Toni Birdsong – McAfee Blogs https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com Securing Tomorrow. Today. Mon, 21 Oct 2019 15:58:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Toni Birdsong – McAfee Blogs https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com 32 32 Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/want-your-kids-to-care-more-about-online-safety-try-these-7-tips/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/want-your-kids-to-care-more-about-online-safety-try-these-7-tips/#respond Sun, 20 Oct 2019 01:04:29 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=97127

The topics parents need to discuss with kids today can be tough compared to even a few years ago. The digital scams are getting more sophisticated and the social culture poses new, more inherent risks. Weekly, we have to breach very adult conversations with our kids. Significant conversations about sexting, bullying, online scams, identity fraud, […]

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The topics parents need to discuss with kids today can be tough compared to even a few years ago. The digital scams are getting more sophisticated and the social culture poses new, more inherent risks. Weekly, we have to breach very adult conversations with our kids. Significant conversations about sexting, bullying, online scams, identity fraud, hate speech, exclusion, and sextortion — all have to be covered but we have to do it in ways that matter to kids.

With 95% of teens now having access to a smartphone and 45% online ”almost constantly,” it’s clear we can’t monitor conversations, communities, and secret apps around the clock. So the task for parents is to move from a mindset of ”protect” to one of ”prepare” if we hope to get kids to take charge of their privacy and safety online.

Here are a few ideas on how to get these conversations to stick.

  1. Bring the headlines home. A quick search of your local or regional headlines should render some examples of kids who have risked and lost a lot more than they imagined online. Bringing the headlines closer to home — issues like reputation management, sex trafficking, kidnapping, sextortion, and bullying — can help your child personalize digital issues. Discussing these issues with honesty and openness can bring the reality home that these issues are real and not just things that happen to other people.
  2. Netflix and discuss. Hollywood has come a long way in the last decade in making films for tweens and teens that spotlight important digital issues. Watching movies together is an excellent opportunity to deepen understanding and spark conversation about critical issues such as cyberbullying, teen suicide, sextortion, catfishing, stalking, and examples of personal courage and empathy for others. Just a few of the movies include Cyberbully, 13 Reasons Why (watch with a parent), Eighth Grade, Searching, Bully, Disconnect. Character building movies: Dumplin’, Tall Girl, Wonder, Girl Rising, The Hate U Give, Mean Girls, and the Fat Boy Chronicles, among many others.
  3. Remove phones. Sometimes absence makes that heart grow appreciative, right? Owning a phone (or any device) isn’t a right. Phone ownership and internet access is a privilege and responsibility. So removing a child’s phone for a few days can be especially effective if your child isn’t listening or exercising wise habits online. One study drives this phone-dependency home. Last year researchers polled millennials who said they’d rather give up a finger than their smartphones. So, this tactic may prove to be quite effective.
  4. Define community. Getting kids to be self-motivated about digital safety and privacy may require a more in-depth discussion on what “community” means. The word is used often to describe social networks, but do we really know and trust people in our online “communities?” No. Ask your child what qualities he or she values in a friend and who they might include in a trusted community. By defining this, kids may become more aware of who they are letting in and what risks grow when our digital circles grow beyond trusted friends.
  5. Assume they are swiping right. Dating has changed dramatically for tweens and teens. Sure there are apps like MeetMe and Tinder that kids explore, but even more popular ways to meet a significant other are everyday social networks like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Instagram, where kids can easily meet “friends of friends” and start “talking.” Study the pros and cons of these apps. Talk to your kids about them and stress the firm rule of never meeting with strangers.
  6. Stay curious. Stay interested. If you, as a parent, show little interest in online risks, then why should your child? By staying curious and current about social media, apps, video games, your kids will see that you care about — and can discuss — the digital pressures that surround them every day. Subscribe to useful family safety and parenting blogs and consider setting up Google Alerts around safety topics such as new apps, teens online, and online scams.
  7. Ask awesome questions. We know that lectures and micromanaging don’t work in the long run, so making the most of family conversations is critical. One way to do this is to ask open-ended questions such as “What did you learn from this?” “What do you like or dislike about this app?” “Have you ever felt unsafe online?” and “How do you handle uncomfortable or creepy encounters online?” You might be surprised at where the conversations can go and the insight you will gain.

Make adjustments to your digital parenting approach as needed. Some things will work, and others may fall flat. The important thing is to keep conversation a priority and find a rhythm that works for your family. And don’t stress: No one has all the answers, no one is a perfect parent. We are all learning a little more each day and doing the best we can to keep our families safe online.

Be Part of Something Big

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Become part of the effort to make sure that our online lives are as safe and secure as possible. Use the hashtags #CyberAware, #BeCyberSafe, and #NCSAM to track the conversation in real-time.

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15 Easy, Effective Ways to Start Winning Back Your Online Privacy https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/15-easy-effective-ways-to-start-winning-back-your-online-privacy/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/15-easy-effective-ways-to-start-winning-back-your-online-privacy/#respond Sat, 12 Oct 2019 14:00:46 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=97063 NCSAM

Someone recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, and I had to think about it for a few minutes. I certainly don’t need any more stuff. However, if I could name one gift that would make me absolutely giddy, it would be getting a chunk of my privacy back. Like most people, […]

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NCSAM

NCSAM

Someone recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, and I had to think about it for a few minutes. I certainly don’t need any more stuff. However, if I could name one gift that would make me absolutely giddy, it would be getting a chunk of my privacy back.

Like most people, the internet knows way too much about me — my age, address, phone numbers and job titles for the past 10 years, my home value, the names and ages of family members  — and I’d like to change that.

But there’s a catch: Like most people, I can’t go off the digital grid altogether because my professional life requires me to maintain an online presence. So, the more critical question is this:

How private do I want to be online?  

The answer to that question will differ for everyone. However, as the privacy conversation continues to escalate, consider a family huddle. Google each family member’s name, review search results, and decide on your comfort level with what you see. To start putting new habits in place, consider these 15 tips.

15 ways to reign in your family’s privacy

  1. Limit public sharing. Don’t share more information than necessary on any online platform, including private texts and messages. Hackers and cyber thieves mine for data around the clock.
  2. Control your digital footprint. Limit information online by a) setting social media profiles to private b) regularly editing friends lists c) deleting personal information on social profiles d) limiting app permissions someone and browser extensions e) being careful not to overshare.NCSAM
  3. Search incognito. Use your browser in private or incognito mode to reduce some tracking and auto-filling.
  4. Use secure messaging apps. While WhatsApp has plenty of safety risks for minors, in terms of data privacy, it’s a winner because it includes end-to-end encryption that prevents anyone in the middle from reading private communications.
  5. Install an ad blocker. If you don’t like the idea of third parties following you around online, and peppering your feed with personalized ads, consider installing an ad blocker.
  6. Remove yourself from data broker sites. Dozens of companies can harvest your personal information from public records online, compile it, and sell it. To delete your name and data from companies such as PeopleFinder, Spokeo, White Pages, or MyLife, make a formal request to the company (or find the opt-out button on their sites) and followup to make sure it was deleted. If you still aren’t happy with the amount of personal data online, you can also use a fee-based service such as DeleteMe.com.
  7. Be wise to scams. Don’t open strange emails, click random downloads, connect with strangers online, or send money to unverified individuals or organizations.
  8. Use bulletproof passwords. When it comes to data protection, the strength of your password, and these best practices matter.
  9. Turn off devices. When you’re finished using your laptop, smartphone, or IoT devices, turn them off to protect against rogue attacks.NCSAM
  10. Safeguard your SSN. Just because a form (doctor, college and job applications, ticket purchases) asks for your Social Security Number (SSN) doesn’t mean you have to provide it.
  11. Avoid public Wi-Fi. Public networks are targets for hackers who are hoping to intercept personal information; opt for the security of a family VPN.
  12. Purge old, unused apps and data. To strengthen security, regularly delete old data, photos, apps, emails, and unused accounts.
  13. Protect all devices. Make sure all your devices are protected viruses, malware, with reputable security software.
  14. Review bank statements. Check bank statements often for fraudulent purchases and pay special attention to small transactions.
  15. Turn off Bluetooth. Bluetooth technology is convenient, but outside sources can compromise it, so turn it off when it’s not in use.

Is it possible to keep ourselves and our children off the digital grid and lock down our digital privacy 100%? Sadly, probably not. But one thing is for sure: We can all do better by taking specific steps to build new digital habits every day.

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Be Part of Something Big

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Become part of the effort to make sure that our online lives are as safe and secure as possible. Use the hashtags #CyberAware, #BeCyberSafe, and #NCSAM to track the conversation in real-time.

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Device & App Safety Guide for Families https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/device-app-safety-guide-for-families/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/device-app-safety-guide-for-families/#respond Sun, 06 Oct 2019 06:34:31 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96989

While we talk about online safety each week on this blog, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), a time to come together and turn up the volume on the digital safety and security conversation worldwide. To kick off that effort, here’s a comprehensive Device and App Safety Guide to give your family quick ways […]

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app safetyWhile we talk about online safety each week on this blog, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), a time to come together and turn up the volume on the digital safety and security conversation worldwide.

To kick off that effort, here’s a comprehensive Device and App Safety Guide to give your family quick ways to boost safety and security.

Device Safety Tips

  • Update devices. Updates play a critical role in protecting family devices from hackers and malware, so check for updates and install promptly.
  • Disable geotagging. To keep photo data private, turn off geotagging, which is a code that embeds location information into digital photos.
  • Turn off location services. To safeguard personal activity from apps, turn off location services on all devices and within the app. 
  • Review phone records. Monitor your child’s cell phone records for unknown numbers or excessive late-night texting or calls.
  • Lock devices. Most every phone comes with a passcode, facial, or fingerprint lock. Make locking devices a habit and don’t share passcodes with friends. 
  • Add ICE to contacts. Make sure to put a parent’s name followed by ICE (in case of emergency) into each child’s contact list.
  • Back up data. To secure family photos and prevent data loss due to malware, viruses, or theft, regularly back up family data. 
  • Use strong passwords. Passwords should be more than eight characters in length and contain a mix of capital and lower case letters and at least one numeric or non-alphabetical character. Also, use two-factor authentication whenever possible.  
  • Stop spying. Adopting healthy online habits takes a full-court family press, so choose to equip over spying. Talk candidly about online risks, solutions, family ground rules, and consequences. If you monitor devices, make sure your child understands why. 
  • Share wisely. Discuss the risks of sharing photos online with your kids and the effect it has on reputation now and in the future. 
  • Protect your devices. Add an extra layer of protection to family devices with anti-virus and malware protection and consider content filtering
  • Secure IoT devices. IoT devices such as smart TVs, toys, smart speakers, and wearables are also part of the devices families need to safeguard. Configure privacy settings, read product reviews, secure your router, use a firewall, and use strong passwords at all connection points. 

App Safety Tips

  • Evaluate apps. Apps have been known to put malware on devices, spy, grab data illegally, and track location and purchasing data without permission. Check app reviews for potential dangers and respect app age requirements.app safety
  • Max privacy settings. Always choose the least amount of data-sharing possible within every app and make app profiles private.
  • Explore apps together. Learn about your child’s favorite apps, what the risks are, and how to adjust app settings to make them as safe as possible. Look at the apps on your child’s phone. Also, ask your child questions about his or her favorite apps and download and explore the app yourself. 
  • Understand app cultures. Some of the most popular social networking apps can also contain inappropriate content that promotes pornography, hate, racism, violence, cruelty, self-harm, or even terrorism.
  • Monitor gaming. Many games allow real-time in-game messaging. Players can chat using text, audio, and video, which presents the same potential safety concerns as other social and messaging apps.
  • Discuss app risks. New, popular apps come out every week. Discuss risks such as anonymous bullying, inappropriate content, sexting, fake profiles, and data stealing. 
  • Avoid anonymous apps. Dozens of apps allow users to create anonymous profiles. Avoid these apps and the inherent cyberbullying risks they pose.
  • Limit your digital circle. Only accept friend requests from people you know. And remember, “friends” aren’t always who they say they are. Review and reduce your friend list regularly.
  • Monitor in-app purchases. It’s easy for kids to go overboard with in-app purchases, especially on gaming apps.

Our biggest tip? Keep on talking. Talk about the risks inherent to the internet. Talk about personal situations that arise. Talk about mistakes. Nurturing honest, ongoing family dialogue takes time and effort but the payoff is knowing your kids can handle any situation they encounter online.

Stay tuned throughout October for more NCSAM highlights and information designed to help you keep your family safe and secure in the online world.

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5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-digitally-rich-terms-to-define-and-discuss-with-your-kids/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-digitally-rich-terms-to-define-and-discuss-with-your-kids/#respond Sat, 28 Sep 2019 19:19:24 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96834 online privacy

Over the years, I’ve been the star of a number of sub-stellar parenting moments. More than once, I found myself reprimanding my kids for doing things that kids do — things I never stopped to teach them otherwise. Like the time I reprimanded my son for not thanking his friend’s mother properly before we left […]

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online privacy

Over the years, I’ve been the star of a number of sub-stellar parenting moments. More than once, I found myself reprimanding my kids for doing things that kids do — things I never stopped to teach them otherwise.

