) such as McAfee Safe Connect which creates a bank-grade encrypted connection.

  1. Think Before You Click

One of the easiest ways for a cyber criminal to target victims is using phishing emails to trick consumers into sharing their personal information. Phishing emails could be disguised as holiday savings or even a shopping notification. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, always check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.

  1. Always Shop with Security Protection

Shopping online without security protection is like driving without a seat belt – dangerous! Comprehensive antivirus software like McAfee Total Protection will help shield your devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It also provides a firewall, an anti-spam function, parental controls and a password management tool. A complete no-brainer!

But this year, I’m going to commit to lowering my stress. That way I can really enjoy my time with my family and friends. To get ahead of the game I plan to:

  • Start my online shopping earlier so I don’t ‘cut corners’ with my online safety,
  • Create a realistic budget, and
  • Start filling my freezer with some holiday food – now

And most importantly, get that resting heart rate under control!!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Alex xx

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At What Age Should Kids Join Social Media? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/at-what-age-should-kids-join-social-media/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/at-what-age-should-kids-join-social-media/#respond Thu, 08 Nov 2018 05:56:08 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92583 Last week, I waved goodbye to my eldest son as he moved halfway across the world to study for a year. I was so emotional at the airport – I couldn’t talk! After many cups of tea and even more stares in an airport café, I had no more tears left and was finally able […]

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Last week, I waved goodbye to my eldest son as he moved halfway across the world to study for a year. I was so emotional at the airport – I couldn’t talk! After many cups of tea and even more stares in an airport café, I had no more tears left and was finally able to pull it together. I must have looked like a crazy cat!

Letting go of our kids is tough. Whether it’s their first day of school, their first sleepover, their first girlfriend or boyfriend or their first social media account – these steps towards independence can be enough to send many of us into a tailspin.

How Do We Know When Our Kids Are Ready for More Independence?

Our main job as parents is to raise our kids to be independent, law-abiding individuals who are autonomous. But every child is different with some maturing far quicker than others. So, how do we know when our kids are ready for important life milestones, particularly joining social media?

What Does the Law Say?

While there is no Australian law that dictates the minimum age kids need to be to join social media, most social media platforms require their users to be 13 years old to set up an account. This is a result of a US federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which affects any social media platform that US citizens can join. So, therefore it affects nearly all social media platforms worldwide.

What Happens in Reality?

Rightly or wrongly, many kids join social media before the age of 13. Some do this with the consent of their parents, while many don’t. In recognition of the ‘reality of the situation’, many big-time social media players, including Mark Zuckerberg, have been critical of the COPPA legislation claiming it is unrealistic. Zuckerberg even committed to trying to get it overruled – so far, no news!

And this reality hasn’t escaped the attention of the big players. Earlier this month, Instagram released a parent’s guide in which they acknowledge that ‘many younger children (under 13) use the service, often with their parents’ permission’. The parent’s guide, produced in conjunction with US internet safety group Connect Safely, also advised parents that banning social media may not be the best solution to managing their teen’s digital socialising. Instead they suggest parents should ensure the lines of communication are always open so that they can work with their kids to find appropriate ways of managing their digital lives. Pretty sound advice if you ask me, but Instagram was criticised for offering self-serving advice and encouraging youngsters to get online.

What to Do?

As the mother of four boys, I can unreservedly tell you that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not cut it when raising kids. Every child is different. Some kids are more robust and resilient while others are more sensitive and emotional. And that’s OK. The worst thing we can do as parents is assume milestones must be met at the same time everyone else’s children do.

Just like with toilet training, sleepovers and co-ed parties, you (as the parent) are the absolute best judge of when your child is ready for these key steps. And social media is no different. Yes, there is a plethora of advice from experts and ‘experienced’ parents to consider but ultimately, it’s your call as the parent.

What To Consider When Deciding When Your Child Should Join Social Media

So, here are some things to consider when deciding if, and when your child should join social media. If your tween has already gone ahead and joined, then why not use these points to refine the current usage strategy.

1. Are They Ready?

Chances are your tween will be busting to get onto social media and will absolutely consider themselves ‘ready’! In fact, they may have already gone ahead and created their own profile without consulting you. But if they haven’t and you have a close connection with your kids, then you have a golden opportunity to assess their readiness.

You may decide that your under 13-year-old is mature enough and help them set up social media accounts and profiles. Many believe social media is an inevitable, unavoidable milestone and that it’s best to manage it proactively to avoid underground activity. You may require passwords to be shared and for posts to be approved before they are uploaded. If they have proved themselves to be trustworthy after a period of time, you may choose to be less involved.

However, if you have a child who is less mature and who tends to be anxious, you may insist they wait till 13. As we all know, it is not always pretty online. A certain level of resilience and a decent dose of perspective is essential to ride out the bumps. If there is any pushback from your tween then just talk a lot about the COPPA legislation!

2. Family Policy

If you have a tribe of kids, you may want to consider a family policy on the age your offspring can join social media. Although I am not a believer in ‘one size fits all’, I can tell you from experience that the perception of fairness in a family is very powerful. The arguments over who gets the bigger piece of cake or whose turn it is to sit in the front seat can drove you bonkers!

3. Workshop the ‘Likes Culture’ Before They Embark on their Social Media Careers

The quest to get likes online can become all encompassing, particularly when you are navigating your way through your teenage years. Before your kids join up, please have several conversations about the dangerous ‘culture of likes’ that is pervading the online world. Likes are viewed as a measure of social acceptance for many teenagers. The number of likes they do (or don’t) receive can affect their self-esteem and confidence which is very concerning. Please ensure your kids are NOT defined by the number of likes on a post and that this number is NOT reflective of their worth.

4. Set the Ground Rules

Regardless of whether your tween is about to embark on the social media journey or whether they have taken the advanced route, a family technology contract can be a great way of clarifying and formalising your expectations of both their social media usage and behaviour online. If you are looking for a good place to start, check out the contract that The Modern Parent uses. Obviously adapt it for your own situation and children’s needs, but ensure it covers key points including time spent online, sharing of personal information and what to do if a stranger tries to befriend you or if you receive online abuse.

Personally, I think 13 is a great age to kick off one’s social media career. I’m a fan of risk management and I really believe the older kids are, the better they can deal with complex online situations. But I also believe you should trust your gut as a parent. You may have a very mature 12-year-old, with a host of older siblings, who is busting to get on Instagram. Working with them to set up a profile, sharing passwords and mentoring them through their entrée to social media may be a much better option than pushing this inevitable step underground and off your radar.

So, over to you parents. This is your call! And just to inspire you a little more, let me just borrow some words from Scottish actor and father of 4 daughters, Ewan McGregor:

 ‘The thing about parenting rules is there aren’t any. That’s what makes it so difficult.’

Good luck!

Alex xx

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Stay Smart Online Week 2018 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/stay-smart-online-week-2018/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/stay-smart-online-week-2018/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 03:26:48 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91844 Time for a Cyber Safety Check-Up? Aussies love the internet. And the statistics just confirm it. In 2018, 88% of us describe ourselves as active internet users. And our social media usage is up there with some of the most prolific users worldwide with 60% of us active users on Facebook and 50% of us […]

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Time for a Cyber Safety Check-Up?

Aussies love the internet. And the statistics just confirm it. In 2018, 88% of us describe ourselves as active internet users. And our social media usage is up there with some of the most prolific users worldwide with 60% of us active users on Facebook and 50% of us logging in at least once a day.

So, an annual reminder to take stock of our digital lives is a very good idea! Stay Smart Online Week is an initiative from the Australian Government designed to ensure we are all up to date with the latest cyber safety know-how. Kicking off from the 8th of October, I believe this annual event is the ideal opportunity for a yearly cyber safety check up.

We Are Choosing to Ignore the Risks

Research conducted by McAfee shows that many of us are very aware of the risks associated with our online behaviour but simply choose to ignore them. For example, 30% of Aussie parents are continuing to regularly post pics of their kids online despite 50% of us being concerned by the associated risks including paedophilia, stalking and cyberbullying. Is it the lure of likes, the surge of dopamine or just the face we are all time poor that affects our rational brain?

Keeping It Simple

I know many of us feel a little overwhelmed at the thought of staying on top of our online safety. We don’t know where to start, have very little time and, quite frankly, we’d rather be doing something else! But not taking your online safety seriously is a little like leaving like leaving your house unlocked. It puts your privacy and even your financial safety at risk.

But the good news is there are a host of simple, quick, steps you can take to ensure you are doing all you can to protect yourself online. So, make yourself a cuppa and let’s get to work. Here are 3 three things you can start to put in place today to secure yourself and your devices.

1. Protect ALL Your Devices

I bet if you added up the internet connected devices in your household, you’d be staggered at the figure. My latest count was over 30! And the figure is only going to increase. Research shows that by 2025 there will be approximately 75 billion connected devices worldwide from wearables and pacemakers to thermometers and smart plugs.

These devices will absolutely make our lives easier, but the reality is that many internet-connected devices (IoT) lack built in security features making them vulnerable to hacking and malware. In 2018 alone, McAfee uncovered numerous major security flaws in virtual assistants and smart plugs.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Install comprehensive security software on your laptops, tablets and smartphones. McAfee’s Total Protection software will ensure you and your devices are protected against viruses, malware spyware and ransomware.
  • Secure your Internet Connected Devices. While there is no security software for Internet Connected (IoT) devices, you can still minimise the risks by changing the default password on your devices straight after purchasing and ensure you keep the device’s software up to date. And spend some time researching your purchases before committing. Focus on devices that have been on the market for a while, have a name brand, or have a lot of online reviews. Chances are that the device’s security standards will be higher, due to being vetted by the masses.

2. Think Before You Click

Our love of ‘all things celebrity’ has not escaped the attention of online scammers. In fact, these scammers spend a lot of time creating celebrity based professional looking websites that promise celebrity news stories or movie downloads. Unfortunately, the promised content requires a malicious link to be clicked that usually contains spyware or malicious software. These sites may also require users to set up an account. Unsuspecting visitors will then provide their email addresses and passwords to the site not realising that their details have been compromised.

New McAfee research reveals that Aussie model, MTV VJ and Orange is the New Black actress, Ruby Rose is the most dangerous celebrity to search for online. Using terms such as ‘free torrent’, ‘sex tape’ and ‘free pics’, McAfee was able to determine the riskiest celebrities to search for across the globe, as consumers often drop their guard in the name of convenience and speed to access content from their favorite celebs.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Be careful what you click. Users looking for a sneak-peek of Ruby Rose starring in Batwoman should be cautious and only download directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to wait for the official release instead of visiting a third-party website that could contain malware.
  • Apply system and application updates as soon as they are available. Very often the operating system and application updates include security fixes. Applying updates is an important step to help ensure devices stay protected.
  • Use parental control software. Kids are fans of celebrities too, so ensure that limits are set on the child’s device and use software that can help minimise exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

3. Protect Your Personal Information Online

Most consumers would think twice when asked for their credit card information or address online but don’t take the same precautions when posting photos of themselves and their children online.

Recent McAfee research shows that despite 50 percent of parents being concerned by the risks such as pedophilia, stalking and cyberbullying when posting photos of their children online, 30 percent post a picture of their child online once a week, and 40 percent post photos of their child in school uniform on a regular basis.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Set Ground Rules with Friends and Family. Be clear with friends and family about your expectations when they post images of your kids. If you are uncomfortable with anything they post, you are well within your rights to ask them to remove it.
  • Don’t Forget About Your Child’s Digital Reputation. Everything that is posted about someone forms part of their digital reputation. Always consider whether what you are considering posting could negatively impact this. And encourage your teens to regularly check the posts and images they are tagged in online too.
  • Ask for Consent But Be Prepared for Your Child to Say NO. Asking for an older child’s consent before you post pics is essential but be prepared for them to say NO! Remember, a good relationship is built on trust and respect!

So, go forth and continue to enjoy everything the internet has to offer BUT please take some time this Stay Smart Online Week to check in and see whether you may need to ‘tweak’ any of your online behaviours. And while you are at it – don’t forget about the kids. Why not put it on the agenda to discuss around the dinner table this week? Some of the most important conversations you will ever have with your kids will be around the dinner table!

Take Care

Alex xx

 

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Aussie Ruby Rose is McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrity https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/aussie-ruby-rose/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/aussie-ruby-rose/#respond Tue, 02 Oct 2018 21:56:32 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91751 Keeping up to date with celebrity gossip is a sport for many of us. Staying on top of what your favourite celebrity wore to the latest Hollywood shindig and, of course who they were with can be very time consuming and often require extensive searching! But did you know that searching for your favourite celebrity […]

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Keeping up to date with celebrity gossip is a sport for many of us. Staying on top of what your favourite celebrity wore to the latest Hollywood shindig and, of course who they were with can be very time consuming and often require extensive searching! But did you know that searching for your favourite celebrity can actually put your personal security at risk?

Every year McAfee, the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company, undertakes global research, entitled Most Dangerous Celebrities, to identify which celebrities generate the riskiest search results which could potentially expose fans to malicious websites and risky downloads. And in 2018, the top spot was filled for the first time ever by an Australian celebrity: actress and television presenter Ruby Rose.

The very talented Ruby Rose kicked off her career as a hugely popular VJ (video jockey) on MTV. Before long, she went on to enjoy great success as a model, television presenter and then actress with her role as Stella Carlin in the cult series Orange Is The New Black. Ruby’s casting as Batwoman in the upcoming television series would have no doubt assisted in propelling her to first position.

Who Are the Most Dangerous Celebrities to Search For in 2018?

In the global list of Most Dangerous Celebrities, American reality TV star, Kristin Cavallari finished behind Rose at No. 2, followed by French actress Marion Cotillard (No. 3), the original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter (No. 4), Aussie actress Rose Byrne (No. 5), star of Will and Grace Debra Messing (No. 6), reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian (No. 7), actress Amber Heard (No. 8), American morning TV show host Kelly Ripa (No. 9), and finally Orange Is The New Black actor, Brad William Henke round out the top 10.

American actress Lucy Liu topped Australia’s list of the Most Dangerous Celebrities to search for. The top 10 list was littered with Aussie celebrities as well, including Naomi Watts (No. 2), Cate Blanchett (No 4.), Elle Macpherson (No.9) and Margot Robbie (No.10).

Interestingly, Aussie morning TV show host Sonya Kruger came in at number 17 on the list, a notable mention after appearing alongside other Australian TV stars, such as Carrie Bickmore and Georgie Gardiner in the recent fake Facebook ads scamming unsuspecting victims into purchasing face cream subscriptions. The recent Facebook scam demonstrates how cybercriminals capitalise on our love of celebrity when trying to trap unsuspecting consumers into scams.

Cybercriminals Capitalise on our ‘Celebrity Culture’

Online scammers and cybercriminals are always looking at new ways to get their hands on our private information with the aim of making big bucks. Tapping into our love of celebrity, cybercriminals will create professional looking websites that contain downloads which contain spyware or malware. These malicious celebrity sites may also require users to set up an account. Unsuspecting visitors will then provide their email addresses and passwords to the site not realising that their details have been compromised.

Our fast-paced modern lives mean that we often cut corners in the name of speed and convenience. Some of us are just so keen to view the promised content about our favourite celebrity that we drop our guard and don’t take the time to ensure the site is legitimate.

But not taking the time to ensure a link is safe means fans are not only putting their devices at risk of infection from viruses, but themselves at risk of identity theft.

How to Avoid Being Targeted by a Cyber Criminal

One of the best ways of staying safe online and avoiding falling victim to a scam is to adopt safe searches practices. Here are my top tips to ensure you stay out of trouble!

1. Think Before You Click

Users looking for a sneak-peek of Ruby Rose’s upcoming Batwoman series should be cautious and only download directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to wait for the official release instead of visiting a third-party website that could contain malware.

2. Apply Updates as Soon as they are Available

Device and app updates will often include security fixes. Applying updates is an important step to help ensure devices stay protected.

3. Browse with Security Protection

Searching and browsing without security software is a little like navigating a foreign city with any guidelines. McAfee Total Protection is a comprehensive security solution that can help keep devices protected against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor which can help identify malicious websites – very helpful!

4. Use Parental Control Software

Kids are fans of celebrities too, so ensure that limits are set on the child’s device and use software that can help minimise exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

Whether you celebrity watch because you are enamoured, envious or inspired, please don’t let your hobby put you at risk of identity theft. Ensure you (and your kids) search safely so you can stay out of the way of cybercrims and their scams!

Alex x

 

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Share Kids Images Safely https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/sharing-and-caring/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/sharing-and-caring/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 03:07:23 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91256 Kids images online. I’m not a big sharer online but I do love popping up a few pics of an important family milestone on Facebook. You know the ones: a child starting a new school, an amazing family holiday or a hilarious birthday pic. Sharing family snaps online is a great way to keep your […]

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Kids images online. I’m not a big sharer online but I do love popping up a few pics of an important family milestone on Facebook. You know the ones: a child starting a new school, an amazing family holiday or a hilarious birthday pic. Sharing family snaps online is a great way to keep your friends and family up-to-date with what’s going on in your world. But I’m the first to admit that this can be a risky business!!

The Lure of Likes

It appears that the validation (and dopamine hit) we receive from posting online clouds our rational brain. New research by McAfee has shown that Aussie parents are continuing to regularly post pics of their kids online and choosing to ignore their own concerns. In fact:

  • 30% of parents post a pic a week of their children online, and
  • 40% of parents happily include an image of their kids in school uniform in their regular posts.

And this is despite 50% of parents being concerned by the risks associated with posting online including pedophilia, stalking, kidnapping and cyberbullying.

What Are The Risks We Should Consider When Posting Pictures of Our Kids Online?

The research shows that Aussie parents seem to understand the ‘physical’ or security risks associated with posting pics of our kids online but don’t always factor in the ‘emotional’ or psychological ones. Out of the 1000 parents who were surveyed, as stated above some 50% nominated the physical risks as being their prime concern.

However, far fewer of us were concerned about the emotional risks of posting our kids images in pics and videos online.

  • Only 28% of parents were concerned that posting an image of their child could lead to worry or anxiety.
  • Just under 30% considered that their child could be embarrassed by images they share but decided to post them anyway!

But we need to take this a whole lot more seriously as it appears what we post may well be causing our kids anxiety. A survey from British research agency ComRes shows that more than 1 in 4 kids between 10 and 12 feel embarrassed, anxious or worried when their parents post pictures of them online. Interestingly, it appears more mums consider the embarrassment factor than dads. 35% of dads assume their children will get over or not care about embarrassing content, compared to just 24% of mums.

Do We Need Consent To Post Pics Of Our Kids Online?

Legally, I don’t believe we require the consent of our children before posting pics of them online but we need to tread carefully here! If you are interested in maintaining a good relationship with your kids and you post images without checking with them first, you need to rethink your approach. But many don’t! 60% of the parents we surveyed do not consult their kids before posting an image of them online. And almost 40% believe they have the right to share images of their kids online without their consent.

I believe trust and respect are fundamental ingredients in successful family relationships. The research clearly shows that many children feel anxious when their parent post pics of them online. Asking your child for consent before you post demonstrates to them that you respect their opinion and take their feelings seriously.

When Should I Start Asking My Child For Consent-

There is always much debate around this one and clearly it depends on the maturity level of the child. Parents we surveyed suggested that when a child is 10 they should be asked for their consent before their parents post pics of them online.

I believe you should start weaving it in to conversations even earlier as it is a great way of modelling good digital citizenship. When your child is mature enough to understand what you are doing and has the relevant vocabulary, you could try something as simple as: ‘mummy would like to post this lovely picture of you with nana. Do you think it’s a good idea?’.

And posting cute nudie baby pics is not OK in any online scenario. Even if you are sharing photos to your private social media account, there is still a risk that it could end up in the wrong hands. The overwhelming majority (82%) of Aussie parents stated that they haven’t or would never share an image of their child without clothes on over social media. Which is very reassuring!

How To Share Safely

Here are my tips on how you can share your kids images safely online:

  1. Lock Down Privacy Settings

Only share photos and other social media posts with your intended audience. Services like Facebook and Instagram have features that allow posts to be shared only with confirmed connections, but everything posted on a social network should be treated as if it’s public.

  1. Set Ground Rules with Friends and Family

Be clear with friends and family about your expectations when they post images of your kids. If you are uncomfortable with anything they post, you are well within your rights to ask them to remove it. Ideally, they should ask you (or your child) before they post it.  Remember your job is to protect your child from embarrassment, anxiety or even potential cyberbullying.

  1. Don’t Forget About Your Child’s Digital Reputation

Everything that is posted about someone forms part of their digital reputation. We all want our kids to have bright futures filled with opportunity. So, always consider whether what you are considering posting could negatively impact this. And encourage your teens to regularly check the posts and images they are tagged in online too. Whether they are after a job at Coles, a prefect position at school or their dream career job, a negative digital reputation can have far-reaching consequences.

  1. Watch Out For Geo-Tagging

Many social networks will tag a user’s location when a photo is uploaded. Parents should ensure this feature is turned off to avoid having their child’s location shared. This is especially important when posting photos away from home.

  1. Ask For Consent But Be Prepared For Your Child To Say NO

Asking for an older child’s consent before you post pics is essential but be prepared for them to say NO! Remember, a good relationship is built on trust and respect!

So, don’t stress – you don’t need to close your social media accounts, but you may need to pull your activity back a little. Take a minute to check in with your tweens and teens before posting pics of them. And ensure what you post is appropriate and shared only with your intended audience. Lastly, if you’re still craving a dopamine hit with your reduced posting regime, why not listen to music, exercise or even meditate – research shows it can be just as effective!

Alex xx

 

 

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Teens, Gaming and Risk https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teens-gaming-and-risk/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teens-gaming-and-risk/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 14:00:11 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=89947 How Are Your Kids Navigating the Dangers? It’s no secret that our generation of digital natives love their gaming. Whether it’s on their smartphones, laptops or their dedicated gaming consoles – it’s quite mind boggling just how much gaming they can squeeze into their day-to-day lives! Well, new research by McAfee shows exactly how much […]

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How Are Your Kids Navigating the Dangers?

It’s no secret that our generation of digital natives love their gaming. Whether it’s on their smartphones, laptops or their dedicated gaming consoles – it’s quite mind boggling just how much gaming they can squeeze into their day-to-day lives!

Well, new research by McAfee shows exactly how much time our Aussie kids are spending working on their latest gaming quest – up to a whopping 4 hours a day! And while we would love them to be directing this time to homework, my bigger concern is around the risks.

Gaming Is Not All Bad News

When managed properly, gaming can be a terrific activity that provides some genuine benefits for players. Research shows it can help manage anxiety and depression, reduce pain and even help improve the memory and resilience of players. It can also provide terrific opportunities for social interactions by breaking down the barriers of physical social groups. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it!!

Parents Concerned About Risks With Gaming

Despite our offspring assuring us otherwise, the majority of us parents do realise that there are some potential dangers associated with gaming. Two-thirds of us (65%) believe our kids are at risk of online grooming. 68% of us are concerned about cyberbullying and 58% worry that our children will become the victim of a cybercriminal’s scam.

What Are Parents Doing To Manage Risks of Online Gaming?

As first generation digital parents, we have a tough gig. Many of us are furiously trying to get our own heads around the constantly changing digital world without any intel from previous generations. Meanwhile, we need to be educating our kids about the challenges and pitfalls of the online world. It’s a big task!

Many parents do an amazing job but unfortunately, not all of us are taking the necessary steps to protect our kids and teach them how to navigate the challenges. According to the research:

  • almost 1 in 5 parents (18%) never monitor what their children are doing online;
  • 32% of parents do not follow the age ratings of games; and
  • 86% of parents allow their children to play online games recommended for older children.

This is despite the fact that many of us worry that our children will be exposed to violence, sex, drugs and gambling according to the research.

How Can We Protect Our Kids While Playing Video Games

It’s clearly one of the most popular hobbies for Aussie tweens and teens, so our job as parents is to ensure our kids are gaming as safely as possible. Here is my advice on the steps you should take to protect your kids:

  • Start Conversations Early

If you start talking about ways to game safely early, it will make your job that much easier when your children get older. If your kids are young, start with simple rules like: “don’t open messages from people you don’t know” and “decline friend requests from strangers.” You want online safety to be part of normal behaviour.

  • Be Careful What You Click

Most children have been using digital activities for entertainment from an early age, desensitising them to the potentials risks of online behaviour. Cybercriminals can use the popularity of video games to entice gamers to click on potentially malicious links. Think about what you are clicking on and ensure that it’s from a reliable source.

  • Control How Long They Play

Set a good example by minimising your use of devices around the home. Why not invest in parental control software to set time limits on your child’s device usage? Not only will you be reducing their exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites, but they will probably get more homework done!

  • Avoid Malicious Links

If your children are searching online for gaming tips or new games to download, a tool like McAfee WebAdvisor can help them avoid dangerous websites and links, and will warn them if they do accidentally click on something malicious.

  • Be Protected

No matter what anyone in the family is doing online, invest in a security product like McAfee Total Protection that can help keep connected devices safe from malware. Just like any PC application, be sure to keep security software updated.

Responsible Gaming Could Actually Prepare Your Child for Their Career

In my opinion, parenting is all about preparing your child for their adult life. And a big part of that is ensuring they are employable. So, before you crack down too harshly on your child’s gaming habits consider this. A recent report by McAfee, entitled Winning The Game, identified that gamers have a skills set that may help fill the current and future demand for cyber security experts. Whether it’s cracking systems, avoiding counter attacks or deciphering codes, these gaming skills were nominated by almost 1000 cyber security professionals as easily transferable to a security professional role.

So, let your kids keep playing but absolutely minimise the risks. Introduce time limits, ensure a game is suitable and teach your kids how to navigate the challenges. That way, if they end up with an illustrious career in cybersecurity, you can take all the credit!!

Take care,

Alex xx

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Get Your Online Privacy Under Control https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/get-online-privacy-under-control/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/get-online-privacy-under-control/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 00:54:37 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=88847 Online privacy: too often managing this aspect of our digital lives gets shuffled to the bottom of our ‘to-do’ lists. The recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica drama made many of us rethink what private information we are sharing online. But many of us just don’t know what to do to fix it. This week is Privacy […]

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Online privacy: too often managing this aspect of our digital lives gets shuffled to the bottom of our ‘to-do’ lists. The recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica drama made many of us rethink what private information we are sharing online. But many of us just don’t know what to do to fix it.

This week is Privacy Awareness Week – a great opportunity to check-in and see how we can do better. A recent survey conducted by McAfee shows that most Aussies (54%) are more concerned about their online privacy than five years ago. This is encouraging! However, a whopping 83% of us do not believe that protecting our internet-connected devices is essential to managing our privacy online. Oh dear!! ☹

The survey also showed that 23% of Aussies do not change default passwords when we purchase new devices and that only 35% of us know how to properly check if our connected home appliances or devices are secured. Clearly we still have work to do, people! We have a disconnect on our hands. Most of us realise we need to do something to manage our privacy but don’t realise that protecting our devices is a big part of the solution. You can’t have one without the other!!!

Online Privacy Made Easier

So, I’m going to make it nice and easy for you. I have compiled a list of the steps you need to take to get your online privacy under control. And yes, it may take you a few hours to get on top of it but it’s so worth it. If your privacy is compromised, your identity can be easily stolen. Which could affect you financially as well as undermine your reputation. Let’s get to it – here’s what you need to do:

 1. Protect Your Devices

  • Use comprehensive security software such as McAfee® Total Protection. You know it will guard you against viruses and threats. But do you realise it will also direct you away from dangerous downloads and risky websites – where privacy can easily come unstuck!
  • McAfee® Total Protection will also protect your smartphone and tablet, and can back up your important files.

 2. Manage Your Passwords

  • Ensure all your online accounts and all your devices have a separate, unique password. Ideally, it should have a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. I love using a nonsensical, crazy sentence.

 3. Think Before You Download Apps

  • Never download apps from unknown sources. They may be designed to mine your personal information. Always read reviews to see if anyone has had a problem and check out the app’s fine print before you download.
  • Review the apps that you have signed up to with Facebook. As you would be aware from the recent Cambridge Analytica situation, Facebook provides some of these apps with user’s private information including name, location, email or even friends list.
    So, please review these apps, people. Not sure where to start? Go to Settings > Apps > Logged in with Facebook and remove anything that doesn’t absolutely need access to your Facebook profile. You will still have to contact the app developer to ensure they have deleted the data they already have gathered on you.

 4. Lock Down Your Home Wi-Fi

  • To prevent hackers accessing your fleet of IoT devices at home (including your virtual assistant or your lighting or security systems), secure your home Wi-Fi with a complex password. All device passwords need to have their default passwords changed as well.
  • McAfee’s Secure Home Platform – available soon on D-Link – can secure devices through your internet router to ensure every internet-connected device in your house is safe. How good is that???

 5. Stay On Top Of Software Updates

  • Check all your devices to ensure your software (operating systems, apps) is up-to-date.
  • Out-of-date software often means there is a security vulnerability that makes it so much easier for a cybercriminal to access your device and online life.
  • Why not schedule updates so this happens automatically?

 6. Be Wary Using Wi-Fi Outside Home Or Work

  • Avoid using public or unsecured Wi-Fi, especially when entering personal information online, as it can leave you open to all sorts of nasty attacks.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) such as McAfee® Safe Connect to encrypt connections and keep your data secure when sharing online.

 7. Multi-Factor Authentication

And don’t forget about your kids! Teaching them the importance of proactively managing their online privacy is essential. As parents, we need to help our kids develop a toolkit of skills and knowledge, so they can prepare themselves for life’s challenges. So please share this with them – you’ll be doing them a big favour.

Alex x

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Keep Your Mum Safe This Mother’s Day! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/keep-your-mum-safe-this-mothers-day/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/keep-your-mum-safe-this-mothers-day/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 04:26:06 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=88800 On my first Mother’s Day 21 years ago, I received a pair of gorgeous fluffy pink slippers. Last year – it was a sleek shiny green Fitbit! Technology has absolutely transformed our gift giving and Mother’s Day is no exception. The rising popularity of internet connected gifts means many lucky mums will receive a glossy […]

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On my first Mother’s Day 21 years ago, I received a pair of gorgeous fluffy pink slippers. Last year – it was a sleek shiny green Fitbit! Technology has absolutely transformed our gift giving and Mother’s Day is no exception.

The rising popularity of internet connected gifts means many lucky mums will receive a glossy new device on Mother’s Day. It may be a digital home assistant, a fitness tracker or even a big new Smart TV. Whatever it is, we must understand the potential risks involved when giving or receiving an internet enabled device. Because we don’t want to put our mums (or our families) at risk.

But don’t let this change your shopping plans! Like anything in life, if you’re prepared you can minimise the risks and avoid getting caught out by cyber threats. So, here is the low-down on threats posed by some of the more popular gifts this Mother’s Day and tips on how to protect against them.

Digital Home Assistants

Regardless of which brand you might choose, a digital assistant can be a massive help for any busy mum.  Whether it reading the kids a bedtime story or a recipe while you cook, or setting timers – it’s the closest thing many mums can get to another set of hands!

However, there are risks associated with these mother’s helpers. If your home assistant is hacked, your personal information could be at risk. Which means your  bank accounts details or your identity could be put at risk. And as the device is ‘always on’, your personal assistant can listen to and record what is being said around your house – a definite privacy issue.