Like the time I reprimanded my son for not thanking his friend’s mother properly before we left a birthday party. He was seven when his etiquette deficit disorder surfaced. Or the time I had a meltdown because my daughter cut her hair off. She was five when she brazenly declared her scorn for the ponytail.

The problem: I assumed they knew.

Isn’t the same true when it comes to our children’s understanding of the online world? We can be quick to correct our kids when they fail to exercise the best judgment or handle a situation the way we think they should online.

But often what’s needed first is a parental pause to ask ourselves: Am I assuming they know? Have I taken the time to define and discuss the issue?

With that in mind, here are five digitally-rich terms dominating the online conversation. If possible, find a few pockets of time this week and start from the beginning — define the words, then discuss them with your kids. You may be surprised where the conversation goes.

5 digital terms that matter

Internet Privacy

Internet privacy is the personal privacy that every person is entitled to when they display, store, or provide information regarding themselves on the internet. 

Highlight: We see and use this word often but do our kids know what it means? Your personal information has value, like money. Guard it. Lock it down. Also, respect the privacy of others. Be mindful about accidentally giving away a friend’s information, sharing photos without permission, or sharing secrets. Remember: Nothing shared online (even in a direct message or private text) is private—nothing. Smart people get hacked every day.
Ask: Did you know that when you go online, websites and apps track your activity to glean personal information? What are some ways you can control that? Do you know why people want your data?
Act: Use privacy settings on all apps, turn off cookies in search engines, review privacy policies of apps, and create bullet-proof passwords.

Digital Wellbeing

Digital wellbeing (also called digital wellness) is an ongoing awareness of how social media and technology impacts our emotional and physical health.

Highlight: Every choice we make online can affect our wellbeing or alter our sense of security and peace. Focusing on wellbeing includes taking preventative measures, making choices, and choosing behaviors that build help us build a healthy relationship with technology. Improving one’s digital wellbeing is an on-going process.
Ask: What do you like to do online that makes you feel good about yourself? What kinds of interactions make you feel anxious, excluded, or sad? How much time online do you think is healthy?
Act:
Digital wellness begins at home. To help kids “curb the urge” to post so frequently, give them a “quality over quantity” challenge. Establish tech curfews and balance screen time to green time. Choose apps and products that include wellbeing features in their design. Consider security software that blocks inappropriate apps, filters disturbing content, and curbs screen time.

Media Literacy

Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms. It’s the ability to think critically about the messages you encounter.

Highlight: Technology has redefined media. Today, anyone can be a content creator and publisher online, which makes it difficult to discern the credibility of the information we encounter. The goal of media literacy curriculum in education is to equip kids to become critical thinkers, effective communicators, and responsible digital citizens.
Ask: Who created this content? Is it balanced or one-sided? What is the author’s motive behind it? Should I share this?  How might someone else see this differently?
Act: Use online resources such as Cyberwise to explore concepts such as clickbait, bias, psychographics, cyberethics, stereotypes, fake news, critical thinking/viewing, and digital citizenship. Also, download Google’s new Be Internet Awesome media literacy curriculum.

Empathy

Empathy is stepping into the shoes of another person to better understand and feel what they are going through.

Highlight: Empathy is a powerful skill in the online world. Empathy helps dissolve stereotypes, perceptions, and prejudices. According to Dr. Michelle Borba, empathetic children practice these nine habits that run contrary to today’s “selfie syndrome” culture. Empathy-building habits include moral courage, kindness, and emotional literacy. Without empathy, people can be “mean behind the screen” online. But remember: There is also a lot of people practicing empathy online who are genuine “helpers.” Be a helper.
Ask: How can you tell when someone “gets you” or understands what you are going through? How do they express that? Is it hard for you to stop and try to relate to what someone else is feeling or see a situation through their eyes? What thoughts or emotions get in your way?
Act:  Practice focusing outward when you are online. Is there anyone who seems lonely, excluded, or in distress? Offer a kind word, an encouragement, and ask questions to learn more about them. (Note: Empathy is an emotion/skill kids learn over time with practice and parental modeling).

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, shame, or target another person online.

Highlight: Not all kids understand the scope of cyberbullying, which can include spreading rumors, sending inappropriate photos, gossiping, subtweeting, and excessive messaging. Kids often mistake cyberbullying for digital drama and overlook abusive behavior. While kids are usually referenced in cyberbullying, the increase in adults involved in online shaming, unfortunately, is quickly changing that ratio.
Ask: Do you think words online can hurt someone in a way, more than words said face-to-face? Why? Have you ever experienced cyberbullying? Would you tell a parent or teacher about it? Why or why not?
Act: Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior and pay attention to his or her online communities. Encourage kids to report bullying (aimed at them or someone else). Talk about what it means to be an Upstander when bullied. If the situation is unresolvable and escalates to threats of violence, report it immediately to law enforcement.

We hope these five concepts spark some lively discussions around your dinner table this week. Depending on the age of your child, you can scale the conversation to fit. And don’t be scared off by eye rolls or sighs, parents. Press into the hard conversations and be consistent. Your voice matters in their noisy, digital world.

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5 Hidden Hashtag Risks Every Parent Needs Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-hidden-hashtag-risks-every-parent-needs-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-hidden-hashtag-risks-every-parent-needs-know/#respond Sat, 21 Sep 2019 14:00:34 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96763

Adding hashtags to a social post has become second nature. In fact, it’s so common, few of us stop to consider that as fun and useful as hashtags can be, they can also have consequences if we misuse them. But hashtags are more than add-ons to a post, they are power tools. In fact, when […]

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Adding hashtags to a social post has become second nature. In fact, it’s so common, few of us stop to consider that as fun and useful as hashtags can be, they can also have consequences if we misuse them.

But hashtags are more than add-ons to a post, they are power tools. In fact, when we put the pound (#) sign in front of a word, we turn that word into a piece of metadata that tags the word, which allows a search engine to index and categorize the attached content so anyone can search it. Looking for advice parenting an autistic child? Then hashtags like #autism #spectrum, or #autismspeaks will connect you with endless content tagged the same way.

Hashtags have become part of our lexicon and are used by individuals, businesses, and celebrities to extend digital influence. Social movements — such as #bekind and #icebucketchallenge — also use hashtags to educate and rally people around a cause. However, the power hashtags possess also means it’s critical to use them with care. Here are several ways people are using hashtags in harmful ways.

5 hidden hashtag risks

  1. Hashtags can put children at risk. Unfortunately, innocent hashtags commonly used by proud parents such as #BackToSchool, #DaddysGirl, or #BabyGirl can be magnets for a pedophile. According to the Child Rescue Coalition, predators troll social media looking for hashtags like #bathtimefun, #cleanbaby, and #pottytrain, to collect images of children. CRC has compiled a list of hashtags parents should avoid using.
  2. Hashtags can compromise privacy. Connecting a hashtag to personal information such as your hometown, your child’s name, or even #HappyBirthdayToMe can give away valuable pieces of your family’s info to a cybercriminal on the hunt to steal identities.
  3. Hashtags can be used in scams. Scammers can use popular hashtags they know people will search to execute several scams. According to NBC News, one popular scam on Instagram is scammers who use luxury brand hashtags like #Gucci or #Dior or coded hashtags such as #mirrorquality #replica and #replicashoes to sell counterfeit goods. Cybercriminals will also search hashtags such as #WaitingToAdopt to target and run scams on hopeful parents.
  4. Hashtags can have hidden meanings. Teens use code or abbreviation hashtags to reference drugs, suicide, mental health, and eating disorders. By searching the hashtag, teens band together with others on the same topic. Some coded hashtags include: #anas (anorexics) #mias (bulimics) #sue (suicide), #cuts (self-harm), #kush and #420 (marijuana).
  5. Hashtags can be used to cyberbully. Posting a picture on a social network and adding mean hashtags is a common way for kids to bully one another. They use hashtags such as #whatnottowear, #losr, #yousuck, #extra, #getalife, #tbh (to be honest) and #peoplewhoshouldoffthemselves on photo captions bully or harass peers. Kids also cyberbully by making up hashtags like #jackieisacow and asking others to use it too. Another hashtag is #roastme in which kids post a photo of themselves and invite others to respond with funny comments only the humor can turn mean very quickly.

When it comes to understanding the online culture, taking the time to stay informed, pausing before you post, and trusting your instincts are critical. Also, being intentional to monitor your child’s social media (including reviewing hashtags) can help you spot potential issues such as bullying, mental health problems, or drug abuse.

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Are Cash Transfer Apps Safe to Use? Here’s What Your Family Needs to Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/are-cash-transfer-apps-safe-to-use-heres-what-your-family-needs-to-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/are-cash-transfer-apps-safe-to-use-heres-what-your-family-needs-to-know/#respond Sat, 14 Sep 2019 16:00:17 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96722

I can’t recall the last time I gave my teenage daughter cash for anything. If she needs money for gas, I Venmo it. A Taco Bell study break with the roommates? No problem. With one click, I transfer money from my Venmo account to hers. She uses a Venmo credit card to make her purchase. […]

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cash appsI can’t recall the last time I gave my teenage daughter cash for anything. If she needs money for gas, I Venmo it. A Taco Bell study break with the roommates? No problem. With one click, I transfer money from my Venmo account to hers. She uses a Venmo credit card to make her purchase. To this mom, cash apps may be the best thing to happen to parenting since location tracking became possible. But as convenient as these apps may be, are they safe for your family to use?

How do they work?

The research company, eMarketer, estimates that 96.0 million people used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payment services this year (that’s 40.4% of all mobile phone users), up from an estimated 82.5 million last year.

P2P technology allows you to create a profile on a transfer app and link your bank account or credit card to it. Once your banking information is set up, you can locate another person’s account on the app (or invite someone to the app) and transfer funds instantly into their P2P account (without the hassle of getting a bank account number, email, or phone number). That person can leave the money in their app account, move it into his or her bank account, or use a debit card issued by the P2P app to use the funds immediately. If the app offers a credit card (like Venmo does), the recipient can use the Venmo card like a credit card at retailers most anywhere. 

Some of the more popular P2P apps include Venmo, Cash App, Zelle, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal.me, Facebook Messenger, and Snapcash, among others. Because of the P2P platform’s rapid growth, more and more investors are entering the market each day to introduce new cash apps, which is causing many analysts to speculate on need for paper check transactions in the future.

Are they safe?

While sending your hard-earned money back and forth through cyberspace on an app doesn’t sound safe, in general, it is. Are there some exceptions? Always. 

Online scam trends often follow consumer purchasing trends and, right now, the hot transaction spot is P2P platforms. Because P2P money is transferred instantly (and irreversibly), scammers exploit this and are figuring out how to take people’s money. After getting a P2P payment, scammers then delete their accounts and disappear — instantly

In 2018 Consumer Reports (CR) compared the potential financial and privacy risks of five mobile P2P services with a focus on payment authentication and data privacy. CR found all the apps had acceptable encryption but some were dinged for not clearly explaining how they protected user data. The consumer advocacy group ranked app safety strength in this order: Apple Pay, Venmo, Cash App, Facebook Messenger, and Zelle. CR also noted they “found nothing to suggest that using these products would threaten the security of your financial and personal data.”

While any app’s architecture may be deemed safe, no app user is immune from scams, which is where app safety can make every difference. If your family uses P2P apps regularly, confirm each user understands the potential risks. Here are just a few of the schemes that have been connected to P2P apps.

cash apps

Potential scams

Fraudulent sellers. This scam targets an unassuming buyer who sends money through a P2P app to purchase an item from someone they met online. The friendly seller casually suggests the buyer “just Venmo or Cash App me.” The buyer sends the money, but the item is never received, and the seller vanishes. This scam has been known to happen in online marketplaces and other trading sites and apps.

Malicious emails. Another scam is sending people an email telling them that someone has deposited money in their P2P account. They are prompted to click a link to go directly to the app, but instead, the malicious link downloads malware onto the person’s phone or computer. The scammer can then glean personal information from the person’s devices. To avoid a malware attack, consider installing comprehensive security software on your family’s computers and devices.

Ticket scams. Beware of anyone selling concert or sporting event tickets online. Buyers can get caught up in the excitement of scoring tickets for their favorite events, send the money via a P2P app, but the seller leaves them empty-handed.

Puppy and romance scams. In this cruel scam, a pet lover falls in love with a photo of a puppy online, uses a P2P app to pay for it, and the seller deletes his or her account and disappears. Likewise, catfish scammers gain someone’s trust. As the romantic relationship grows, the fraudulent person eventually asks to borrow money. The victim sends money using a P2P app only to have their love interest end all communication and vanish.  

P2P safety: Talking points for families

Only connect with family and friends. When using cash apps, only exchange money with people you know. Unlike an insured bank, P2P apps do not refund the money you’ve paid out accidentally or in a scam scenario. P2P apps hold users 100% responsible for transfers. 

Verify details of each transfer. The sender is responsible for funds, even in the case of an accidental transfer. So, if you are paying Joe Smith your half of the rent, be sure you select the correct Joe Smith, (not Joe Smith_1, or Joe Smithe) before you hit send. There could be dozens of name variations to choose from in an app’s directory. Also, verify with your bank that each P2P transaction registers.

Avoid public Wi-Fi transfers. Public Wi-Fi is susceptible to hackers trying to access valuable financial and personal information. For this reason, only use a secure, private Wi-Fi network when using a P2P payment app. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

cash apps

Don’t use P2P apps for business. P2P apps are designed to be used between friends and include no-commercial-use clauses in their policies. For larger business transactions such as buying and selling goods or services use apps like PayPal. 

Lock your app. When you have a P2P app on your phone, it’s like carrying cash. If someone steals your phone, they can go into an unlocked P2P app and send themselves money from your bank account. Set up extra security on your app. Most apps offer PINs, fingerprint IDs, and two-factor authentication. Also, always lock your device home screen.

Adjust privacy settings. Venmo includes a feed that auto shares when users exchange funds, much like a social media feed. To avoid a stranger seeing that you paid a friend for Ed Sheeran tickets (and won’t be home that night), be sure to adjust your privacy settings. 

Read disclosures. One way to assess an app’s safety is to read its disclosures. How does the app protect your privacy and security? How does the app use your data? What is the app’s error-resolution policy? Feel secure with the app you choose.

We’ve learned that the most significant factor in determining an app’s safety comes back to the person using it. If your family loves using P2P apps, be sure to take the time to discuss the responsibility that comes with exchanging cash through apps. 

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3 Things You [Probably] Do Online Every Day that Jeopardize Your Family’s Privacy https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/3-things-you-probably-do-online-every-day-that-jeopardize-your-familys-privacy/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/3-things-you-probably-do-online-every-day-that-jeopardize-your-familys-privacy/#respond Sat, 07 Sep 2019 14:00:58 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96602

Even though most of us are aware of the potential risks, we continue to journal and archive our daily lives online publically. It’s as if we just can’t help it. Our kids are just so darn cute, right? And, everyone else is doing it, so why not join the fun? One example of this has […]

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Even though most of us are aware of the potential risks, we continue to journal and archive our daily lives online publically. It’s as if we just can’t help it. Our kids are just so darn cute, right? And, everyone else is doing it, so why not join the fun?

One example of this has become the digital tradition of parents sharing first-day back-to-school photos. The photos feature fresh-faced, excited kids holding signs to commemorate the big day. The signs often include the child’s name, age, grade, and school. Some back-to-school photos go as far as to include the child’s best friend’s name, favorite TV show, favorite food, their height, weight, and what they want to be when they grow up.

Are these kinds of photos adorable and share-worthy? Absolutely. Could they also be putting your child’s safety and your family’s privacy at risk? Absolutely.

1. Posting identifying family photos

Think about it. If you are a hacker combing social profiles to steal personal information, all those extra details hidden in photos can be quite helpful. For instance, a seemingly harmless back-to-school photo can expose a home address or a street sign in the background. Cyber thieves can zoom in on a photo to see the name on a pet collar, which could be a password clue, or grab details from a piece of mail or a post-it on the refrigerator to add to your identity theft file. On the safety side, a school uniform, team jersey, or backpack emblem could give away a child’s daily location to a predator.

Family Safety Tips
  • Share selectively. Facebook has a private sharing option that allows you to share a photo with specific friends. Instagram has a similar feature.
  • Private groups. Start a private Family & Friends Facebook group, phone text, or start a family chat on an app like GroupMe. This way, grandma and Aunt June feel included in important events, and your family’s personal life remains intact.
  • Photo albums. Go old school. Print and store photos in a family photo album at home away from the public spotlight.
  • Scrutinize your content. Think before you post. Ask yourself if the likes and comments are worth the privacy risk. Pay attention to what’s in the foreground or background of a photo.
  • Use children’s initials. Instead of using your child’s name online, use his or her initials or even a digital nickname when posting. Ask family members to do the same.

2. Using trendy apps, quizzes & challengesfamily privacy

It doesn’t take much to grab our attention or our data these days. A survey recently conducted by the Center for Data Innovation found that 58 percent of Americans are “willing to share their most sensitive personal data” (including medical and location data) in return for using apps and services.

If you love those trendy face-morphing apps, quizzes that reveal what celebrity you look like, and taking part in online challenges, you are likely part of the above statistic. As we learned just recently, people who downloaded the popular FaceApp to age their faces didn’t realize the privacy implications. Online quizzes and challenges (often circulated on Facebook) can open you up to similar risk.

Family Safety Tips

  • Slow down. Read an app’s privacy policy and terms. How will your content or data be used? Is this momentary fun worth exchanging my data?
  • Max privacy settings. If you download an app, adjust your device settings to control app permissions immediately.
  • Delete unused apps. An app you downloaded five years ago and forgot about can still be collecting data from your phone. Clean up and delete apps routinely.
  • Protect your devices. Apps, quizzes, and challenges online can be channels for malicious malware. Take the extra step to ensure your devices are protected.

3. Unintentionally posting personal details

Is it wrong to want an interesting Facebook or Instagram profile? Not at all. But be mindful you are painting a picture with each detail you share. For instance: It’s easy to show off your new dog Fergie and add your email address and phone number to your social profile so friends can easily stay in touch. It’s natural to feel pride in your hometown of Muskogee, to celebrate Katie Beth‘s scholarship and Justin‘s home run. It’s natural to want to post your 23rd anniversary to your beloved Michael (who everyone calls Mickey Dee) on December 15. It’s also common to post about a family reunion with the maternal side of your family, the VanDerhoots.

family privacyWhile it may be common to share this kind of information, it’s still unwise since this one paragraph just gave a hacker 10+ personal details to use in figuring out your passwords.

Family Safety Tips

  • Use, refresh strong passwords. Change your passwords often and be sure to use a robust and unique password or passphrase (i.e., grannymakesmoonshine or glutenfreeformeplease) and make sure you vary passwords between different logins. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Become more mysterious. Make your social accounts private, use selective sharing options, and keep your profile information as minimal as possible.
  • Reduce your friend lists. Do you know the people who can daily view your information? To boost your security, consider curating your friend lists every few months.
  • Fib on security questions. Ethical hacker Stephanie Carruthers advises people who want extra protection online to lie on security questions. So, when asked for your mother’s maiden name, your birthplace, or your childhood friend, answer with Nutella, Disneyland, or Dora the Explorer.

We’ve all unwittingly uploaded content, used apps, or clicked buttons that may have compromised our privacy. That’s okay, don’t beat yourself up. Just take a few hours and clean up, lockdown, and streamline your social content. With new knowledge comes new power to close the security gaps and create new digital habits.

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7 Questions to Ask Your Child’s School About Cybersecurity Protocols https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/7-questions-to-ask-your-childs-school-about-cybersecurity-protocols/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/7-questions-to-ask-your-childs-school-about-cybersecurity-protocols/#respond Sat, 31 Aug 2019 14:00:23 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96570

Just a few weeks into the new school year and, already, reports of malicious cyberattacks in schools have hit the headlines. While you’ve made digital security strides in your home, what concerns if any should you have about your child’s data being compromised at school? There’s a long and short answer to that question. The […]

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Just a few weeks into the new school year and, already, reports of malicious cyberattacks in schools have hit the headlines. While you’ve made digital security strides in your home, what concerns if any should you have about your child’s data being compromised at school?

There’s a long and short answer to that question. The short answer is don’t lose sleep (it’s out of your control) but get clarity and peace of mind by asking your school officials the right questions. 

The long answer is that cybercriminals have schools in their digital crosshairs. According to a recent report in The Hill, school districts are becoming top targets of malicious attacks, and government entities are scrambling to fight back. These attacks are costing school districts (taxpayers) serious dollars and costing kids (and parents) their privacy.


Prime Targets

According to one report, a U.S. school district becomes the victim of cyberattack as often as every three days. The reason for this is that cybercriminals want clean data to exploit for dozens of nefarious purposes. The best place to harvest pure data is schools where social security numbers are usually unblemished and go unchecked for years. At the same time, student data can be collected and sold on the dark web. Data at risk include vaccination records, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, and contacts used for identity theft. 

Top three cyberthreats

The top three threats against schools are data breaches, phishing scams, and ransomware. Data breaches can happen through phishing scams and malware attacks that could include malicious email links or fake accounts posing as acquaintances. In a ransomware attack, a hacker locks down a school’s digital network and holds data for a ransom. 

Over the past month, hackers have hit K-12 schools in New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Virginia, Oklahoma, Connecticut, and Louisiana. Universities are also targeted.

In the schools impacted, criminals were able to find loopholes in their security protocols. A loophole can be an unprotected device, a printer, or a malicious email link opened by a new employee. It can even be a calculated scam like the Virginia school duped into paying a fraudulent vendor $600,000 for a football field. The cybercrime scenarios are endless. 

7 key questions to ask

  1. Does the school have a data security and privacy policy in place as well as cyberattack response plan?
  2. Does the school have a system to educate staff, parents, and students about potential risks and safety protocols? 
  3. Does the school have a data protection officer on staff responsible for implementing security and privacy policies?
  4. Does the school have reputable third-party vendors to ensure the proper technology is in place to secure staff and student data?
  5. Are data security and student privacy a fundamental part of onboarding new school employees?
  6. Does the school create backups of valuable information and store them separately from the central server to protect against ransomware attacks?
  7. Does the school have any new technology initiatives planned? If so, how will it address student data protection?

The majority of schools are far from negligent. Leaders know the risks, and many have put recognized cybersecurity frameworks in place. Also, schools have the pressing challenge of 1) providing a technology-driven education to students while at the same time, 2) protecting student/staff privacy and 3) finding funds to address the escalating risk.

Families can add a layer of protection to a child’s data while at school by making sure devices are protected in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) setting. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. While schools work hard to implement safeguards, be sure you are taking responsibility in your digital life and equipping your kids to do the same. 

 

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Clicks & Cliques: How to Help Your Daughter Deal with Mean Girls Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/clicks-cliques-how-to-help-your-daughter-deal-with-mean-girls-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/clicks-cliques-how-to-help-your-daughter-deal-with-mean-girls-online/#respond Sat, 24 Aug 2019 14:00:27 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96480

According to a new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), mean girls are out in force online. Data shows that girls report three times as much harassment online (21%) as boys (less than 7%). While the new data does not specify the gender of the aggressors, experts say most girls are bullied […]

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According to a new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), mean girls are out in force online. Data shows that girls report three times as much harassment online (21%) as boys (less than 7%). While the new data does not specify the gender of the aggressors, experts say most girls are bullied by other girls.

With school back in full swing, it’s a great time to talk with your kids — especially girls — about how to deal with cyberbullies. Doing so could mean the difference between a smooth school year and a tumultuous one.

The mean girl phenomenon, brought into the spotlight by the 2004 movie of the same name, isn’t new. Only today, mean girls use social media to dish the dirt, which can be devastating to those targeted. Mean girls are known to use cruel digital tactics such as exclusion, cliques, spreading rumors online, name-calling, physical threats, sharing explicit images of others, shaming, sharing secrets, and recruiting others to join the harassment effort.

How parents can help

Show empathy. If your daughter is the target of mean girls online, she needs your ears and your empathy. The simple, powerful phrase, “I understand,” can be an instant bridge builder. Parents may have trouble comprehending the devastating effects of cyberbullying because they, unlike their child, did not grow up under the threat of being electronically attacked or humiliated. This lack of understanding, or empathy gap, can be closed by a parent making every effort empathize with a child’s pain.

Encourage confidence and assertiveness. Mean girls target people they consider weak or vulnerable. If they know they can exploit another person publicly and get away with it, it’s game on. Even if your daughter is timid, confidence and assertiveness can be practiced and learned. Find teachable moments at home and challenge your daughter to boldly express her opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Her ability to stand up for herself will grow over time, so get started role-playing and brainstorming various ways to respond to mean girls with confidence.

Ask for help. Kids often keep bullying a secret to keep a situation from getting worse. Unfortunately, this thinking can backfire. Encourage your daughter to reach out for help if a mean girl situation escalates. She can reach out to a teacher, a parent, or a trusted adult. She can also reach out to peers. There’s power in numbers, so asking friends to come alongside during a conflict can curb a cyberbully’s efforts.

Exercise self-control. When it comes to her behavior, mean girls habitually go low, so encourage your daughter always to go high.  Regardless of the cruelty dished out, it’s important to maintain a higher standard. Staying calm, using respectful, non-aggressive language, and speaking in a confident voice, can discourage a mean girl’s actions faster than retribution.

Build a healthy perspective. Remind your daughter that even though bullying feels extremely personal, it’s not. A mean girl’s behavior reflects her own pain and character deficits, which has nothing to do with her target. As much as possible, help your daughter separate herself from the rumors or lies being falsely attached to her. Remind her of her strengths and the bigger picture that exists beyond the halls of middle school and high school.

Teach and prioritize self-care. In this context, self-care is about balance and intention. It includes spending more time doing what builds you up emotionally and physically — such as sleep and exercise — and less time doing things that deplete you (like mindlessly scrolling through Instagram).

Digitally walk away. When mean girls attack online, they are looking for a fight. However, if their audience disengages, a bully can quickly lose power and interest. Walk away digitally by not responding, unfollowing, blocking, flagging, or reporting an abusive account. Parents can also help by monitoring social activity with comprehensive software. Knowing where your child spends time online and with whom, is one way to spot the signs of cyberbullying.

Parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier as our kids get older and social media only adds another layer of complexity and concern. Even so, with consistent family conversation and connection, parents can equip kids to handle any situation that comes at them online.

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Digital Parenting: How to Keep the Peace with Your Kids Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/digital-parenting-how-to-keep-the-peace-with-your-kids-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/digital-parenting-how-to-keep-the-peace-with-your-kids-online/#respond Sat, 17 Aug 2019 14:00:06 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96433

Simply by downloading the right combination of apps, parents can now track their child’s location 24/7, monitor their same social conversations, and inject their thoughts into their lives in a split second. To a parent, that’s called safety. To kids, it’s considered maddening. Kids are making it clear that parents armed with apps are overstepping […]

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Simply by downloading the right combination of apps, parents can now track their child’s location 24/7, monitor their same social conversations, and inject their thoughts into their lives in a split second. To a parent, that’s called safety. To kids, it’s considered maddening.

Kids are making it clear that parents armed with apps are overstepping their roles in many ways. And, parents, concerned about the risks online are making it clear they aren’t about to let their kids run wild.

I recently watched the relationship of a mother and her 16-year-old daughter fall apart over the course of a year. When the daughter got her driver’s license (along with her first boyfriend), the mother started tracking her daughter’s location with the Life360 app to ease her mind. However, the more she tracked, the more the confrontations escalated. Eventually, the daughter, feeling penned in, waged a full-blown rebellion that is still going strong.

There’s no perfect way to parent, especially in the digital space. There are, however, a few ways that might help us drive our digital lanes more efficiently and keep the peace. But first, we may need to curb (or ‘chill out on’ as my kids put it) some annoying behaviors we may have picked up along the way.

Here are just a few ways to keep the peace and avoid colliding with your kids online:

Interact with care on their social media. It’s not personal. It’s human nature. Kids (tweens and teens) don’t want to hang out with their parents in public — that especially applies online. They also usually aren’t too crazy about you connecting with their friends online. And tagging your tween or teen in photos? Yeah, that’s taboo. Tip: If you need to comment on a photo (be it positive or negative) do it in person or with a direct message, not under the floodlights of social media. This is simply respecting your child’s social boundaries. 

Ask before you share pictures. Most parents think posting pictures of their kids online is a simple expression of love or pride, but to kids, it can be extremely embarrassing, and even an invasion of privacy. Tip: Be discerning about how much you post about your kids online and what you post. Junior may not think a baby picture of him potty training is so cute. Go the extra step and ask your child’s permission before posting a photo of them.

Keep tracking and monitoring in check. Just because you have the means to monitor your kids 24/7 doesn’t mean you should. It’s wise to know where your child goes online (and off) but when that action slips into a preoccupation, it can wreck a relationship (it’s also exhausting). The fact that some kids make poor digital choices doesn’t mean your child will. If your fears about the online world and assumptions about your child’s behavior have led you to obsessively track their location, monitor their conversations, and hover online, it may be time to re-engineer your approach. Tip: Put the relationship with your child first. Invest as much time into talking to your kids and spending one-one time with them as you do tracking them. Put conversation before control so that you can parent from confidence, rather than fear.

Avoid interfering in conflicts. Kids will be bullied, meet people who don’t like them and go through tough situations. Keeping kids safe online can be done with wise, respectful monitoring. However, that monitoring can slip into lawnmower parenting (mowing over any obstacle that gets in a child’s path) as described in this viral essay. Tip: Don’t block your child’s path to becoming a capable adult. Unless there’s a serious issue to your child’s health and safety, try to stay out of his or her online conflicts. Keep it on your radar but let it play out. Allow your child to deal with peers, feel pain, and find solutions. 

As parents, we’re all trying to find the balance between allowing kids to have their space online and still keep them safe. Too much tracking can cause serious family strife while too little can be inattentive in light of the risks. Parenting today is a difficult road that’s always a work-in-progress so give yourself permission to keep learning and improving your process along the way

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How to Help Kids Steer Clear of Digital Drama this School Year https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-help-kids-steer-clear-of-digital-drama-this-school-year/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-help-kids-steer-clear-of-digital-drama-this-school-year/#respond Sat, 10 Aug 2019 11:00:33 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96385

Editor’s note: This is Part II of helping kids manage digital risks this new school year. Read Part I. The first few weeks back to school can be some of the most exciting yet turbulent times of the year for middle and high schoolers. So as brains and smartphones shift into overdrive, a parent’s ability […]

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Editor’s note: This is Part II of helping kids manage digital risks this new school year. Read Part I.

The first few weeks back to school can be some of the most exciting yet turbulent times of the year for middle and high schoolers. So as brains and smartphones shift into overdrive, a parent’s ability to coach kids through digital drama is more critical than ever.

Paying attention to these risks is the first step in equipping your kids to respond well to any challenges ahead. Kids face a troubling list of social realities their parents never had to deal with such as cyberbullying, sexting scandals, shaming, ghosting, reputation harm, social anxiety, digital addiction, and online conflict.

As reported by internet safety expert and author Sue Scheff in Psychology Today, recent studies also reveal that young people are posting under the influence and increasingly sharing risky photos. Another study cites that 20 percent of teens and 33 percent of young adults have posted risky photos and about 8 percent had their private content forwarded without their consent.

No doubt, the seriousness of these digital issues is tough to read about but imagine living with the potential of a digital misstep each day? Consider:

  • How would you respond to a hateful or embarrassing comment on one of your social posts?
  • What would you do if your friends misconstrued a comment you shared in a group text and collectively started shunning you?
  • What would you do if you discovered a terrible rumor circulating about you online?
  • Where would you turn? Where would you support and guidance?

If any of these questions made you anxious, you understand why parental attention and intention today is more important than ever. Here are just a few of the more serious sit-downs to have with your kids as the new school year gets underway.

Let’s Talk About It

Define digital abuse. For kids, the digital conversation never ends, which makes it easier for unacceptable behaviors to become acceptable over time. Daily stepping into a cultural melting pot of values and behaviors can blur the lines for a teenage brain that is still developing. For this reason, it’s critical to define inappropriate behavior such as cyberbullying, hate speech, shaming, crude jokes, sharing racy photos, and posting anything intended to cause hurt to another person.

If it’s public, it’s permanent. Countless reputations, academic pursuits, and careers have been shattered because someone posted reckless digital content. Everything — even pictures shared between best friends in a “private” chat or text — is considered public. Absolutely nothing is private or retractable. That includes impulsive tweets or contributing to an argument online.

Steer clear of drama magnets. If you’ve ever witnessed your child weather an online conflict, you know how brutal kids can be. While conflict is part of life, digital conflict is a new level of destruction that should be avoided whenever possible. Innocent comments can quickly escalate out of control. Texting compromises intent and distorts understanding. Immaturity can magnify miscommunication. Encourage your child to steer clear of group texts, gossip-prone people, and topics that can lead to conflict.

Mix monitoring and mentoring. Kids inevitably will overshare personal details, say foolish things, and make mistakes online. Expect a few messes. To guide them forward, develop your own balance of monitoring and mentoring. To monitor, know what apps your kids use and routinely review their social conversations (without commenting on their feeds). Also, consider a security solution to help track online activity. As a mentor, listening is your superpower. Keep the dialogue open, honest, and non-judgmental and let your child know that you are there to help no matter what.

Middle and high school years can be some of the most friendship-rich and perspective-shaping times in a person’s life. While drama will always be part of the teenage equation, digital drama and it’s sometimes harsh fallout doesn’t have to be. So take the time to coach your kids through the rough patches of online life so that, together, you can protect and enjoy these precious years.

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5 Digital Risks That Could Affect Your Kids This New School Year https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-digital-risks-that-could-affect-your-kids-this-new-school-year/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-digital-risks-that-could-affect-your-kids-this-new-school-year/#respond Sat, 03 Aug 2019 16:49:17 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96280 digital risks

Starting a new school year is both exciting and stressful for families today. Technology has magnified learning and connection opportunities for our kids but not without physical and emotional costs that we can’t overlook this time of year. But the transition from summer to a new school year offers families a fresh slate and the […]

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digital risks

digital risksStarting a new school year is both exciting and stressful for families today. Technology has magnified learning and connection opportunities for our kids but not without physical and emotional costs that we can’t overlook this time of year.

But the transition from summer to a new school year offers families a fresh slate and the chance to evaluate what digital ground rules need to change when it comes to screen time. So as you consider new goals, here are just a few of the top digital risks you may want to keep on your radar.

  1. Cyberbullying. The online space for a middle or high school student can get ugly this time of year. In two years, cyberbullying has increased significantly from 11.5% to 15.3%. Also, three times as many girls reported being harassed online or by text than boys, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
    Back-to-School Tip: Keep the cyberbullying discussion honest and frequent in your home. Monitor your child’s social media apps if you have concerns that cyberbullying may be happening. To do this, click the social icons periodically to explore behind the scenes (direct messages, conversations, shared photos). Review and edit friend lists, maximize location and privacy settings, and create family ground rules that establish expectations about appropriate digital behavior, content, and safe apps.Make an effort to stay current on the latest social media apps, trends, and texting slang so you can spot red flags. Lastly, be sure kids understand the importance of tolerance, empathy, and kindness among diverse peer groups.
  2. Oversharing. Did you know that 30% of parents report posting a photo of their child(ren) to social media at least once per day, and 58% don’t ask permission? By the age of 13, studies estimate that parents have posted about 1,300 photos and videos of their children online. A family’s collective oversharing can put your child’s privacy, reputation, and physical safety at risk. Besides, with access to a child’s personal information, a cybercriminal can open fraudulent accounts just about anywhere.
    Back-to-School Tip: Think before you post and ask yourself, “Would I be okay with a stranger seeing this photo?” Make sure there is nothing in the photo that could be an identifier such as a birthdate, a home address, school uniforms, financial details, or password hints. Also, maximize privacy settings on social networks and turn off photo geo-tagging that embeds photos with a person’s exact coordinates. Lastly, be sure your child understands the lifelong consequences that sharing explicit photos can have on their lives.
  3. Mental health + smartphone use. There’s no more disputing it (or indulging tantrums that deny it) smartphone use and depression are connected. Several studies of teens from the U.S. and U.K. reveal similar findings: That happiness and mental health are highest at 30 minutes to two hours of extracurricular digital media use a day. Well-being then steadily decreases, according to the studies, revealing that heavy users of electronic devices are twice as unhappy, depressed, or distressed as light users.
    Back-to-School Tip: Listen more and talk less. Kids tend to share more about their lives, friends, hopes, and struggles if they believe you are truly listening and not lecturing. Nurturing a healthy, respectful, mutual dialogue with your kids is the best way to minimize a lot of the digital risks your kids face every day. Get practical: Don’t let your kids have unlimited phone use. Set and follow media ground rules and enforce the consequences of abusing them.
  4. Sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation connected to smartphone use can dramatically increase once the hustle of school begins and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) accelerates. According to a 2019 Common Sense Media survey, a third of teens take their phones to bed when they go to sleep; 33% girls versus 26% of boys. Too, 1 in 3 teens reports waking up at least once per night and checking their phones.digital risks
    Back-to-School Tip:
    Kids often text, playing games, watch movies, or YouTube videos randomly scroll social feeds or read the news on their phones in bed. For this reason, establish a phone curfew that prohibits this. Sleep is food for the body, and tweens and teens need about 8 to 10 hours to keep them healthy. Discuss the physical and emotional consequences of losing sleep, such as sleep deprivation, increased illness, poor grades, moodiness, anxiety, and depression.
  5. School-related cyber breaches. A majority of schools do an excellent job of reinforcing the importance of online safety these days. However, that doesn’t mean it’s own cybersecurity isn’t vulnerable to cyber threats, which can put your child’s privacy at risk. Breaches happen in the form of phishing emails, ransomware, and any loopholes connected to weak security protocols.
    Back-to-School Tip: Demand that schools be transparent about the data they are collecting from students and families. Opt-out of the school’s technology policy if you believe it doesn’t protect your child or if you sense an indifferent attitude about privacy. Ask the staff about its cybersecurity policy to ensure it has a secure password, software, and network standards that could affect your family’s data is compromised.

Stay the course, parent, you’ve got this. Armed with a strong relationship and media ground rules relevant to your family, together, you can tackle any digital challenge the new school year may bring.

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FOMO: How to Help Digital Kids Overcome the Feeling of Missing Out https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/fomo-how-to-help-digital-kids-overcome-the-feeling-of-missing-out/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/fomo-how-to-help-digital-kids-overcome-the-feeling-of-missing-out/#respond Sat, 27 Jul 2019 14:00:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=96027

What happens when you give hundreds of teenagers smartphones and unlimited access to chat apps and social networks 24/7? A generation emerges with a condition called Fear of Missing Out, or, FOMO. While feelings of FOMO have been around for centuries, social media has done its part to amplify it, which can cause some serious […]

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What happens when you give hundreds of teenagers smartphones and unlimited access to chat apps and social networks 24/7? A generation emerges with a condition called Fear of Missing Out, or, FOMO. While feelings of FOMO have been around for centuries, social media has done its part to amplify it, which can cause some serious emotional fallout for teens today.