What to Do to Stay Safe

  • Protecting your Home Wi-Fi is an essential step to ensuring your home assistant is secure. Solutions such as McAfee’s Secure Home Platform, available soon on D-Link routers, will secure all your devices that connect to your Home Wi-Fi, including your home assistant. So, you have protection and peace of mind.
  • Always change the manufacturer’s default password when setting up the Wi-Fi and ensure you create a complex, unique one instead. A combination of lower and upper-case letters, numbers and special characters is ideal.
  • Don’t allow your home assistant to store your private information. I also advise against allowing your home assistant to store passwords, credit card data, or any of your contact information.

Fitness Trackers

A wearable fitness tracker might be at the top of your mum’s wish list this Mother’s Day. But there are some surprisingly worrying security risks surrounding the popular gift that she should be aware of.

Researchers have found it is possible to crack PINs and passwords by hacking into the motion sensors to track hand movements. Additional research shows that the encryption offered by wearable fitness tracker manufacturers is quite easily intercepted. This means all your personal data stored on the device can easily be hacked. And while info like your calorie intake and step count many not seem valuable to a hacker, information like where you worked out and how long you were away from home can paint a very valuable picture of who you are!

What to Do to Stay Safe

  • Keep your fitness tracker up-to-date. Just like with any connected device, as soon as software updates become available, download them immediately to prevent cyber criminals from hacking your device.
  • Set up your fitness tracker and any associated online accounts with an obscure user name and unique passwords, that are completely unrelated to any of your other accounts.
  • Read the Privacy Policy of the device or app you are considering buying. Make sure you are comfortable with the company’s commitment to protecting your data.
  • Consider disabling certain features of the fitness tracker if you feel that your privacy many be jeopardised.

Smart TVs

Whilst buying mum a smart TV would certainly make her feel spoilt this Mother’s Day, they can come with a more sinister side. In March 2017, news emerged that it may be possible to hack into smart TVs to spy on users. Since then, several critical vulnerabilities have been found in Vestel firmware, which is used in more than 30 popular TV brands. These vulnerabilities could be easily leveraged to spy on smart TV users through the microphones and cameras.

What to Do to Stay Safe

  • Buy smart TVs with security in mind. When purchasing a smart TV, it’s always important to do your homework and read up on any current vulnerabilities.
  • Secure your home’s internet at the source. Smart TVs, like all connected devices, must connect to a home Wi-Fi network to run. If they’re vulnerable, they could expose your network as a whole. Since it can be challenging to lock down all the IoT devices in a home, again a solution like McAfee Secure Home Platform can provide protection at the router-level.

If you are shopping online for mum, please remember to keep your guard up. Only shop from secure websites where the URL begins with ‘https://’ and a lock icon appears in the address bar. NEVER, EVER shop using unsecured Wi-Fi. It can leave you vulnerable to all sorts of nasty attacks and your private information may be hacked by a third party.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget to thank your wonderful mum for everything she has done for you. A handwritten card with a few lines of thanks is extremely powerful!!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Alex xx

 

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Teen Gaming, Cybersecurity Specialist Training https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teen-gaming-cybersecurity-specialist-training/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teen-gaming-cybersecurity-specialist-training/#respond Wed, 04 Apr 2018 23:22:24 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=88199 Many of us parents have a love/hate relationship with teen gaming. While it seems to cast a spell over many kids and lure them into a trance, gaming does provide some quite welcome ‘time-out’ for all family members! But I can honestly say that in my household, disputes over allocated ‘Xbox’ time would be by […]

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Many of us parents have a love/hate relationship with teen gaming. While it seems to cast a spell over many kids and lure them into a trance, gaming does provide some quite welcome ‘time-out’ for all family members! But I can honestly say that in my household, disputes over allocated ‘Xbox’ time would be by far the most common variety. And they can drive me insane!!

Now new research from McAfee may just get me rethinking my often negative attitude to gaming. The Winning The Game report investigates the key challenges facing the IT Security industry in the ongoing fight against cyber threats. Just under 1000 cybersecurity managers across the US, UK, Germany, Singapore, Australia and Japan took part in the research which found that gamers may play a very big role in keeping cybercriminals at bay!

Click to view Winning the Game report

The Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

Worldwide the cybersecurity industry currently has a zero-percent unemployment rate. Many experts predict that this will remain the case until at least 2021. While this is great if you are job hunting, it isn’t great news for Government departments, corporations and businesses. The increasing number of cyberattacks means these organisations are struggling to find cybersecurity professionals to help deal with these threats. Which is ultimately putting a lot of us at risk.

In addition to the skills shortage, many IT professionals believe cybersecurity defences are under unprecedented levels of attack. With malware, ransomware, sophisticated advanced threats and modes of attack, many professionals see the cyberthreat landscape as more complex than ever. Nearly half of the cybersecurity professionals who participated  in the survey expressed concern that they will find it difficult or impossible to keep up with the increase and/or complexity of threats over the next year.

So, amid these constantly evolving cyberthreats the pressure is on to find a solution to the skills crisis.

Gamers Could Be the Answer

Well apparently the long list of skills gamers acquire while learning their craft are precisely those required by cybersecurity professionals. Whether it’s cracking systems, avoiding counter attacks or deciphering codes, these talents are very easily transferrable to a security professional role.

Many of us parents might struggle to believe that the hours our teens have spent playing games could in fact have set them up for a career in cybersecurity. But the skills learnt during these ‘training’ hours – including understanding how to approach adversaries, perseverance and logic – are exactly what sets gamers apart ‘from the pack’. The statistics from the report confirm that.

  • Almost all respondents to the survey (92%) believe that gamers possess skills that make them well-suited to a career in cybersecurity. Further, they provide a fresh outlook compared to traditional cybersecurity hires.
  • 72% of respondents agreed that hiring experienced video gamers into their IT departments is a good way of plugging the cybersecurity skills gap.
  • 75% of respondents said they would consider hiring gamers even if they had no prior cybersecurity experience or training.

It’s clearly time to change our perspective, parents!

Everything in Moderation, Kids!

Whether you decide to share this information with your offspring or not, this research is clearly compelling. However, don’t think for a minute that I am suggesting a 24/7 game fest. No, no, no! Time limits, input into/supervision of game purchases and respectful online gaming behaviour still apply!

And please keep an eye out for any signs of addiction. We all know how children’s mood and behaviour can change after lengthy periods in front of a screen. But if you think your child’s interest has gone beyond enthusiasm and that there may be an issue, work through this checklist for gaming addiction. If required, please seek professional help.

Where to From Here?

In my house, nothing will change. There will still be no gaming Monday to Friday, and pre-agreed time limits will still apply. And I’m just wondering how long I can keep this information away from my four boys? Because as soon as they find out, I will be accused of ruining their prospective cybersecurity careers with my strict regime! How dare I!

Take care,

Alex x

 

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#DeleteFacebook: Do You Really Need To? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/deletefacebook-do-you-really-need-to/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/deletefacebook-do-you-really-need-to/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 05:00:01 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=87984 Is it time to #deleteFacebook? Facebook’s long line of dramas has many of us rethinking our dependence on Mark Zuckerberg’s largest social media platform. While many of us were alarmed at the fake news allegations last year, the recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica has us genuinely spooked and now asking ourselves this question. The fact […]

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Is it time to #deleteFacebook? Facebook’s long line of dramas has many of us rethinking our dependence on Mark Zuckerberg’s largest social media platform. While many of us were alarmed at the fake news allegations last year, the recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica has us genuinely spooked and now asking ourselves this question.

The fact that Facebook allowed British data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica to tap the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their knowledge has many of us questioning both our – and our children’s – relationship with the social media platform. How compromised is our privacy? What’s really happening with our data? Is our every online move really being monitored?

The immediate reaction of many is to delete their Facebook accounts and insist their kids do the same. When news broke of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the #deleteFacebook hashtag trended heavily on Twitter. Many high profile tech types deleted their personal and business Facebook accounts and, consequently, drove the Twittersphere into a frenzy.

To #DeleteFacebook Or Not To #DeleteFacebook?

But many of us can’t really afford to be idealists. Some of us run online businesses and rely heavily on Facebook. Others use Facebook for our jobs. Many of us (and our kids) use Facebook to run our social lives – organise events and parties, remember birthdays and stay in touch with friends and family across the world. And for nearly all of us, it is our digital scrapbook that preserves our important life events, shared moments and memories. In short, we would be lost without it.

While the black and white idealist in me absolutely agrees that we should delete Facebook, the realist in me acknowledges that life is often lived in the shades of grey. Facebook has spent more than a decade making itself a deeply entrenched part of our modern society. Saying farewell to this part of your life is a decision that I believe many of us would find almost impossible to make.

So, while deleting Facebook from your online life is the most drastic way of protecting your data, there are steps you can take to keep your account more secure and your personal information more private. Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Set up new logins for each app you are using.

    Setting up a new login and password for each app you’re using is a great way to protect yourself and your data online. Login may take fractionally longer but it will help ensure your data is not shared between different services.

  2. Review your third party apps – the ones you joined using Facebook.

    Facebook has made it just so easy for us to download apps using our Facebook settings that many of us have acquired quite the collection of apps. The problem is that Facebook provides these apps with our data including our name, location, email or even our friends list. So, review these apps, people! Not sure where to start? Go to Settings > Apps > Logged in with Facebook and remove anything that doesn’t absolutely need access to your Facebook profile. You will still have to contact the app developer to ensure they have deleted the data they already have gathered on you. Tedious but worth it!

  3. Don’t overshare on social media.

    Oversharing online gets many of us including our kids into trouble and allows cybercriminals and ‘data analysis types’ the ability to form an accurate picture of us very quickly! Being conscious of what is publicly available from your social media profiles is essential. Ensure every member of the family knows to NEVER share their telephone number, address or details of their school online. Also rethink whether you really want your relationship status made public, or the city of your birth.

  4. Cull your Friends list.

    The Cambridge Analytica scandal should provide us all with a reality check about how we manage online friends. In 2015, an app entitled ‘this is your digital life’ was developed by Cambridge Professor Dr Aleksandr Kogan and then downloaded by 270,000 users. Those who opted in allowed the app access to their information – including their friends – which then gave Kogan access to the data of over 50 million Facebook users. Facebook have reportedly since changed their terms of service and claim app developers can no longer access this detail, or at least, not at the same level of detail. So, go through your friend list and delete those you barely know or who were just passing acquaintances. Do you really want to share your personal or family updates with these people?

  5. Choose a different social media platform to connect to apps.

    If an app lets you choose which account you use to login, pick one which holds limited data about its users. Twitter could be a good choice as it tends to hold less personal information about you.

And while I salute those who are bold enough to #deleteFacebook and insist their kids do so, I know that it isn’t for me. I choose to stay. I’ll navigate my way around the risks and flaws, so I can enjoy the upside – belonging to my community, keeping my job and adding to my digital scrapbook.

Till next time,

Alex x

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Cyberbullying – How Parents Can Minimize Impact On Kids https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/parents-minimize-cyberbullying-impact/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/parents-minimize-cyberbullying-impact/#respond Fri, 23 Mar 2018 06:00:46 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=87591 Cyberbullying: if you have a tween or teen and haven’t workshopped this with your kids then you need to put a time in the diary now. Cyberbullying is one of the biggest challenges our children’s generation will face and unfortunately, it isn’t going away. The recent tragic suicide of 14 year old Aussie girl Amy […]

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Cyberbullying: if you have a tween or teen and haven’t workshopped this with your kids then you need to put a time in the diary now. Cyberbullying is one of the biggest challenges our children’s generation will face and unfortunately, it isn’t going away.

The recent tragic suicide of 14 year old Aussie girl Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett as a result of online bullying needs to be a wake-up call for parents. Many kids who are bullied online feel completely ashamed and publicly humiliated and can’t see a way past the embarrassment. They don’t have the skills to handle it and don’t know where to seek help. Yes, we are first-generation digital parents BUT we need to prioritise our children’s safety and well-being online. And sort this out FAST!

How Big An Issue Is Cyberbullying?

Image of crying girl in silhouette surrounded by cyberbullying text messages.
Aussie tweens/teens aged 12-16 are the primary targets of cyberbullying. 63% of the victims are girls.

In its 2016-17 annual report, the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner reveals an increase of 60% in the reported cases of cyberbullying compared with the previous year. The report also shows that:

  • Aussie tweens/teens between the ages of 12 and 16 are the primary targets of cyberbullying
  • Girls made up 63% of the victims

And it isn’t just us parents that consider this to be a big issue – our teens are also concerned. A study of 5000 teens across eleven countries by Vodafone in 2015 showed that in fact over half the teens surveyed considered cyberbullying to be worse than face-to-face bullying, and that 43% believe it is a bigger problem for young people than drug abuse!

So, clearly we have a problem on our hands – and one that isn’t getting better over time.

Why Is Cyberbullying Occurring More Frequently?

Many parenting experts believe a lack of empathy to be a major factor in cyberbullying. In her book, Unselfie, US Parenting Expert Dr Michele Borba explains that we are in the midst of an ‘empathy crisis’ which is contributing to bullying behaviour. She believes teens today are far less empathetic than they were 30 years ago.

Giving children access to devices and social media before they have the emotional smarts to navigate the online world is another factor. You would be hard-pressed to find a child in Year 5 or 6 at a primary school in any Australian capital city who doesn’t have access to or own a smartphone. And once that phone has been given to your child, it’s impossible to supervise their every move. Within minutes they can join social media platforms (some creativity required on the age), enter chat rooms, and view highly disturbing images.

The younger the child, the less likely he or she is to have the emotional intelligence to either navigate tricky situations or make smart decisions online. Perhaps we should all take a lesson from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates who made his kids wait till they were 14 until being given a phone?

How To Minimise The Risk Of Your Child Being Cyberbullied

There are no guarantees in life, but there are certain steps we can take to reduce the chance of our children being impacted by cyberbullying. Here are my top 5 suggestions:

  1. Communicate.
    Establishing a culture where honest, two-way communication is part of the family dynamic is one of the absolute best things you can do. Let your children know they can confide in you, that nothing is off-limits and that you won’t overreact. Then they will be more likely to open up to you about a problem before it becomes insurmountable.
  2. Understand Their World.
    With a deep understanding of your child’s world (their friends, their favourite activities, the movies they see) you’re better equipped to notice when things aren’t swimming along nicely. Establishing relationships with your child’s teachers or year group mentors is another way to keep your ear to the ground. When a child’s behaviour and activity level changes, it could be an indicator that all is not well. So some parental detective work may be required!
  3. Weave Cyber Safety Into Your Family Dialogue.
    We all talk about sun safety and road safety with our children from a young age. But we need to commit to doing the same about cyber safety. Teach your kids never to share passwords, never to give out identifying information of any kind online, never to respond to online trolls or bullies. Then they will definitely add a layer of armour to shield them from becoming a victim of cyberbullying.
  4. Limit Screen Time.
    I know it seems like an ongoing battle but limiting screen time for social media is essential. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by offering them attractive real-life options. Bike rides, beach visits and outings with friends and family are all good ways of redirecting their attention. And make sure their phone/tablet is out of easy reach at night. Yes, it is more effort but it is so worth it. Less time online = less risk!
  5. Teach Your Kids What To Do If They Are Cyberbullied.
    It is essential your kids know what to do if they are being cyberbullied. Blocking the bullying is critical, so take some time with your kids to understand the block features on the social networks they use. Collecting evidence is crucial, everything should be screen-shot – ensure your child knows how to do this. You can report the cyberbullying incident to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner who work to have offensive material removed and cyberbullying situations addressed. And why not check out the support offered by your child’s school? It’s important your kids know they have a number of trusted adults in their life they can get help from if things get tough.

So, let’s commit to doing what we can to protect our kids from cyberbullying. Your kids need to know that they can talk to you about anything that is bothering them online – even if it is tough or awkward. Dolly Everett’s final drawing, before she took her life, included the heart-rending caption ‘…speak even if your voice shakes.’ Please encourage your kids to do so.

Alex xx

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Safer Internet Day 2018: How To Develop Online Respect At Home https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/safer-internet-day-2018-develop-online-respect-home/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/safer-internet-day-2018-develop-online-respect-home/#respond Mon, 05 Feb 2018 23:00:41 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=84225 Today is Safer Internet Day – an annual global event aimed at encouraging a better internet. And this year’s theme is a beauty: ‘Create, Connect and Share Respect. A Better Internet Starts With You.’ As a mum and technology educator, I believe respect is at the core of all positive and safe online (and offline) […]

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Today is Safer Internet Day – an annual global event aimed at encouraging a better internet. And this year’s theme is a beauty: ‘Create, Connect and Share Respect. A Better Internet Starts With You.’

As a mum and technology educator, I believe respect is at the core of all positive and safe online (and offline) behaviours. Kids with a healthy amount of respect in their ‘tool box’ will almost always have more successful social interactions. But it’s important to look at respect in two ways: respect for others and, just as importantly, respect for ourselves.

Respecting Others Online

Respecting others online means you acknowledge them and are considerate of their opinions and privacy. Yet it does not mean that you have to agree with everything they say or do. To borrow the words of pop icon, Taylor Swift:

‘We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.’

In my view, a lack of respect for conflicting opinions online is where a lot of teens (and adults) come unstuck. Many interpret an opposing opinion as criticism and respond aggressively. This can quickly turn a civil exchange of opinions into an exchange of insults! In other words, a large part of showing respect online is being mindful of the way you communicate. And this means:

  • being aware of your tone;
  • not using bad language or insulting others; and
  • avoiding use of upper case as it is considered shouting and can rapidly escalate an argument.

So, whether your child is a Tay-Tay fan or not, her words of wisdom need to be shared.

Respecting Yourself Online

On the other hand, a healthy dose of respect for yourself can be very helpful when dealing with the negativity that can sometimes be experienced online. As American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:

‘He that respects himself is safe from others. He wears a coat of mail that no one can pierce.’

If you respect yourself, you will know when you are being treated badly and will have the courage to stand up for yourself. Self-respect also means you will treat others well and know that, by doing so, others will treat you well in return.

As parents, it is essential that we teach our kids self-respect. Showing and telling them they are worthy, valuable and important is a very good place to start. Teaching them about appropriate boundaries around their physical and mental health is also essential. So is instilling in them that no one has the right to jeopardise their physical or emotional safety. Your kids need to know that if they are on the receiving end of behaviour that isn’t appropriate, they can come to you or other nominated trusted adults in their life.

Don’t Forget About Empathy!

In my opinion, empathy is the perfect partner to respect. This is the ability to identify with and feel for another person’s concerns, and is a key element of emotional intelligence (EQ). It is an essential foundation upon which positive interactions – both offline and online – are built.

According to US parenting expert Dr Michele Borba our generation of children are experiencing an ’empathy crisis’ which is contributing to bullying and poor academic performance. She believes empathy is such a powerful emotion it can halt violent and cruel behaviour and encourage us to treat others kindly. Which makes it an essential element of positive online interactions.

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

I strongly encourage you to take some time today to consider the theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day. Do you need to fine-tune your approach to respect and empathy at home? Is there a way of weaving some of these messages into your family dialogue? And most importantly: are you modelling respect and empathy for your kids to see and copy?

Till next time!

Stay Safe Online,

Alex x

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Your Back To School Tech Plan https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/your-back-to-school-tech-plan/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/your-back-to-school-tech-plan/#respond Tue, 23 Jan 2018 06:01:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83845 I am such a fan of school holidays! No music lessons, no sport, no commitments. Bliss!! The crazy school term routine is no more and people can just ‘be’. Marvellous!! But all good things must come to an end. So, unless you want the police knocking on your door, the kids must go back to […]

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I am such a fan of school holidays! No music lessons, no sport, no commitments. Bliss!! The crazy school term routine is no more and people can just ‘be’. Marvellous!! But all good things must come to an end. So, unless you want the police knocking on your door, the kids must go back to school. Ughh! So much to do. Where to start?

So, there’s shoes, uniforms, enrolments in music, drama and sport, haircuts, stationery and then of course, all things technology! Ah yes, the ‘t’ word. When you’re juggling work, running a house and a tribe of kids, managing your kids and their tech lives can be overwhelming. But as parents, it is essential that we take the time to make sure we have all things technology covered for our kids.

What Are The Main Risks Kids Face Online?

The internet, our connected devices and online activity are such a huge (and permanent) feature of our modern lives. As parents, we owe it to our kids to make sure we can prevent some of the dangers associated with a connected life. Whether it’s phishing scams, online predators, oversharing, downloading malware, falling for an online scam or worst case, becoming the victim of cyberbullying, teaching our kids how to navigate some of the perils of the online world is essential.

How Can I Help My Kids Navigate Online Dangers?

Without a doubt, the absolute best way of protecting our kids is taking the time to better understand how the online world really works. And I understand that means time – something many of just don’t have. But if you could scan the tech news of your favourite online news site every day and then allocate 20 minutes each week to research a new app or social media platform, you’d be surprised how quickly you could get yourself into good cyber parenting shape.

The Back To School To-Do List

But let’s keep it simple. It’s already January and there isn’t a lot of time left to get organised. So, here’s what I think you should focus on tech-wise to make sure you can cross technology off your ‘back to school’ to-do list.

1. Install Security Software On ALL Devices.

Many people invest in security software for their laptops, which is great. However, all devices need to be protected. Anything you can download on a laptop, you can download on a tablet or phone.

Many security software packages will include coverage for a ‘fleet’ of devices. McAfee® Total Protection software provides premium antivirus, identity and privacy protection for all your PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets – in one subscription. Easy!

2. Know How To Connect Safely On Public Wi-Fi Networks.

Wi-Fi can be an extraordinarily risky affair with hackers spending a lot of time developing ways to extract users’ personal information. If your kids absolutely must connect, ensure it is a secured Wi-Fi which means it requires a password. However, this is still not 100% safe so no banking, financial or shopping transaction should be conducted on Wi-Fi.

Why not consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN)? A VPN provides a secure encrypted connection which means that anything you send or receive is safe. Check out McAfee’s VPN, McAfee® Safe Connect – it provides bank-grade Wi-Fi encryption, which means you can relax!

3. Schedule Regular Data Backups.

‘Losing’ a document is so frustrating! Avoid those late-night homework traumas and ensure your kids regularly scheduled data backups for their main devices. You could choose to back-up to a hard drive, but I think an online backup service is probably easier to use. Whether it’s Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive – find an online provider and set this up BEFORE school projects get underway!

4. Ensure All Device Software Is Up-To-Date.

Software updates (and reminders) can be super annoying and interrupt the flow of a busy day. But keeping your software up-to-date is actually one of the best ways of protecting yourself from the latest online threats.

Why not select auto-updates for software on all your devices – including your smartphones? If your software doesn’t offer auto-updates, schedule a monthly reminder in your calendar to check for and install available updates.

5. Understand Your Child’s School BYOD Policy.

Make sure you understand the Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policy of your child’s school. Some schools require parents to be responsible (and pay) for repairs, insurance and online security associated with your child’s laptop or tablet; others will provide this for an annual fee. Please take the time to understand this before the school year starts and an issue occurs.

I know it may seem like a bit of work but taking these precautionary steps now means your kids are as protected as can be when enjoying their online lives and of course doing their homework this year! And make sure you also take the same steps to protect the adults (and their devices) in your house as well! They are just as important.

Here’s to a great school year!!

Take care,

Alex xx

 

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What To Do If Your Email Is Hacked https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/what-to-do-if-your-email-is-hacked/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/what-to-do-if-your-email-is-hacked/#comments Wed, 20 Dec 2017 04:00:34 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=82202 I think I could count on my hand the people I know who have NOT had their email hacked. Maybe they found a four-leaf clover when they were kids! Email hacking is one of the very unfortunate downsides to living in our connected, digital world.  And It’s often a situation that even the savviest tech […]

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I think I could count on my hand the people I know who have NOT had their email hacked. Maybe they found a four-leaf clover when they were kids!

Email hacking is one of the very unfortunate downsides to living in our connected, digital world.  And It’s often a situation that even the savviest tech experts find themselves in. In August this year, over 700 million email addresses (and a large number of passwords) were leaked publicly courtesy of a misconfigured spambot (a program designed to collect email addresses). Many savvy tech types were caught up in the hack including Troy Hunt, a leading Australian computer security expert and creator of Have I Been Pwned?.

Just this month it was confirmed that every single Yahoo email account was compromised in the 2013 data breach. A whopping 3 billion accounts with stolen data including names, email addresses, phone numbers and birth dates. And recent reports have confirmed that thousands of Australian Government Officials including high-profile politicians, Defence Officials, judges and members of the Australian Federal Police were among the victims.

So, in short – it can happen to anyone…

But Why Should I Worry? I Have Nothing Valuable in My Email

If you have an identity and email address you are very valuable to a hacker – no exceptions! Even if you don’t consider yourself to have Kim Kardashian’s celebrity status or the CEO power of  James Packer, a hacker is still very keen to collect every piece of information they can about you.

Remember, hackers want to get their hands on your data. Why – I hear you ask? So, they can cash in! Some will keep the juicy stuff for themselves – passwords or logins to government departments or large companies they may want to ’target’. But the more sophisticated ones will sell your details including name, telephone, email address and credit card details and cash in on The Dark Web. They often do this in batches. Some experts believe they can get as much as AU$140 for a full set of details including credit cards.

So, you can see why they’d be interested in you!

How Big Is the Problem?

There is a plethora of statistics on just how big this issue is – all of them concerning!

According to IDCARE – a support service for Australian and New Zealand victims of identity fraud – about 1 million Australian have their identity stolen each year at a cost of about $1 billion.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently revealed that hacking scams cost Australian businesses close to $3 million during 2016 with the number of people reporting scams activity at record levels.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre nominates $20 million as the fallout from ‘phony emails’ aka phishing in 2016/7.

Regardless of which statistic you choose to focus on, we have a big issue on our hands!

So, What Do I Do If My Email Is Hacked?

If you find yourself a victim of email hacking there are a few very important steps you need to take. But the key here is to act FAST!!

1. Change Your Password

This is the very first thing you must do to ensure the hacker can’t get back into your account. It is essential that your new password is complex and totally unrelated to previous passwords. Always use at least 8-10 characters with a variety of upper and lower case and throw in some symbols and numbers. I really like the idea of a crazy, nonsensical sentence – easier to remember and harder to crack!

If you find the hacker has locked you out of your account by changing your password, you will need to rest the password to by clicking on the Forgot My Password link.

2. Let Your Email Contacts Know

A big part of the hacker’s strategy is to ‘get their claws’ into your address book with the aim of hooking others as well. Send a message to all your email contacts as soon as possible so they know to avoid opening any emails (most likely loaded with malware) that have come from you.

3. Change Your Security Question

If you have a security questions associated with your email account, please change this too. And please make it unpredictable and niche! It is possible that this was how the hackers broke into your account in the first place. When Yahoo had 500 million accounts hacked in 2014, not only were the passwords stolen but the security questions too. If you have a security question associated with your account, make up a response that makes no sense. This is the perfect opportunity to tell a lie!

4. Commit to Multi Factor Authentication

Yes, multi-factor authentication adds another step to your login but it also adds another layer of protection. Enabling this will mean that in addition to your password, you will need a special one-time use code to login. This is usually sent to your mobile phone. So worthwhile!

5. Check Your Email Settings

It is not uncommon for hackers to modify your email settings so that a copy of every email you receive is automatically forwarded to them. Not only can they monitor your logins for other sites but they’ll keep a watchful eye over any particularly juicy personal information! So, check your mail forwarding settings to ensure no unexpected email addresses have been added.

Don’t forget to check your email signature to ensure nothing spammy has been added. And also ensure your ‘reply to’ email address is actually yours! Hackers have been known to create an email address here that looks similar to yours – when someone replies, it goes straight to their account, not yours!

6. Scan Your Computer for Malware and Viruses

This is essential also. If you find anything, please ensure it is addressed and then change your email password again. And if you don’t have it – please invest. Comprehensive security software will provide you with a digital shield for your online life. McAfee Total Protection lets you protect all your devices – including your smartphone – from viruses and malware. It also contains a password manager to help you remember and generate unique passwords for all your accounts.

7. Change Any Other Accounts with the Same Password

Time consuming but very worthwhile! Ensure you change any other accounts that use the same username and password as your compromised email. Hackers love the fact that many of us use the same logins for multiple accounts, so it is guaranteed they will try your info in other email application and sites such as PayPal, Amazon, Netflix – you name it!

8. Consider Creating a New Email Address

If you have been hacked several times and your email provider isn’t mitigating the amount of spam you are receiving, then consider starting afresh but don’t delete your email address! Many experts do warn against deleting email accounts as most email providers will recycle your old email address. This could mean a hacker could spam every site they can find with ‘forgot my password’ request and try to impersonate you – identity theft!

Your email is an important part of your online identity so being vigilant and addressing any fallout from hacking is essential for your digital reputation. And even though it may feel that ‘getting hacked’ is inevitable, you can definitely reduce your risk by installing some good quality security software on all your devices. Comprehensive security software such as McAfee Total Protection will alert you when visiting risky websites, warn you know when a download looks ‘dodgy’ and will block annoying and dangerous emails with anti-spam technology.

It makes sense really – if don’t receive the ‘dodgy’ phishing email – you can’t click on it! Smart!

And finally, don’t forget that hackers love social media – particularly those of us who overshare on it. So, before you post details of your adorable new kitten, remember it may just provide the perfect clue for a hacker trying to guess your email password!

 

Alex x

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So, Your Child Wants A Smartwatch for Christmas? Here’s What You Need to Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/smartwatch-for-christmas-what-you-need-to-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/smartwatch-for-christmas-what-you-need-to-know/#respond Fri, 15 Dec 2017 01:00:00 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=82932 My youngest son is a Smartwatch fanatic. At the age of 14, he’s already ‘progressed’ through much-loved Pebble and Sony devices. Is it a James Bond thing? Sorry 007, I don’t think so. Rather, Mr 14 is a tech-savvy consumer who always ‘needs’ to have the latest and greatest. Bet you have one of those […]

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My youngest son is a Smartwatch fanatic. At the age of 14, he’s already ‘progressed’ through much-loved Pebble and Sony devices. Is it a James Bond thing? Sorry 007, I don’t think so. Rather, Mr 14 is a tech-savvy consumer who always ‘needs’ to have the latest and greatest. Bet you have one of those in your house, too!

If your child is keen to add a Smartwatch to his or her Christmas list, then please take a minute to weigh up the pros and cons. While these flashy looking devices are a super cool fashion accessory that can help us keep an ‘eye on our kids’, there are also some risks. So before you put the call into Santa, here’s some points to consider:

1. Do They Really Need One?

Sorry, I have to ask. Smartwatches are like mini computers that do so much more than tell the time. Most Smartwatch apps are also available on your phone. I totally get that Smartwatch apps may be super handy if you’re a runner who needs to manage your heartrate and buy a latte on- route. But does a teen going to and from school – who also has a smartphone in their pocket – really need one?

2. Can They Help Keep Kids Safe?

Most Smartwatches come with a built-in GPS tracker, so you can monitor the whereabouts of your child. Some models also allow you to set a safe zone that will send you an alert if your child leaves this area. So, yes – if your child wears a Smartwatch, you will be able to monitor their whereabouts which is very appealing to our ‘helicopter’ generation of parenting!

3. What Are The Risks?

In recent months, there has been a growing momentum of privacy concerns surrounding the children and the digital space. McAfee Labs has identified the increasing risk to children’s privacy as one of the top threat predictions for 2018. They believe organisations will use the digital content generated by children to achieve ‘app stickiness’ aka engagement and retention which will jeopardise our children’s privacy.