What is FOMO

FOMO is that uneasy and often consuming feeling you’re missing out on something more interesting, exciting or better than what you are currently doing. FOMO affects people of all ages in various ways since 77% of humans now own phones. However, for uber-digital teens, FOMO can hit especially hard. Seeing a friend’s Paris vacation photos on Instagram or watching friends at a party on Snapchat can spark feelings of sadness and loneliness that can lead to anxiety and even depression.

As one mom recently shared with us: “My daughter called me a few months ago saying she wanted to drop out of college and travel the world. When I asked her what sparked this and how she planned to finance her adventure, she said, ‘everyone else is doing it, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out.'”

After further discussion, the mom discovered that her daughter’s idea to drop out was a combination of intense FOMO and lack of sleep. It was exam week, the pressure was high, and scrolling Instagram made her daughter question her life choices. When exams ended, her daughter got some sleep and took a few days off of social media and remains in school today.

Signs of FOMO

  • Constantly checking social media (even while on vacation, out with friends, or attending a fun event)
  • Constantly refreshing your screen to get the latest updates and to see people’s responses to your posts
  • Feeling you need to be available and respond to your friends 24/7
  • Obsessively posting your daily activities online
  • Feeling of needing new things, new experiences, a better life
  • Feeling sad, lonely, or depressed after being on social media for extended periods of time
  • Feeling dissatisfaction with one’s life
  • Making life choices or financial decisions based on what you see online

Coaching Kids through FOMO

Nurture JOMO. The Joy of Missing Out, JOMO, is the opposite of FOMO. It’s the feeling of freedom and even relief that we’ve unplugged and are fully present in the moment. To encourage more JOMO and less FOMO, parents can help guide kids toward personal contentment with more phone-free activities such as reading, journaling, face-to-face conversations, outdoor activities, and practicing mindfulness.

Other ways to encourage JOMO: Remind kids they have choices and don’t have to say “yes” to every invitation and to ask themselves, “Is this something I really want to do?” Also, consider challenging them to turn off their phone notifications, try a digital cleanse for a day or even a week, and read and discuss this great JOMO Manifesto together. A big perk of embracing JOMO is also “missing out” on some of the digital risks such as oversharing and risks to reputation and privacy.

Keep a thought journal. Changing your thinking is hard work. Experts suggest that kids suffering from anxiety, depression, or FOMO keep a thought journal to track, analyze, and reframe negative thoughts in more realistic, honest ones. For example, an initial thought might be: “I can’t believe my friends went to the concert without me. They must not want me around.” After thinking honestly about the situation, that thought might change to: “I don’t even like that band, wouldn’t spend money to see them, and my friends know that. Anyway, I had a blast with Ashley at the movies tonight.”

Cut back on social media. Cutting back sounds like an obvious fix, right? That’s the thing about unhealthy habits — they can be very tough to break and sometimes we need help. Most kids will be quick to argue that the amount of time they spend online doesn’t impact their emotions at all but numerous studies and common sense contradict that reasoning. They say this because the thought of cutting back on their social media habits can strike panic. It’s a love-hate routine they don’t quite know how to stop and it is their go-to remedy for boredom. So persist in helping your child reduce screen time. Be creative by offering alternate activities and helping them stay on track with their goals.

Curate for quality. This tip will, no doubt, challenge your kids. You may even get a flat “no way” when you suggest it. When it comes to photo-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, challenge your child to think about why they follow certain friends or accounts. Challenge them to delete feeds that are not encouraging, useful, or post quality content. They may not want to reduce their friends’ list (follower and friend counts matter) but they can mute accounts so they don’t have to see content that triggers FOMO feelings.

FOMO is a very real feeling so if your child shows signs of it be sure to validate their feelings. Periodic feelings of exclusion and hurt are part of being human. Don’t, however, allow faulty, streaming perceptions to push out the true joys of real-life experiences. Be the bridge of reason for your kids reminding them that social media spotlights the best versions of people’s lives — the filtered versions — but that nothing compares to showing up and living the real adventure.

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YOLO: What Parents Need to Know About the Anonymity App Kids Use with Snapchat https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/yolo-what-parents-need-to-know-about-the-anonymity-app-kids-use-with-snapchat/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/yolo-what-parents-need-to-know-about-the-anonymity-app-kids-use-with-snapchat/#respond Sat, 20 Jul 2019 14:00:06 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95971

If your kids use Snapchat, chances are they also use the popular new app YOLO along with it. Since it’s debut in May YOLO has been downloaded over 5 million times, and kids absolutely love it. Whether or not parents love it, however, remains to be seen. But before rendering YOLO yet one more risky […]

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If your kids use Snapchat, chances are they also use the popular new app YOLO along with it. Since it’s debut in May YOLO has been downloaded over 5 million times, and kids absolutely love it. Whether or not parents love it, however, remains to be seen.

But before rendering YOLO yet one more risky app (because frankly, all apps are dangerous if used recklessly) let’s take a closer look at what the attraction is for teens and how we can equip them to use it wisely.

Why kids love it

Snapchat is already where kids spend a lot of their time, and YOLO is an app specifically designed to work in tandem with the Snapchat interface. YOLO enhances that experience by allowing Snapchat users to invite other Snapchat friends to ask or answer questions anonymously. And who hasn’t been curious about what other people think about them or wish they could access how someone “really” feels about something? Kids can ask any number of questions such as if people think they are funny, if their new hairstyle works, how to lean on a big decision, or if others share their fear of clowns. The possibilities are endless. This kind of connection — without having to put your name on your answer — offers some a fresh level of honesty and peer connection.

What makes it risky

The exact reasons kids love YOLO — anonymity, curiosity, honesty — are why the app could (and by some reports already has) turn into the latest breeding ground for bullying. Similar to anonymous apps preceding YOLO such as Yik Yak and Saraha, users can say whatever they want without attaching their name. Apple and Google stores have banned similar anonymous apps over accusations of hate speech and bullying.

What parents can do 

Talk about the app with your kids. Pull YOLO up and see how your child is using the Q&A app and the kinds of questions and responses he or she is collecting. Discuss any concerns you see.

Discuss the risks of anonymity. There’s a psychological phenomenon known as the online disinhibition effect, which means people feel less attached and responsible for their actions when they feel removed from their real identities. In short, when people can be anonymous online, they tend to say things they’d never say to someone in person. Warn kids that when they open themselves up to anonymous comments, they can also be opening themselves up to hurt. So, proceed with caution.

Check privacy. The YOLO app is very vague about how its user data is shared. As with any popular app, be mindful of the permissions you grant. Periodically, consider going through your phone settings to review and edit what information an app is collecting. Check to see if an app has access to your photos, location, social map, health information, purchasing habits, contacts, calendar, camera, or more.

Limit YOLO circle. Likely, because the YOLO app went viral so quickly, the site does not include app policies or guidelines or how to report abuses, which is a problem. The only nod to safety is in a brief app description in the Apple store: “YOLO is for positive feedback only. Be kind, respectful, show compassion with other users; otherwise, you will be banned. Please, be mindful of what you send.” To reduce potential bullying, advise kids to only send their questions to people they know and trust with kind responses. If problems arise, encourage kids to delete the app.

Words have power. Removing your face and name from a comment does not dilute the power of the words shared. Remind kids that their words can either be used to build someone up or tear them down and that being “honest” with someone doesn’t include giving mean spirited opinions or taking part in online trends that allow an “anything goes” mentality, as was the case with the TBH (To Be Honest) app.

Consider the tone of a text. Remind your child that even when someone posts something, they may consider funny, it may not be funny to the person on the receiving end. Because of the vulnerability factor of Q & A apps, they can cause unnecessary drama. Intent and inflection often get lost online, and even a seemingly small comment can quickly escalate into a big deal. With more social networks taking steps to reduce online hate speech and bullying, users must do their part and think before posting sensitive comments.

Stress responsibility, and empathy. Relating to others with empathy — putting oneself in the shoes of another person to understand and share their feelings — is often harder to do online than face-to-face. Stress to your child the importance of being responsible online and remembering the real people, with real feelings on the other side of a blank text box.

New apps come out every day. Some catch on like wildfire, like YOLO, and others have traction for a while then fade into cyber oblivion. Regardless of an app’s staying power, discuss app safety with your kids openly and often. Also, as an added layer of protection on devices, consider security software to monitor device activity and block inappropriate apps and websites.

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Family Safety: Twitter, Instagram Beef Up Measures to Fight Hate Speech, Bullying https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-safety-twitter-instagram-beef-up-measures-to-fight-hate-speech-bullying/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-safety-twitter-instagram-beef-up-measures-to-fight-hate-speech-bullying/#respond Mon, 15 Jul 2019 18:18:27 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95926

The past few weeks have proven to be wins for family safety with several top social networks announcing changes to their policies and procedures to reduce the amount of hateful conduct and online bullying. Twitter: ‘Dehumanizing Language Increases Risk’ In response to rising violence against religious minorities, Twitter said this week that it would update […]

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The past few weeks have proven to be wins for family safety with several top social networks announcing changes to their policies and procedures to reduce the amount of hateful conduct and online bullying.

Twitter: ‘Dehumanizing Language Increases Risk’

In response to rising violence against religious minorities, Twitter said this week that it would update its hateful conduct rules to include dehumanizing speech against religious groups.

“Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research shows that dehumanizing language increases that risk . . . we’re expanding our rules against hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others based on religion,” the company wrote on its Twitter Safety blog.

Twitter offered two resources that go in-depth on the link between dehumanizing language and offline harm that is worth reading and sharing with your kids. Experts Dr. Susan Benesch and Nick Haslam and Michelle Stratemeyer define hate speech, talk about its various contexts, and advise on how to counter it.

Instagram: ‘This intervention gives people a chance to reflect.’ 

Instagram announced it would be rolling out two new features to reduce potentially offensive content. The first, powered by artificial intelligence, prompts users to pause before posting. For instance, if a person is about to post a cruel comment such as “you are so stupid,” the user will get a pop-up notification asking, “are you sure you want to post this?”

A second anti-bullying function new to Instagram is called “Restrict,” a setting that will allow users to indiscreetly block bullies from looking at your account. Restrict is a quieter way to cut someone off from seeing your content than blocking, reporting, or unfollowing, which could spark more bullying.

These digital safety moves by both Instagram and Twitter are big wins for families concerned about the growing amount of questionable content and bullying online.

If you get a chance, go over the basics of these new social filters with your kids.

Other ways to avoid online bullying:

Wise posting. Encourage kids to pause and consider tone, word choice, and any language that may be offensive or hurtful to another person, race, or gender. You are your child’s best coach and teacher when it comes to using social apps responsibly.

Stay positive and trustworthy. Coach kids around online conflict and the importance of sharing verified information. Encourage your child to be part of the solution in stopping rumors and reporting digital skirmishes and dangerous content to appropriate platforms.

Avoid risky apps. Apps like ask.fm allow anonymity should be off limits. Kik Messenger, Yik Yak, Tinder, Down, and Whisper may also present risks. Remember: Any app is risky if kids are reckless with privacy settings, conduct, content, or the people they allow to connect with them.

Layer security. Use a comprehensive solution to help monitor screentime, filter content, and monitor potentially risky apps and websites.

Monitor gaming communities. Gaming time can skyrocket during the summer and in a competitive environment, so can cyberbullying. Listen in and monitor game time conversations and make every effort to help him or her balance summer gaming time.

Make profiles and photos private. Require kids under 18 to make all social profiles private. By doing this, you limit online circles to known friends and reduces the possibility of cyberbullying and online conflict.

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How to Help Kids Build Strong Digital Habits Before Summer Slips Away https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-help-kids-build-strong-digital-habits-before-summer-slips-away/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-help-kids-build-strong-digital-habits-before-summer-slips-away/#respond Tue, 09 Jul 2019 14:00:24 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95803

Few seasons are more important to the parent-child bond than summer. The days are longer, fewer activities are crowding the family calendar, and if we’re lucky, we can grab a few more quiet moments with one another. So how will you spend these last few, magical weeks of summer before the frenzy of a new […]

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Few seasons are more important to the parent-child bond than summer. The days are longer, fewer activities are crowding the family calendar, and if we’re lucky, we can grab a few more quiet moments with one another.

So how will you spend these last few, magical weeks of summer before the frenzy of a new school year arrives? We hope it includes a lot more fun and taking time to connect with your kids about what’s going on in their online world.

Thanks to the results of a recent survey, we have some clear and current insight into the digital issues most important to parents.*

Survey: Top digital concerns for parents

  • Knowing which apps my children are using 66.67%
  • Knowing which sites my children are visiting 65.83%
  • Knowing what my children are posting online 62.50%
  • Being able to put parental controls on my children’s smartphone, tablet and/or computers 62.50%
  • Keeping photos of my children/ family safe 60.83%
  • Monitoring and/or limiting the amount of time my children spend online 55.83%
  • My children’s use of social media 55.00%
  • My children’s use of texting 52.50%

Before summer slips away, we challenge you (as well as ourselves!) to bring up these critical conversations with your kids. Doing so will help to equip them and give you peace of mind as your family heads closer to the new school year.