And they are not alone in their concerns.  Germany’s Regulator, the Federal Network Agency, recently issued a blanket ban on Smartwatches aimed at children, describing them as ‘spying devices’. The agency also issued a strong recommendation to parents who had already purchased such a device to destroy them! In October, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC), also reported concerns over the security flaws, privacy concerns and risks posed by unreliable Smartwatch features. Here is a summary of their concerns:

  • Smartwatches can be used to listen in to the child’s environment which means they should be regarded as an unauthorised transmitting device. According to research by the German Federal Network Agency, smartwatches are used by parents to listen to teachers in their child’s classroom.
  • Some Smartwatches had flaws such as transmitting and storing data without encryption making it easier for strangers, using basic hacking techniques, to track your child or make it appear that your child was in a completely different location. This lack of encryption also puts your child’s privacy and identity at risk. This was uncovered by the NCC.
  • The NCC also identified that some of the core features of Smartwatches such as geofencing to set up alerts if kids move outside a pre-set zone and SOS buttons were ‘flakey’ and non-functional which gave parents a false sense of security.

How To Secure Your Smartwatch

If your teen is still committed to the idea of a Smartwatch, there are steps you can take to better protect your child’s privacy. Remember, we don’t live in a perfect world, so it’s all about risk management!

  • Do not keep any personal information on your watch especially banking and credit card details and your address.
  • Don’t download apps for the Smartwatch from unknown sources. They may be designed to mine your personal information.
  • Keep your Smartwatch up to date. As soon as software updates become available, download them immediately to prevent cyber criminals from hacking your device.
  • Use complex and unique passwords when setting up the device and creating any new accounts. A combination of lower and upper case, letters, numbers and special characters is ideal.
  • Only use secured Wi-Fi networks when connecting to the internet – avoid public Wi-Fi.
  • Provide the bare minimum of required information when inputting information for user accounts.

Being a first-generation digital parent is really tough. The lure of the latest, shiniest tech offerings can be so very enticing, yet we need to make the tough calls and ensure our kids are safe! As a parent, if you aren’t convinced that any device – including a Smartwatch – will keep your children or your personal information safe, then just don’t buy it. It’s that simple!

Happy Christmas!

Alex xx

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Kids, Travel and Wi-Fi https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/kids-travel-and-wi-fi/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/kids-travel-and-wi-fi/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 04:20:32 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83082 If your brood of kids is anything like mine, holiday travel is all about devices and Wi-Fi. Sure, we’ll focus on sights and activities when we get to our destination, but the journey is made all the sweeter with a huge dose of technology! And as all my boys have pretty basic mobile phone plans […]

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If your brood of kids is anything like mine, holiday travel is all about devices and Wi-Fi. Sure, we’ll focus on sights and activities when we get to our destination, but the journey is made all the sweeter with a huge dose of technology!

And as all my boys have pretty basic mobile phone plans (I’m paying!), a technology binge means Wi-Fi! Whether it’s connecting at the airport, on the plane – yes this is a thing now, in trains or in hotels – finding Wi-Fi is possibly more important to my boys than finding the next snack bar.

But unfortunately, Wi-Fi is not the great nirvana. There can be some serious risks associated with connecting to random Wi-Fi outlets, as I continuously tell my offspring. The recent KRACK Wi-Fi saga, which potentially affected iOS and Android users worldwide, gave us all a big scare and reminded us yet again that modern Wi-Fi is not risk free.  Discovered by a Belgian researcher, the KRACK vulnerability meant a hacker could access your device even through a password protected Wi-Fi network. It was such a big deal that even the US Department of Homeland Security issued a warning!

‘It Won’t Happen To Me’

Regardless of the warnings, there are still many amongst us that are not convinced Wi-Fi poses genuine risks, particularly when we travel. Many of my friends and family members still believe horror stories only happen to ‘other people’.

And research conducted by McAfee confirms this very opinion with the majority Aussies surveyed not worried about the risks associated with Wi-Fi. In fact, 62% of people on holiday either don’t care or don’t bother ensuring they have a secure Wi-Fi connection. And 41% believe our personal information is as secure when we connect to public Wi-Fi on holiday as when we are home or at work. Eeek!!!

Why Do We Need To Worry?

In short, accessing dodgy Wi-Fi means you are more likely to get hacked which can cause you a world of pain! If you have connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot that has either been set up by a hacker or a hacker has broken in to, anything you send or share online – you are also sharing with the hacker: banking details, online shopping logins, social media passwords… the list goes on. And once the hacker has that information, he/she can access your accounts as if they were you.

In addition to potentially stealing your private information, hackers can also use public Wi-Fi to distribute malware aka malicious software.  Some hackers have been known to hack the Wi-Fi connection point itself to try and trick Wi-Fi users into downloading malicious software. Attractive, believable pop-ups appear on users’ screens offering free upgrade to commonly used software. However, clicking the link in the pop-up ad downloads the malicious software!

What Should We Do To Stay Safe?

Well, let me tell you I’m not staying home… holidays keep me going! So, what we need to do is spend just a little time implementing a few strategies so we can securely manage our kids and their online lives when we travel. Not only will this minimise the risk but just as importantly, the stress!

Here is how I’ll be managing my boys and their Wi-Fi connections when we set off on our annual family vacation this year:

1. Ban Free Wi-Fi

If your kids just have to connect to Wi-Fi, ensure it is password protected option NOT a random free Wi-Fi. While this does not provide any guarantee of security, it is another layer of protection. However, no banking, financial or shopping transactions are to be undertaken on this Wi-Fi – no exceptions!

2. Invest in a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the best services you can sign up to. In simple terms, it creates a secure encrypted connection which means that anything you send or receive is safe. McAfee’s VPN, SafeConnect, provides bank-grade Wi-Fi encryption which means your personal data and online activities are kept private even when you are connected to public Wi-Fi.

3. Update ALL Your Devices Before You Leave Home

I know it is a pain but if the software and apps on your devices are not up to date, you’re essentially leaving a ‘back door’ open for a hacker. App creators and hardware vendors will release patches or updates when they become aware of a security vulnerability – so it is essential you have the latest and greatest installed before you walk out of your door!

4. Turn Off Bluetooth When Not Using It

This needs to become a family rule – just like turning off the lights before you leave the house! When your Bluetooth is active, hackers can see which networks you have connected previously. It then takes very little effort for them to copy these networks and fool your device into connecting with their Bluetooth devices. Within minutes, the hacker can steal your data, download malware and create a world of pain!

5. Download Security Software for All Your Devices including Smartphones!

Ensuring your devices are protected with comprehensive security software is the same as locking the backdoor and turning on the house alarm – common sense. McAfee’s Total Protection software provides protection for your entire fleet of devices and includes anti-virus and anti-malware software, a firewall, anti-spam functions, parental controls and a password management tool.

So, don’t cancel your holiday. Managing Wi-Fi safely when you travel with kids is absolutely possible with just a little planning. And if Nana and Pop are joining you on vacation, please ensure they are up to speed with the family Wi-Fi rules too! With 85% of older Australians accessing the internet every day, they will very likely have their eye on the Wi-Fi too!

Happy Christmas and Safe Travels!

Alex xx

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Don’t Let the Grinch Hack Your Christmas! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/dont-let-the-grinch-hack-your-christmas/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/dont-let-the-grinch-hack-your-christmas/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 05:17:25 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=82555 What’s on your family’s Christmas list this year? Let me guess – technology! Our desire for shiny, fast, connected devices is almost a biological condition this time of year. However, our single-minded desire to get these devices in our hands at all costs, often means we forget about the risks… To try and understand how […]

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What’s on your family’s Christmas list this year? Let me guess – technology! Our desire for shiny, fast, connected devices is almost a biological condition this time of year. However, our single-minded desire to get these devices in our hands at all costs, often means we forget about the risks…

To try and understand how us Aussies are planning on managing the risks associated with this season’s must-have Christmas gifts, McAfee Australia interviewed over 1000 Aussies aged 18-55. Participants were asked whether they were planning on buying internet-connected gifts this Christmas, how they plan to buy them and what they know about how to secure their new devices. And the findings were very interesting…

  • Online shopping is Booming But We Are Taking Risks!

76% of us are likely to purchase gifts online this coming holiday season – an increase of 2% from last year. And while most of us will purchase from online stores of well-known retailers,

some of us (18%) will choose stores that we find randomly through online shopping searches.

  • There Is Still Confusion About Protecting Our Devices

90% of us feel it is important that our online identity and connected devices are safe and secure but alarmingly, only 14% of us feel that it is necessary to protect devices with security software – down from 15% in 2016.

  • Our Devices are Collecting Our Information But Most of Us Are OK with It

Many consumers (76%) believe their devices are collecting their personal information

  • Some of Us ‘Need’ The Latest Devices At All Costs

Despite acknowledging that our chosen device may be susceptible to security breaches, 22% of us still commit to buying it!

There is no doubt we value our digital assets with 61% of us believing their digital assets (our online files and media) are worth more than $1000 and 34% worth more than a whopping $5000!!

So, What Does This All Mean?

There is no doubt that we love our technology! In fact, in recent research from Telefonica, we are ranked 3rd worldwide when it comes to embracing technology. We even beat the Japanese!

However, the way we shop online, protect (or not) our devices and share our information plays a major role in how easy (or not) it is for cybercriminals to hack us, putting our much-loved digital assets at risk. And add a dose of Christmas cheer (and chaos) into the mix – and you can see how the risk increases!

Which Are The Most Hackable Devices?

To minimise the chance of the Grinch (aka cybercrims) ruining our Christmas this year, McAfee Australia has compiled a list of the devices most Australians have nominated as top of their Christmas lists. Each of the device’s security vulnerabilities has then been highlighted so you can take the required steps to ensure you are not hacked!! Here’s the lowdown:

1. Laptops, Smartphones and Tablets

According to our McAfee experts, laptops, smartphones and tablets take out first place for being the ‘Most Hackable’ gifts for Christmas 2017! As soon as those Christmas decorations come out, so do the sexiest models about. Slim, powerful yet light PCs, laptops and smartphones packed with the latest features and apps fill the stores… and we go into a frenzy!

Risks: Malware, especially ransomware, continues to dominate the headlines and has grown to more than 10 million samples worldwide. Just like laptops and PCs, tablets and smartphones are vulnerable to ransomware and can be compromised.

Tips: Slow down and think before clicking. One of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to infect your PC or smartphone is through malicious links. Be sceptical if you receive a link you are not expecting, use comprehensive security software that is kept updated, and install parental controls on all your children’s devices.

2. Drones

Drones won second place this year in the ‘Most Hackable’ stakes and it seems we can’t get enough of them. US drone sales are expected to top US$1 billion (A$1.3 billion) in 2017, up from US$799 million (A$1.04 billion) in 2016. And what a terrific gift – perfect for the amateur flight enthusiast through to the professional photographer looking to get that unique angle from up high!

Risks: Drones can be vulnerable in multiple ways. While it’s true they can be hacked in flight, they can also emit a Wi-Fi signal designed to steal your personal information after connecting.

Tips: Always keep the software updated on your drone, and apply software patches when they are made available from the manufacturer.  Be careful about connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. If you must connect, do so with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) like McAfee Safe Connect.

3. Digital Assistants

The must-have tech gadget of 2017, the Digital Assistant comes in at 3rd place on the ‘Most Hackable’ honours list. Digital Assistants are without doubt the perfect gift for anyone. However, like any connected device digital assistants can also be the target of cybercriminals. As new technology comes to market the cybercriminals are always trying to stay a step ahead – Digital Assistants are no exception!

Risks: Built-in microphones that are always listening for a wake-up command and, in some cases, cameras, can be compromised and turned into listening devices.

Tips: Just like your smartphone or PC, be sure to keep your device’s software up-to-date, and never allow physical access to anyone you do not trust.

4. Connected Toys

Coming in at 4th place, Connected Toys seem to be featured on every mini digital native’s Christmas list this year. Many of the must-have connected toys come equipped with GPS chips, cameras and an interactive conversation ability making them super attractive!

Risks: Be aware of the privacy and security risks that could affect connected toys. Manufacturers may not be putting the device’s security as a top priority which could leave it vulnerable to leaking personal information, location, or even allow a hacker to hijack the camera or microphone.

Tips: Research before you buy to make sure the toy you plan to purchase has not had any reported security issues. If the toy comes with a default password, ensure you change it to something more secure. Finally, monitor children when they are playing with connected devices and turn the toy off when it’s not in use to ensure that their privacy is being protected.

5. Connected Appliances

Vacuums, refrigerators, bathroom scales and cameras that connect to the internet aka ‘connected appliances’ are also on hackers’ lists this year. I’m very partial to some of these devices – they just make modern life so much easier!

Risks: While an attack on your refrigerator is unlikely, it’s not unheard of for connected home appliances to be hijacked and used as a pawn in a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). A connected appliance could also leak personal information or provide details about your home, like its size and dimensions, making you a bigger target for cybercriminals.

Tips: Do not allow your connectable devices to connect to the internet without any filtering. Always change your connected devices’ default manufacturer passwords to something strong and complex. Read the privacy policies provided by manufacturers so you know exactly what information your device is collecting.

Before you start wrapping up your shiny tech Christmas gifts, please make sure you have a plan in place to protect the device from a Christmas hack. Why not write share a few of the above tips with the lucky recipients in their Christmas card? Or better still, why not spend a little time on Christmas Day working through it together. A great Christmas bonding exercise!

Happy Christmas!

Alex x

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STEM – How and Why To Get Your Daughter Involved https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/get-your-daughter-involved-stem/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/get-your-daughter-involved-stem/#respond Thu, 09 Nov 2017 05:01:12 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=79975 In 1990, the buzz around STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) just didn’t exist. When I was doing my HSC, my subjects were all humanities. Lots of English and history broken up with a bit of French. For me, it was a dream. No science and maths – subjects that I was quite average at […]

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In 1990, the buzz around STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) just didn’t exist. When I was doing my HSC, my subjects were all humanities. Lots of English and history broken up with a bit of French. For me, it was a dream. No science and maths – subjects that I was quite average at but most importantly subjects I really didn’t like!

Was I an example of gender stereotyping? Was I responding to societal expectations that girls are ‘better with words’ and more communicative, and boys are more naturally talented at maths and science? Or was it just simply that I loved English and history more?  So many questions…

Research Shows Few Women Involved in STEM Industries

Fast forward to 2017 and the educational landscape has definitely changed. Our girls have benefitted from the hard work of their feminist sisters including Germaine Greer and are far more empowered than their mothers. But there is still work to be done. A detailed report into STEM by Australia’s Chief Scientist  Dr Alan Finkel in 2016 shows that just one third of STEM university graduates are women. And even worse, of the 2.3 million STEM-qualified Australians, only 16% are women – with the engineering industry showing even lower rates of participation.

As a society, we’re genuinely starting to embrace that we need to get more women involved in STEM FAST. There is a new-found awareness that it is time to rid our society of the job role gender biases and stereotypes that have pervaded our thinking over previous generations, and robbed our STEM industries of the valuable contribution women can make.

So, what are we doing?

Science and Technology Australia (STA), Australia’s peak science and technology body, is a great example of what we are doing to fix this problem and promote equal representation of men and women in STEM. In its Superstars of STEM program, STA is working with 30 of Australia’s most respected female scientists and technologist to create positive role models for young women and girls.

Organisations like Tech Girls Movement, Women In STEMM Australia, Code the Future, and the Rails Girls Summer of Code are also working hard to inspire and encourage women and young girls into STEM and support them along the way.

What Can We Do as Parents?

There are many organisations, schools and government bodies that are to be commended for seizing the STEM baton and running hard to try and address the gender imbalance. But that’s not the end of the story. As parents, we need to address this issue at the coalface – in our own homes. Here are my top 10 tips to help you get started:

1. Choose Your Words Carefully So You Don’t Create Any Limits

Words are so powerful!! So please ensure you don’t impose any limits or include any bias in your conversations with your girls. When discussing future education or career opportunities with your daughters, don’t direct them into ‘female friendly options’ thinking you are doing them a favour. Focus on their interests and dreams!

2. Encourage an Enquiring Mind

Do NOT dismiss the copious amount of questions your girls ask. Breathe deeply if you need to and help them find the answers. Go to the library, Google it together or maybe do an experiment at home to find the answer.

3. Go on Lots of Science and Technology Excursions

Fill the weekends and school holidays with trips to the zoo, dam, pond, museum or aquarium. Why not visit a planetarium or organise a road trip to visit a giant telescope or observatory? Mudgee in Central West NSW has a great Observatory, Wollongong on the South Coast of NSW boasts an impressive Planetarium and Science Centre and the Siding Springs Observatory in Coonabarabran in NSW is also an excellent places to enthuse your aspiring scientist. And if you want to engage in a little NASA history, then the CSIRO telescope in Parkes or the Honey Suckle Springs site near Canberra should be top of your list!

4. Get a Science and Robotics Club Happening

If there isn’t already a science and/or robotics club happening at your girls’ school then make this happen. Get to the P&C meetings, meet with the principal, do whatever you need to make this happen.

5. Invest in Some Engaging Science Books – Both Fiction and Non-Fiction

Fiction is a fabulous way to weave in some positive female science and technology messages. Check out this list of great fiction books that star girls and women who love science and technology. But don’t forget about non-fiction books. As tweens and teens, my boys all adored the wonderful Bill Bryson’s engaging science picture book A Really Short History of Nearly Everything. One of my best investments ever!

6. Surround Your Kids with Positive Female Role Models

Exposing your girls to strong, female role models is essential. Take them to female doctors and dentists. Pepper the dinner conversations with stories of successful female scientist – check out the Superstars of STEM page for loads of inspiration.

7. Seek Our Movies with Positive Female Role Models

Mix up your Friday Movie Nights with movies and tv series that celebrate strong empowered women. Suffragette (2015) is an amazing film as is 2016’s Hidden Figures that celebrates the story of 3 African American female mathematicians who work for NASA in the 1960’s. Also check out The Bletchley Circle television series that focuses on 4 female code-breakers who worked at Bletchley Park during the 1950’s.

8. Shake Off Gender Stereotypes at Home

Why not get your daughters involved in ‘handyperson’ work at home? And how powerful would it be if they could see their mother changing lightbulbs, painting furniture or undertaking small repairs? It would definitely stop the formation of traditional gender roles in their tracks. And with the increasing trend of ‘lady tradies’, why not weave the possibility of a career as a tradesperson into conversation? Remember, no limits!!

9. Find your Science-loving Teen a Mentor

If your teenage daughter is showing an interest in engineering, find her a mentor. Contact your local university and get in contact with one of the Engineering clubs who would be more than happy to assist.

10. Include Science Kits and Construction Blocks in your Toybox

If your kids still have a toy box, ensure you have a broad range of toys on offer. Include construction toys alongside Barbies. Why not choose a Science Kit as a birthday present?

And Why Should We Bother?

Firstly, there’s not scrap of evidence that girls are less capable in the areas of STEM. Any belief that this is the case is based on stereotyping and bias. As the Chief Scientist said in his 2016 report:

‘…maths ability is not determined biologically by sex…girls and boys have vastly different attitudes to studying mathematics; more girls tend to be fearful and cautious while more boys are confident.

‘During secondary school, a gender gap in self-concept emerges; many girls perceive they have less ability than their achievements warrant, in comparison to boys with the same scores.’

Secondly, the lack of women in STEM creates a bias or lack of true gender representation in research and analysis. A gender balanced research team would be more likely to address this. The current lack of women also transpires into fewer female role models both for existing female STEM employees and for girls still forming their career choices.

And finally, with STEM tipped to be the jobs growth sector of the future, who would want their daughter to miss out?? STEM graduates are in huge demand with many students being scooped up by the major tech companies even before they finish TAFE or university. Many cyber security experts believe this skills shortage is making Australia more vulnerable to a large scale cyberattack.

So, let’s get to it people. Let’s inspire our girls to take on the world of STEM, help keep us safe and make their mark on the world!

Alex x

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The Future of Cyber Safety: Could Artificial Intelligence Be The Silver Bullet? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/cyber-safety-artificial-intelligence-the-silver-bullet/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/cyber-safety-artificial-intelligence-the-silver-bullet/#respond Mon, 09 Oct 2017 06:00:52 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=79703 Stay Safe Online Week 2017 Cyber safety: outsourcing to experts makes such sense! Like most multi-tasking millennium mums, I’m a BIG fan of outsourcing: ironing, cleaning and gardening – it just makes such sense! Why not get an expert involved so you can focus on the things you love? Smart, I say! But did you […]

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Stay Safe Online Week 2017

Cyber safety: outsourcing to experts makes such sense!

Like most multi-tasking millennium mums, I’m a BIG fan of outsourcing: ironing, cleaning and gardening – it just makes such sense! Why not get an expert involved so you can focus on the things you love? Smart, I say!

But did you know that the future of cyber safety might just be heading the same way? Many technology experts and futurists including Ian Yip, McAfee® APAC’s CTO, believe that many of the decisions we make each day regarding our online safety could soon be made for us by digital assistants powered by artificial intelligence.

Sound a little crazy? Let me explain.

We’re human, after all.

An unfortunate reality of digital life is the fact that many of us have been hacked or scammed online, or know someone who has. But the truth is that almost all this pain could have been avoided if we had taken the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our families online. It is our ‘humanness’ that often gets us into trouble – our inconsistent and imperfect approach means we may take risks online without thinking, accidentally overshare or inadvertently click on a dodgy link.

But what if we could offload the management of our cyber safety to a true expert? An expert who is 100% organised, never forgets to renew security software, never uses the same password twice AND who can constantly analyse behaviour and immediately implement limits, should they be required?

Welcome to the future world of cyber safety digital assistants!!

Sounds good? Well, it could get even better… Imagine if your digital assistant, powered by artificial intelligence, had been programmed with the latest scientific research around brain and human development. Your loyal digital assistant could then interject at crucial points during your child’s interaction with digital content to educate them or it could tell them to perform a chore before allowing more online time. Or limit their screen time when scientifically-proven or parent-enforced limit has been reached. All the while keeping them safe online.

Sounds like every parent’s dream!!

No longer would technology be the enemy of committed parents. Computers set up with digital assistants could instead be a positive influence and assist committed parents to raise healthy, well-adjusted young people.

But we’re not there quite yet…

Before we get too excited, we need to remember that this paradise is still some time away. So, until that time, we need to embrace our ‘humanness’ and this means doing what we can to protect ourselves and our families online.

One of our biggest jobs as parents is to teach our kids how to independently navigate the complexities of life and this includes the online world. Although tempting, wrapping your offspring in cotton wool and keeping them away from risks is unfortunately not the best way to prepare them for the complications of the online world.

Instead we need to teach them to question what they see, dig deeper and take a moment to reflect before they act. These critical thinking skills will hold them in great stead and mean you don’t need to panic unnecessarily about new online threats – if they have the skills then they can be smart, safe online operators!

But we also need to practise what we preach! As parents, it is essential that we also model appropriate online behaviour and healthy digital habits. Psychologist Jocelyn Brewer believes that our generation of parents are ‘just as likely to be glued to their screens as their teenage offspring.’ And while we are checking work emails from the sporting field or playground, we are playing a ‘powerful role in (our) child’s social learning’ – modelling behaviour that we then spend much energy trying to rid our children of.

Stay Smart Online Week

This week is Stay Smart Online Week, an initiative by the Australian Government together with business and community groups to raise awareness about the ways people can protect themselves online. So, why not take a moment and do a quick audit on your personal cyber safety strategy? Here are my top tips to get you started:

1. Create complex passwords.

Creating strong, unique passwords is the best way to keep your personal and financial information safe online. This is especially true in the era of widespread corporate hacks, where one database breach can reveal tens of thousands of user passwords. Why not consider McAfee’s password manager the True Key™ app? It uses multiple authentication factors to sign you in – no need to remember anything!!

2. Secure your connections.

When at home or work, you probably use a password-protected router that encrypts your data. However, when you’re out you might use free, public Wi-Fi that is often unsecured – meaning a hacker can easily access your device or information. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so you can connect safely from anywhere.

3. Keep your software up-to-date.

Mobile devices face new threats each day, such as risky apps and dangerous links sent by text (smishing). Make sure your security software is enabled and your software apps are up-to-date on your mobile, computers and other devices to ensure you have the latest security patches. Turn on automatic updates to avoid forgetting.

4. Keep your guard up.

Always be cautious about what you do online and which websites you visit. Make sure you know what to look out for. Incorrect spelling and/or grammar in website addresses often is a sign of illegitimate websites. To keep your defence up, use comprehensive security software like McAfee Total Protection, and make sure to back-up your data on a regular basis.

5. Be a selective sharer and practise safe surfing.

Be cautious about what you share online, particularly when it comes to your identity information. This includes online shopping and banking. Always make sure that the site’s address starts with “https” instead of just “http”, and has a padlock icon in the URL field. This indicates that the website is secure. Use safe search tools such as McAfee WebAdvisor to help you steer clear of risky websites.

 

Parenting in the digital age can definitely be complicated. As the first generation of digital parents, we are learning on the job – sometimes even making it up as we go. But help is on its way!! Artificial Intelligence will, without a doubt, transform the way we manage our online safety and, in my opinion, make a positive contribution to the next generation of cyber citizens.

Take care

Alex x

 

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Fake News: What Every Parent Needs To Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/fake-news-what-parents-should-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/fake-news-what-parents-should-know/#respond Mon, 02 Oct 2017 06:01:15 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=77553 Fake news: we’ve all heard about it but what does it actually mean? Is it really a new concept or just a fancy buzzword? What Is Fake News? Well let’s keep it simple. Fake news is news that deliberately isn’t factually accurate. It’s a type of pseudo-journalism that spreads premeditated misinformation or hoaxes via traditional […]

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Fake news: we’ve all heard about it but what does it actually mean? Is it really a new concept or just a fancy buzzword?

What Is Fake News?

Well let’s keep it simple. Fake news is news that deliberately isn’t factually accurate. It’s a type of pseudo-journalism that spreads premeditated misinformation or hoaxes via traditional print and broadcast news media or social media with mischievous or malicious intent. So, it isn’t really a new concept. In fact, many would argue fake news has been around since at least Roman times when Octavian’s fabricated storytelling helped him defeat Mark Antony and become the first emperor of Rome.

Where Did The Term Come From?

While Octavian may have worked the fake news angle in ancient times, it was Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump that helped cement the term into our modern vernacular.

The progress of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election campaign prompted much discussion around whether false stories and fake news contributed to the outcome. In response to this, in November 2016 Mark Zuckerberg announced his plan to try and combat the alleged spread of deliberate misinformation on Facebook. And the term ‘fake news’ had traction.

Then President Trump took on the fake news baton. At his first press conference in 2017 as President-elect, he called Senior White House Correspondent for CNN, Jim Acosta, ‘fake news’. Since then, Mr Trump has been calling out major media outlets several times a week for being ‘fake news’ via his Twitter feed.

British World War I poster 'The Hun and the Home'
Example of a British World War I propaganda poster

As noted above, fake news or using the media to distribute propaganda isn’t new. There are countless examples throughout history of savvy strategic types using the media and propaganda with an agenda. Think of the British Government’s efforts in WWI to rouse its people against the Germans whom they labelled ‘the Hun’ or ‘barbarians’.

Why Did Fake News Gain Such Momentum In 2016?

But let’s get back to 2016 and add a few different factors: a social media culture; a U.S. Presidential election; a flamboyant ‘anti-establishment’ candidate who loved conspiracy theories (‘Ted Cruz’s father associated with JFK assassin‘); and some clever internet types who realised they could cash in. So the 21st century fake news phenomenon was born – and rapidly became a trending topic on the public agenda. Which in my view is actually a good thing.

Critical Thinking Cyber Skills Are Essential

Being able to identify fake news online is a vital cyber skill. Anyone with access to a smartphone or computer can publish anything online, so it’s a Wild West mash-up of real news and misinformation! And with research showing that most teens get their news from social media feeds, it is imperative that we arm our kids with critical thinking cyber skills so they can decode and decipher online information for themselves.

Tips To Identify Fake News

So, here are my top tips to help you and your kids  work out what’s fake and what’s factual online:

1. Investigate the site.

Do your ‘due diligence’ on the site. Is it an unusual URL or site name ending in ‘co’ that is trying to look legitimate, but isn’t? Is there contact information on the site? Does the author exist? If the site requires you to register before you can access it, then your alarm bells should be ringing!

2. Is it a solo news story?

Are other credible, mainstream news outlets reporting the same story? If not, you need to dig deeper.

3. Look past the headline.

Headlines may be clickbait – often designed to attract traffic. So don’t rely on the headline for the message, read the whole story.

4. Trust your gut instinct.

If the site is littered with typos, overuses capital letters, makes bold claims with no sources, or hosts pictures of girls in bikinis… there’s a fair chance it isn’t legitimate. Get outta there!

5. Perhaps it’s a joke?

There’s a lot of humour and satire online. Often, if the story is too ‘over the top’, it may be a satirical piece. Check out the site and the author just to be sure.

6. Check your biases.

Are your own beliefs affecting your judgement? Try to maintain some objectivity.

7. How did you react?

Clickbait and fake news often seek an extreme reaction. So if you feel upset or elated after reading a story, it may not be real news!

8. Be a detective – ask some basic questions:
  • What’s the date of publication? Is the story relevant and up-to-date?
  • Who gets paid if you click on this story?
  • Who is affected by the message in the story?
  • Is it a balanced argument? Has anything been left out of the story?
9. Ask an expert.

If you are still unsure, enlist the advice of an expert. A teacher, librarian, or even fact-checking websites such as Snopes or FactCheck.org can help verify the story – or not!

 

I believe the current focus on fake news is a blessing in disguise. Teaching our kids to be independent, critical thinkers should be our top priority as parents. And the prevalence of fake news helps us do just that. So, thank you, Mr President.

Till next time!

Alex x

 

 

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To Unplug Or Not To Unplug? That Is The Holiday Question https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/unplug-or-not-unplug-holiday-question/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/unplug-or-not-unplug-holiday-question/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 07:01:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=75319 If you’re heading away these holidays, it’s likely you’ve workshopped the idea of whether to ‘unplug’ – and I’m not referring to turning off your electricity. Unplugging means turning off devices and disconnecting from the internet – yes, a digital detox! Deep breaths, people, we can talk about this calmly. New research commissioned by McAfee […]

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If you’re heading away these holidays, it’s likely you’ve workshopped the idea of whether to ‘unplug’ – and I’m not referring to turning off your electricity. Unplugging means turning off devices and disconnecting from the internet – yes, a digital detox! Deep breaths, people, we can talk about this calmly.

New research commissioned by McAfee shows that 33% of us Aussies have gone on vacation in the past year with the aim of being unplugged. Not a bad effort really – although that does mean that 67% of us can’t go there yet, which – to be honest – includes moi!

Why Do Aussies Choose To Unplug?

According to the research, 68% of us who are able to unplug on holidays do so ‘to be more in the moment’, while 45% do it for stress relief and 45% just need to take a break from work – fair enough!

And a remarkable 78% of those who intended to unplug were successful and weren’t tempted to post a pic of their favourite holiday dinner on Instagram. Which is genuinely impressive.

Pros And Cons Of Unplugging

If you are looking for a reason to unplug then how about this? 72% of those who were successful in being unplugged during their vacation believed that it made their vacation more enjoyable. Some 57% stated that they felt more connected to the people they were with. And 31% did feel anxiety from being unplugged, but this was mostly members of Generation Z!

Personally, I’m not an ‘unplugger’ although I am in awe of those who are. Instead, I would describe myself as a ‘limiter’. When I’m on holidays I will check my emails and texts once a day and then put my phone away. I want to make sure that there are no volcanoes (metaphorical!) about to erupt and that my family and friends can contact me. So I’m one of the 61% who cite the need to be contactable by family and friends as a reason not to unplug. But whatever your strategy – unplugger, plugger or limiter – it is important to ensure technology does not rule your vacation.