5 Digital Concerns & Solutions

  1. App Safety: Look at the apps on your child’s phone (don’t forget to look for decoy apps). Also, ask your child questions about his or her favorite apps and download and explore the app yourself. Analyze the content and culture. Check app reviews for potential dangers. Are the accounts your child follows on the app age-appropriate? Are the comments and conversations positive? Does your child know his or her followers? Is your child posting appropriately? Follow your gut, parent: If you believe the app is harmful, discuss the reasons, and delete the app.
  2. Track Online Activity: One of the most common questions we get at McAfee from parents is, “Where do I go to find out information about what my kids are doing online?” Simply put: You go where they go. Start with their phones. Depending on the age of your child, you as a parent can determine how frequently and how deeply you want to dive into your child’s apps, direct messages, and texts. An invasion of privacy? Perhaps, depending on your point of view and parenting style. But if you are genuinely concerned about your child’s online activity, then some form of monitoring is a must. Let your kids know you are monitoring their activity and why — there’s no need to spy. A few basics: Google your child’s name, check their PC online history log, agree on weekly phone checks, and open and explore phone apps. Sound like a lot of work? It is. The more efficient way of tracking online activity is using parental controls, which helps you set limits on sites visited, apps used, hours online, and location tracking. A comprehensive software solution can be a game-changer for parents who are exhausted with phone tracking routines and arguments.
  3. Time Limits: We know that excess screen time can lead to physical and emotional issues in kids, but reducing family screen time online can be a challenge. Cutting back takes consistent effort such as family media use rules, establishing phone-free zones like dinnertime, movie time, and family outings. Turning off notifications, deleting tempting apps, and having a phone curfew can significantly impact online time as can the use of parental controls.
  4. Smart Photo Sharing: Be mindful of the risks of sharing photos online and discuss them with your kids. Remind your child to lock privacy settings on each app, to only share photos with known friends, to turn off geo as well as photo tagging, and to never share inappropriate images online.
  5. Safe Texting: When it comes to texting, parents often want to know how to curb the amount of texting, and if the content is harmful. To help curb texting: Teach kids self-control and remind them that they don’t have to respond to friends right away. Challenge them to turn off text notifications and only check their phone at set times. Reduce texting anxiety by enforcing a phone curfew, so kids don’t text into the night or wake up to text conversations. On the topic of content: If you know there’s an issue — get equipped so you can respond. Understand what’s going on with group chat conflict, cyberbullying, and the texting slag kids use.

While monitoring and parental controls are two of the best tools parents have, we know that equipping kids to be safe online comes down to two things: A strong parent-child connection and engaged parenting. This will look different in the context of every family but might include creating age-appropriate family ground rules for online activity (and enforcing them!), open communication, modeling a healthy digital balance, and taking the time to listen to your child and what’s going on in his or her life and heart.

* McAfee commissioned Response Marketing to conduct a survey in the U.S. in April 2019.

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Summer Scam Alerts: Don’t Let Crooks Wreck Your Family Travel Plans https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/summer-scam-alerts-dont-let-crooks-wreck-your-family-travel-plans/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/summer-scam-alerts-dont-let-crooks-wreck-your-family-travel-plans/#respond Sat, 06 Jul 2019 14:19:01 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95780

While our click-and-pay digital lifestyle makes accessing travel and entertainment more convenient, for every app or website we loop into our travel plans, crooks gain a potential pathway into our lives. This summer, be mindful that while you intend to relax and unwind a little, cybercriminals are working overtime to catch consumers off guard. Here […]

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While our click-and-pay digital lifestyle makes accessing travel and entertainment more convenient, for every app or website we loop into our travel plans, crooks gain a potential pathway into our lives.

This summer, be mindful that while you intend to relax and unwind a little, cybercriminals are working overtime to catch consumers off guard. Here are just a few of the latest scams that could affect your family travel plans this summer and a few tips on how to amp your security.

5 Summer Scams to Look Out For

  1. Bogus booking sites. If that flight, accommodation, or rental deal is too good to be true, pause before you purchase. According to a recent study, 30% of respondents have been defrauded by malicious travel deals.
    Summer safety tip: Pause before you purchase and think before you click. Scammers will use fake websites, apps, or phishing emails to get you to purchase. These scams are designed to access your credit card, personal information, or to download malware onto your device. Unsure about a company’s legitimacy? Check the Better Business Bureau for reviews from previous customers. Also, use a comprehensive security solution that includes McAfee WebAdvisor to help identify malicious websites.
  2. Unsecured wi-fi attacks. If you are staying in a hotel and access its wifi for your family’s entertainment or if you check your email or bank account from a coffee house (or any other public wifi) while on vacation, you are opening you and your family up to serious risk. Cyber thieves are like moths to a flame when it comes to public wifi. They can eavesdrop and grab personal data or access your devices.
    Summer safety tip: In public? Connect with caution. Consider subscribing to a  virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your online activity and give your family secure internet access no matter where you are.
  3. Vacation phone/direct mail scams. Haven’t you heard the good news? You (or your child) have been chosen to travel free or be part of an exclusive student experience abroad. You may think you’d never fall for such a call, but people get lured in by super-friendly phone agents all the time pitching free or bargain vacations, camps, and tours. Be alert to offers promoted for a “Limited Time Only,” or that require “Payment in Advance.”
    Summer safety tip: Never pay a company with a pre-paid debit card or via wiring the funds. If you do purchase only do so with a credit card since credit card companies allow you to contest fraudulent charges.
  4. Device theft. Distracted vacationers are the perfect target for thieves looking to steal devices, be it a phone, laptop, tablet, or game. Crooks hope to access your data or resell your hardware for fast cash.
    Summer safety tip: Most lost devices get left behind by the owner, so keep your device close and secure at all times. Make sure your smartphone is password-protected, the lock screen is enabled, and the Find My Phone app is on.
  5. Rideshare scams. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft can be your only transportation while on a family vacation. Be on alert for several scams including fraudulent charges, phishing emails from the ride company asking you to reset your password, and, of course, fake/criminal drivers.
    Summer safety tip: Never change your password by clicking an email or text link. Always use the app itself or go directly to the company’s website. Double-check your ride receipt for extra charges, and always confirm the name of your driver and make of the vehicle before getting inside.

If you’ve been a victim of any travel scam, you can report your experience to any or all of these places: BBB.org/ScamTracker, FTC Complaint Assist, or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to help other consumers avoid falling prey to travel scams.

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Kids Obsessed with YouTube? How to Help Them Stay Balanced, Safe This Summer https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kids-obsessed-with-youtube-how-to-keep-them-balanced-safe-this-summer/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kids-obsessed-with-youtube-how-to-keep-them-balanced-safe-this-summer/#respond Sat, 22 Jun 2019 14:16:06 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95674

If you haven’t seen your kids in a few hours but can hear outbursts of laughter from a nearby room, chances are, they — along with millions of other kids — are watching YouTube. The popular digital video hub has more viewers than network television and soaks up more than 46,000 years of our collective […]

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If you haven’t seen your kids in a few hours but can hear outbursts of laughter from a nearby room, chances are, they — along with millions of other kids — are watching YouTube. The popular digital video hub has more viewers than network television and soaks up more than 46,000 years of our collective viewing time annually. Chances are your kids will be part of the YouTube digital mosh pit this summer, but do you know the risks?

Types of screen time

The quality of online time for kids usually shifts during the summer months. For example, there’s active screen time and passive screen time. Knowing the difference between the two can help your family decide best how to balance device use — especially when it comes to consuming endless hours on YouTube.

Active screen time requires a person’s cognitive and/or physical engagement and develops social, language, or physical skills. Engaging in activities such as researching, creating original content, learning a new program, and playing educational games is considered active screen usage. Active screen time tends to go up during the school year and down in the summer.

Passive screen time is passively absorbing information via a screen, app, or game for entertainment reasons only. This includes scrolling through social networks, watching movies binge watching), and watching YouTube videos. Little to no thought or creativity is required when a person engages in repetitious, passive screen activities.

According to a Common Sense Media study, children ages 8 to 12, spend nearly six hours per day using media, and teenagers average closer to nine hours a day (numbers don’t include school work). It’s safe to say that during the summer, these numbers climb even higher — as do the risks.

Here are a few ways to balance screen time and boost safety on YouTube this summer.

YouTube: 5 Family Talking Points

  • Explore YouTube.The best way to understand the culture of YouTube is to spend time there. Ask your kids about their favorite channels and what they like about them. Get to know the people they follow — after all, these are the people influencing your child. Here’s a sampling of a few top YouTubers: MattyBRaps (music), JoJoSiwa (music, dance), Brooklyn and Bailey (vlogs, challenges, music), Baby Ariel (challenges, vlog), Johnny Orlando (music), PewDiePie (comedy), Jacy and Kacy (crafts, challenges), (Bethany Mota (shopping hauls), Grav3yardgirl (makeup), Smosh (comedy).
  • Respect age limits. YouTube is packed with humor, tutorials, pranks, vlogs, music, reviews, and endlessly engaging content. However, age limits exist for a good reason because the channel also has its share of dangerous content. The darker side of YouTube is always just a click away and includes sexual content, hate content, harassment and cyberbullying, violent and graphic content, and scams.
  • Turn on restricted mode. By turning on the restricted mode you can block videos with mature content from a user’s searches, related videos, playlists, and shows — this is a big deal since many “up next” videos (on the right side of the screen) are cued to play automatically and can lead kids to sketchy content. In addition to the restricted mode, consider an extra layer of protection with filtering software for all your family devices.
  • Opt for YouTube Kids. For kids under 13, YouTube Kids is a safe video platform, specially curated for young viewers. Kids may snub any platform designed “for kids,” however, if you are worried about younger kids running into inappropriate content, this is your best video option.
  • Discuss the ‘why’ behind the rules. As a parent, you know the possible ways YouTube — or other social platforms — can be harmful. Don’t assume your kids do. Kids are immersed in their peer groups online, which means danger and harm aren’t primary concerns. Even so, before you lecture kids about the dangers of YouTube, open up a dialogue around the topic by asking great questions. Here are just a few to get you started:

  • Do you understand why it’s important to filter YouTube content and respect age limits (inappropriate content, cyberbullying)?
  • Do you understand why unboxing and makeup videos are so popular (advertisers want you to purchase)?
  • Do you understand why we need to balance between screen time this summer? (mental, physical health)
  • Do you know why this piece of content might be fake or contain questionable information (conspiracy, hate, or political videos)?

As the public increasingly demands social networks do more to remove harmful or objectionable content, one thing is clear: Despite strides in this area by a majority of platforms, no online social hub is (or will likely ever be) 100% safe. The best way to keep kids safe online is by nurturing a strong parent-child connection and having consistent conversations designed to equip and educate kids about digital risks and responsibility.

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5 Digital Risks to Help Your Teen Navigate this Summer https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-digital-risks-to-help-your-teen-navigate-this-summer/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-digital-risks-to-help-your-teen-navigate-this-summer/#respond Sat, 15 Jun 2019 14:00:01 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95584

S’mores. Sparklers. Snow cones. Sunburns. Fireflies. Remember when summer was simple? Before smartphones and social networks, there was less uploading and more unwinding; less commenting and more savoring.  There’s a new summer now. It’s the social summer, and tweens and teens know it well. It’s those few months away from school where the pressure (and […]

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S’mores.
Sparklers.
Snow cones.
Sunburns.
Fireflies.

Remember when summer was simple? Before smartphones and social networks, there was less uploading and more unwinding; less commenting and more savoring. 

There’s a new summer now. It’s the social summer, and tweens and teens know it well. It’s those few months away from school where the pressure (and compulsion) to show up and show off online can double. On Instagram and Snapchat, it’s a 24/7 stream of bikinis, vacations, friend groups, and summer abs. On gaming platforms, there’s more connecting and competing. 

With more of summer playing out on social, there’s also more risk. And that’s where parents come in. 

While it’s unlikely you can get kids to ditch their devices for weeks or even days at a time this summer, it is possible to coach kids through the risks to restore some of the simplicity and safety to summer.

5 summer risks to coach kids through:

  1. Body image. Every day your child — male or female — faces a non-stop, digital tidal wave of pressure to be ‘as- beautiful’ or ‘as-perfect’ as their peers online. Summer can magnify body image issues for kids.
    What you can do: Talk with your kids about social media’s power to subtly distort body image. Help kids decipher the visual world around them — what’s real, what’s imagined, and what’s relevant. Keep an eye on your child’s moods, eating habits, and digital behaviors. Are comments or captions focused only on looks? If so, help your child expand his or her focus. Get serious about screen limits if you suspect too much scrolling is negatively impacting your child’s physical or emotional health.
  2. Gaming addiction. The risks connected with gaming can multiply in the summer months. Many gaming platforms serve as social networks that allow kids to talk, play, and connect with friends all day, every day, without ever leaving their rooms. With more summer gaming comes to the risk for addiction as well as gaming scams, inappropriate content, and bullying.
    What you can do: Don’t ignore the signs of excessive gaming, which include preoccupation with gaming, anger, irritation, lying to cover playing time, withdrawal and isolation, exchanging sleep for gaming. Be swift and take action. Set gaming ground rules specific to summer. Consider parental control software to help with time limits. Remember: Kids love to circumvent time limits at home by going to a friend’s house to play video games. Also, plan summer activities out of the house and away from devices.
  3. Cyberbullying. Making fun of others, threatening, name-calling, exclusion, and racial or gender discrimination are all serious issues online. With more time on their hands in the summer months, some kids can find new ways to torment others.
    What you can do: Listen in on (monitor) your child’s social media accounts (without commenting or liking). What is the tone of your child’s comments or the comments of others? Pay attention to your child’s moods, behaviors, and online friend groups. Note: Your child could be the target of cyberbullying or the cyberbully, so keep your digital eyes open and objective.
  4. Smartphone anxiety. Anxiety is a growing issue for teens that can compound in the summer months if left unchecked. A 2018 survey from the Pew Research Center reveals that 56 percent of teens feel anxious, lonely, or upset when they don’t have their cell phones.
    What you can do:
    Pay attention to your child’s physical and emotional health. Signs of anxiety include extreme apprehension or worry, self-doubt, sleeplessness, stomach or headache complaints, isolation, panic attacks, and excessive fear. Establish screen limits and plan phone-free outings with your child. Set aside daily one-on-one time with your child to re-connect and seek out professional help if needed.
  5. Social Conflict. More hours in the day + more social media = potential for more conflict. Digital conflict in group chats or social networks can quickly get out of hand. Being excluded, misunderstood, or criticized hurts, even more, when it plays out on a public, digital stage.
    What you can do: While conflict is a normal part of life and healthy friendships, it can spiral in the online space where fingers are quick to fire off responses. Offer your child your ears before your advice. Just listen. Hear them out and (if asked) help them brainstorm ways to work through the conflict. Offer options like responding well, not engaging, and handling a situation face-to-face. Avoid the temptation to jump in and referee or solve.

Summer doesn’t have to be stressful for kids, and the smartphone doesn’t have to win the majority of your child’s attention. With listening, monitoring, and timely coaching, parents can help kids avoid common digital risks and enjoy the ease and fun of summer. 

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Study: Fortnite Game Becoming the Preferred Social Network for Kids https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/study-fortnite-game-becoming-the-preferred-social-network-for-kids/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/study-fortnite-game-becoming-the-preferred-social-network-for-kids/#respond Sat, 08 Jun 2019 14:12:58 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95496

According to a study recently released by National Research Group (NRG), the wildly popular video game Fortnite is growing beyond its intended gaming platform into a favored social network where kids go daily to chat, message, and connect. The study represents the most in-depth study on Fortnite to date and contains essential takeaways for parents trying […]

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According to a study recently released by National Research Group (NRG), the wildly popular video game Fortnite is growing beyond its intended gaming platform into a favored social network where kids go daily to chat, message, and connect.

The study represents the most in-depth study on Fortnite to date and contains essential takeaways for parents trying to keep up with their kids’ social networking habits. According to the NRG study, “Fortnite is the number one service teens are using, and audiences cite its social elements as the primary motivators for playing.”

The popular game now claims more than 250 million users around the world, and for its audience of teens (ages 10-17) who play at least once a week, Fortnite consumes about 25% of their free time, cites NRG adding that “Fortnite presents a more hopeful meta-verse where community, inclusivity, creativity and authentic relationships can thrive.”

Summer gaming 

With school break now upon us, the NRG study is especially useful since screentime tends to jump during summer months. Here are some of the risks Fortnite (and gaming in general) presents and some tips on how to increase privacy and safety for young users who love this community.

Fortnite safety tips 

Activate parental controls. Kids play Fortnite on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and iOS. Parents can restrict and monitor playing time by going into the Settings tab of each device, its related URL, or app. Another monitoring option for PC, tablets, and mobile devices is monitoring software.

Listen, watch, learn. Sit with your kids and listen to and watch some Fortnite sessions. Who are they playing with? What’s the tone of the conversation? Be vocal about anything that concerns you and coach your child on how to handle conflict, strangers online (look at their friend list), and bullying.

Monitor voice chat. Voice chat is an integral part of Fortnite if you are playing in squads or teams. Without the chat function, players can’t communicate in real-time with other team members. Voice chat is also a significant social element of the game because it allows players to connect and build community with friends anywhere. Therein lies the risk — voice chat also allows kids to play the game with strangers so the risk of inappropriate conversation, cyberbullying, and grooming are all reported realities of Fortnite. Voice chat can be turned off in Settings and should be considered for younger tween users.

Scams, passwords, and tech addiction. When kids are having a blast playing video games, danger is are far from their minds. Talk about the downside so they can continue to play their favorite game in a safe, healthy way. Discuss the scams targeting Fortnite users, the importance of keeping user names and passwords private (and strong), and the reasoning behind gaming screen limits.

Social networks have become inherent to kids’ daily life and an important way to form meaningful peer bonds. With new networks emerging every day such as Fortnite, it’s more important than ever to keep the conversation going with your kids about the genuine risks these fun digital hangouts bring.

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Oversharing: Are You Ignoring Your Child’s Privacy When You Post Online? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/oversharing-are-you-ignoring-your-childs-privacy-when-you-post-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/oversharing-are-you-ignoring-your-childs-privacy-when-you-post-online/#respond Mon, 03 Jun 2019 18:57:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95447

Take it down, please.  The above is a typical text message parents send to kids when they discover their child has posted something questionable online. More and more, however, it’s kids who are sending this text to parents who habitually post about them online. Tipping Point Sadly — and often unknowingly — parents have become some […]

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Take it down, please. 

The above is a typical text message parents send to kids when they discover their child has posted something questionable online. More and more, however, it’s kids who are sending this text to parents who habitually post about them online.

Tipping Point

Sadly — and often unknowingly — parents have become some of the biggest violators of their children’s privacy. And, there’s a collective protest among kids that’s expressing itself in different ways. Headlines reflect kids reigning in their parent‘s posting habits and parents choosing to pull all photos of their kids offline. There’s also a younger generation of voices realizing the effect social media has had on youth, which could be signaling a tipping point in social sharing.

Ninety-two percent of American children have an online presence before the age of 2, and parents post nearly 1,000 images of their children online before their fifth birthday, according to Time. Likewise, in a 2017 UNICEF report, the children’s advocacy group called the practice of “sharenting” – parents sharing information online about their children – harmful to a child’s reputation and safety.

Digital Footprint

This sharenting culture has fast-tracked our children’s digital footprints, which often begins in the womb. Kids now have a digital birth date — the date of the first upload, usually a sonogram photo — in addition to their actual birth date. Sharing the details of life has become a daily routine with many parents not thinking twice before sharing birthdays, awards, trips, and even more private moments such as bath time or potty training mishaps.

Too often, what a parent views as a harmless post, a child might see as humiliating, especially during the more sensitive teen years. Oversharing can impact a child’s emotional health as well as the parent-child relationship, according to a University of Michigan study.

Diminishing Privacy 

So how far is too far when it comes to the boundaries between public and private life? And, what are the emotional, safety, and privacy ramifications to a child when parents overshare? The sharenting culture has forced us all to consider these questions more closely.

Children’s diminishing privacy is on advocacy agendas worldwide. Recently, the UK Children’s Commissioner released a report called “Who Knows About Me?” that put a spotlight on how we collect and share children’s data and how this puts them at risk.

5 safe sharing tips for families

  1. Stop and think. Be intentional about protecting your child’s privacy. Before you upload a photo or write a post, ask yourself, “Do I really need to share this?” or “Could this content compromise my child’s privacy (or feelings) today or in the future?”
  2. Ask permission. Before publicly posting anything about your child, ask for his or her permission. This practice models respect and digital responsibility. If posting a group photo that includes other children, ask both the child’s consent and his or her parent’s.
  3. Keep family business private. Resist sharing too much about your family dynamic — good or bad — online. Sharing your parenting struggles or posting details about what’s going on with you and your child could cause embarrassment and shame and irreparably harm your relationship.
  4. Consider a photo purge. With your child’s wellbeing, safety, and privacy in mind — present and future — consider going through your social networks and deleting any photos or posts that don’t need to be public.
  5. Talk to kids about the freedom of expression. Every person who logs on to the internet can expect fundamental freedoms, even kids. These include the right to privacy, how our data is shared, and the freedom of expression online. Discuss these points with your children in addition to our collective digital responsibilities such as respect for others, wise posting, downloading legally, citing works properly, and reporting risky behavior or content.

When it comes to parenting, many of us are building our wings on the way down, especially when it comes to understanding all the safety implications around data privacy for children. However, slowing down to consider your child’s wellbeing and privacy with every post is a huge step toward creating a better, safer internet for everyone.

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Are Your Kids Part of the TikTok App Craze? Here’s What Parents Need to Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/are-your-kids-part-of-the-tiktok-app-craze-heres-what-parents-need-to-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/are-your-kids-part-of-the-tiktok-app-craze-heres-what-parents-need-to-know/#respond Sat, 25 May 2019 14:00:25 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95385

What phone app has over 150 million active users and more than 14 million uploads every day? You might guess Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, but you’d be wrong. Meet TikTok — a video app kids are flocking to that is tons of fun but also carries risk. What Is It? TikTok is a free social […]

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What phone app has over 150 million active users and more than 14 million uploads every day? You might guess Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, but you’d be wrong. Meet TikTok — a video app kids are flocking to that is tons of fun but also carries risk.

What Is It?

TikTok is a free social media app that allows users to create and share short 15-second videos set to favorite music. If your child was a fan of Musical.ly, then he or she is probably active on TikTok since Musical.ly shut down last year and moved all of its users to TikTok. Kids love the app because it’s got all the social perks — music, filters, stickers — and the ability to amass likes and shares (yes, becoming TikTok-famous is an aspiration for some).

The Upside

There are a lot of positive things about this app. It’s filling the void of the sorely missed Vine app in that it’s a fun hub for video creation and peer connection. Spending time on TikTok will make you laugh out loud, sing, and admire the degree of creativity so many young users put into their videos. You will see everything from heartfelt, brave monologues, to incredible athletic stunts, to hilarious, random moments in the lives of teens. It’s serious fun.

Another big positive is the app appears to take Digital Wellbeing (tools in the app that encourage screen time), privacy, and online safety seriously. Its resources tab is rich with tips for both parents and kids.

The (Potential) Downside

As with any other social app, TikTok carries inherent risks, as reported by several news sources, including ABC.

For instance, anyone can view your child’s videos, send a direct message, and access their location information. And, while TikTok requires that users are at least 13 years old to use the app and anyone under 18 must have parent’s approval, if you browse the app, you’ll quickly find that plenty of preteens are using it. A predator could easily create a fake account or many accounts to strike up conversations with minors.

Another danger zone is inappropriate content. While a lot of TikTok content is fun and harmless, there’s a fair share of the music that includes explicit language and users posting content that should not be viewed by a young audience.

And, wherever there’s a public forum, there’s a risk of cyberbullying. When a TikTok user posts a video, that content instantly becomes open for public comment or criticism and dialogue can get mean.

Talking Points for Families

Most social media apps have an inherent risk factor because the world wide web is just that — much of the planet’s population in the palm of your child’s hand. Different age groups and kids will use apps differently. So, when it comes to apps, it’s a good idea to monitor how your child uses each app and tailor conversations from there.

  • Download the app. If your child uses TikTok, it’s a good idea to download the app too. Look around inside the community. Analyze the content and the culture. Are the accounts your child follows age appropriate? Are the comments and conversations positive? Does your child know his or her followers? Is your child posting appropriately?
  • Talk about the risks. Spend time with your child and watch how he or she uses TikTok. Let them teach you why they love it. Encourage creativity and fun, but don’t hesitate to point out danger zones and how your child can avoid them.
  • Monitor direct messages. This may seem invasive, but a lot of the safety threats to your child take place behind the curtain of the public feed in direct messages. Depending on the age of your child (and the established digital ground rules of your family) consider requiring access to his or her account.
  • Adjust settings. Make sure to click account settings to ‘private’ so only people your child knows can access his or her content and send direct messages. Also, turn off location services and consider getting comprehensive security software for all family devices.

Apps are where the fun is for kids so you can bet your child will at least check out buzz-worthy platforms like TikTok. They may browse, or they may become content creators. Your best social monitoring tool is to keep an open dialogue with your child. Keep talking with your kids about what’s going on in their digital life — where they hang out, who their friends are, and what’s new.  You may get some resistance but don’t let that stop you from doing all you can to keep your family safe online.

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Breaches and Bugs: How Secure are Your Family’s Favorite Apps? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/breaches-and-bugs-how-secure-are-your-familys-favorite-apps/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/breaches-and-bugs-how-secure-are-your-familys-favorite-apps/#respond Sat, 18 May 2019 14:00:51 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95294 app safety

Is your family feeling more vulnerable online lately? If so, you aren’t alone. The recent WhatsApp bug and social media breaches recently have app users thinking twice about security. Hackers behind the recent WhatsApp malware attack, it’s reported, could record conversations, steal private messages, grab photos and location data, and turn on a device’s camera […]

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app safety

app safetyIs your family feeling more vulnerable online lately? If so, you aren’t alone. The recent WhatsApp bug and social media breaches recently have app users thinking twice about security.