Aussies Have A ‘She’ll Be Right Mate!‘ Approach To Travel Tech Safety

And for those of us who choose not to unplug – or just can’t remain unplugged – the research shows we are taking too many tech risks when we travel. Just under half of us (43%) don’t know how to tell whether a Wi-Fi network is secure. Some 41% of us think our personal info is just as secure when we connect to the internet whilst on holidays as it would be at home or work. And more than half of us (55%) don’t use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when we are away.

How To Protect Our Digital Lives When We Travel

Clearly no-one wants to give up holidays. So, here are my top tips on how you can use technology and stay ‘plugged’ safely while you travel:

1. Avoid Public Or Open Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is super attractive. It’s easy to use and usually free! But there are risks. It does not take much effort for a cybercrim to create a Wi-Fi network that looks legit, or hack into a reputable public Wi-Fi and intercept all the data that you share! So, unless you have a VPN – more about this later – steer clear.

2. Disable Public Folder Sharing If You Absolutely HAVE To Use Wi-Fi

If you have to use Wi-Fi then ensure you turn off public folder sharing. This will reduce the risk of a hacker accessing your files or attacking your computer. And remember: do NOT shop, bank or conduct any financial transactions or sensitive communication over unsecured Wi-Fi – no exceptions!

3. Turn On Your Laptop’s Firewall

It goes without saying that you need to protect your devices with comprehensive security software – that is a no brainer! And to add another layer of security when you travel, please turn on your laptop’s firewall. Many of us disable it as it can get quite fussy, however when you travel you want this! In short, enabling your firewall means you can protect your computer from unauthorised programs that could be a hacker trying to access your device remotely. Check out McAfee Total Protection for peace of mind.

4. Disable Bluetooth When Not Using

When your Bluetooth is active, hackers can see which networks you have connected to previously. It doesn’t take much effort for them to copy the networks and then fool your device into connecting to their Bluetooth devices. Before you know it, they can steal your data, spy on you and flood your device with malware – all without you even noticing!

5. Invest In A Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN, like McAfee Safe Connect, is a great way to secure your online activity when connecting to Wi-Fi. In summary, it creates a secure connection to a network over the internet. Many companies insist their employees only connect remotely using one. In my opinion, it’s the best solution to the Wi-Fi issue.

6. Update Your Devices

If you don’t keep your devices’ operating systems and applications up-to-date, you’re essentially leaving a ‘back door’ open for a hacker. Ensure your devices are running the latest versions of the software and your apps are updated to avoid potential security vulnerabilities.

7. Use A Device Locating App

Losing your connected devices while on holiday can be a nightmare. Why not set up a location application – just in case – that can help you find, locate and even erase your device’s data in the event it’s lost or stolen? McAfee Mobile Security software (Android or iOS) can help you do all that in case of a disaster!

So, whether you are an unplugger, limiter or unapologetic plugger, ensuring technology doesn’t dominate our precious holidays with family and friends is essential. And when it comes time to connect when we are vacationing, remember to always play it safe. Why not invest in a VPN that the whole family – including the kids – can use while you’re away? I can guarantee it will increase the relaxation aspect of your vacation ten-fold!

Happy Holidaying!

Alex x

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The Dark Web: What Every Parent Should Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/dark-web-what-every-parent-should-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/dark-web-what-every-parent-should-know/#respond Tue, 29 Aug 2017 07:01:32 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=77178 Mention the Dark Web in conversation and groans will inevitably ensue. Most of us realise it is a dangerous part of the net that should be given a very wide berth but probably haven’t had the time to investigate exactly why. So, here’s my 5-minute guide to ensure you are fully informed about the Dark […]

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Mention the Dark Web in conversation and groans will inevitably ensue. Most of us realise it is a dangerous part of the net that should be given a very wide berth but probably haven’t had the time to investigate exactly why.

So, here’s my 5-minute guide to ensure you are fully informed about the Dark Web and how to manage your kids and their inevitable interest in this ‘secret online world’.

How Does The Dark Web Differ From The ‘Normal’ Web?

Try and think of the web in three parts:

1 The ‘Normal’ Web Or The Surface Web.

This is the part of the web that can be accessed by search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. Some experts believe that this is between just 4-10% of the entire internet.

2 The Deep Web.

The Deep Web is simply the content of databases and other web services that for one reason or another conventional search engines such as Google and Yahoo can’t index. Government records, corporate intranets and academic databases are examples of content found here. To access information, users need to search individual databases. The Deep Web isn’t illicit and scary like the media often portrays.

3 The Dark Web.

The Dark Web is the encrypted part of the internet where illegal activity can take place. While many believe it is ‘monitored’ by law enforcement agencies, it seems to be the place where anything can be bought or sold. You may remember the news earlier this year about US Authorities successful closure of AlphaBay – a Dark Web marketplace which sold drugs, firearms and computer hacking tools. AlphaBay was 10 times the size of The Silk Road  – one of the first Dark Web drug marketplaces, now closed down –  and was estimated to host daily transactions totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the ‘flavour’ of activity that occurs here.

The AlphaBay marketplace was closed earlier this year by US Authorities

How Do You Access It?

The most common way to access the Dark Web is via The Onion Network (TOR) which ‘protects’ both users and website operators by encrypting all transactions. Unfortunately, it is remarkably easy to find and download. Details NOT provided here! I understand that it can take just minutes to download and you are ready to explore… Terrifying really.

Is It All Bad?

In short, no. Some ‘non-criminal’ citizens choose to conduct their internet activities on the Dark Web as they don’t want the Googles of the world collecting their data! The Dark Web also provides an opportunity for political refugees and dissidents in oppressive countries such as Syria and China to communicate.

However, there is a very dark side to the Dark Web. Drugs and illegal firearms can be bought. Hitmen can be ordered. Child pornography can be accessed. Graphic footage of people being hurt and raped can easily be found. In short, evil abounds in the darkest layer of the web. This is a vile place you don’t want to visit.

Attracted to the encryption and anonymity, terrorist organisations have also gravitated to the Dark Web. Many experts believe they use the ‘Surface Web’ for recruiting then move to the Dark Web where encryption can hide their more nefarious interactions. In that article, Aaron Brantly, a professor of cyber studies at the US Military Academy says:

‘One of the things they do is…train each other on how to run all the traffic on their Android mobile phones through the dark web so all their internet and voice traffic is sent through encrypted channels and so unreadable by law enforcement.’

How Did It Evolve?

The TOR network started its life as a government project developed by the US Naval Research Lab to protect government communication. There is much debate about how and why it became publicly available. Some believe it was an intentional move by the US government to provide an opportunity to ‘keep tabs’ on an inevitable criminal community, while others believe TOR’s release was purely accidental.

Managing Kids And The Dark Web

Ideally, we don’t want our kids going anywhere near this horrendous place but I’m going to keep this very real. If your kids haven’t already explored the Dark Web, it is highly likely that they will give it some serious thought. The idea of a secret world where they can be anonymous is highly enticing to many tweens and teens. Think Alex Rider, James Bond or Jason Bourne but in real life!

As a big fan of communication and teaching our kids critical thinking skills, here are some of the conversations that you should consider having with your kids about the Dark Web:

* The Dark Web is NOT a fun place to visit

It is highly likely Dark Web users have reason to stay anonymous so these are not the type of people you want to ‘hang out’ with. Visiting comes with risks.

* Hone those critical thinking skills

The unregulated, encrypted world of the Dark Web operates with very little concept of ethics. Ill-intentioned types will work very hard to win your trust and possibly convince you to be part of an illegal scheme, give them money or even nude pics. Beware!

* Never purchase or accept anything bought on the Dark Web

No exceptions!

* Skill up and redirect their energy

If your kids are intrigued, why not redirect them into coding? Encourage them to use their power for good.

* Don’t sugar-coat the reality

Where appropriate, share relevant news stories with your kids about the Dark Web. The shocking story of 16-year-old Australian boy Preston Bridge who died after taking drugs purchased on Silk Road is a good place to start.

* Give them some privacy

Some experts believe one of the reasons teens choose to visit the Dark Web is to hide their online activities from parents. If you are confident your kids can make good decisions online, then why not give them some space online? It may mean they decide they don’t need to visit the Dark Web – and wouldn’t that be a good thing!

Like many of you, I have absolutely no desire to explore the Dark Web but I am not a teenager who doesn’t truly understand the concept of risk. Crossing our fingers and hoping our kids don’t poke their head ‘down the rabbit hole’ into the Dark Web isn’t responsible parenting.

So, let’s start the appropriate conversations today. Help our kids develop their own set of critical thinking skills to navigate any online situation whether Dark or not.

Take care!

Alex x

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Is Our Smartphone Addiction Affecting Our Mental Health? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/smartphone-addiction-mental-health/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/smartphone-addiction-mental-health/#respond Thu, 24 Aug 2017 05:55:34 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=76505 Your smartphone: how many times a day do you check it? Please be honest. And what about your teens? Is their smartphone permanently attached to their fingers? In my world – I would absolutely hate to count. I often find it difficult to go anywhere without my phone without feeling a certain level of separation […]

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Your smartphone: how many times a day do you check it? Please be honest. And what about your teens? Is their smartphone permanently attached to their fingers?

In my world – I would absolutely hate to count. I often find it difficult to go anywhere without my phone without feeling a certain level of separation anxiety. And as for my kids… well, I sometimes think their smartphones are just another one of their body parts!

Research Shows Smartphone Addiction Is Rife

But the research shows that our little suburban family is not alone. In fact, we may be doing a lot better than we think. US mobile insight company Dscout studied the behaviours of Americans and deduced that an average user touches their phone over 2,600 times a day!! While the heaviest users (top 10%) clocked up a score of over 5,000 interactions! Absolutely mind-blowing!!

So, if the ‘average user’ is spending that much time touching their smartphone, surely there is an ‘opportunity cost‘? Yes, and – no surprises – it’s human interaction.

Bank of America released statistics last year that showed nearly 4 in 10 millennials (18-34 year olds) interact more with their smartphones than they do with their significant others – their parents, friends, children and co-workers. This figure does decrease to 1 in 3 when you look across all age groups but this is still a concerning stat.

The ‘Opportunity Cost’ Of Time Spent On Smartphones

Speaking recently at an event in the UK, Prince Harry urged young people to take a break from their mobile phones. During his speech he said youngsters can be overly reliant on technology. He believes taking a break from devices can help us become ‘more effective and efficient’, and help us cope with the pace of modern life.

And it seems that Prince Harry’s sentiments are backed up by many professionals from the world of psychology, including New York psychotherapist Nancy Colier. In her new book The Power of Off Colier details how our near-universal access to technology is having negative effects on physical and mental health, neurological development and personal relationships.

In a recent interview Ms Colier said, ‘It’s connections to other human beings – real life connections, not digital ones – that nourish us and make us feel like we count. Our presence, our full attention is the most important thing we can give each other. Digital communications don’t result in deeper connections, in feeling loved and supported.’

So, it seems smartphones are affecting our relationships and mental health, which is absolutely not ideal. But many experts also believe that over-usage of mobile devices can also affect productivity, anxiety levels, sleep and, most importantly, set a bad example for our kids! And it’s time to address this elephant in the room, people!

How To Nip Your Smartphone Addiction In The Bud

So, here are my top tips to help you get your smartphone addiction under control. Why not start with one or two, and gradually ‘downgrade’ the priority the device has in your life? Going ‘cold turkey’ is not always sustainable, in my opinion!

1. Get rid of unnecessary apps

Do you really need Facebook and Twitter on your phone as well as your laptop? No! Not only does this waste time, it lures you to your smartphone.

2. Limit notifications

Do you actually need to be notified every time you receive an email or someone new follows you on Twitter? No. It simply drags your attention back to your device.

3. Invest in a watch

Do you realise one of the main reasons we are drawn to our smartphone so regularly is to check the time? So spoil yourself, and lash out on a groovy new (single function) watch!

4. Set boundaries for smartphone usage

Designate certain times when your phone is off limits. Dinner time, social gatherings, religious services and work meetings are a good place to start.

5. Ban smartphones from your bedroom

Set up a charging zone in your kitchen and invest in a $15 alarm clock. Not only will the temptation to check your phone for messages or emails be reduced, you might be able to indulge in a little meditation instead of frantically checking your smartphone as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.

So, if you feel you are constantly stimulated but not actually achieving anything, if you never seem to get to the bottom of your to-do list, and are maybe feeling a little lonely: put your smartphone down! Technology can be and is a phenomenal tool but not when it’s over-used. Let’s get some balance back and focus on face-to-face human interactions.

Till next time, take care!

Alex xx

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Snap Map: What Parents Need To Know Now https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/snap-map-what-parents-need-know-now/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/snap-map-what-parents-need-know-now/#respond Mon, 03 Jul 2017 09:00:03 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=75579 Just when we were finally getting our heads around Snapchat, now the world’s most popular photo messaging app has added a new feature – cutely named Snap Map – that allows users to share their precise location. And parents are rightly concerned. Designed to make it easy to meet up with friends, Snap Map allows […]

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Just when we were finally getting our heads around Snapchat, now the world’s most popular photo messaging app has added a new feature – cutely named Snap Map – that allows users to share their precise location. And parents are rightly concerned.

Designed to make it easy to meet up with friends, Snap Map allows users to share their exact location on an interactive map with their friends every time they open the app. But this interactive map is so detailed that you can track a user to the exact house in a street!

What Is Snap Map?

Snap Map is intended to help users see what’s going on in the world in real time via a virtual map. Users can easily locate their friends on this map as well as view events and snaps from around the world. Snapchat is clearly trying to lose its title as a ‘secret messaging app’ and create an interactive online community.

So, What’s The Fuss About?

In short – Snap Map affects users’ privacy. Without realising it, users may be sharing their exact location (via an Actionmoji) which could potentially expose them to predators. And with a significant proportion of users under the age of 18… well, you can see why parents are feeling a little stressed.

In their defence, Snapchat has made it clear that users do need to provide their consent and actively opt-in to be visible on Snap Map. And while I commend them for this, social media-thirsty teens don’t always think of the consequences of consenting to the latest must-have apps and add-ons. Risk is not always top of mind!

What Do Users Need To Do?

1. Download the latest version of Snapchat

Since the feature you need is only available in the latest version of the app, update your app so you can disable Snap Map.

2. Activate Ghost Mode

I strongly recommend that you ensure your kids’ phones are set to Ghost Mode, which means their location will NOT be shared. So here’s how to do it:

  • First, launch Snap Map by pinching the Snapchat camera home screen like you’re zooming out from a photo.
  • It then gives you the option of sharing your location. You can choose to share your location with all your friends, some of them, or none of them by activating Ghost Mode.

3. Consider turning off Location Services

Obviously, Ghost Mode is definitely the safer option as other users won’t be able to see your whereabouts. However, don’t forget Snapchat can still track your location. If you want to make sure this just can’t happen, you need to turn off location services in your phone’s Settings. Simply select Snapchat, click on Location and choose never to share. Or disable them altogether – even better!

4. Don’t forget Facebook and Apple

Facebook and Apple both offer a location-based friend finding add-on that comes with the exact same privacy concerns. Facebook’s Nearby Friends allows you to quickly locate your friends, as does Apple’s Find My Friends. Please use these with caution.

Finding a teen in 2017 who doesn’t have Snapchat is a little like the search for a four-leafed clover. Very rare! Like it or not, Snapchat and its friends Instagram and Facebook form a very big part of their world. So, figuring out a way to work with your teen to make their experiences on Snapchat as safe as possible is the name of the game here. Explain the risks, show them how to activate Ghost Mode, and then monitor very closely.

And don’t forget to download Snapchat yourself. Remember, it’s all about developing some ‘tech cred’ so your teen will be more likely to come to you if they have an issue. Just another thing for your to-do list, folks!

Take care

Alex x

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How To Spot A Fake Facebook Account https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/spot-fake-facebook-account/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/spot-fake-facebook-account/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 06:59:44 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=75021 How do you manage your Facebook friends? Do you keep your list really tight and only include ‘active’ pals? Or do you accept everyone you’ve ever laid eyes on? I’m probably somewhere in between. But… if I have never had a personal conversation with them and ‘eyeballed’ them in the flesh, then they don’t get […]

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How do you manage your Facebook friends? Do you keep your list really tight and only include ‘active’ pals? Or do you accept everyone you’ve ever laid eyes on? I’m probably somewhere in between. But… if I have never had a personal conversation with them and ‘eyeballed’ them in the flesh, then they don’t get a guernsey!

Over the last few weeks I have received a steady increase of friend requests from people who I just don’t know. My gut tells me that these are fake accounts. Why? I’ve never eyeballed them, they have few or no friends, and have very little personal information available to share on their profiles. I mentioned this to my 20-year-old son who informed me he gets about 10 a week!

And while it can be annoying being harassed by randoms – as my kids would say – the issue is far bigger than that. Fake Facebook accounts are usually designed by clever cyber crims who are trying to extract personal information from unsuspecting naive types – often kids. And why do they want our personal information? It allows them to put together a profile that they can use to apply for loans, mobile phone plans, etc – but we’ll get to that later.

How Big Is The Fake Account Issue?

In its latest reporting, Facebook nominated that it has a whopping 1.86 billion active monthly users. Now, in 2012 Facebook’ reporting stated that 8.7% of its accounts were either fake or duplicates. Even assuming the percentage has stayed about the same, that means there are now a monstrous 161 million fake Facebook accounts! So, it’s highly likely that you (and your kids) will have been affected.

How Can We Tell If A Facebook Account Is Fake?

Experts believe that fake accounts fall into two categories, being operated either by a bot (aka web robot) or by an ill-intentioned human. But irrespective of type, there are several warning signs that an account is fake. If the account in question displays three or more of these signs, then avoid it at all costs:

Beauty

Bots exploit beauty and often sport a pic of a gorgeously attractive girl or handsome guy on their pages. Why? We are only human – an enticing photo dramatically increases the chance of having a friend request accepted.

Not Many Pics

Bots tend not to post lots of photos. Their aim is to use minimum effort to create the illusion that a real person is behind the account so they don’t bother too much with fleshing out a personal life.

Weird Bio Information

If the biography information on the account seems fanciful or just plain unrealistic, then it’s likely not to be a legitimate account.

The Account Doesn’t Message

Bots can easily accept friend requests but can’t respond to messages. So, if you are unsure this is a great little test – just send a message and see what you get back!

Blank Wall

Blank walls are a dead giveaway for a fake account. If your possible ‘new friend’ has either no activity or just a few likes – then be suspicious!

Lots Of Likes

Some bot-controlled accounts are set up to like a certain amount of pages a day. Over time this can add up, so be wary!

Why Are Fake Facebook Accounts Created?

As mentioned earlier, cyber hackers create fake Facebook accounts with the aim of trying to friend people and get access to their personal information. Identity theft is their motivation. They can profit from this private information by personally taking out loans or credit cards in someone else’s name. Or – and this is more likely – they on-sell the information so others can do so.

But fake Facebook accounts can also be created just to make money. Buying and selling Facebook fans is a multi-million dollar business, as both companies and individuals pay big money to get fans and likes to their page. And with the software to create these fake Facebook pages costing no more than $200, you can see how easily profits can be made.

What To Do If You Are Sure A Facebook Account Is Fake

  1. Most importantly, do NOT follow or accept a friend request from the account.
  2. Report the account to Facebook by clicking the report option. When Facebook receives around 10-20 reports about a specific account they will investigate, so it’s worth doing.

Lastly, do NOT insist your kids delete their Facebook account because of the threat of fake accounts. Teaching our kids how to live online is probably one of our biggest jobs as parents of digital natives. Thinking critically, understanding risks and learning how to navigate obstacles are skills that will hold them in good stead for their entire lives. Whoever thought discussing a face Facebook account could have so many benefits!

Take care.

Alex xx

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The 5-Minute Parents’ Guide To Snapchat https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-minute-parents-guide-snapchat/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-minute-parents-guide-snapchat/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 07:13:41 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73679 OK – we’ve all heard about Snapchat and know that our kids love it. But how many of us really know how it works? Well, read on. I’ve put together a 5-minute overview that will get you up to speed ASAP. So strap yourself in and let’s get hour heads around this together. What Is […]

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OK – we’ve all heard about Snapchat and know that our kids love it. But how many of us really know how it works? Well, read on. I’ve put together a 5-minute overview that will get you up to speed ASAP. So strap yourself in and let’s get hour heads around this together.

What Is Snapchat?

Snapchat is essentially a messaging app that’s very much designed for capturing life in the moment. Users send fund and spontaneous texts, photos or videos that all disappear after a short period of time. Anything that is sent is referred to as a ‘Snap’. Snaps can be sent to one or more friends.

Now a Snap doesn’t just have to be a Snap. It can be dressed up with test, emojis and doodles (free-form drawings). One can also add filters, lenses and stickers to make Snaps more visually appealing. Geofilters are a particularly popular way to customise Snaps at specific locations and events worldwide. You can even create one for your own event. In fact, my boys inform me that they are essential for anyone having an 18th or 21st birthday party!

One of the biggest differences between Snapchat and its cousins Facebook and Instagram is that there is no ‘Like’ option on Snapchat. This is because Snaps are designed to disappear.

How Big Is Snapchat?

According to the latest available stats there are 158 million daily users on Snapchat, with 2.5 billion Snaps sent every day. It is the 5th most used social media site in Australia with 1 in 6 Aussies using it daily. So it’s worth investing some in!

How Old Do You Need To Be To Use It?

Like most social media platforms, the ‘legal’ age of use for Snapchat is 13, a by-product of US legislation called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The legislation came into effect in 2000 and is unapologetically committed to giving parents control over what information is collected from their children online.

Now while this legislation is US-based, websites hosted overseas must comply with COPPA if they are directed to children in the US. In effect, if your kids are visiting the same sites that US kids would frequent, then COPPA applies.

However, parenting experts and even the OECD believe that this decision is really best left up to the parents, who should factor in a child’s maturity, resilience and level of responsibility before giving the green light or not, irrespective of age.

Isn’t It Used For Sexting?

When Snapchat first hit our screens in 2011 it was instantly pigeon-holed as a haven for sharing raunchy pictures. Since then it has broadened its offering and now competes in the mainstream social media space alongside apps such as Kik, WhatsApp and Facetime.

However, it still CAN absolutely be used for sexting so please don’t think it is all sunshine and smiles!

How To Interact On Snapchat?

Just like Facebook, when you start out on Snapchat you ‘friend’ people you know. Once you’re established friends, you can then share Snaps. However, there is a ‘follow’ option which allows users to follow celebrities and sporting teams. One of my boys says this can provide great content to on-share with friends!

I’ve Heard Of Stories – What Are They?

Users can compile their Snaps into a Story which has a 24-hour life. This could be a video, one Snap, or hundreds of Snaps. When a Snap is taken, users have the option of adding it to their Story.

Live Stories are a montage of Snaps submitted for Snapchatters from events around the world such as a concert or sporting event.

Is There A Messaging Option On Snapchat?

One-on-one chat is an option on Snapchat. Just like Snaps, chats are cleared when the recipient leaves the chat screen. But be aware – users can choose to save messages they would like to keep.

What’s Snapcash?

In 2014 Snapchat introduced a person-to-person payment feature that allows users to transfer money between themselves easily. Currently this is only available to US users over 18. So no need to worry about this in Australia yet. Phew!

What Do I Need To Tell My Kids?

Here are my top tips for helping your kids use Snapchat safely.

Saving Snaps

Even though Snaps technically disappear, there are a few ways they can remain permanent: the creator could save the Snap before sending it; the viewer could take a screenshot; or anyone could take a picture of the screen with another camera, or use another tool or app to save a copy. So, it is imperative your kids understand to never send anything illegal or that could get themselves or others into trouble. In an ideal world they wouldn’t do this, but sometimes you have to keep the conversation real!

Privacy Settings

The default ‘My Friends’ setting only allows users to send and receive media from users they have added to their Friends list. I highly recommend that anyone under the age of 18 continue with the setting. Check out this link if you need more help.

Personal Information

Just like any activity on social media, sharing personal information such as phone numbers, home address, name of school or parents’ details could have devastating consequences such as identity theft or even stalking. Please ensure your kids know how to keep their info tight.

Stick to Real Friends

As on all social media platforms, there are ways on Snapchat for your kids to find people they don’t know – and vice versa. Ensure your kids know that is is not OK to meet up with people they meet online. Online only friends are NOT real friends!

Nudity

I know this might be an embarrassing conversation but you need to have it. Your kids need to know that exchanging nude or explicit images of anyone under the age of 18 – including themselves – is a serious crime. In most states of Australia, anyone caught and charged could be placed on the Sex Offenders Registry. So please ensure they truly understand the consequences here.

Problems

If your child’s settings are set to My Friends and they still receive abusive Snaps from another user, get involved! Take a screenshot of the interactions then help your child block the user. You will then also need to report them to Snapchat’s Safety Team.

 

Well done! You are now ready to enter the world of Snapchat. Remember using the same technology and social media your kids do gives you real insight into their world while earning yourself a bit of tech cred! What are you waiting for? Join up today!

Take care

Alex xx

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Privacy Awareness Week 2017: It’s Time To Talk More To Your Kids https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/its-time-to-talk-more-to-your-kids/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/its-time-to-talk-more-to-your-kids/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 00:40:51 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73838 Attention, parents with kids between 8 and 17! Here’s a statistic that is probably going to make you squirm – apologies in advance. Conversations between Aussie parents and their kids about cyber safety have dropped an alarming 23% compared to previous years. Eeeekkk! This startling statistic is part of research conducted by McAfee and Life […]

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Attention, parents with kids between 8 and 17! Here’s a statistic that is probably going to make you squirm – apologies in advance. Conversations between Aussie parents and their kids about cyber safety have dropped an alarming 23% compared to previous years. Eeeekkk! This startling statistic is part of research conducted by McAfee and Life Education to mark the start of Privacy Awareness Week in Australia.

Let’s Look At The Key Stats

The research, entitled ‘Trust and Transparency in Australian Family Households‘, surveyed over 1,000 Aussie adults and kids to gather insights on the online behaviour of both adults and kids. And the results are NOT great. We have taken our eye off the ball, parents, and we need to fix it ASAP!!! Here’s why:

  • Compared to previous years, conversations with our kids about online safety are down a whopping 23%!!
  • 41% of Aussie kids admit to hiding their online activity from their parents – and increase from 37% in previous years.
  • Our teens are using unreliable factors to determine how trustworthy apps and websites are, which has implications for their privacy. 83% of kids consider a site to be safe if ‘friends are using it’ while only 17% bother to check out the Terms & Conditions before they decide if they sign up.

We also need to take a good look at ourselves – the evidence is clear:

  • 2 out of 3 parents (66%) share their password with someone else.
  • 23% of parents do not have any restrictions in place to stop their children purchasing apps or making in-app purchases.
  • 41% of parents follow their kids on social media, compared with 66% in previous years.
  • Conversations about key online issues are down. In previous years 84% of us spoke to our kids about cyber bullying, whereas only 69% of us are doing so now.
McAfee Australia Privacy Awareness Week Infographic
For more on our survey visit www.mcafee-paw17.com.au

What Does This Mean For Us?

Many experts would agree that our generation is subject to challenges and pressures that previous generations never had to face. Whether it’s the constantly increasing cost of living and housing, the consequent work/family juggle to pay the bills, and of course the internet – we have lots on our plate. Many of us feel overwhelmed and time poor and that’s perfectly understandable.

However, we need to prioritise our children’s safety and that means upping the ante when it comes to teaching online safety. Schools do play a role here, but as parents it is our responsibility to ensure our kids are informed about the risks and pitfalls of the internet, and understand how to navigate this digital world while keeping their digital reputation and privacy intact.

Suggested Next Steps

So, here’s five things you can do this week in your home to get cyber safety back on the agenda:

Discuss Scams

  • At dinner time, talk about some of the recent scams that have been in the news. The Australian government’s Scamwatch website is a good source, as are reputable news sites.
  • For conversations this week, you could focus on the Can You Hear Me? phone scam or the Internet Pop-Up Scams that allow hackers remote access to your computer and have cost Aussies more than $41,000 so far this year.

Audit Privacy Settings

  • Have your kids check all their social media accounts to ensure they are set to ‘private’ so only their true friends can see their private information.
  • Each social media platform will have its own Help page which provides specific steps on how to do this.

Password Audit

  • Strong and complex passwords are essential to keeping your online information tight.
  • Ideally a password should have at least 8-10 characters and be a combination of letters – upper and lower case – numbers, and symbols.
  • Each online account should have its own password, too – which is a very overwhelming concept!
  • Consider using a password manager like the True Key app to help generate and manage all your passwords.

Ensure Your Kids Have A Plan If They Encounter Cyber Bullying

  • It is essential your kids know what to do if they either experience or witness cyber bullying.
  • Taking a screenshot is the absolute first course of action.
  • It is important that they don’t engage with the bully as that ‘feeds’ the bully’s sense of power.
  • Reporting the incident is the next step – to a parent, teacher, trusted adult friend, or even the police.

Protect Your – And Your Children’s – Digital Life

  • Comprehensive security software is an easy way to ensure your online life – and your children’s – is as secure as possible.
  • Not only will it guard you against viruses and threats, direct you away from risky websites and dangerous downloads, and protect your smartphones and tablets, it can also back up your important files.
  • McAfee Total Protection software comes with a 100% guarantee to protect you against viruses.

I know it all might seem like a lot of work, but teaching your kids about online privacy and safety needs to be a top priority for us all. Let’s get the statistics back under control and get those cyber safety discussions happening again. And make sure you’ve got something delicious planned for dinner because it’s the absolute best time to have these conversations!

Till next time!

Alex

PS: Better still, why not order pizza? It’s often cheaper online!

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How To Bank Smart On Your Smartphone https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/bank-smart-smartphone/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/bank-smart-smartphone/#respond Thu, 30 Mar 2017 17:34:50 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73427 Life before mobile banking just seems so rudimentary now. Trying to find your cheque book, those silly bank statements (which you know you put in a safe place), or even a carpark near the bank feels old school now. When banking became available online, the people cheered. What a huge time saver. But when banking […]

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Life before mobile banking just seems so rudimentary now. Trying to find your cheque book, those silly bank statements (which you know you put in a safe place), or even a carpark near the bank feels old school now.

When banking became available online, the people cheered. What a huge time saver. But when banking apps became available on mobile phones, the people roared. Life would never be the same again.

Whether it’s paying your electricity bill or even the flute teacher on the go, transferring money at the supermarket register, or locating an ATM when you need cash ASAP, mobile banking has been transformational.

But while there are massive upsides to mobile banking apps, it is essential that we understand the best way of managing the risks to avoid the potential downsides. Here are my top tips to ensure you stay safe while banking on your smartphone:

1. Never Ever Store Your Banking Passwords On Your Smartphone

I know it sounds super obvious but a clever crim knows exactly how to locate your banking logins and passwords on lost or stolen phones. Please commit them to memory and don’t even think about trying to hide them in your phone contacts.

2. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi For Mobile Banking

A shared, unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot could actually be a trap set up by a lurking hacker intent on stealing any data you share while connected. Please try very hard to avoid using public Wi-Fi’s but, if you are absolutely desperate, ensure your chosen Wi-Fi hotspot is reputable and password protected.

3. Be Aware Of Shoulder Surfers

Most of us bank on the go, so being aware of others snooping over your shoulder while conducting financial transactions is essential. Take the time and sign up for multi-factor authentication which will reduce the threat of a shoulder surfer stealing your banking logins.

4. Protect Your Phone And Install Security Software

Many of us have protected our laptops with security software but don’t remember our phones. Top notch security software will not only protect you from downloading viruses and malware, it can also remotely wipe your data if you lose your phone. McAfee offers free McAfee Mobile Security to secure both Android™ and iOS® devices.

5. Ensure You Are Using Your Bank’s Official App and NOT A Fake One

Fake apps are one of the latest ways hackers are worming their way into our private lives and getting their hands on our private information. One way to ensure you reach your bank’s ‘real’ app on either the App Store or Google Play is to click the link from your bank’s own website. And just to be doubly sure, before you tap download, check out the reviews to ensure no one has had any issue with it. Unfortunately, not everything is legitimate.

6. NEVER Click On A Link Sent To You By ‘Your Bank’

Cybercriminals spend a lot of time and resources trying to direct consumers to fake websites they have created that look almost exactly like the real thing. So if your bank has sent you an email and you’re just not sure, please navigate yourself to the site. Do NOT click on that link. Remember, a secure website URL should start with ‘https’.

7. Say ‘YES’ To Your Bank’s Security Offerings

Many online banking platforms have a number of additional security offerings to protect their customers and minimize the impact of stolen logins. Multi-factor authentication, daily transfer limits and transfer notifications are just a sample. So please, say YES to all of them and give yourself another layer of protection.

 

And if you have teens in the house who are on the cusp of managing their own finances, please make sure they know how to avoid the pitfalls of mobile banking. While they may think they have mobile banking ‘all sorted’, they may need a few reminders about how to make good decisions… Ah, the joys of parenting!!

Till next time…

Take care!

Alex x

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Smartphones in Classrooms: is it Time for a Rethink? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/smartphones-classrooms-time-rethink/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/smartphones-classrooms-time-rethink/#respond Mon, 20 Mar 2017 17:41:40 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73434 In 2017, you’d be hard pressed to find many teens heading off to school WITHOUT a smartphone in their pockets. In fact, I’m sure most of them would consider it a far more important item than their lunch, and probably even their homework! However these devices don’t remain in their pockets for long. They are […]

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In 2017, you’d be hard pressed to find many teens heading off to school WITHOUT a smartphone in their pockets. In fact, I’m sure most of them would consider it a far more important item than their lunch, and probably even their homework!

However these devices don’t remain in their pockets for long. They are used en route to school to check social media, game, listen to music and connect with friends. All very normal behaviour for a digital native. But what happens when the bell rings and the lessons start? Are they returned to the pockets?

Many high school teachers and principals will attest that managing teens and their phones requires a lot of time and energy. Some schools police this issue particularly vigilantly and have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach, insisting that phones are stored in lockers at all times. Other schools are embracing our teens’ love for technology and using smartphones as learning devices in the classroom.

But this ‘tech-centred’ approach is uncharted waters for us ‘first-generation’ digital parents. The majority of parents I speak to prefer the idea of smartphones not being used in classrooms. Many understand only too well the lure social media has for teens and believe removing this distraction from the classroom is good news all round. Perhaps it is a ‘generation issue’ but they just don’t believe any pros could outweigh the cons.

Interestingly, the parents whose children attend schools where smartphones are used in the classroom are very divided in their opinions. Some think it ridiculous and believe the distraction factor is very real, while others think it really innovative and believe their children are far more engaged as a result. One mother reports her daughter videoing science experiments, sharing homework ideas on subject Facebook pages and using apps for group work. She sees the use of smartphones in her daughter’s learning as transformational.

As a mother of 4 boys who are all particularly fond of social media, I totally get parents’ concern about technology being a distraction from studies. However, I think it’s time to stop demonising technology and get with the times. We need to acknowledge that learning as we knew it back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s has changed. For better or worse, technology has created a generation of digital natives who yearn for engagement and immediacy. Why not use the devices our teens love to engage with them in the classroom and educate them in the process?

Not convinced? Here are just a few examples of how technology is being used by forward-thinking, technology-embracing teachers and schools:

  • Engaging students in presentations, quizzes and brainstorms with real time responses on screen using apps like www.polleverywhere.com
  • Sharing subject notes using Google Forms and Google Drive
  • Texting in class to peer-edit projects. Conducive to a calm classroom!
  • Collaborating in real time with their peers using a Twitter hashtag and Facebook groups
  • Encouraging writing with blogging apps such as Blogger or Writer Plus
  • Using Facetime to speak to experts or include outside audience members during a class or learning activity.
  • Video recording assignment instructions, experiments or solutions
  • Engaging students using YouTube or Ted Talks to show students ideas or concepts
  • Soothing and calming excitable students with appropriate music from music libraries
  • Empowering struggling writers with voice dictation apps like Dragon Dictation
  • Calling on Google Translator to navigate language barriers

Pretty impressive?

Now, of course it’s not all going to be smooth sailing. If schools decide to embrace smartphones in the classroom, there are a few things that need to be put in place to make it successful.

1. Student Contract

I love the clarity a contract or agreement provides. I strongly urge schools to clearly spell out the terms of a ‘classroom smartphone usage’ agreement with their students so there is no room for misunderstanding. Certain conditions such as staying on task and being considerate of others’ privacy would ideally need to be upheld by the students in order for smartphones to be used on a particular project. Once the trust is in place and co-operation has been demonstrated, more regular smartphone classroom usage could be programmed.

2. Ongoing Commitment to Student Online Safety Education

Regular, relevant and up-to-date online safety education for students is an essential part of this scenario. If schools choose to incorporate smartphones in the learning process – in addition to a laptop or tablet program – then they have a heightened responsibility for the online welfare of their charges. Students need to be constantly educated and reminded about responsible phone usage. Understanding how to avoid online pitfalls and dangers, truly respect other students’ privacy, and appropriate online behaviour including tone, manners and etiquette are lessons our teens need to hear constantly.

3. Keep the Parents Updated and Involved

To ensure parents are supportive, it is essential that they truly understand what is going on. Schools need to update parents regularly about how technology is used in the classroom setting. Not only does this promote understanding and consequently support by the parent body but, just as importantly, it helps bridge the technology gap between parents and their offspring!

 

I really believe we owe it to our kids to rethink our definition of learning and accept this break with tradition. At the end of the day what parent would deprive their children of the opportunity to be truly engaged and involved in their education??

What do you think? A step too far? Would love to hear your views.

Alex x

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Are Your Devices Killing the Romance in Your Relationship? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/devices-killing-romance-relationship/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/devices-killing-romance-relationship/#respond Fri, 10 Feb 2017 18:48:03 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73441 If you ever feel like your partner’s device is the ‘third person’ in your relationship, then you are not alone. It appears many of us are becoming increasingly frustrated with the impact technology is having on our relationships – and Cupid isn’t happy! Aussies are renowned worldwide for our love of technology. In fact, the […]

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If you ever feel like your partner’s device is the ‘third person’ in your relationship, then you are not alone. It appears many of us are becoming increasingly frustrated with the impact technology is having on our relationships – and Cupid isn’t happy!

Aussies are renowned worldwide for our love of technology. In fact, the Pew Research Centre in the US ranks us 2nd worldwide as the country with the largest share of adult smartphone ownership. But new research from McAfee shows that our tech obsession might have gone a little too far as many Aussies believe they are competing with smartphones for the attention of their loved ones.

It appears our love of devices ‘knows no bounds’ with research participants reporting technology interference in relationships of all stages. Concerningly, 23% of couples on first dates reported that they felt they were competing with their date’s smartphone for attention during their first meeting – you just wonder whether there was a second date! And sadly, 40% of established couples believed that their ‘significant other’ was more interested in their smartphone or tablet than spending time with them.

No wonder Cupid isn’t impressed!!

Technology can also cause frustration and friction, according to the research findings. 3 in 10 Aussies reported that they felt frustrated when their ‘significant other’ was distracted using their smartphone during an important conversation – I totally get that! 35% of those surveyed also admitted that they have had an argument with a friend or family member about being on their phone too much during their time together. Mmm – sounds like our house.

But, most worryingly – 10% of those interviewed reported that their ‘significant other’ had been distracted by their device during a romantic or ‘intimate moment’!

So, clearly, we have a problem…

With Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s time to prioritise our significant others over our devices. Life is just not as rosy without some loving as the famous English poet Robert Browning so eloquently wrote:

‘Take away love and our earth is a tomb’

So, here are my suggestions on how we can turn this around, Australia!!

  • Why not try a digital-free date and leave the technology at home?
  • Plan a getaway to a remote destination where there is no mobile coverage.
  • Download the AntiSocial App which will monitor just how addicted the user is to their device. Nothing like solid data to help turn a situation around!
  • Invest in The Light Phone. This credit card sized smartphone is your phone away from your phone. It sends calls and receives them. That’s it. Perfect to help cure a smartphone addiction.

 

And lastly, please buy your significant other a Valentine’s Day card because based on the research an e-card just won’t cut it!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

Alex xx

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The 5-Minute Parent’s Guide to Instagram https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-minute-parents-guide-instagram/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-minute-parents-guide-instagram/#respond Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:52:46 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73449 If you’re a tween or even a teen, it’s all about Instagram. As my 13 year old puts it so eloquently: ‘Facebook is for the oldies’ – thanks very much! As most of us ‘oldies’ spend the bulk of our time online on Facebook, we don’t have the same familiarity with Instagram. So when your […]

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If you’re a tween or even a teen, it’s all about Instagram. As my 13 year old puts it so eloquently: ‘Facebook is for the oldies’ – thanks very much!

As most of us ‘oldies’ spend the bulk of our time online on Facebook, we don’t have the same familiarity with Instagram. So when your tween is begging to join up – or already has – how do you manage it?

Well, here is my quick 101 guide to managing Instagram with your kids.

What’s All The Fuss About? What Is Instagram?

Instagram is a free photo and video sharing app that appeals to our kids’ love for media. And it’s so simple! You take a pic, add a filter, tag friends, add hashtags and then you upload it. That’s it! Other people (your followers) can then view your photo, like it and comment. You can also upload 3-15 second videos in the same way.

Taking, enhancing and sharing pics and videos is a sport amongst this generation of digital natives and Instagram makes this happen in a very simple yet very social fashion, hence its popularity.

At What Age Can They Join?

Like most social media platforms the minimum age is 13, however Instagram doesn’t ask users to specify their birthday. So, in all reality, any age child can join. All you have to do is register an email address and select a username.

How Do You Manage Privacy on Instagram?

  • Ensure your kid’s profile is set to private. This means they need to approve anyone who wants to follow them. This is the best way of keeping their pics and videos away from public eyes. And just like on Facebook, if they don’t know a person in real life, don’t accept them as a follower.
  • If possible, encourage your tween or teen to use a photo and username that doesn’t easily identify them. And check how they describe themselves in the profile to make sure they’re not giving away personally identifiable information.
  • Turn off location services. If location services is on, users can tag a location and pinpoint their exact location on a map: no thank you! On an iPhone you can disable location services through your settings option.
  • Use a strong password with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters such as * # $ _  + or %. And NEVER share it!

Please be aware that many tweens and teens are very committed to gathering as many followers as possible, so implementing some of these strategies may be a little tricky. As with many parenting issues, these things are often a dance. You may need to negotiate and compromise :).

What Can Go Wrong?

As with every other social media platform, bad behavior can absolutely occur. Whether it’s cyberbullying, harassment, identity theft, beauty pageants or even sharing of nude pics, it is all possible. Preparing your kids for any of these situations is now a part of the modern parent’s job description. Teaching them to be good cyber citizens doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that we as parents continually need to work on – just like times tables!

But if things do go off the rails, here’s what you can do.

  • If your child is being harassed, they can untag themselves from posts sent by the harasser. Or more powerfully, they can block the ‘perpetrator’ easily. You’ll find the exact steps here. And please note, the person you block is not notified if you do this but could easily find out as access to your child’s profile will be denied.
  • Instagram takes user issues and concerns seriously and has developed dedicated procedures for reporting concerning content (Privacy and Safety Center > Report Something). If users are concerned about underage users, possible self-harm situations or impersonation accounts, Instagram has a protocol for reporting and responding. However, like anything, you may need to be in their face to get a situation sorted quickly.

Any Suggested Ground Rules?

Glad you asked!

Here are my Top 10 ground rules that might be worth implementing in your family, if you aren’t already!

  1. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  2. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
  3. Always double-check your pictures. Ensure there are no personal identifying features such as a school logo or road signpost.
  4. No pictures unless you are fully clothed – Yes, that includes swimwear!
  5. Do not post pics of others unless you have their permission.
  6. NEVER make fun of anyone, even if you think it’s a joke – NO exceptions.
  7. Think before you post.
  8. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  9. Delete any comments on your pics that are inappropriate or mean.
  10. Be mindful that ‘tone’ can be very easily misunderstood online. Be careful what you say.

Now before you start laying down the law to your kids, there is one thing you must do – join up! It’s very hard to really understand something if you haven’t tried it yourself. To be successful parents, we need to truly inhabit the world our cyber offspring are living in. So, join up, educate yourself and be informed!

But once you have jumped in, you may decide that your child really isn’t ready for the challenges of the ‘Insta’ world (or any other social app they want to use). Remember, you’re the parent – it’s up to you – but please be realistic.

Let me know how you go – you may surprise yourself and become an Instagram sensation!

Take care

Alex x

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The Parent’s Cybersafety Checklist for Back To School https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/parents-cybersafety-checklist-back-school/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/parents-cybersafety-checklist-back-school/#respond Mon, 23 Jan 2017 18:55:20 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73455 Sometimes I am not sure which is more stressful – Christmas, or getting kids ready for the school year. So many things to do but so little time! School shoes, sports shoes, stationery, textbooks, uniforms and haircuts. Phew! And of course, devices. Yes, devices are now a part of almost all back to school lists […]

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Sometimes I am not sure which is more stressful – Christmas, or getting kids ready for the school year. So many things to do but so little time!

School shoes, sports shoes, stationery, textbooks, uniforms and haircuts. Phew! And of course, devices. Yes, devices are now a part of almost all back to school lists – adding yet another thing for us busy parents to manage.

Research undertaken by McAfee shows that 2 out of 5 Australian parents have no rules or restrictions around their children’s device usage. And, concerningly, 1 in 5 Australian parents don’t talk to their kids about cybercrime or online predators.

So, whether your kids are returning to school with laptops or smartphones for the first time, or they are ‘old hands’, it’s the perfect time for us parents to think about digital safety. How can we protect our kids online? How can we secure their device(s)? How long should we let our children access their devices for? What are the main threats?

In the interests of keeping it real, I have put together a short checklist to ensure your kids have the tools they need to protect their devices, their data and, most importantly, themselves.

Learn more from McAfee at www.getset4school.com.au

1  Passwords, Passwords, Passwords

Ensuring your kids have a strong and unique password on each of their devices is essential. Ideally, a password should have between 8-10 characters and a combination of lower case and upper case letters, numbers and symbols. Their passwords should be changed regularly and NEVER shared. If your kids just don’t seem to get this, simply remind them that passwords are like toothbrushes – they are NEVER shared.

2  Install Security on All Devices

A device without security is no different to leaving your front door unlocked. There’s nothing to stop anyone coming in and taking what they want. Ensuring devices have security software means you have protection against viruses, online threats, risky websites and dangerous downloads. Comprehensive security software such as McAfee Total Protection will also encrypt files on your PC and provide a very handy password manager, True Key by McAfee, which will generate and manage unique passwords for all online accounts.

Don’t forget you need to secure smartphones and tablets as well! We use our phones all the time to run our lives, but tend to forget they’re also at risk. McAfee Total Protection will protect these devices too, or you can download the free McAfee Mobile Security for Android or iOS.

3  Schedule Regular Backups

Please make sure you and your kids know how to back up data, whether to the cloud or a secure external drive. And teach them to make backing up a regular task. No one wants to lose an important school assessment or a work project file!

4  Understand Your School’s BYOD Policy and Know Your Responsibilities

Every school has a different BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. Some include tech support and insurance while others will nominate the exact device model you need to buy. Check what the rules are about mobile phone use during school hours – some schools are more strict than others – and make sure your kids know them and abide by them too. Please ensure you are ‘all over’ this so there are no unforeseen issues.

5  Consider a Digital Contract and Set Limits on Screen Time

While the research shows that 40% of Aussie parents have no rules for device use, nearly half have a limit of 1-2 hours screen time per day – which is great. If you feel like it’s all getting ‘out of hand’ at your place, it might be time to implement a digital contract. This is a great way of ensuring your kids understand what the rules and expectations are about their online activity. It could include how much time online, what information can be shared, were to buy apps from, what apps to use and even how to treat others online – just tailor it to your kids and their online life.

6  Keep Up with the Social Media Your Kids are Using – and Talk About the Risks

Understanding the digital world our kids are growing up in is essential to help them navigate it. So, take some time to join and understand the social media platforms, apps and even games your kids are using. McAfee’s research shows that only 20% of parents are talking to their kids about online predators and cybercrime because they think they already know how to protect themselves. This is concerning!
As parents we need to educate our kids about cybersafety just like we do road safety and sun safety. So join up and start sharing your experiences. They will be more likely to come to you with a problem if they know you understand their world.

 

Please hang in there, people! Don’t be overwhelmed. Ensuring our kids are protected and safe online should be a top priority for our generation of parents. So, get digital safety sorted in your house this January and just imagine how good it will be when all of our little darlings are back at school. Time to breathe!

Take care

Alex xx

PS If you are after more tips and tricks, please check out my Facebook page. It’s a great way of workshopping cyber parenting issues!

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How To Manage Screen Time These Holidays https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/manage-screen-time-holidays/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/manage-screen-time-holidays/#respond Mon, 26 Dec 2016 19:25:23 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73464 Gosh I love December. The kids are on school holidays, the homework has finished and work is quietening down. Bliss really. Finally a little time to breathe. But what are your kids up to? Are they outside playing cricket, riding bikes or making cubby houses? Or are they inside, glued to their devices? When I […]

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Gosh I love December. The kids are on school holidays, the homework has finished and work is quietening down. Bliss really. Finally a little time to breathe.

But what are your kids up to? Are they outside playing cricket, riding bikes or making cubby houses? Or are they inside, glued to their devices?

When I was young, school holidays were all about play. Concerts, dress ups, riding bikes… oh the good old days! But to this generation of kids, play has a very different definition – and it usually involves a device.

I know countless parents who feel genuinely exasperated when it comes to their kids’ technology usage. They often feel that their households have been taken over by devices and they just don’t know how to get a handle on it. Many implement a super-strict technology diet which results in family tension – fabulous just on Christmas! Others choose the ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet style approach as it all just seems too hard – not ideal either.

In years to come, I think we will be seen as a very conflicted generation of parents. On one hand we are frustrated that our kids are missing out on ‘real life’ non-digital experiences, but on the other we are aware that they are ‘digital natives’ growing up in internet-based world.

So, what do we do? How do we reconcile this tension that most of us are experiencing?

Here are my top tips for finding the middle ground and keeping it real. And relax – you can do this!

  1. Be Realistic

We all know the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When told they shouldn’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they couldn’t restrain themselves and indulged. Parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson from Happy Families believes that too many limits and restrictions can make the forbidden fruit (the internet) seem even more appealing and will actually increase its influence on your kids.

Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not encouraging an internet binge! Yes, we need rules and expectations but I believe heavily controlling and dictating your kids’ internet activity will not only create conflict but encourage sneaky und underhand behaviour.

  1. Work Hard on Establishing Trust With Your Kids

A genuine level of trust between parents and kids can be transformational to all aspects of family life, not just technology. Now I totally appreciate that trusting your kids can be a leap of faith but it creates a far more constructive environment than a starting base of distrust. And while doing so, recognize they aren’t perfect. If something ‘less than ideal’ happens but an apology is shared and lessons are learnt, then please move on. If a contract isn’t for you, why not consider using parental control software to ‘formalize’ arrangements. Check out McAfee’s Total Protection software which has some handy parental control software – it might just help you breathe a little…

  1. Consider a Technology Contract

Outlining your expectations for your kids when they are online can be a very valuable exercise. Some families choose to be very specific and directive and draw up a formal document which includes the amount of time that can be spent online, the sites that can be visited, the information that can be shared. Parents often require their kids to sign this document and it becomes a contact.

  1. Be a Really Good Role Model

Whether you like it or not, your behaviour and values are incredibly influential on your children. If you want your kids to have a genuine balance between the online and offline worlds, then you need to model this. Put your phone down when you are talking to them, do not use a device at the table and do not share too much information online. And where possible, weave stories about your own online experiences into conversation. Whether it was a colleague who continues to overshare, an online conversation that was misinterpreted or a site you thought looked ‘dodgy’ – they learn from you.

So, by all means instigate some realistic rules and boundaries but take a moment and reflect on your own behaviour. Put your own devices down and get outside for some ‘digital detoxing’ because, as the legendary Swiss psychiatrist said:

‘Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.’

Happy Holidays!

Alex xx

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My Best Online Tips To Get You Sorted For Christmas https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/best-online-tips-get-sorted-christmas/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/best-online-tips-get-sorted-christmas/#respond Fri, 16 Dec 2016 19:52:13 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73474 Every year I promise myself I am going to be super organised for Christmas. Invariably, I fail. But this year, it’s going to be different. I am going to nail it!! Here are my goals: All presents to be purchased and wrapped by the December 10 (well, just about done!) All cards (handwritten this year) […]

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Every year I promise myself I am going to be super organised for Christmas. Invariably, I fail. But this year, it’s going to be different. I am going to nail it!!

Here are my goals:

  1. All presents to be purchased and wrapped by the December 10 (well, just about done!)
  2. All cards (handwritten this year) to be sent by the December 15 (all posted, tick!)
  3. Christmas Day Menu to be decided on by December 18 (it’s coming together…)
  4. Christmas party outfits to be sorted ASAP (although weather this week gives pause)
  5. Domestic life to be under control: all necessary help & jobs sorted

So, how am I managing to pull this off? Well, by using my favourite online sites and apps which I’d love to share with you. Please note – these are my personal favourite sites and in no way endorsed by McAfee. 🙂

Christmas Presents

Here are my favourite online stores – in no particular order. I have used them all for presents – with great success. But remember, technology is top of everyone’s wish list this year. So, make sure you check out the tech stores on the list too.

  • Myer.com.au – everything – free delivery over $100 – can collect in store.
  • Surfstitch.com – great clothes for teens – free delivery over $50.
  • Priceline.com.au – free delivery over $100 – same deals as in store – love their fragrances!
  • au.StrawberryNet.com – the best online for anything beauty. Free worldwide delivery!
  • BookDepository.com – my fave online bookstore. Free delivery! Hard to beat on price.
  • Kogan.com.au – online department store – cheap.
  • Etsy.com marketplace – amazing handmade unique items. Great for special gifts.
  • Digital World International (dwidigitalcameras.com.au) – everything. Deal of the day. Definitely worth a look.
  • JB Hi-Fi (jbhifi.com.au) – our family’s fave tech place. Push them for a deal :)!!
  • DealsDirect.com.au – you can often snag some great items here!
  • Ebay.com.au – anything is possible here. Watch out for their sales.

Christmas Cards

This year I’m going retro and will be sending our cards in the mail, but I’m a huge e-card fan. Whether you’re doing ‘snail mail’ or email, these sites will help you get on track.

  • Smilebox.com – love, love, love. E-cards, slideshows and you can also print your cards. Great site.
  • Hallmarkecards.com – Hallmark e-cards are  a great option too. I’ve used them plenty of times.
  • Vistaprint.com.au – If you want personalised paper cards, this is where you need to go. Often have fab deals.

Christmas Menus

Jamie, Donna and Nigella are my ‘go-to’ guys for any sort of Christmas gathering. They never let me down. Here are some handy links to their best Christmas info and recipes.

  • Jamie Oliver (jamieoliver.com/Christmas/) – Jamie has just launched a dedicated Christmas Cookbook which might be worth checking out. Cheapest via Book Depository.
  • Nigella Lawson (nigella.com/Christmas/recipes/) – Nigella also has a dedicated Christmas cookbook, Nigella Christmas. So hard to decide which to buy!
  • Donna Hay (donnahay.com.au/recipes/occasions/recipes-Christmas) – We regularly have ‘Donna’ Christmases. Her food is simple and fabulous.

Where to buy?

A full fridge and wine cabinet will mean you can whip up your culinary masterpieces with no delay. I love the fact that some of these online stores offer same day delivery.

  • DanMurphys.com.au – free delivery for over $300.
  • Shopwings.com.au/finder – Aldi, Ikea & Coles home delivery.
  • Aussie Farmers Direct (aussiefarmers.com.au) – new partnership with Weight Watchers – meals ready to cook in a box!

Christmas Fashion

Knowing you have a few outfits ready to go for end of year festivities is essential. But no need to hit the shops, check out my favourite online stores – most offer free returns.

  • TheIconic.com.au – delivery in 4 hours – easy returns!
  • CountryRoad.com.au – Great fashion & homewares. Join their loyalty program. Free delivery over $100.
  • Witchery.com.au – Join up & watch out for the deals in your inbox – often 25% off storewide.
  • Asos.com/au – free delivery – extraordinary range of fashion for everyone.
  • Birdsnest.com.au – this site matches clothes with your body shape. Genius!

Christmas Help

Keeping domestic life in harmony is essential this time of the year. However with Santa gearing up for his biggest day of the year, it can often be hard to get good help. But never fear – there are some great online options. Here are some of my tried & tested places – maybe look for something similar near you.

  • Jugglestreet.com – great way to find a babysitter for Xmas events!
  • FindABabysitter.com.au – another great online directory for child carers.
  • Helpling.com.au – book a cleaner online.
  • Airtasker.com – outsource your ‘must-do’ tasks – anything & everything. A brilliant concept!

Take Care You Shop Safely Online

Before you reach for your credit card, please remember to shop safe online and take note of the following:

  • Type in the sites of the stores you want to shop from – don’t click on links, they could be fraudulent.
  • Only buy from sites that display a padlock/key symbol and a ‘https’ at the start of the address.
  • Check out the store’s Privacy Policy; if you’re not happy with how they secure your information, don’t shop there.
  • Do NOT buy from sites that have typos or look ‘dodgy’. Follow your gut. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of a site, ‘Google’ it and check out the reviews.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi when shopping. A hacker may be waiting to intercept anything you share with the shopping site including your credit card information and private details.

I know it seems a little overwhelming but I believe a calm and centred Christmas could actually be achievable. The experts say it’s all about planning and time efficiency – a gene that I was not naturally blessed with!! So, get online and get sorted – you’ll be surprised what you can achieve from the comfort of your couch!!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Alex x

PS Please remember to be safe when hitting the online shops. Only deal with trusted stores, ensure the address starts with a https and has a padlock, use a credit card instead of a debit card – better consumer protection, avoid deals that are just too good to be true, and avoid purchasing over public Wi-Fi. Have fun. xx

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The Most Hackable Christmas Gifts of 2016 – Are You Prepared? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/hackable-christmas-gifts-2016-prepared/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/hackable-christmas-gifts-2016-prepared/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 19:55:15 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73480 I’ve decided that 2016 will be a calm and collected Christmas in our house. I’m saying NO to last minute panic and craziness. No-one is allowed to be frazzled. Nothing can go wrong. Christmas Day will be full of smiles not stress!! I realise that this is probably completely unachievable but I’m aiming for the […]

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I’ve decided that 2016 will be a calm and collected Christmas in our house. I’m saying NO to last minute panic and craziness. No-one is allowed to be frazzled. Nothing can go wrong. Christmas Day will be full of smiles not stress!! I realise that this is probably completely unachievable but I’m aiming for the stars – and I’ll probably land somewhere on the moon!

The most essential tool to a stress-free festive time is online shopping – a true gift from ‘The Gods’. Not only does it save vast amounts of time but also money. Recent research conducted by McAfee shows that nearly 40% of us Aussies will in fact buy most, if not all our Christmas gifts online this year. So, thumbs up to us!

But what are we going to buy? Well, no surprise really – technology is top of our Christmas lists Down Under. In fact, 65% of those surveyed said they will be buying a smartphone, either for themselves or for another. The second most popular tech purchase is a laptop (41%), followed by smart TVs (33%), fitness trackers (25%) and then home devices such as Bluetooth speakers and door locks (23%).

And of course, everyone wants to use their new toys ASAP! Who can wait? In fact, we’re all impatient with 80% of Aussies saying they will start using their new shiny device the day they receive it.

But folks, here is where Christmas could come unstuck and stress could sneak in. The research also shows that less than half of us (46%) don’t know how to secure our devices. Eeekkk! And this is why cybercriminals love Christmas – they wait for moments like these when we have let our guard down so they can gather our personal data and expose us to malware, identity theft or even take over the devices to launch a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (aka meltdown) on a website. I know it sounds dramatic but it is entirely possible.

To keep you ahead in the game, McAfee has compiled a list of the ‘Most Hackable Christmas Gifts’ for 2016. In compiling this list, McAfee considered a range of factors including accessibility, communication security and target value. So, if you are in direct contact with Santa then please take note.

This year’s Most Hackable Christmas Gifts:

  1. Laptops and PCs
  2. Smartphones and Tablets
  3. Media Streaming Devices
  4. Smart Home Automation Devices and Apps
  5. Drones

So, what to do? Well, you could try suggesting alternative gifts: socks, undies, board games. I can hear my boys groaning… Or, you could follow these few simple steps to protect your new devices and avoid tech stress this Christmas:

  • Secure the new device BEFORE you start using it. Install comprehensive security software such as McAfee® Total Protection. This is the best way of controlling your personal information.
  • CONFIGURE a strong password or PIN. Never use the default password and always use multi-factor authentication if your device allows it.
  • Only use SECURE Wi-Fi. Avoid using public Wi-Fi unless you must but please do not conduct any confidential transactions such as banking or shopping. Consider investing in a portable modem.
  • Don’t be Click Happy. Be wary of links from people you don’t know – they could be sending you to a fraudulent site.
  • Download new Apps with CAUTION. Always read reviews and only download from reputable sites such as the App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Do Thorough Research. Only purchase devices that come with proper administration and management. Devices should possess the necessary processes to determine if something is wrong, communicate this to owners and then provide options to resolve issues.

So, if you’ve ordered a device from Santa this year, make sure you share the above tips with him. He might just need a little reminder to pop some security software into your stocking. The last thing he’d want is to cause any stress on Christmas Day!

Here’s to a calm & relaxed Christmas!!

Alex xx

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How Much Is Your Phone Worth To You? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/much-phone-worth/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/much-phone-worth/#respond Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:57:49 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73487 I know I have said it before but I would much rather lose my wallet than my phone. My life is on my phone: my pics, my music, my contacts, my to-do lists, my Fitbit data! And it seems as though the majority of Aussies share my passion for their devices with new research from […]

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I know I have said it before but I would much rather lose my wallet than my phone. My life is on my phone: my pics, my music, my contacts, my to-do lists, my Fitbit data! And it seems as though the majority of Aussies share my passion for their devices with new research from McAfee showing 60% of adults view their smartphones as ‘priceless’.

But the research also tells a worrying tale – nearly two thirds (65%) of us Aussies do NOT have security software installed to protect our smartphones. Not only does this put the contents of our phones at risk from risky apps and malicious software but there is no Plan B if you lose your phone either.

It is widely acknowledged that Australia has one of the highest rates of mobile phone ownership in the world with more mobile phones than people in our Great Southern Land. So it makes complete sense that cybercriminals are turning their attention to profiteering from our love of mobile phones. And the latest stats from McAfee Labs demonstrate just that. Over the past 12 months mobile malware has grown over 151% with the largest ever number of new mobile malware samples to date recorded in June.

Last week was Stay Smart Online Week in Australia. An initiative by the Australian Government to encourage us all to take a ‘long, hard look’ at our online safety practices and make the relevant improvements – if required!

So, if you or your kids are among the 65% of Aussies who haven’t secured their mobile phones or you need to ‘tweak’ your mobile safety practices then here’s what you need to do ASAP:

  1. Rethink Whether Your Kids Should Use Your Work Phone

Over a third of Aussie parents let their kids use their work phone at home. Remember any activity undertaken on your phone reflects on you, the owner. So proceed with great caution!

  1. Create ‘Super-Duper’ Passwords

This is probably one of the most important things you can do. Ensure you and your kids have strong and unique passwords for each device. A ‘top-notch’ password should have between 8-10 characters, a combination of upper and lower case, numbers and special characters. Always use multi-factor authentication if it is available.

  1. Back Up Your Device Regularly

This is much easier said than done but so important. Whether it’s iCloud, Google, Dropbox or apps such as My BackUp Pro or Helium, just do it – you’ll be devastated if you lose your digital assets!

  1. Only Download Apps from Trusted Sources

Downloading ‘dodgy’ apps is where a lot of kids can go wrong. Many cybercrims develop apps with the sole purpose of trying to extract personal data from unsuspecting peeps. So, make sure your kids download apps from trusted sources such as the App Store or Google Play and insist they read the reviews.

  1. Be Wary of Free Wi-Fi

Again, another trap that many kids can fall into. Many public Wifi networks are unsecured which means any information you share while online could be stolen. If you have to use public WiFi then consider using a Virtual Private Network and definitely don’t do any banking!

  1. Invest In Security Software

This is a no brainer! Sleep better at night and invest in mobile security for your phone. McAfee Total Protection software also includes security specifically for your phone. It will manage what information your phone shares to your apps and what information your apps are collecting; it will block spam, malicious website and links and it will help manage your memory and battery life.

But perhaps my favourite feature is its ability to back up and restore ‘your stuff’ before you wipe the contents of your missing phone. It can also remotely lock and wipe the contents of your phone – to avoid prying eyes! Gold!

So, don’t pass GO and collect $200 – please do something right away about protecting your phone and your digital assets. Imagine losing those super cute and slightly embarrassing pics of your kids? Devastating for you – although possibly a relief for them!

 

Till next time

Alex x

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How To Protect Your iCloud Storage and Keep Your Digital Assets Safe https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/protect-icloud-storage-keep-digital-assets-safe/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/protect-icloud-storage-keep-digital-assets-safe/#respond Mon, 03 Oct 2016 20:10:25 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73501 Believe it or not, having your iCloud storage hacked is not just something that happens to celebrities. Although, you could be forgiven for thinking so. Over the weekend, we were informed that Pippa Middleton, sister to the Duchess of Cambridge (Princess Kate), has recently had her iCloud account hacked and thousands of pics – including […]

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Believe it or not, having your iCloud storage hacked is not just something that happens to celebrities. Although, you could be forgiven for thinking so. Over the weekend, we were informed that Pippa Middleton, sister to the Duchess of Cambridge (Princess Kate), has recently had her iCloud account hacked and thousands of pics – including lots of Kate, George and Charlotte – stolen.

Just last week, ‘up and coming’ Aussie YouTube sensation turned singer Troye Sivan had nude pics hacked from his iCloud account, courtesy of hackers.

And who can forget ‘celebgate’ – the big iCloud hack of 2014 in which almost 100 celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton had their ‘private’ photos hacked from their iCloud accounts and then posted on various websites and social networks.

So, what hope is there for the humble citizen like you and me? How can we possibly stay ahead of the hackers and keep our iCloud storage and digital assets private?

  1. Passwords, Passwords, Passwords
    Using a very distinct password that you change regularly is the most powerful thing you can do to keep your online life safe. However, the majority of us still use either ‘password’ or ‘123456’! Why not use a phrase? But please always include a number, capital and symbol – the more random the better!
    If remembering a list of unique passwords is just too hard – of course it is! – then why not consider a password manager. The True Key App by McAfee will help you manage all your passwords without the need to remember any! Phew!
  2. Use Multi-factor Verification To Sign Into iCloud
    This is a no-brainer. Multiple-step verification adds another level of security to your Apple accounts. And it is super easy to do. After entering your nominated password, it will send a unique code to another of your pre-nominated Apple devices. This code then needs to be entered before you can gain access to your accounts. To set this up, visit the Apple Site.
  3. Don’t Share Personal Information Online
    The information you share across all your social media accounts provides hackers with clues about your passwords and your habits. So, keep your information tight.
  4. Protect Your Email Address
    Your iCloud account is only as safe as the email address you use to login. If hackers get access to your email, they can then use it to reset your iCloud passwords and more. So, choose a unique and strong password and change it regularly – or use that TrueKey password manager! And always add a second rescue email address to your account so that if your primary email account does get hacked, you can still retain control over your Apple ID and iCloud account.
  5. Disable Automatic Updates
    When you save pics to your iPhone, they are automatically uploaded to the iCloud server. Whilst this ensures they won’t be lost, it also means they are accessible on all your devices, increasing the chances of them being hacked. So, if you’d rather keep the photos only on your phones then disable the Photo Stream feature of iCloud via the settings menu – it will take 5 seconds.

And at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious – rethink what you decide to share online. If the thought of strangers seeing your personal photos or private information makes you feel nauseous then don’t put them anywhere online. Invest in a hard drive – or maybe find another hobby!

Till next time

Alex x

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Australia’s Most Dangerous Celebrities of 2016 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/australias-dangerous-celebrities-2016/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/australias-dangerous-celebrities-2016/#respond Wed, 28 Sep 2016 20:18:27 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73509 Cybercriminals are crafty types. They like to think of themselves as one step ahead of us mere mortals. However, one of their more predictable strategies is to capitalise on our thirst for popular culture and celebrities. Every year McAfee puts together its ‘McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities’ list. Now, don’t stress – these celebrities haven’t committed […]

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Cybercriminals are crafty types. They like to think of themselves as one step ahead of us mere mortals. However, one of their more predictable strategies is to capitalise on our thirst for popular culture and celebrities.

Every year McAfee puts together its ‘McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities’ list. Now, don’t stress – these celebrities haven’t committed crimes. Rather, cybercriminals use these celebrities to entice consumers to sites that are full of malware (or malicious software) which enables them to steal passwords and other personal information from unsuspecting victims.

So which Aussie celebrities posed the most risk when searched for online?

Well, the 10th annual McAfee Most Dangerous CelebritiesTM study, published by McAfee, shows that the riskiest Australian celebrity to search online in 2016 was in fact Rebel Wilson closely followed by Rose Byrne and Delta Goodrem. “Most dangerous” really means that these celebrities are likely popular search subjects.

McAfee’s research shows that consumers who search for Rebel Wilson online have a 10.5% risk of finding a malicious website in their search results. Considering Rebel Wilson’s enormous success and profile, it is not really a surprise that she is being used by cybercriminals to lure in unsuspecting victims. Not only did Rebel make huge headlines earlier this year when she sued several Aussie women’s magazines for allegedly lying about her age but she kept us very entertained in the blockbuster ‘How To Be Single’ and then again in her hilarious cameo in ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’.

Tying for second place as Australia’s Most Dangerous Celebrity are Rose Byrne and Delta Goodrem. A search of either of these celebrities brings with it a 10% risk of returning a malicious website. Rose’s huge Hollywood blockbuster success with “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “Bad Neighbors 2” coupled with the birth of her first child Rocco means she definitely caught the attention of the public. And Delta’s new no.1 album ‘Wings of the Wild’, her role as judge on ‘The Voice’ and the recent announcement of her role in House Husbands means she is a huge force in Aussie popular culture.

Here’s the full list of Aussie celebrities from this year’s study with the highest percentage of risk:

Position Celebrity Risk
1 Rebel Wilson 10.5%
=2 Rose Byrne 10.0%
=2 Delta Goodrem 10.0%
=4 Keith Urban 9.67%
=4 Dr Chris Brown 9.67%
6 Sia 9.33%
7 Kylie Minogue 9.22%
8 Iggy Azalea 8.56%
=9 Margot Robbie 8.44%
=9 Liam Hemsworth 8.44%
=9 Joel Edgerton 8.44%
  1. Keep Your Personal Information Personal
    Ensure your teens know NOT to provide personal information without ensuring it is a legitimate request. Remember, most banks and companies won’t request such personal details via online channels. Identity theft is an unfortunate consequence of oversharing online – something teens have a habit of doing!
  2. Think Before You Click
    Teaching kids not to be click happy is essential. Whether they are looking for the latest episode of their favourite TV show or a download of a new tune, encourage them NOT to click on any third-party links. Content should only be accessed from official websites.
  3. Use a Safe Search Tool
    Using a safe search tool is like having a dedicated friend looking over your shoulder, helping to identify potential risks. Install a safe search tool like McAfee® WebAdvisor on all your devices and make sure your kids know to only open sites that are approved or have the green tick. McAfee® WebAdvisor is available as a free download at www.mcafee.com/mcafeewebadvisor
  4. Don’t Search for ‘Torrent’
    This is by far the riskiest search term of 2016. Teens and tweens love the idea of getting ‘something for nothing’ so torrents are very appealing. However cybercriminals often use torrents to embed malware within authentic files, making it difficult to determine if a file is safe. And once your kids’ files are infected, it’s just a matter of time before their friends’ files are infected also. So invest in a legitimate streaming option – you’ll sleep better at night!
  5. Ensure Your Entire Family Is Protected
    Give yourself peace of mind and ensure your entire family’s fleet of devices is protected – including the teenagers! Invest in comprehensive protection such as the McAfee LiveSafe™ service which helps protect most PCs, Macs and tablets and smartphones. It also includes malware detection software and McAfee® Mobile Security for Android or iPhone and iPad.

So, next time you want to see Kim Kardashian’s latest outfit or Tay Tay’s newest antics, stop for a moment and devise your strategy. How can you search for these ‘must-read’ news stories without getting yourself into dangerous territory or, just as importantly, wasting too much time…

’Till next time

Safe searching!

Alex x

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The Busy Parents’ Guide to Keeping Your Kids Safe Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/busy-parents-guide-keeping-kids-safe-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/busy-parents-guide-keeping-kids-safe-online/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2016 20:29:54 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73515 As a busy mum of 4, I often feel that my brain is in overload. Too much information – not enough time (or space!) Managing a job, a team of kids and their activities, homework and social lives plus the mandatory domestics, your own social life and then family commitments can feel simply overwhelming. So, […]

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As a busy mum of 4, I often feel that my brain is in overload. Too much information – not enough time (or space!) Managing a job, a team of kids and their activities, homework and social lives plus the mandatory domestics, your own social life and then family commitments can feel simply overwhelming.

So, it is totally understandable if you just haven’t had the time to be on top of your kids’ cyber lives. We are human after all!

In recognition of the relentless demands of modern life, McAfee joined forces with Life Education in 2012 to support Aussie kids and their families around the issue of cybereducation. To date, a whopping 350,000 kids have benefitted from Life Education’s two cybersafety modules which are accredited by the Office of the Children’s e-Safety Commissioner.

But what about the parents? The Life Education website has a great range of articles and resources with tips and support for parents to help you manage your kids and the digital world. In addition, I am pleased to announce that a series of Vodcasts (or videos) that cover strategies for keeping kids safe online are now available for parents. Why not tune in to get the latest statistics, research and advice on the best ways to help you and your kids navigate the digital world?

However if you are after immediate action, then here are my top 5 things you can do right now to create the right environment at your house to keep your kids safe online:

  1. Create a Charging Zone – Why not set up a designated area where all devices can be charged – and stored? This is a great way of extricating the devices from bedrooms at night.
  2. Consider a Family Technology Contract – Many families are opting to set out expectations for online behaviour in a formal agreement. This can include time spent online, sites that can be visited and what information is suitable to share online. If you’re looking for a template, check out this ‘Internet Contract’ from A Modern Parent.
  3. Join the Social Media Platforms Your Kids Are Using – Yes, all of them. This is a great way of truly understanding how it all works. You’ll also establish a little ‘tech cred’ – which means your kids are more likely to come to you if there is a problem.
  4. Pledge to Stay Calm & NOT Threaten to Disconnect – If your kids come to you with a problem they are experiencing online, it is essential that you do NOT ‘go crazy’ and threaten to disconnect them. If you do this, I can guarantee that you will never hear about another problem again which isn’t ideal. Our kids need us to help them problem solve. So, pledge to stay calm. Perhaps invest in yoga classes or a meditation app!
  5. Start Collecting Your Own Online Stories To Share With Your Kids – Sharing stories of things you have seen online such as workmates slightly inappropriate Facebook posts – and the consequences – with your kids is a great way of starting a real conversation about safe digital behaviour.

Parenting in the digital age is definitely not easy. In fact, it can be really hard. So let’s make the journey a little easier and share our know-how and experiences. Make yourself a cuppa and check out the Life Education Vodcasts. And then please share your feedback online using #cybersafety or on my Cybermum Facebook page.

Happy Watching!

Alex xx

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Heads Up Parents. Gaming Could Help Your Kids Perform Better at School but Facebook Won’t! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/heads-parents-gaming-help-kids-perform-better-school-facebook-wont/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/heads-parents-gaming-help-kids-perform-better-school-facebook-wont/#respond Mon, 29 Aug 2016 20:33:39 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73521 Some days, I think gaming is a gift from the gods – a ‘time-out’ gift for tired, stressed parents. But other days, I consider it a curse! Extracting kids from gaming consoles can be quite a chore. But new research from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) might just change the way we think […]

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Some days, I think gaming is a gift from the gods – a ‘time-out’ gift for tired, stressed parents. But other days, I consider it a curse! Extracting kids from gaming consoles can be quite a chore.

But new research from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) might just change the way we think about gaming. Professor Albert Posso from RMIT believes that video games could in fact help students perform better at school, particularly in the areas of maths and science.

The research, entitled Internet Usage and Educational Outcomes Among 15-year-old Australian Students, investigated the results of a study of 12,000 Aussie students and the results were compelling. It appears students who play online games almost every day score 15 points above the average in maths and 17 points above the average in science! Extraordinary.

Professor Posso believes video games help students to apply and sharpen skills learned at school:

“When you play online games, you’re solving puzzles to move to the next level and that involves some of the general knowledge and skills in maths, reading and science that you’ve been taught at school,” he commented.

Professor Posso is such a big fan that he believes teachers should incorporate popular video games into teaching – so long as they are non-violent! Now, that’s an endorsement.

However, the study didn’t produce the same level of commendation for Facebook. In fact, it showed that teenagers who use Facebook or chat every day scored 20 points worse in maths than students who never used social media! A truly alarming statistic that Professor Posso attributes to several causes:

“Students who are regularly on social media are, of course, losing time that could be spent on study – but it may also indicate that they are struggling with maths, reading and science and are going online to socialise instead,” he explained.

He has recommended that teachers try to blend the use of Facebook into their classes as a way of helping ‘social media orientated’ teens engage.

So, what does this mean for us as parents?

Rethinking the way we ‘classify’ online activities might be a good starting point. I know many parents (including myself) do not associate gaming with educational benefits. My boys have quite limited opportunity to play video games – basically weekends only and with time restrictions. But perhaps we need to incorporate more opportunities for gaming into our weekly routines? – but with boundaries, of course! Perhaps 30 mins a day?

I think it is also important to work with your teens to incorporate some boundaries around social media usage. I strongly recommend avoiding a dictatorial approach. Instead, why not educate your teens about the detrimental academic consequences of social media usage. Yes, this might take some time but trying to teach teens some self-regulation is ideal.

And if they are finding this hard, why not suggest they download some apps specially designed to either prevent access and/or monitor the time they spend on social media platforms? Check out my favourite ‘management apps’ Stay Focused and Rescue Time.

Many parenting experts firmly believe flexibility is a key attribute for successful parenting. Changing things up and adjusting your long-standing routines might just be what your kids need. I have no doubt that your popularity may also dramatically increase when you insist they complete their 30 mins of online gaming! I’m looking forward to a particularly big Christmas gift this year!

‘Till next time

Alex xx

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Travel Tech: How To Stay Safe When You Travel https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/travel-tech-stay-safe-travel/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/travel-tech-stay-safe-travel/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 20:36:15 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73527 I don’t think there are many more exciting experiences than holidays. No housework, no routines, no daily grind – just fun and good times. But when we are full of excitement and away from our normal routine, it’s often easy to forget the basics and that includes digital safety. McAfee Australia recently undertook some research […]

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I don’t think there are many more exciting experiences than holidays. No housework, no routines, no daily grind – just fun and good times.

But when we are full of excitement and away from our normal routine, it’s often easy to forget the basics and that includes digital safety.

McAfee Australia recently undertook some research into the travel tech habits of Aussies and the results were a little concerning, especially when it comes to the biggest travel tech issue – Wi-Fi. It seems our ‘relaxed Aussie’ approach may be putting our online safety at risk.

The research shows that 44% of Aussies connect to Wi-Fi when travelling, out of these 42% use hotel Wi-Fi-, 35% use any Wi-Fi they can access, 10% use public transport Wi-Fi and 12% use Café Wi-Fi. And 32% of Aussies don’t check to see if the Wi-Fi connection is secure before connecting! So, it seems we are putting convenience ahead of our digital safety. While Wi-Fi is just so easy to use, using unknown services can make us vulnerable to scammers and targets for identity theft and malicious software which does NOT make for a relaxing holiday!

Giving up travelling is just not an option in my world – so here are my top tips for keeping you and your family safe when you travel.

  1. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Where Possible

If you absolutely have to use it then PLEASE do not conduct any banking, shopping or highly confidential transactions. Take a few minutes to turn off the file sharing option that is often turned on automatically on many devices and enable your firewall – most devices have one. But please only use public Wi-Fi if you have to!

  1. Consider a Travelling Wi-Fi device or a Portable Modem

I have a huge amount of data on my phone so when we travel we use this as our Wi-Fi. Yes, I have to limit my boys’ use of YouTube but it is safe and stress free. A portable modem is also a great investment – think of it as a Wi-Fi router in your pocket. You can use it anywhere and they are not expensive.

  1. Investigate a Virtual Private Network

If you are a regular traveler, it might be worth investigating a Virtual Private Network or VPN. I know it sounds complex but it isn’t really. A VPN allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the internet. It is also a great way of securing and encrypting your online activity when using an untrusted network such as public Wi-Fi.

  1. Turn Off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi When You Don’t Need It

Keeping these features turned on makes it super easy for strangers to slip into your phone. If they are on, hackers can see what networks you’ve connected to before, copy them and then trick your phone into connecting to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices that hackers carry around. Before you know it, they can steal your data, spy on you and flood your device with malware – all without you even noticing!!

So, please don’t take travelling off your agenda. Planning and anticipating a holiday keeps many of us moving forward! Just don’t forget the basics – protecting your digital assets is just as important as protecting your physical assets.

Happy travels

Alex xx

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Pickpocketing – Digital Style https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/pickpocketing-digital-style/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/pickpocketing-digital-style/#respond Mon, 08 Aug 2016 20:41:24 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73533 When I think of pickpocketers, I am immediately transported to a cobbled Victorian street littered with Charles Dickens style characters. But I really need a swift reality check because pickpocketers have moved on, and are very much alive and well in 2016 – they’ve just had a technological face-lift. Gone are the days of pickpocketers […]

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When I think of pickpocketers, I am immediately transported to a cobbled Victorian street littered with Charles Dickens style characters. But I really need a swift reality check because pickpocketers have moved on, and are very much alive and well in 2016 – they’ve just had a technological face-lift.

Gone are the days of pickpocketers purely focussing on stealing your wallet. The ‘teched-up’ pickpocketer of 2016 simply brushes past you, armed with a special scanner, and before you know it – your ‘tap and go’ enabled credit or debit card has been charged. Scary, isn’t it!

Many Aussie experts believe digital pickpocketing is on the rise down under with the latest research from Armourcard showing that Aussies could be losing as much as $439 million a year to tech-savvy thieves. The study, which focussed on a group of 1000 Australians, found that 14% of all Aussies have either been affected themselves or know someone who has been a victim of electronic skimming.

And unfortunately, for good living citizens like you and I, the technology required for these digital pickpocketers is super cheap and accessible. This new wave of cybercrims simply require an RFID scanner – about $100 from an electronics store – or an NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled smartphone (most current smartphones) and a free app which can easily turn their phone into a digital pickpocketing device.

So, what can we do to keep our cards and bank accounts safe?

Firstly, you could elect NOT to have a ‘tap and go’ enabled card. Remember you don’t always have to follow the crowd.

Secondly, some tech experts believe if you have more than one ‘tap and go’ enabled card in your wallet, it will confuse the readings from the chips making it virtually impossible for the scanner to read them! Clear message – stock up on cards.

And finally, a very simple solution – carry a piece of aluminium foil in your wallet. It appears to prevent the digital pickpocketers from getting access to your chip. But if you would something a little classier, maybe consider investing in an aluminium wallet. There are some very stylish options available in Australia from companies such as these.

So, don’t stop spending – the economy will suffer! Just be mindful of this possible threat and ensure you pop a roll of alfoil into your trolley when you next do a shop!

Till Next Time

Take care

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How Teens Date in the Digital Age https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teens-date-digital-age/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teens-date-digital-age/#respond Mon, 01 Aug 2016 20:44:07 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73539 Falling in love in the internet age is a whole different ball game to the social-media free 70’s and 80’s. Calls on the homeline (via parent gatekeepers), sending and receiving cards in the mail and mixtapes were all key relationship milestones back in the days of rollerskates and Choose Life t-shirts. But fast forward to […]

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Falling in love in the internet age is a whole different ball game to the social-media free 70’s and 80’s. Calls on the homeline (via parent gatekeepers), sending and receiving cards in the mail and mixtapes were all key relationship milestones back in the days of rollerskates and Choose Life t-shirts. But fast forward to the new millennium and dating is a whole different sport.

The Pew Research Centre recently undertook research into how 13-17 year old Americans flirt, date and even break up in the digital age. And I think the findings may quite surprise you! Here is what I found the most intriguing (through the eyes of an 80’s and early 90’s dater):

  1. Only 8% of teens met their ‘loved one’ online

I think we can all take a deep breath now. Many parents worry about their teens trawling Tinder to find a mate however the majority clearly aren’t. Only 24% of teen daters (or 8% of all teens) have in fact made the initial connection with a partner online. And of the very small minority who did make the connection online first, the vast majority was on Facebook. No surprise there!

  1. Social media is the place to flirt!

So even though the bulk of teen romances don’t start online, social media is the venue of choice for flirting and ‘tuning’ – vocab courtesy of my teen boys! Liking posts, cute comments and jokey banter is the way teens often develop these in-person connections. 50% of teens have let someone know they were interested romantically by friending them on Facebook or another social media site and 47% have expressed their interest by liking, commenting or otherwise interacting with that person on social media.

  1. There is Loads of Contact – And Not Just Via A Screen

Text messaging and talking on the phone are the top ways teens communicate. Most of the teens who were interviewed expected that they and their partner would ‘check-in’ with great regularity throughout the day. In fact, 35% expect to hear something every few hours and 11% expect to hear from their partner hourly. Such commitment! Certainly explains some of the phone bills we have experienced in this household.

  1. The BreakUp Text Message Is Just Not Cool

The overwhelming majority of teens think a breakup text is just not acceptable. It is widely agreed that an in-person breakup is the most mature decision. However even though text messaging breakups are largely frowned upon, 27% of teens with dating experience admit to breaking up with someone by text!

  1. Girls On Receiving End of More Online Harassment Than Boys

As expected, not all online flirting (or tuning) behaviour is appreciated with nearly 25% of teens admitting to unfriending someone on social media because the person was flirting in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. But girls do cop it more than boys with 35% of all teen girls having to block someone but just 16% of boys!

So, even though the landscape has changed and the mixtapes have gone, please don’t forget that dating and romance can be super tricky when you are a teen. Not only are you dealing with matters of the heart but in the world’s biggest public forum – the internet. So be kind, gentle and supportive! And be grateful for the simplicity of the 70’s and 80’s.

Alex xx

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Beware Cloned Facebook Profiles https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/beware-cloned-facebook-profiles/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/beware-cloned-facebook-profiles/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 20:47:48 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73545 If you have had a Facebook friend request from a friend that you are sure you already have then – take a moment – it may in fact be a hacker!! Many of us have fallen into the trap of accepting a friend request from someone we are already friends with. We’re all busy and […]

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If you have had a Facebook friend request from a friend that you are sure you already have then – take a moment – it may in fact be a hacker!!

Many of us have fallen into the trap of accepting a friend request from someone we are already friends with. We’re all busy and often conduct our lives on the fly – so it’s very easy to do.

Creating a mirror Facebook profile or cloning is a very clever trick used by hackers to infiltrate our lives and steal our personal information. Hackers simply copy the information and photographs you have displayed publicly on your account and then used to create a new profile with your name.

Their aim is then to get your friends to add them. As your profile pic looks the same, your time poor and believing friends think it’s you and accept.

So What’s Their End Game?

In short, it’s not friendship! There are several reasons they could be cloning you and none of them pretty:

  1. Collecting Personal Information

This is probably their biggest focus. Many people ‘overshare’ on Facebook with details of their kids, families, work and home easily available. Many also have email addresses and telephone numbers displayed on their page. Once the hackers are ‘friends’ with your oversharing friends – it is very easy for them to get tips from your friends’ Facebook pages for passwords etc with the aim of accessing back accounts.

They can also start conversations on Messenger and glean further personal and financial information. And once they have accessed enough information, they can apply for a loan, sign up for a mobile phone contract…the possibilities are endless.

  1. Request for Money

Sending ‘heartwrenching’ stories of financial stress caused by life threatening medical conditions is another tactic used by hackers. And ‘your friends’ may just in fact open their hearts and wallets to the hackers. Beware!

What To Do To Stay Safe?

You may have seen the warnings doing the rounds on Facebook recently. Of course feel free to share the status if you think it will help however vigilance and NOT oversharing is key here. However this is easier said than done – recent research shows we are prolific oversharers.

And please ensure your Facebook privacy settings are up to date and tight! Here’s a good tutorial that should get you on track.

But if you find your profile has been cloned then you should report the fake account to Facebook. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the profile of the fake account.
  2. Click on the cover photo and select Report.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to file a report.

So, if you have a spare 5 minutes, check out your friend list and ensure you don’t have any double ups. If you do, you know what to do!

‘till Next Time

Stay Safe Online
Alex xx

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My Favourite Mothering Apps https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/favourite-mothering-apps/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/favourite-mothering-apps/#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2016 20:49:42 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73551 I honestly don’t know where I would be without my favourite collection of apps. With four kids, too many pets, a job and a grown up social life, these little icons are like my secret weapon. Whether we like it or not, we’ve all signed up to this fast-paced, digital world. It often feels like […]

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I honestly don’t know where I would be without my favourite collection of apps. With four kids, too many pets, a job and a grown up social life, these little icons are like my secret weapon.
Whether we like it or not, we’ve all signed up to this fast-paced, digital world. It often feels like someone has pressed the ‘fast forward’ button on the remote and we’re all trying furiously to keep up.
But arm yourself with some whizz-bang apps and suddenly things seem a little easier. Think of it as a time gainer. So, without further ado, please let me share with you some of my favourite mothering apps that have got me this far!

  1. Google Maps

no brainer! Who has time to work out where you are going before you get in the car? I don’t! Love the fact that that if you lose data, the app still works – gold! Free!

  1. Woolworths App

I’m a big online shopping addict. This great app lets you purchase but most importantly, gives you real-time updates as to when the delivery driver will be knocking on your door. This is super-handy. It means you can get on with your life and not have to hang around the house for 3 hours. Free – apart from cost of your groceries!

  1. Relax Melodies

I have a child who just doesn’t sleep. This fantastic app pipes out a plethora of soothing tunes and noises. Personal favourites – campfire and frogs. I use the free version but there is a paid option.

  1. Steinway & Sons Metronome App

this allows me to ensure my budding musicians are playing in time while I peel carrots. Free!

  1. Artkive

this app has been super useful for my current and probably life-long decluttering project. It allows you to photograph and archive your kids’ bulky, space-greedy art projects. I now photograph and – when no-one is looking – bin! I know it sounds harsh but it’s survival. Free!

  1. Dragon Dictation

this is my latest fab find. Dragon Dictation uses voice recognition to type emails, messages, reminders or status updates. It’s like your own personal PA. And it seems to get our Aussie accent without any issues. I know you can do this on your iphone with Suri but I don’t seem to need to correct nearly as much with this app – which saves me time. Free!

  1. Stylish Girl

I am just starting to embrace this app but think it really could be a keeper. In summary, it allows you to take pics of your clothes and upload them to the app so you can mix and match your outfits. A great way of remembering winning combinations when you have 5 min to get dressed and out the door! Free – but there is also a huge amount of US-based items to purchase, should you choose to. I’m currently trying very hard to ignore.

  1. Taste.com.au

my favourite go to recipe app when I am standing in the supermarket and its 6 o’clock. So many options and the reviews and ability to save your favourites is another great time saver for me. Free introduction then small monthly fee.

Alex xx

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The Facebook Cull and Why You Should Embrace It! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/facebook-cull-embrace/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/facebook-cull-embrace/#respond Mon, 11 Jul 2016 20:52:18 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73557 So, how many friends do you have on Facebook? Do you really know them or were they just a passing acquaintance? When was the last time you had interactions with every single one of them? If you are anything like me – you probably can’t remember all the details of the interactions BUT I am […]

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So, how many friends do you have on Facebook? Do you really know them or were they just a passing acquaintance? When was the last time you had interactions with every single one of them?

If you are anything like me – you probably can’t remember all the details of the interactions BUT I am confident that I know all of them. Although there maybe a few I haven’t spoken to in person for over 20 years!!!

Sometimes, online friends just creep on us. You may have ‘friended’ someone you met briefly at a conference, a parent of another child who you no longer see, or maybe an old neighbour who moved away years ago. And like all good bedrooms and sock drawers, a regular clean-up is a very healthy idea.

British University lecturer, Brian Lobel, is currently touring the world teaching interested parties the most conflict-free way of culling digital contacts. In his part game show/part lovestory/part lecture, entitled Purge, he explores the concept of modern friendships and how to cull with dignity. His workshop/performance is based on a personal project he underwent in 2011 to delete a large number of his Facebook friends after considering the impact his online friends were having on his real life.

‘I believe people focus on their relationship with a given person, what it adds and what it takes away. If the negatives outweigh the positives, it might be time to delete,’ he comments.

And while culling friends will eliminate ‘bloating’ in your news feed and make the Facebook interactions you do have more purposeful, it will, most importantly, also help protect your online profile. And here’s why?

Limiting the exposure of your information, photos and updates to online friends you genuinely know and trust will minimise the chance of your identity being stolen. Unfortunately, identity theft is one of the very real casualties of oversharing online. So exposing your life to ‘online friends’ you really don’t know or no longer trust could lead to issues.

Cybercriminals are very clever and well constructed, fake Facebook profiles are one of the key ways they can get access to your private information with the aim of stealing your identity. It could be a mirror profile of an existing friend or a completely fake profile created to emulate the genre of person who has children at the same school or who lives in the same area. If you are a ‘gung-ho type’ and accept friend requests regularly, you may just be letting a cybercrime into your world with the ability to access your personal information.

So, why not set aside sometime to review your online friends. Or better still, why not use the daily Facebook birthday reminders as a way of deciding whether you’ll delete someone or not. If you’re not comfortable wishing them ‘happy birthday’ then I’d press delete!

Till next time

Happy Deleting!

Alex xx

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The Decluttering Bug https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-decluttering-bug/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-decluttering-bug/#respond Mon, 04 Jul 2016 20:55:21 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73563 I have a confession to make – I think I have become addicted to decluttering. Perhaps it is the by-product of living amongst the mess and chaos of 5 men! When I have a spare few minutes, I am filling garbage bags and delivering boot loads of pre-loved items to the Salvos. Now please don’t […]

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I have a confession to make – I think I have become addicted to decluttering. Perhaps it is the by-product of living amongst the mess and chaos of 5 men! When I have a spare few minutes, I am filling garbage bags and delivering boot loads of pre-loved items to the Salvos.

Now please don’t get the wrong impression – my house is not tidy or under control. With five messy males, 2 cats and a dog – a tidy house is simply a fantasy for me!!

So I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite online hacks that I have used along my decluttering journey. Some of them have been indispensable while others have become completely addictive!!!

  1. Spotify

music to get you in the mood is essential. Create a playlist and get the tunes pumping. You’ll be more productive! I have a specific decluttering playlist that gets me motivated! You can get the free version or a premium account.

  1. Howards Storage World

my favourite organisation store. I am loving their shoe storage options, particularly the over the door shoe holders – gold!

  1. Artkive

with 4 kids and boxes full of ‘special art works’, Artkive is a game changer. Simply photograph your treasures’ special artworks and save it online. You can choose to print books, coffee cups and even tshirts with these masterpieces… should you choose to! This app has reduced boxes of clutter in my study.

  1. Pinterest

uploading piles of recipes torn from magazines to Pinterest has significantly reduced piles in my study. When I was at my ‘messiest’, I had a drawer full of recipes to make that I had ripped from magazines. I am pleased to report that the drawer is now empty!!

  1. Evernote

digitising documents and filing them in Evernote is a great way of reducing clutter and ensuring you have fast access to important documents when you need it. Why not scan and file tax receipts, school reports, medical information? The sky is almost the limit (except the really important items such as birth and marriage certificate, passports and property title deeds).

  1. Wunderlist

technically not a decluttering app but definitely one for the organisation tool box. Wunderlist is a super duper to-do list manager which will help you manage your decluttering. This brilliant app send alerts and reminders and ensures you get stuff done.

So, get your tunes pumping and start downloading. Who’d have ever thought that apps could be so life changing!

Till next time

Happy Decluttering!

Alex xx

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Oversharing – Don’t Blame It All On The Kids! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/oversharing-dont-blame-kids/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/oversharing-dont-blame-kids/#respond Mon, 27 Jun 2016 20:57:35 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73569 No matter which way you interpret the plethora of research, it is very clear – our teens are oversharing. The 2015 McAfee research, entitled Teens, Tweens & Technology, shows that nearly 40% of Aussie teens have shared the name of their school, 25% have posted their email address and 17% have shared their full birth […]

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No matter which way you interpret the plethora of research, it is very clear – our teens are oversharing. The 2015 McAfee research, entitled Teens, Tweens & Technology, shows that nearly 40% of Aussie teens have shared the name of their school, 25% have posted their email address and 17% have shared their full birth date on social media!! Makes you feel a little nauseous, doesn’t it!

However it isn’t just the kids oversharing! It seems that us adults are also prone to committing this online sin particularly when it comes to photos. In fact, research conducted by the UK advocacy group, The Parent Zone, shows us parents are really putting a lot of time into photos with the average child featuring in 973 pics before their 5th birthday.

And just to make the issue even more complex, it appears that us parents aren’t really managing our privacy settings all that well. According to the study, 17% of parents have never checked their Facebook privacy settings and almost half (46%) have only checked once or twice despite it being the most common platform for photo sharing.

But do we really need to fuss about sharing photos online? Surely sharing a photo or two online can’t really be that much of an issue? Perhaps this is just a big overreaction?

Unfortunately not. Issues with sharing arise when the photos get into the wrong hands. You maybe familiar with the lewd photo scandal involving Sydney PR Guru Roxy Jacenko’s daughter Pixie Curtis. Pixie Curtis, who is often regarded as Australia’s most popular 4 year old, has over 100,000 followers on Instagram. Photographs of Pixie that had been altered to include explicit material were circulated among Sydney fashion circles in February this year. Very disturbing! And then the story of US woman Brittany Champagne who discovered that images of her 8-year-old daughter and 9-month old son had been stolen from Facebook and shared with porn sites all over the internet.

So, yes people – we need to be careful. But, I don’t want to ruin all your fun online. So, here are my top tips to help you contain your oversharing and keep our loved ones out of the firing line.

  1. Check your privacy settings REGULARLY to ensure they haven’t changed. Sometimes then they change, settings can revert to a default setting. So why not put a reminder in your calendar to do this every few months?
  2. Only accept friend requests from people you know and trust. And always give a profile a detailed one over look before accepting any request. Cybercrims have been known to create mirror profiles of existing profiles with the aim of getting access to photos and private information.
  3. Think before you upload. Is the picture appropriate? Could it embarrass your child later on? Under no circumstance should you post photos of children in any state of undress.
  4. If you are considering posting pis of other children, always seek permission from their parents or carers.
  5. Don’t share everything. Please avoid using social media as your photo album. There is no need to upload every picture you take. Not only are you overexposing your kids but you will wear out your friends!!
  6. Stay up to date with the changes in rules and regulations on the social media platforms that you use.

So next time you want to post a pic of your precious offspring online, take a moment to think. Is this photo appropriate? Am I oversharing? And just as importantly, will they resent me when they are older? Just because they are young and can’t have a say now doesn’t mean their opinion won’t matter down the track!

Isn’t parenting fun!!

Do you post pics of your kids online? Do you think you would have posted 1000 before their 5th birthday?

‘till next time

Alex xx

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A Family Technology Contract? Should You or Shouldn’t You? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-technology-contract-shouldnt/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-technology-contract-shouldnt/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2016 20:59:44 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73575 I would never consider myself to be an A+ parent. Maybe a solid B. Perhaps I can blame the large amount of balls I juggle from me taking out the top honours???! In my collection of friends, there are several A+ parents. The ones who are super organised, in touch with their kids’ academic performance […]

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I would never consider myself to be an A+ parent. Maybe a solid B. Perhaps I can blame the large amount of balls I juggle from me taking out the top honours???!

In my collection of friends, there are several A+ parents. The ones who are super organised, in touch with their kids’ academic performance and run their houses like machines! (I’m secretly jealous). And of course – in their spare time – most of these parents have also added a technology contract to their repertoire!

What is a technology contract, I hear you ask? A technology or digital contract is a way of establishing boundaries around your family’s technology usage. Ideally, it should include all devices, particularly the TV! But most importantly, it should include items such as how many hours can be spent at the computer, TV or Xbox, what information can be shared online and where the phones sleep at night.

Yes, it is another job on the list but let me tell you why I think you need to invest – it’s all about your kids’ physical and mental health:

  1. Weight Gain

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that not moving = weight gain. But the research is compelling. In 2007, a US study compared the weight of pre-schoolers who used computers and those that didn’t. And, surprise, surprise – it was found that the computer-using kids were rounder. It appeared that 2 hours per day spent sitting in front of any device was the tipping point for weight gain.

  1. Sleep

A 2013 study from The University of Adelaide showed that over 70% of young people don’t get enough sleep on school nights due to overuse of electronic media. In fact, only a small minority were getting optimal sleep, which is more than 9 hours a night, according to the Australian National Sleep Foundation.

  1. Mental Health

Too much internet/technology time has also been linked to depression and anxiety. In 2010, researchers from Notre Dame University in Sydney concluded that teens who use the internet pathologically are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression than teens who are not addicted to the internet. The researchers conducted a study of 1041 random teenagers aged 13-18 from high schools throughout Guangzhou in China however these results have many lessons for parents worldwide.

Pretty compelling stuff? So, why not spend a little time and get a technology plan in place. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Now please don’t interpret this as me ‘poo-pooing’ the internet. I love it and honestly believe it is an extraordinarily powerful learning tool for our kids. But it’s all about moderation and balance!

So, why not set aside an hour and draft something up for your family. I don’t think there is anything just as important as ensuring your kids’ health is on track, do you?

Till next time

Take care

Alex xx

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How Safe Is Your Personal Information Online? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/safe-personal-information-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/safe-personal-information-online/#respond Tue, 07 Jun 2016 21:01:35 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=73581 How many websites have you shared information with? Do you use the same passwords across all your accounts? Is your home Wi-Fi password protected and unique? This week is Privacy Awareness Week in Australia which means it’s time for your annual online privacy check-up. Don’t postpone it – like you might do with the dentist! […]

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How many websites have you shared information with? Do you use the same passwords across all your accounts? Is your home Wi-Fi password protected and unique?

This week is Privacy Awareness Week in Australia which means it’s time for your annual online privacy check-up. Don’t postpone it – like you might do with the dentist! Ensuring your personally identifiable information is secure online is essential to ensure your family’s safety and your financial health.

Living life in the digital age can often feel like a trade-off. Both in person and online businesses often require our personal information in return for goods and services – or quite often a special deal or upgrade! So where do we draw the line? How much do we share?

  1. Be Careful Before You Share Your Details

At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, protecting your privacy starts with protecting your personal information. This includes your name, address, telephone number and date of birth. The more you share it, the greater the chance it could end up in the wrong hands! Teens often struggle to get this concept so I’d weave this into conversation regularly.

  1. Always Read the Privacy ‘Fineprint’

Take the time to read the privacy policies of the companies you are considering sharing your details with. If your kids are considering downloading apps, encourage them to read the fine print. Make sure you are all happy and whether the trade of personal information is worth it.

  1. Set Up Your Privacy Settings & Check Them Regularly

Social media accounts will revert to a default setting unless you specify otherwise so please invest some time here. Default settings usually allow anyone to see your profiles and access your details so ensure your profile settings are as tight as possible. Also, work with your teens to ensure their privacy settings are sorted. Why not tailor their social media accounts so that only their friends can view their photos, updates and information?

  1. Passwords, Passwords!!!

Managing passwords is one of the key ways to manage your online privacy. Passwords need to be a minimum of 8 characters with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. And remember you should ideally have a different password for every site! And just to complicate life further, these need to be changed regularly. But if all that sounds too hard (and it does!) get yourself a password manager. McAfee’s LiveSafe digital protection package includes a password manager which helps create and manage usernames and passwords across all your devices. Phew!

  1. How’s Your Home Wi-Fi?

Your home Wi-Fi could be putting you at risk. If your Wi-Fi isn’t password protected, you are effectively offering an open invitation to the neighbourhood! Many experts believe hackers can capture passwords, email addresses and any other data being transmitted over your network if your Wi-Fi isn’t secured. So if you haven’t already, add a password BUT do not use the default one – they can be easily Googled and found online!

We all know life is a series of trade-offs. Many think you can’t have your cake and eat it too. We all want to enjoy the best of the online world but remain safe at the same time. And while there are no guarantees, if you make smart decisions and invest a little time securing your online privacy, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying cake!

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Passwords – It’s Not Cool to Share https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/passwords-not-cool-share/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/passwords-not-cool-share/#respond Wed, 23 Mar 2016 05:36:19 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=48608 Rightly or wrongly, being part of the ‘it’ crowd at school is what every tween and teen yearns for. Being part of a group makes kids feel safe and protected during a time where they could be feeling very vulnerable. Quite often kids will do whatever it takes (much to their parents’ horror) to secure […]

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Rightly or wrongly, being part of the ‘it’ crowd at school is what every tween and teen yearns for. Being part of a group makes kids feel safe and protected during a time where they could be feeling very vulnerable.

Quite often kids will do whatever it takes (much to their parents’ horror) to secure their membership in a group, and it appears that sharing passwords is no exception.

New research released by McAfee shows that more than a quarter of Aussie kids aged 8-16 know the passwords of others. Worse still, nearly a third (28%) have used them to log into others’ devices or social media accounts to snoop, post fake updates, change settings or replace pictures as a joke.

Now, whilst there is an array of potential hair-raising activities that adventurous teens could be partaking in, sharing passwords is not something we can ignore. In fact, sharing passwords could actually have some of the most devastating consequences to your child’s future.

Managing passwords is one of the most important ways to keep a tight reign over your digital reputation and online footprint. If your password gets in the wrong hands, your digital footprint and reputation is no longer in your control.

Many school principals make no secret of the fact that a teen’s digital reputation will play a role in determining prefectships, scholarships and the elusive role of school captain. If a potential candidate’s social media profile is not in keeping with the school’s values, then an applicant will be disregarded.

So, here are a few of my tips to help keep passwords safe and manage digital reputations:

  1. Create unique passwords for all accounts, whether it’s an app, social media or website. Ideally passwords should be 8-10 characters and include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, as well as symbols and numbers. Avoid using familiar numbers and names – this will only lead to trouble.
  2. If possible, enable multi-factor authentication for logins – which will ask you to verify your login via text (for example). This way you will know if anyone is trying to access your account without you knowing
  3. In addition to websites, apps and social accounts, make sure devices are protected with passwords too. Use a pin or passcode and make sure it’s not the same for all your devices
  4. A helpful option is an identity manager, which can take out the hassle of creating various passwords.  McAfee LiveSafe™, which offers protection across all devices, also has a multi-factor authentication application included called True Key by McAfee that makes it easier and safer to login to websites, apps or devices by using a combination of factors such as the user’s face, fingerprint or device

So please encourage your kids to keep their passwords safe and secure and NOT to share, regardless of pressure from the ‘group’. I get my boys to think of passwords like toothbrushes – they are not for sharing!

Till Next Time,

Stay Safe Online!

Alex x

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Do You Know Your Kids’ Passwords? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/know-kids-passwords/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/know-kids-passwords/#respond Fri, 11 Mar 2016 00:47:41 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=48238 As parents, we are faced with so many dilemmas. Are our children ‘available’ for play dates with kids we’re not crazy about? Do we graciously welcome ‘non-RSVP’d’ children (and their siblings!) to a birthday party? And when do we ignore the messy room in the spirit of mental health preservation? More importantly, what about the […]

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As parents, we are faced with so many dilemmas. Are our children ‘available’ for play dates with kids we’re not crazy about? Do we graciously welcome ‘non-RSVP’d’ children (and their siblings!) to a birthday party? And when do we ignore the messy room in the spirit of mental health preservation?

More importantly, what about the password dilemma? Is it appropriate to insist you know your child’s passwords, or is it an invasion of their privacy?

This is such a difficult question – definitely up there with the social engineering/playdate situation. If you try and outsource the dilemma to experts, you’ll find that nearly all technology and parenting experts have conflicting views and opinions. Many believe safety should be the most important consideration, so knowing your child’s passwords should be non-negotiable, while others believe it is our role as parents to focus on teaching independence to help our children self-manage.

So, what are Aussie parents doing? Research recently released from McAfee shows that 59% of us know our child’s password to access devices and apps. But, not surprisingly, this statistic increases to 74% when you look at parents of kids aged 8-12 years and then decreases to 42% when you focus on parents of 13-16 year olds. So it seems some of us Aussie parents are insisting on being involved.

Now, before I share my thoughts, I think it’s important to take a moment for a ‘parenting affirmation’. As parents, we know our children better than any expert, so knowing when to draw the line and set the boundaries is best guided by our own intuition. Parental instinct is a powerful tool – so don’t ignore your gut feeling on this issue.

In my family, I have chosen to adopt a mentor style/empowering approach to passwords. My boys are older – almost 13 through to 19 so we are in the transition phase. I am ‘familiar’ with my younger boys’ passwords however my older boys (17 and 19) are totally self-managed and I have absolutely no clue.

So, in case you are after another perspective, here is a summary of how I would recommend managing this dilemma:

  1. Up until about 10 years of age, I strongly recommend knowing your kids’ passwords
  2. From about 10-14, I would suggest either insisting on knowing the passwords or asking your kids to place them in a sealed envelope in a nominated spot. If there is an online issue or problem, you can then access it
  3. From about 14 onwards, I would ‘see how it goes’. If your child is a ‘pushing the boundary’ type, then you may choose to go with the envelope approach however I like to use this time to transition teens to a self-managed approach
  4. From 16-17 onwards, I would like to think they would be able to manage the password issue for themselves

However, for this empowering approach to work, it is critical that your kids possess a solid and broad collection of cyber skills. And most importantly, that they feel completely comfortable coming to you with any issues they may experience online.

So keep the cyber conversations flowing and arm your kids with enough cyber know-how so that they are able to make good digital decisions. And don’t worry too much about the messy room – that’s one dilemma not worth worrying about!

Till Next Time,

Alex xx

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Mobile Phone Etiquette https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/mobile-and-iot-security/mobile-phone-etiquette/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/mobile-and-iot-security/mobile-phone-etiquette/#respond Thu, 29 Oct 2015 22:44:59 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=45956 Nothing irritates me more than someone using their phone while talking to me – and it’s not because I think I am special; I just find it so terribly rude. If I ever find my boys doing it then WATCH OUT! I have zero tolerance! With 90% of Aussies now owning smartphones according to the […]

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Nothing irritates me more than someone using their phone while talking to me – and it’s not because I think I am special; I just find it so terribly rude. If I ever find my boys doing it then WATCH OUT! I have zero tolerance!

With 90% of Aussies now owning smartphones according to the latest research from AIMIA (The Digital Industry Association of Australia), almost all of us are ‘always on’ thanks to the glorious nature of mobile connectivity. But this mobile connectivity is completely changing our interactions, both in public spaces and private gatherings, and I am not sure I like it!

Many experts believe a new standard of etiquette is evolving to keep pace with our digital society. But has a new digital etiquette really developed or are we just adjusting to lower standards?

The Pew Research Centre in the U.S. recently conducted a study into Americans’ views on mobile etiquette. With American smartphone ownership almost in sync with that of us Aussies (U.S. at 92%), the results provide a lot of relevant food for thought.

Here are the top findings:

  • 77% think it’s ok to use a mobile phone while walking down the street
  • 75% think it’s ok on public transport
  • 80% consider smartphone use to be off limits at family dinners, meetings, church or movie theatres
  • Younger Americans are more ‘ok’ with device usage – no surprise really! 10% of 18-29 year olds think its ok to use a phone in a meeting whereas 2% of 65 year olds don’t

However, when it comes to face to face interactions, things get a little muddy. While an overwhelming majority (82%) feel that mobile phone use at least occasionally detracts from social gatherings, 89% do it anyway. Among the culprits, 78% reported that their mobile use “contributed” to the group in some way, such as by sharing a picture or sourcing information that could be interesting to the group.  Only 30% said they used their phones to separate themselves from the conversation.

So what does this all mean? Without a doubt, the mobile phone has transformed the way we live. Some of us use it with consideration for others but many don’t. I believe that the most powerful way for us to make a lasting change as a society is for us as parents to instil true digital etiquette into our children. Teaching them to be truly considerate of others, the consequences of being addicted to that small screen and the risks of not putting safety before our mobile phones should be top priorities for us as parents.

Sound a bit overwhelming? Don’t stress. In my next blog post, I will outline my top mobile phone etiquette tips to help you get your kids on the right path!

Till Next Time,

Take care

Alex xx

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Live Streaming – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/live-streaming-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/live-streaming-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/#comments Tue, 29 Sep 2015 06:06:16 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=45488 Listen up parents: live streaming is the latest trend that you need to get your heads around. Not only are there privacy issues that you need to understand so you can keep your kids safe but live streaming may just explain why your Internet usage is spiraling upwards! To ensure we’re are all up to […]

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Listen up parents: live streaming is the latest trend that you need to get your heads around. Not only are there privacy issues that you need to understand so you can keep your kids safe but live streaming may just explain why your Internet usage is spiraling upwards!

To ensure we’re are all up to speed, I am going to start at the very beginning.

Streaming is when video footage or audio is watched (or listened to) online without having to download the entire file first. There is no file to download, just a continuous stream of data. Good examples are Internet radio and television broadcasts.

Now there are two types of streaming – on demand streaming and live streaming. On demand streaming is when the user chooses to watch content that has previously been recorded, for example Catchup TV and YouTube videos. Live streaming is different – footage is shared online as it happens – just like live TV.

Live streaming apps have been around for about 10 years with platforms such as Google Hangouts On Air and Twitch but it wasn’t until the launch of Meerkat and then Periscope this year that live streaming really gained mainstream traction. Meerkat and Periscope are both mobile apps that enable users to live stream (or share footage) over Twitter.

Clearly there are some huge benefits to live streaming. Large companies can live stream events to customers and staff, universities can live stream lectures, churches can ensure their parishioners get their weekly sermon and citizen journalists (with Twitter accounts) are even more empowered. But there is a darker side to live streaming and it’s all about privacy.

A quick five minutes on Meerkat and I have viewed a Swedish kitchen, moments of a Christian conference in Sydney, a suburban road in London with residents in full flight and someone’s holiday. All interesting if you are a people watcher, but each stream was full of unwilling subjects blissfully unaware their image was being streamed across the Internet. Strike one for live streaming.

Strike two – geo tagging. While being able to hone in on location specific footage can be amazing for information in a crisis or for a market read, it can also be devastating for the uploader. Periscope can even pinpoint the street from which a user is streaming. I don’t need to spell out what this could mean if there was a jilted ex-lover or disgruntled parent without access involved. Users need to actively turn off their location sharing services to prevent this information being available.

Online harassment and bullying – call me a Negative Nellie but yes, this is happening on Meerkat and Periscope – strike three. Whilst both platforms say shared content is verified and checked, I am aware of too many cases of inappropriate behaviour of both abuse and bullying. Meerkat and Periscope also both prohibit ‘pornographic or overtly sexual content’ as well as ‘explicitly graphic content’ but I can tell you that it exists. Periscope says that if such footage is reported it will be taken down but clearly they can’t keep up with the high volume of content!

Copyright issues – a clear strike four. At a recent financial conference in Silicon Valley, attendees were banned from using Meerkat. Sensitive company information was being shared ‘off the record’ so it made complete sense. Twitter has been doing the rounds of conferences and concerts for years now, however live streaming made possible by either Meerkat and Periscope provides greater depth and first-hand experience of a situation. So if you want to protect your company’s intellectual property, your latest creative idea or a music artist’s original creation, be careful before you live stream.

If your teens are already embracing live streaming it might just be time for a chat. It is essential that we teach our children that protecting the privacy of ourselves and, equally importantly, others is a responsibility that comes with Internet use.

Good luck! Isn’t parenting grand?

Alex x

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Online Forums and Chronic Illness https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/online-forums-and-chronic-illness/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/online-forums-and-chronic-illness/#respond Thu, 24 Sep 2015 04:10:16 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=45444 Life can sometimes deal us a tough set of cards. Dealing with a chronic illness is no exception. The Australian Bureau of Statistics believes that as our population ages so does the prevalence of chronic illness. Whether it is cancer, diabetes, obesity, Lyme disease or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, managing a chronic illness can often feel […]

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Life can sometimes deal us a tough set of cards. Dealing with a chronic illness is no exception.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics believes that as our population ages so does the prevalence of chronic illness. Whether it is cancer, diabetes, obesity, Lyme disease or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, managing a chronic illness can often feel like a marathon. Dealing with pain, disability, time off work, loss of employment, loss of independence and social isolation can be very overwhelming for sufferers and their families.

So where do sufferers and their families turn for support? Online forums. Often hampered by a lack of mobility, financial resources and often not enough self-confidence to leave the house, the online world becomes an absolute saving grace for sufferers and their carers.

I have witnessed first-hand how transformational the support from online forums can be. I have several friends who have children with chronic illnesses who get such solace and support from their online communities. Consciously trying to avoid ‘exhausting’ real life friends with the day-to-day saga of the chronic illness is a genuine concern for many. Finding a network of like-minded people who are experiencing the same challenges is extraordinarily powerful and genuinely helps alleviate feelings of loneliness.

Of course good cyber safety practice still applies in support forums and chat rooms. So please remember the following:

  • Always abide by chat room rules
  • NEVER share any personal information
  • Don’t use your real name. Instead choose a nickname that isn’t going to attract the wrong sort of attention
  • Be very cautious if you decide to meet up with ‘online friends’ even if you are an adult
  • If you develop an online rapport and feel comfortable enough to meet in person always choose a public place
  • Do not upload pictures of yourself
  • Do not be afraid to block or report someone in the forum or chat room if they are being in appropriate
  • Be wary of people trying to sell you unnecessary products, remedies or miracle cures —unfortunately these types do exist

So, if you have a relative or friend who is suffering from a chronic illness, why not research a few relevant forums or chat rooms for them. Feeling connected and being part of a community is very powerful and can have a huge impact on a patient’s outlook.

Till Next Time

Look out for your mates!

Alex x

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What Do Your Kids Want To Be When They Grow Up? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/what-do-your-kids-want-to-be-when-they-grow-up/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/what-do-your-kids-want-to-be-when-they-grow-up/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:48:35 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=45333 When I was 8, I was completely obsessed with being an air hostess ‘when I grew up.’ The thought of travelling the world while looking glamorous just struck a chord with me! But fast forward 30 something years and our kids aren’t thinking flying – they’re thinking tech! New research by McAfee shows that a large percentage […]

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When I was 8, I was completely obsessed with being an air hostess ‘when I grew up.’ The thought of travelling the world while looking glamorous just struck a chord with me! But fast forward 30 something years and our kids aren’t thinking flying – they’re thinking tech!

New research by McAfee shows that a large percentage of our offspring are keen to pursue a career in the digital world. In fact 43% of tweens and teens are interested in pursuing it as a career while 46% are keen to learn to program or write code (developing and writing software) for new apps or websites. Parents are also developing an appreciation for the employability of tech skills with one in three interviewed hopeful that learning how to program and code will help their children with future employment.

Now in its fourth year, McAfee Teens, Tweens & Technology research provides a gauge on the behavior and opinions of young Australians and their online lives. This year, the research was extended to include parental options as well as our Aussie teens’ thoughts and aspirations for future digital higher education and potential employment avenues.

One of the most interesting aspects to the study is establishing what is motivating our tweens and teens to want to get involved in tech. Is it all about being a tech hipster and hovering around groovy inner city cafes? Actually no, not at all. It is far deeper.

59% of our young people are keen to enhance their cyber skills to protect themselves online, most specifically their privacy and finance from cybercriminals. 40% are keen to learn skills to protect our country from terrorism, 37% to protect companies from cybercriminals and 35% are keen to protect Australia from outside threats. I love the fact our future generations are thinking smart — seems like we aren’t doing a bad jobs as parents!

So if your kids are keen to advance their tech skills, why not think about enrolling them in an after school course or a school holiday workshop. Check out Code Camp  — a great kids orientated code learning workshop program

or Code 4 Fun — a Sydney based code after school coding program.

Till next time,

Happy coding!

Alex x

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The Dangers of Walking and Talking https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-dangers-of-walking-and-talking/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-dangers-of-walking-and-talking/#respond Tue, 15 Sep 2015 07:21:10 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=45265 As safe drivers and responsible community members, I know we are all aware that you just can’t use your mobile phone while driving. There have been far too many horrific stories on our news feeds of the horrendous, sometimes fatal outcomes of this highly-illegal practice. But what about using your phone while walking? Surely this […]

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As safe drivers and responsible community members, I know we are all aware that you just can’t use your mobile phone while driving. There have been far too many horrific stories on our news feeds of the horrendous, sometimes fatal outcomes of this highly-illegal practice.

But what about using your phone while walking? Surely this is the lesser of two evils?

Well no. Many doctors and experts now believe that using your mobile phone while walking is in fact responsible for more injuries than using a smartphone when driving. The recent story of a poor Chinese girl who got caught in a drain as she was texting and walking should be a reminder to us all!

According to a 2013 study by Ohio State University, the number of pedestrian injuries involving mobile phones tripled between 2004 and 2010 in the U.S., while the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped. These pedestrian injuries weren’t just broken toes. One case involved a teenage boy walking straight off a bridge into a ditch while talking on his mobile phone and another man was hit by car while walking across the road and chatting on his phone. So this is a serious matter!

Researchers believe that these statistics could even be higher as some patients would clearly be embarrassed to admit their phone usage caused the accident and not all injuries would be reported. But it is clear: walking and talking is not safe!

The most surprising statistic from the study was that talking on the phone accounted for a whopping 69%of the injuries compared to only 9%because of texting. What’s not surprising is that it was 16-25 year olds who were most likely to be injured.

In 2014, National Geographic undertook its own social experiment to test the ‘digitally distracted’ and created a ‘cellphone’ and ‘non-cellphone’ lane at a busy block in Washington D.C. The experiment was for the channel’s show ‘Mind Over Masses,’ which uses insight into human behaviour to develop solutions to everyday problems.  According to observers, the test unfortunately didn’t do much to change traffic patterns. Most pedestrians either ignored or photographed the lanes with few adhering to the suggested lanes.

Inspired by the social experiment in D.C., the Chongqing province in China adopted a similar strategy. A separate lane for phone users was marked on the footpath in order to prevent injuries from distracted users and protect local residents in the area. Local authorities commented that they were trying to tackle the distracted mobile phone usage issue problem in a humorous way. No results have yet been formalised.

So, as parents armed with the job of teaching our kids how to be safe and responsible citizens, what should we do?

Here are my top tips:

  • Model responsible mobile phone behaviour. Don’t walk and talk!
  • Share (appropriate) news stories relating to the perils
  • Include no walking and talking in the same category as no texting and driving – it just can’t happen!

Till next time,

Safe Walking!

Alex xx

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Latest Teens, Tweens and Technology Research Shows Parents Need a Pat On the Back But There Is Still Work To Be Done… https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/latest-teens-tweens-and-technology-research-shows-parents-need-a-pat-on-the-back-but-there-is-still-work-to-be-done/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/latest-teens-tweens-and-technology-research-shows-parents-need-a-pat-on-the-back-but-there-is-still-work-to-be-done/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2015 07:49:34 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=44579 Sometimes as parents we need a little pat on the back and confirmation we’re doing something right. Well, the McAfee Tween, Tweens & Technology 2015 research does just that. Now in its third year, the Teens, Tweens & Technology research provides a gauge on the behaviour and opinions of young Australians and their online lives. […]

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Sometimes as parents we need a little pat on the back and confirmation we’re doing something right. Well, the McAfee Tween, Tweens & Technology 2015 research does just that.

Now in its third year, the Teens, Tweens & Technology research provides a gauge on the behaviour and opinions of young Australians and their online lives. This year, the research was extended to include parental options as well as our Aussie youth and tweens’ thoughts and aspirations for future digital higher education and potential employment avenues.

So, first the good news from the 2015 study: the research shows parents are embracing the importance of their role in cyber-educating their offspring.

  • 87% of children said they had discussed cyber issues with their parents, an increase from 76% in 2014
  • These conversations have led to a noticeable increase in parental trust with fewer parents (75%) now looking to monitor their child’s device (91% in 2014)
  • A very impressive 66% of parents are now ‘friends’ with their children online

Well done parents! These great achievements show that as parents, we are on the right course. The conversations that we are having with our kids about their digital lives are paying dividends.

When it comes to cyberbullying, the 2015 results also show some encouraging improvement over previous years. 53% of teens and tweens said they had witnessed cyberbullying (81% in 2014) with 16% saying they had experienced it personally (39% in 2014).

But before you crack open the champagne bottle, the 2015 research did also show that there is still work to be done. But really – when does a parent stop being a parent? Never! Here are the areas we need to focus our attention:

  • Time On Devices – 41% of our teens and tweens are spending more than 2 hours per day in front of a mobile device
  • ‘Under Age’ Social Media Usage – 36% of boys and 64% of girls under the age of 13 are active on social media. The minimum age is 13 for Facebook, Twitter & Instagram
  • Secret Online Lives – 38% of teens and tweens admit to hiding online activity from friends, classmates, parents and teachers – up from 13% in 2014
  • Sharing Personal Information Online – Children are continuing to post personal content on social media with 39% having posted the name of their school
  • Stranger Danger – 11% of teens and tweens said they would meet up with a stranger they had first met online
  • Cyberbullying – yes, the statistics have improved but when is any cyberbullying acceptable?

So whilst there is good news, there is still clearly work to be done. I believe it is essential that parents remain vigilant and invested in their children’s online lives. An open and truly communicative relationship between child and parents is the absolute number one best way of helping your kids stay safe online.

The 2015 survey also provided some very exciting insights into the cyber aspirations of our Aussie youth, but more about that very soon.

‘Till next time, keep talking to your kids. Don’t stop!

Alex xx

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Safer Internet Day – What Are You Doing To Stay Safe Online? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/safer-internet-day-stay-safe-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/safer-internet-day-stay-safe-online/#respond Mon, 09 Feb 2015 15:57:12 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=41165 If there was ever a reminder to make sure we are playing it safe online then it’s Safer Internet Day. Held this year on Tuesday 10th February, this internationally recognised day is a great way of ensuring we are all up to date with emerging online issues.   In 2015, Safe Internet Day’s focus will be […]

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If there was ever a reminder to make sure we are playing it safe online then it’s Safer Internet Day. Held this year on Tuesday 10th February, this internationally recognised day is a great way of ensuring we are all up to date with emerging online issues.   In 2015, Safe Internet Day’s focus will be ‘Let’s Create a Better Internet Together’.

Celebrated in over 100 countries globally, Safer Internet Day calls upon young people, parents, carers, teachers, companies and policymakers to join together to create a better internet.  Ultimately creating a better Internet is up to us.

So what can we do as individuals to make a ‘better internet’? What are the top tips to share with our kids?

  1. Think Before You Post – Take a moment to think about what you will post before you press enter. Managing and protecting your online reputation should be the top priority in any online interaction.  Don’t share anything that you wouldn’t want school principals and teachers, employers, family members or even strangers to see.  Your online actions leave a permanent digital footprint – once it’s out there, it’s there forever!
  2. Look out for others online – If you can see someone being bullied or harassed online, step in. Encourage those involved in the conversations to cool down and stand up for those who are getting a hard time.  Always report issues to the social media platform and if the issue includes a child, it might also be worth involving the school.
  3. Don’t Cyberbully – It’s easy to feel protected behind a computer screen – particularly when you can be anonymous online. It is essential that we treat others online like we would like to be treated ourselves.  Encourage your kids not to inflame or ‘be mean’ online and not to tag friends in photos without permission.
  4. Protect Yourself Online – Ensure your privacy settings are up to date and active. Social media platforms often change their privacy policies with little notice, which may affect your own personal settings, so check in regularly to ensure your information is private.  Also, ensure that your password is complex and changed regularly – it needs at least 8-10 characters with a combination of lower and upper case letter, symbols and numbers.
  5. Don’t Steal Information – Just because information is freely available online, doesn’t mean it can be used freely. Always acknowledge and reference a source.  Ensure your kids don’t ‘cut and paste’ information for homework and projects – not only is this plagiarising and stealing, but a bad habit!

 So, when you are madly driving your children from activity to activity or peeling the carrots – why not tell them about Safer Internet Day and ask them what they are doing to make the Internet a better place?

Hopefully, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their response.  If not – revert to the above tips!

Good luck!!

Alex x

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How Password Managers are Saving the Day https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/password-managers-saving-day/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/password-managers-saving-day/#respond Tue, 27 Jan 2015 02:58:34 +0000 https://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=40903 As I get older, I am convinced that my memory is fading.  Whether it’s names, places or even passwords, my memory is just not what it used to be. In an effort to boost my neurological faculties, I decided to take tap dancing classes about 2 years ago. And while I am pleased to report […]

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As I get older, I am convinced that my memory is fading.  Whether it’s names, places or even passwords, my memory is just not what it used to be.

In an effort to boost my neurological faculties, I decided to take tap dancing classes about 2 years ago. And while I am pleased to report that this has had some positive benefit—there is still a long way to go!

Like most average punters, I have an extensive list of online accounts and sites that I have usernames and passwords for—and we all know that to truly protect ourselves online we should never use the same password more than once.  So managing the vast abundance of online passwords and usernames with my deteriorating neurological faculties is nothing short of a nightmare!

Some very smart developer must have felt our stress and so the concept of a password manager was born. A password manager is an online tool that helps create and remember usernames and passwords for your online accounts.

Clearly the biggest advantage in using a password manager is that you don’t need to remember your passwords. But this translates into another great benefit—it is now possible to have strong, truly unique passwords for every single online account, affording you more protection. You simply set up a master password and then the password manager then generates all other passwords for you. Shazam!

Another great benefit of a password manager is that it saves you time. A password manager will fill in your username and password automatically when you go to your account website which means you save time typing them in. Now if you are a heavy Internet user or time poor (hello—who isn’t?) then this is a great bonus.

McAfee LiveSafe™ service offers a password management function that not only generates unique and complex passwords for all online accounts, but securely manages them as well. It also works across all your devices and syncs automatically—again this is a massive time saver!

So, feel free to take up tap dancing or sudoku puzzles but the pressure is off. Password managers are here. Now just don’t forget to install it!

Till Next Time,

Alex xx

P.S. McAfee LiveSafe is your top of the line Rolls Royce Internet protection solution for all your devices.  In addition to protecting you against viruses and malware, it offers a password manager, protection for your mobile devices and secure cloud storage that allows you to store important documents such as passports securely in the cloud.

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New Research Shows Cyberbullying Has Risen 56% Just 12 Months https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/new-research-shows-cyberbullying-risen-56-just-12-months/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/new-research-shows-cyberbullying-risen-56-just-12-months/#respond Sun, 27 Jul 2014 23:00:05 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=36807 The results of McAfee’s latest Teens, Tweens and Technology research study released today are enough to make any parent want to wrap their child in cotton wool forever. The study has shown that 81 per cent of Australian tweens and teens have witnessed cyberbullying online over the last 12 months– a whopping 56 per cent […]

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The results of McAfee’s latest Teens, Tweens and Technology research study released today are enough to make any parent want to wrap their child in cotton wool forever. The study has shown that 81 per cent of Australian tweens and teens have witnessed cyberbullying online over the last 12 months– a whopping 56 per cent increase from last year!

First undertaken in 2013, the annual research project examines the online behaviour and social networking habits of Australian tweens and teens. Over 1000 Australian tweens and teens (aged 8-17) were interviewed for the 2014 study.

The significant increase in tweens and teens who have chatted online with or live tweeted someone they didn’t know was another statistic from the research that got my heart pumping. In 2013, only 19 per cent of young people chatted to someone they didn’t know but in 2014, 48 per cent of young people took this risk.

And the number of underage Facebook users is also on the increase. In 2013, 26 per cent of tweens were using Facebook but in 2014, 60 per cent of 10-12 year olds admit to having a Facebook profile. The legal age to set up a Facebook account is 13.

But when it comes to taking advice from parents, there is some good news. 80 per cent of our tweens and teens say they respect the guidance and advice from their parents when it comes to making personal decisions and managing social media. This is very encouraging. However, it appears as though parents are not fully across their children’s online activity with 70 per cent of kids saying their parents know only some of what they do online. Half say their parents can’t keep up with the technology and 70 per cent admit to proactively hiding what they do online from their parents.

So it’s clear – our young people are taking more risks online and are not always choosing to behave in a positive and respectful way online. Is this as a result of their growing comfort with social media or their increasing reliance on the gratification or ‘buzz’ they receive from online interactions?

Regardless, there is still work to be done. While the study shows that parents are ‘taking it up a notch’ with 11 per cent more parents imposing controls and taking steps to control their kids’ online behaviour than in 2013, our job is far from done.

As parents, we need to accept that keeping our kids safe online is an ongoing job. We need to be talking technology with our kids very regularly. Workshopping how to be a good digital citizen, how to minimise online risks and be savvy will help our kids make better decisions online.

So, please keep the communication flowing with your children. Why? Because as parents, we are our kids’ best firewall!

Till Next Time

Alex xx

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Cyberbullying – Where Did It All Start? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cyberbullying-start/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cyberbullying-start/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 05:45:38 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=36464 You would be hard pressed to find a parent who doesn’t worry about cyberbullying, and rightly so. Cyberbullying can be absolutely devastating for victims. A quick ‘google’ provides parents with a list of tragic cases of young adults who have suffered significant psychological trauma or even lost their lives as a result of unchecked cyberbullying. […]

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You would be hard pressed to find a parent who doesn’t worry about cyberbullying, and rightly so. Cyberbullying can be absolutely devastating for victims. A quick ‘google’ provides parents with a list of tragic cases of young adults who have suffered significant psychological trauma or even lost their lives as a result of unchecked cyberbullying.

Where did it all begin? Clearly bullying existed before the onset of the ‘cyber’ world. It is not a new concept. Many anthropologists believe bullying was in fact evident right from the birth of our species and was inherited from our primal ancestors. According to Christopher Boehm, PhD in his book Moral Origins, monkeys and chimpanzees regularly engaged in bullying-like behaviours which provided advantages such as enhanced social status, much needed resources or ‘reproductive opportunities’ (aka the best looking mate!) to the bully.

Fast forward to the birth of the homo-sapiens and add to the mix the human ingredients of language and culture, and bullying is transformed from a social dominance or survival strategy to an insidious and destructive activity. Anthropologist Hogan Sherrow believes the ability of language to facilitate communicate, coordinate behaviours, express thoughts and gossip has completely altered the intensity and impact of bullying.

Sherrow also believes that cultural practices and norms play a huge role. Research conducted in 2005 entitled ‘Bullying and Symptoms Among School-Aged Children: International Comparative Cross Sectional Study in 28 Countries’ showed that the most intensive bullying was found in countries where violence and social intolerance are most commonplace. The most severe bullying was reported among boys in Lithuania with the least severe happening among girls in Sweden.

In our modern day society where violent video games and TV shows are tolerated, celebrities worshipped and sexualised content ‘managed’, a cultural norm is created. This norm impacts the thoughts and actions of our young people and plays on our inherent tendencies to coerce others into conformity, according to Sherrow. The fact that ‘us’ humans are also heavily influenced by the opinions or suggestions from authority figures is another way that cultural norms and values are created.  This may be a school friend with a strong personality, a teacher, celebrity or journalist.

Without doubt the tendency to bully others is deeply rooted in our evolutionary history and clearly still forms part of our neurological wiring. Just stick your head into any day-care centre! However this primitive ‘survival of the fittest’ strategy clearly comes unstuck when cultures condone and celebrate violence, beauty or sexualised content while supressing or demonising completely natural aspects of the human condition such as homosexuality, physical or racial differences.

So, when thinking about ways to teach your kids about the potentially devastating effects of cyberbullying, think back to our furry ancestors and peel back the layers. Once they are stripped back, it becomes crystal clear – if we are serious about moving forward and genuinely tackling the issue of cyberbullying we need to take a serious look at the issues of language and culture.

I believe children and young people need to be taught responsible language use. They need to be taught non-inflammatory ways to use language, smart verbal problem solving skills and educated about the impact their choice of words can have on others. Likewise, we need to take a serious look at some of the cultural values that are now commonplace our society and ask ourselves whether we are truly comfortable with the level of violence and celebrity obsession that is now the norm.

Till Next Time,

Alex

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Netiquette – Teaching Your Kids Online Manners https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/netiquette-teaching-kids-online-manners/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/netiquette-teaching-kids-online-manners/#respond Thu, 01 May 2014 00:49:20 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=35097 ‘Chew with your mouth closed’ ‘Say please and thank you’ ‘Don’t interrupt – wait your turn to speak’ How many times have you issued those commands? Me – thousands! Teaching our kids manners and safety is something many parents just do automatically. We provide the hot tips as we go about our daily lives.  But […]

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‘Chew with your mouth closed’

‘Say please and thank you’

‘Don’t interrupt – wait your turn to speak’

How many times have you issued those commands? Me – thousands!

Teaching our kids manners and safety is something many parents just do automatically. We provide the hot tips as we go about our daily lives.  But how many of us extend our advice to cyber issues?

Recent research by McAfee entitled Tweens, Teens and Technology highlighted that our kids are embracing technology with great gusto.  Not only are our tweens (8-12 year olds) using between 3-4 internet enabled devices and spending 1.5 hours per day online but 67% of them are using a social media website such as Skype, Facebook, Club Penguin and Instagram.

Being a good cyber citizen and smart operator online is absolutely critical in our digital age.  So instilling online safety messages into our children should be one of our biggest priorities as parents in the 21st Century.  

Here are my top 5 online etiquette rules that will help your child become a good cyber citizen.

1. Treat others online as you would like to be treated. If you or your kids are ever in doubt about how to handle an online situation – always revert back to this rule.  The right course of action will become crystal clear.

2. Double check before you hit ‘send’.  Play attention to typos, grammar and most importantly tone – these all help to create an impression of you online aka your digital reputation.

3. Don’t say something online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.  If you have an issue with someone, don’t raise it online. In person is always best.

4. Understand that you will never agree with everyone online.  There is a polite way of sharing your opinion online without attacking or abusing others.  Harassing or attacking others online aka ‘flaming’ is not acceptable at all. Not only will you lose online friends but it will damage your online reputation real fast!

5. UNDERSTAND WHEN TO USE CAPS.  Typing in caps means you are shouting.  It is OK to use a word here or there but don’t do it all the time.  It is aggressive and hard on the eyes.

Next time your kids ask to go online (or you find them online) why not take the opportunity to throw in a few of the above netiquette tips.  And if they roll their eyes – ignore them.  You wouldn’t let them visit a friend’s house without a timely reminder to use their manners – there is no difference!  Whether it is offline or online, good manners are essential.

Take care

Alex xx

 

 

 

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Why Your Kids Can’t Join Facebook Until They Are 13 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kids-cant-join-facebook-13/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kids-cant-join-facebook-13/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 22:16:56 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=34768 Have you ever wondered why it is that your kids can’t join social media sites like Facebook until they are 13 years of age? Perhaps you thought that it is the social media sites ‘looking out’ for the interests of our children. I know I did a few years back.   Now while I would […]

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Have you ever wondered why it is that your kids can’t join social media sites like Facebook until they are 13 years of age? Perhaps you thought that it is the social media sites ‘looking out’ for the interests of our children. I know I did a few years back.

 

Now while I would never cast any doubt on the good intentions of social media networks, the ‘no under 13s rule’ is actually a by-product of US legislation entitled the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). The legislation came into effect in 2000 and is unapologetically committed to giving parents control over what information is collected from their children online.

 

The COPPA rule therefore targets operators of all commercial websites and online services aimed at the under 13s as well as website operators with ‘actual knowledge’ they are collecting information from individuals under the age of 13, such as Facebook.

 

And while the legislation is US-based, websites hosted overseas must comply with COPPA if they are directed to children in the US. So, in summary, if your kids are visiting the same sites that US kids would frequent, then COPPA applies.

 

Now the vast majority of parents would be completely supportive of the rationale behind this legislation – even if the moaning from their yet-to-be 13 year old is wearing them down. However Mark Zuckerberg, the ‘father of Facebook’ has made it clear that he believes the COPPA legislation should be overturned and that younger children should be allowed on social networking sites like Facebook. He has also expressed his determination to change this.

 

“That will be a fight we take on at some point. My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.”

 

No-one can dispute Mark Zuckerberg’s entrepreneurial skills and business acumen – he’s worth nearly $US30b – yes billion dollars. But as a mother of four boys who are particularly interested in the online world, I completely disagree with his desire to change these rules. As a society, we have a fundamental responsibility to protect our children. Guarding our children’s identities, their digital reputations and most importantly, keeping them safe are, without doubt, some of the highest priorities for me as a mother.

 

So, yes – let’s absolutely educate our kids about the online world. Let’s explain the pitfalls, hazards and dangers. But let’s not put them at risk all in the name of education!!

 

‘Till Next Time

 

Stay Safe Online

 

Alex xx

 

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Kik – The App of the Moment https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kik-app-moment/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kik-app-moment/#respond Thu, 13 Mar 2014 17:05:36 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=33989 If you have tweens or teens living in your household then I am quite sure you would have heard about Kik. Kik is clearly the ‘app of the moment’. In fact, if I was a betting woman, I would predict that Kik’s moment may last for a good while. In such a short period of […]

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If you have tweens or teens living in your household then I am quite sure you would have heard about Kik. Kik is clearly the ‘app of the moment’. In fact, if I was a betting woman, I would predict that Kik’s moment may last for a good while. In such a short period of time, this clever messaging app has become an intrinsic part of tween and teen culture despite the fact that users need to be 13 years old to join.

So what is the hype about? Why does everyone want to become a ‘Kikster’ (a registered Kik user)?

Kik is a free instant messaging app which is widely considered more ‘fun’ than texting. It is fast and has no messaging or character limits or fees if you choose the basic features. Using a data plan or WiFi connection, Kik users can send and receive text messages, photos, videos, sketches, emoticons and more to an individual on their Kik contact list or they can start a group chat with several Kik contacts. Instead of phone numbers each Kik member has a username. In short, it combines texting with a social network.

What do parents need to know?

While Kik does have some great features and is fine for grounded adults to use, there are a few things that concern me when tweens and teens choose to use it:

1)     No Parental Controls

Even though Kik is very popular with tweens and teens, it is not intended for their use. Like Facebook and Instagram, users are supposed to be aged 13 or older as the site does not comply with COPPA – the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act which is a US federal law. COPPA insists websites designed for children aged 12 years or younger adhere to a specific criteria – Kik does not comply. As a result of this, there are no parental controls.

2)     Inappropriate Content

The prevalence of graphic images and sexual talk have been reported by many Kiksters. I am also aware that this is happening. Clearly this is not appropriate for tweens or teens. In fact, US educational website Education.com, included Kik on its list of The 8 Worst Apps For Your Kids, saying the app has “more to do with young teens flirting and sexting than just keeping in touch with friends“. Mmmm. Kik has also been rated 17+ by both the App Store and Common Sense Media. The App Store gives the rating due to “Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes”. Enough said.

3)     Inviting Friends

As with all social networks, finding friends is a priority. However my biggest concern is the ability for users to invite ‘random’ people to be their friend via an array of social networks. With the click of a button, your tween could reach out to absolutely anyone on Facebook or Tumblr with the message ‘Kik me’ – an invitation to start a new instant message conversation between the sender and whoever answers! This is so very concerning as it absolutely compromises the privacy and safety of tweens and teens.

4)     Dangerous Package Deal

Coupled up with other social networks such as Instagram, Kik can really become quite unsafe. Many teens regularly share their Kik username on their other social media accounts such as Instagram which could easily be interpreted as an invitation for ‘friendship’ by internet trolls and nasty types. Your tween or teen may then be bombarded with inappropriate pics, messages or invitation to meet up. Clearly not acceptable.

What should we do as parents to keep our kids safe on Kik?

In an ideal world, we would not allow our kids to go onto social networks that are not suitable for their age group. In reality, this is often hard to enforce. Whilst you may choose to make them delete apps such as Kik, the best solution is to work with them to make social networking as safe an experience as possible and introduce some fair boundaries.

However if you are sure that you want them off and they are underage, parents are able to submit a deactivation request to Kik and they will remove your child’s account.

Regardless of your decision, you should absolutely check the app out for yourself. Being informed and up to date with the latest apps and trends is essential if you want to keep up your ‘tech cred’ and ensure the lines of communication stay open.

Till Next Time

Alex xx

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Cyber Pranks – Funny or Mean?? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cyber-pranks-funny-mean/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cyber-pranks-funny-mean/#respond Tue, 04 Mar 2014 12:33:53 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=33594 We all know that kids love to play pranks – it is just part of childhood. Whether it is whoopee cushions, switching the salt and the sugar or good old plastic spiders, harmless pranks can be fun and actually a good way of teaching kids resilience. But unfortunately, when kids take jokes online it is […]

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We all know that kids love to play pranks – it is just part of childhood. Whether it is whoopee cushions, switching the salt and the sugar or good old plastic spiders, harmless pranks can be fun and actually a good way of teaching kids resilience.

But unfortunately, when kids take jokes online it is not always a happy ending. Online jokes and pranks AKA ‘cyber pranks’ are an emerging trend amongst tweens and teens who have clearly moved on from plastic spiders.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am not a wet blanket. There have been some online pranks that I think have been totally hilarious. But they were carefully thought through, the ‘pranker’ knew the ‘victim’ would take the joke in good humour, the prank wasn’t mean or spiteful and no-one got hurt.

With more and more teens using the online world as their ‘pranking’ playground, there has been an increase in the number of pranks that have just gone too far. In some cases, it could be argued that the cyber prank is really cyberbullying. And whilst I am not going to detail all of the tactics that are emerging as favourites (for obvious reasons) here are a few that will give you a flavour:

  • Setting up fake Facebook and Instagram accounts. Teens have been charged with this in the US.
  • Creating ads in online classifieds for adult services or hot concert tickets and including the contact numbers of the prank victim
  • Hacking social media passwords and making outrageous or inappropriate comments
  • Photoshopping photos. There was an episode of The Office (British version) dedicated to this.

So what can we do about it? It’s all about education and communication. Start a (non-threatening) conversation with your tween or teen about cyber pranks. Ask them what they know. Explain how people can get hurt and how reputations could be tarnished or even shattered.  And remind them that there is absolutely nothing funny about that!

‘Till Next Time

Stay Safe Online

Alex

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Cybercasing – How Sharing Your Pics, Videos and Status Updates Can Get You Into Trouble https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cybercasing-how-sharing-your-pics-videos-and-status-updates-can-get-you-into-trouble/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cybercasing-how-sharing-your-pics-videos-and-status-updates-can-get-you-into-trouble/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2013 17:28:40 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=24312 It can be fun ‘checking in’ at your favourite restaurant on Facebook, sharing pics of your hotel room on Instagram or buying and selling items on eBay. In fact – it can give you quite a buzz. But did you know that ‘geotagging’ (sharing your location via your pics or videos) can put you and […]

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It can be fun ‘checking in’ at your favourite restaurant on Facebook, sharing pics of your hotel room on Instagram or buying and selling items on eBay. In fact – it can give you quite a buzz. But did you know that ‘geotagging’ (sharing your location via your pics or videos) can put you and your possessions at risk??

In fact there is such concern about the effects of geotagging that researchers have developed a new term – cybercasing. Cybercasing refers to how geotagged text, photos and videos can be used by criminals and other negatively motivated 3rd parties.

Researchers at the International Computer Science Institute in California used information on sites like Craigslist (think Ebay), Twitter and YouTube and cross referenced it with publicly available online content to identify the exact home addresses of potential victims (with GPS-level accuracy) within minutes!!!!!!!!!

In their report “Cybercasing the Joint: On the Privacy Implications of Geotagging“, the researchers confirm that our love affair with smartphones is the biggest factor in the rapid spread of location-based services but often without our knowledge. Many consumers don’t know their information is being shared as many smartphones will automatically ‘geotag’ a user’s image or video. Turning geotagging off requires users to manually opt out which can actually be a complicated process.

But that is only part of the problem. What is even more troubling is the huge amount of user friendly geotagging search programs that can sift through geo-tagged data and provide users with accurate locations within a metre.

So, what can we do to protect our home and valuables and avoid being ‘cybercased’?

  • Turn off your location services on your smartphone, if possible.
  • Don’t Tweet or make status updates about a holiday while you are there
  • Don’t post your holiday photos until you have returned
  • Don’t outline the times you will be home when selling items on Ebay

 

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Getting Down With The Kids – Internet Slang for Dummies! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/getting-down-with-the-kids-internet-slang-for-dummies-2/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/getting-down-with-the-kids-internet-slang-for-dummies-2/#respond Fri, 11 Jan 2013 22:22:50 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=21222 Whenever my boys come home with a new buzz word or saying, I instantly feel like a dinosaur. Whether it is ‘noob’ or ‘epic fail’ (all said with a huge dose of attitude!) the linguistic chasm between us just seems to get wider. But when it comes to kids’ online vocab, I am a big […]

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Whenever my boys come home with a new buzz word or saying, I instantly feel like a dinosaur.

Whether it is ‘noob’ or ‘epic fail’ (all said with a huge dose of attitude!) the linguistic chasm between us just seems to get wider.

But when it comes to kids’ online vocab, I am a big believer in developing a full understanding! As parents it is our job to protect our kids both online and offline. So ensuring you have a full understanding of what your kids are doing and saying online is imperative.

It is no secret that kids are using a complex series of acronyms to communicate with each other online. So, in the interests of fostering a greater understanding (and ensuring you have a bit of ‘tech cred’), here is a list of the most commonly used slang and its meaning:

LOL – Laugh Out Loud (not lots of love)

POTS – Parents Over Shoulder

CD9 – Code 9 which means parents are about

KPC – Keeping Parents Clueless

PAW – Parents Are Watching

POP – Parents On Prowl

ROFL – Rolling On The Floor Laughing

1,2,3,4,5 – Typing the numerals 1 to 5 means parent are reading the screen

NMU – Not Much, You?

BRB – Be Right Back

IDK – I Don’t Know

ASL – Age, Sex, Location

Has anyone noticed a theme? Yes – lots of effort goes into ensuring that ‘us parents’ are not able to view our teens’ online activity!  In a recent study entitled The Secret Life of Teens by McAfee it was shown that 67% of Australian teens aged 13-19 said their parents do not know everything they do online.

Mmmm! So next time you are shoulder surfing your teen, look out for the Internet slang – it may just help you understand your teen a little bit more.

Till next time.

Alex

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Online Shopping – How To Avoid The Bad So You Can Enjoy The Good! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/online-shopping-how-to-avoid-the-bad-so-you-can-enjoy-the-good/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/online-shopping-how-to-avoid-the-bad-so-you-can-enjoy-the-good/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2012 07:01:47 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=20658 There is a very big part of me that truly believes online shopping was created in heaven for busy parents. I mean, what is not to love? No carpark wars, ridiculous register queues or sweaty scrambles to secure that ‘must have’ Xbox game. It really is the best Christmas present ever! And it seems more […]

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There is a very big part of me that truly believes online shopping was created in heaven for busy parents.

I mean, what is not to love? No carpark wars, ridiculous register queues or sweaty scrambles to secure that ‘must have’ Xbox game. It really is the best Christmas present ever!

And it seems more and more of us are embracing online shopping with research commissioned by McAfee showing that 60% of Aussies are planning to purchase gifts online this Christmas – double that of 2011!

Unfortunately, this great flurry of online activity provides cybercriminals with the perfect opportunity to try and destroy the Christmas spirit. To make sure you don’t become a victim of an online scam this Christmas, I am going to share with you the top 12 scams you need to avoid this silly season.

1. Social media scams – Avoid ‘special deals’ that come from your friends advertising the latest gifts or holiday deal on sites such as Facebook and Twitter – it could be the work of a hacker! Also avoid clicking on links for special discounts – these might be malicious.

2. Malicious mobile apps – Avoid downloading a malicious app that could steal your personal information. Only download from a trusted source.

3. Travel scams – Make sure you are not booking your holiday on a phony travel webpage designed only to get your financial details.

4. Holiday spam/phishing – Spam emails are also seasonal – they will soon take on a festive holiday theme. Remember never to respond to a spam email, or click on an included link.

5. iPhone 5 and iPad Mini scams – These hot gifts will be used in dangerous links, phony contests and phishing emails as a way to grab your attention to share your personal information or click on a dangerous link.

6. Skype message scare – Be aware of a new Skype message scam that attempts to infect machines and even hold files for ransom. Remember never to click on a suspicious link, even if it appears to come from someone you know.

7. Bogus Gift Cards – Be wary of buying online gift cards from third parties; it’s best to buy from the official retailer. They may be fake!

8. Holiday SMishing – Phishing via text message. Just like with email phishing, this is where a scammer tries to lure you into revealing information or performing an action you normally wouldn’t do by pretending to be a legitimate organisation. Delete!

9. Phony E-tailers – Phony e-commerce sites designed to try and extract your personal financial information.

10. Fake Charities – these scams happen every year when the bad guys hope to take advantage of our generosity by sending spam emails advertising fake charities. McAfee recommends that if you want to give, it’s always safer to visit the charity’s legitimate website, and do a little research about the charity before you donate.

11. Dangerous E-Cards – Some can be malicious and contain viruses that download onto your computer once you click on the link to view the greeting. So beware and check to see that the sender is someone you actually know, and that there are no misspellings or other clues that the card is a fake.

12. Phony Classifieds – Beware of phony offers that ask for personal information or money.

Now, I know the list can seem a little overwhelming. But I promise, you can shop online safely this Christmas. I think something important to remember in the online world just as we do in the offline world is – if an offer sounds too good to be true – it usually is!

See you next time.

Alex xx

 

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How To Prevent Your Emails Being Hacked https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-prevent-your-emails-being-hacked/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-prevent-your-emails-being-hacked/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2012 05:41:51 +0000 http://blogs.mcafee.com/?p=20578 I have a fabulous friend called Rebecca*. Not only is she smart and clever but she is all class. Now, I had thought that I knew this friend particularly well but when I started receiving emails from her regarding a certain part of the male body that could be enlarged and promising ‘staying power’, I […]

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I have a fabulous friend called Rebecca*. Not only is she smart and clever but she is all class. Now, I had thought that I knew this friend particularly well but when I started receiving emails from her regarding a certain part of the male body that could be enlarged and promising ‘staying power’, I wondered if I needed to have a rethink!

Alas. No rethink required. Rebecca had not developed a new hobby but had instead become a victim. Her email had been hacked.

Poor Rebecca was devastated. She just couldn’t work out how this had happened to her. She had Internet security software that she thought was safe as it had only recently lapsed, she had never shared her passwords with anyone and she didn’t think she had ever visited any strange websites.

So what went wrong? Well, unfortunately, hackers are a particularly clever species who have an array of ways of gleaning personal information from law abiding citizens such as Rebecca. Here are just a few of the ways you can prevent your email from being hacked:

  1. Don’t fall victim to a phishing scam. Never respond to an unexpected email or website that asks you for personal information or your login details no matter how professional it looks.
  2. Make sure you have comprehensive internet security software (that includes anti-spyware), and please keep it updated! Spyware hides itself on your computer, collects personal information about you and passes on your personal details without you knowing.
  3. Avoid logging into your email from public places. Not only is there a greater chance of spyware on untrusted computers but some of them sport key logging programs which monitor and record the keys you strike on the keyboard – a great way of finding out your password!
  4. Create strong passwords that include a variety of characters including numbers and symbols. Check out McAfee’s Security Advice Centre for some tips on how to create a strong password.
  5. Never share your passwords and change your passwords regularly – at least every 6 months.

If your friends develop a sudden fascination with nether regions and enhancements, and are bombarding you with emails, please give them the benefit of the doubt and assume their email has been hacked. If not, it may be time to rethink your opinion of them!

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*My dear friend’s name was changed to protect her privacy.

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