Hackers behind the recent WhatsApp malware attack, it’s reported, could record conversations, steal private messages, grab photos and location data, and turn on a device’s camera and microphone. (Is anyone else feeling like you just got caught in the middle an episode of Homeland?)

There’s not much you and your family can do about an attack like this except to stay on top of the news, be sure to share knowledge and react promptly, and discuss device security in your home as much as possible.

How much does your family love its apps? Here’s some insight:

  • Facebook Messenger 3.408 billion downloads
  • WhatsApp 2.979 billion downloads
  • Instagram 1.843 billion downloads
  • Skype 1.039 billion downloads
  • Twitter 833.858 million downloads
  • Candy Crush 805.826 million downloads
  • Snapchat 782.837 million downloads

So, should you require your family to delete its favorite apps? Not even. A certain degree of vulnerability comes with the territory of a digital culture.

However, what you can and should do to ease that sense of vulnerability is to adopt proactive safety habits — and teach your kids — to layer up safeguards wherever possible.

Tips to Help Your Family Avoid Being Hacked

Don’t be complacent. Talk to your kids about digital responsibility and to treat each app like a potential doorway that could expose your family’s data. Take the time to sit down and teach kids how to lock down privacy settings and the importance of keeping device software updated. Counsel them not to accept data breaches as a regular part of digital life and how to fight back against online criminals with a security mindset.

Power up your passwords. Teach your kids to use unique, complex passwords for all of their apps and to use multi-factor authentication when it’s offered.

Auto update all apps. App developers regularly issue updates to fix security vulnerabilities. You can turn on auto updates in your device’s Settings.

Add extra security. If you can add a robust, easy-to-install layer of security to protect your family’s devices, why not? McAfee mobile solutions are available for both iOS and Android and will help safeguard devices from cyber threats.

Avoid suspicious links. Hackers send malicious links through text, messenger, email, pop-ups, or within the context of an ongoing conversation. Teach your kids to be aware of these tricks and not to click suspicious links or download unfamiliar content.

Share responsibly. When you use chat apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, it’s easy to forget that an outsider can access your conversation. Remind your children that nothing is private — even messaging apps that feel as if a conversation is private. Hackers are looking for personal information (birthday, address, hometown, or names of family members and pets) to crack your passwords, steal your identity, or gain access to other accounts.

What to Do If You Get Hacked

If one of your apps is compromised, act quickly to minimize the fallout. If you’ve been hacked, you may notice your device running slowly, a drain on your data, strange apps on your home screen, and evidence of calls, texts or emails you did not send.

Social media accounts. For Facebook and other social accounts, change your password immediately and alert your contacts that your account was compromised.

Review your purchase history. Check to see if there are any new apps or games installed that you didn’t authorize. You may have to cancel the credit card associated with your Google Play or iTunes account.

Revoke app access, delete old apps. Sometimes it’s not a person but a malicious app you may have downloaded that is wreaking havoc on your device. Encourage your kids to go through their apps and delete suspicious ones as well as apps they don’t use.

Bugs and breaches are part of our digital culture, but we don’t have to resign ourselves to being targets. By sharing knowledge and teaching kids to put on a security mindset, together, you can stay one step ahead of a cybercrook’s digital traps.

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Saving Summer: 5 Strategies to Help Reign In Family Screen Time Over Break https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/saving-summer-5-strategies-to-help-reign-in-family-screen-time-over-break/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/saving-summer-5-strategies-to-help-reign-in-family-screen-time-over-break/#respond Sat, 11 May 2019 14:07:16 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95244 summer screen time

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for teachers and lifeguards. For everyone else (parents) we have a little prep work to do to make sure the summer doesn’t lull our kids into digital comas. Most of us have learned that given zero limits, kids will play video games, watch YouTube, send snaps, […]

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summer screen time

summer screen timeIt’s the most wonderful time of the year — for teachers and lifeguards. For everyone else (parents) we have a little prep work to do to make sure the summer doesn’t lull our kids into digital comas.

Most of us have learned that given zero limits, kids will play video games, watch YouTube, send snaps, and scroll Instagram into the midnight hours. This ever-present digital lure, combined with the “summer slide,” which is the academic ground kids lose over the summer, means that most parents are hoping to make the most of the summer months need to get proactive — now.

No matter your child’s age, teaching kids to use technology in a healthy way and pick up skills and habits that will make them savvy digital citizens, becomes even more critical in the summer months. Studies show that excess screen time can lead to increased cyberbullying, low self-esteem, depression, isolation, and anxiety in children and teens. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) has now classified a new form of addiction called “gaming disorder.” That designation means health professionals can now treat dangerous levels of video gaming as a legitimate addiction. (Yes, this is the new normal of parenting).

Warning signs of too much tech:

  • Tantrums or inappropriate resistance to screen limits or refusing to let you see their devices
  • Lack of sleep (which can cause anger outbursts, moodiness, fatigue, and even illness)
  • Isolation and decrease in face-to-face time with friends and family
  • Complaining about family outings and declining invitations to participate in activities
  • Losing interest in physical activity

Tech balance in one family will look different than in another because every family has its own values, dynamic, and parenting styles. You may have to establish ground rules together and make edits over time — that’s okay, stay flexible. The important thing is to set limits and set them together, so your child feels as if he or she is part of the process and learns how and why to self-regulate over time.

summer screen time

Here are some tips for launching your family conversation and getting summer off to a positive, tech-healthy start.

  1. Discuss and agree on limits. Consider what an average day looks like. Where are the critical gaps where connection can happen? Maybe it’s transition times when you pick up your child from camp or a friend’s house. Perhaps it’s the hour after you get home from work, during meals, movie time, or in restaurants. Maybe it’s family outing such as the pool, the zoo, the theatre, roadmap time, or outdoors. Also, setting a device curfew in the summer months is more critical since kids like to take their devices to bed and keep scrolling.Discuss why and when your family should be screen-free and then put your commitment in writing in a Summer Family Media plan (every age range will require different ground rules). The American Academy of Pediatrics’ website has a fun, easy form you can fill out to create your Family Media Plan based on your child’s age.
  2. Pay attention to content: Setting screen limits doesn’t matter much if the content your child views isn’thealthy. A few questions to help assess content:
  • Is the content age-appropriate?
  • Are the apps my child uses interactive and learning-based or mind-numbing or even risky?
  • Do my family’s technology habits require filtering software to help block inappropriate websites?
  • Are the privacy settings on social media and gaming accounts set to restrict what strangers can see and who can send a direct message to my child?
  1. Jump into the fun. Part of teaching kids to understand healthy technology habits is taking the time to meet them where they are in their digital world — their favorite hangouts. When they understand you aren’t limiting screen time to punish them and that technology in itself isn’t bad, they will be more likely to see the benefits of balance and self-regulate in the future. What online games do they play? Consider watching them excel in their craft and cheering them on. Better yet, grab a controller and play along. What social media sites does your child love? Join in on Snapchat and let them teach you how to have fun with photo filters on the app.summer screen time
  2. Be hyper intentional. Zig Ziglar once said that to a child, “love” is spelled T-I-M-E. Under the influence of today’s digital culture, nothing is assumed, and most everything requires intentionality — especially grabbing the quality time we desire. Consider sitting down as a family and creating a summer bucket list of things you’d like to do before summer ends. Maybe it’s more movie nights, more beach time, a family craft or building project, volunteer work, board games, workout time, trips, whatever — be realistic that nothing on your list will happen without serious intention.
  3. From monitoring to mentoring. It’s always a good idea to monitor your child’s online activities. We are big fans of filtering software and understanding what social networks and apps your kids frequent. However, because you likely have more face-to-face with your kids in the summer months, think about ways to mentor them. Talk about current events related to online safety, pay attention to their friend groups on and offline, and use this extra time to reset some digital goals that may have slipped off your radar during the school year. Some possible goals: Set up your own Snapchat account, finally learn to use Twitter, educate yourself on dangerous apps, or let your child teach you how to improve your digital skills. With this extra valuable time over the summer, you can cover some serious ground by talking more about concepts like conflict-management, empathy, resilience, self-awareness, and digital responsibility, which will all help strengthen digital skills.

In your quest to establish summer ground rules that work for your family, don’t overlook the importance of the peer-to-peer connection that technology brings. Technology is the primary channel (like it or not) kids have to build their friendships, stay the loop, and to be affirmed. They need hangout time, and that’s usually online. Keep this in mind as you work together to find the balance that works best for your family.

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What Would Yoda Do? 5 Tips to Raising a Mindful Digital Jedi https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/what-would-yoda-do-5-tips-to-raising-a-mindful-digital-jedi/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/what-would-yoda-do-5-tips-to-raising-a-mindful-digital-jedi/#respond Sat, 04 May 2019 14:00:37 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95143

A Jedi, from the epic Star Wars films, is a warrior who fights for the greater good. Jedi are set apart and rely on a higher, internal power called,The Force to guide them in life and in battle. They possess an acute sense of the world around them and are mindful of how their actions affect the whole […]

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A Jedi, from the epic Star Wars films, is a warrior who fights for the greater good. Jedi are set apart and rely on a higher, internal power called,The Force to guide them in life and in battle. They possess an acute sense of the world around them and are mindful of how their actions affect the whole of humanity.

The Jedi way is an excellent premise for raising digital kids in this often-precarious galaxy of hyper-connectivity called the internet. And who better to guide our parenting — today on Star Wars Day — than Yoda, the small but mighty Master Jedi known for his wisdom?

Here are a few digital parenting tips from the master himself to help you guide your kids in living the wiser, more mindful Jedi way online.

“To be a Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle or the night.”

Practice digital empathy. One of the biggest challenges of parents today is teaching kids how to break through the force field that stands between them and the very real people on the other side of their screens. It’s easy to log on to an electronic device and disconnect from the reality that our words and actions online impact others in either a positive or negative way. It’s easy to view other people as photos, avatars, or game characters instead of individuals with real feelings and unique, often different, perspectives than our own.

Teaching digital empathy, according to Parent Advocate and Author Sue Scheff, author of Shame Nation isn’t always front of mind for parents who grew up in a drastically different social environment. “We can’t relate to our kids’ social lives playing out in the digital world,” says Scheff. “Therefore, we may overlook the need to teach our kids that caring, kindness, and respect extends beyond face-to-face interactions. Yes, even online – or, especially online.”

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Find your voice. Media, opinions, news, and faulty algorithms usher an abundance of sketchy concepts into our thinking each day. Teaching kids to be discerning about the content they consume and aligning that with their values — and not that of a YouTube or Instagram celebrity — is serious personal work in today’s culture. The real parenting challenge of our day is teaching kids to think critically about who they are, what they believe, and how to express unique, significant self in everyday life. In her book Raising Humans in a Digital World, Diana Graber, notes a 2016 Stanford study that called young people’s inability to effectively evaluate online information as “bleak” and that, “Our digital natives may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when they evaluate information that flows through social media channels, they are duped.”

“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”

Unplug for health. Newton’s law of motion states that an object in motion will remain in motion until an external force acts upon it. Applied to screen time: Unless we as parents (the external force) set the limits on screen time, the scrolling, clicking, and uploading will continue — forever. In Yoda’s vintage 1977 wisdom, we are reminded that unplugging isn’t punishment, but a way to refresh, restore, and maintain one’s emotional and physical health. As anxiety and depression among youth continue to be linked to screens, learning as much as we can about monitoring, screen limits, and digital wellbeing (the belief that technology should improve life, not distract from it), is paramount for parents today.

“To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.”

Avoid digital drama. With a little help, kids can learn how to sidestep much of the digital drama online that tends to spill over into real life. Teaching kids to be positive, trustworthy, empathetic, and refuse to take part in cyberbullying begins with parents who practice those same standards online (kids are watching). Other ways to dodge the drama include using your mute button, balancing screen time, staying out of online arguments, and thinking carefully about the tone of your posts and comments.

“You think Yoda stops teaching, just because his student does not want to hear? A teacher Yoda is.”

Parents: Never quit teaching. This last bit of Yoda wisdom is for especially for parents who feel overwhelmed and under-equipped to raise a digital Jedi. Your kids are not always going to want to hear your input on their online behavior or your warnings about staying safe — so what? A teacher Yoda is. A parent you are. Be encouraged — you’ve got this, and you are the original Jedi Master with future Jedi to guide. Keep learning, guiding, and molding the next generation even when it gets tough. Be unyielding to cultural standards and Jedi-fierce in your commitment to keeping your kids safe and healthy in this digital universe.

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Digital Parenting: ‘Eat Your Veggies, Brush Your Teeth, Strengthen Your Passwords’ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/digital-parenting-eat-your-veggies-brush-your-teeth-strengthen-your-passwords/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/digital-parenting-eat-your-veggies-brush-your-teeth-strengthen-your-passwords/#respond Sat, 27 Apr 2019 14:00:32 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=95001 strong password

As adults, we know the importance of strong passwords, and we’ve likely preached the message to our kids. But let’s rewind for a minute. Do our kids understand why strong passwords are important and why it needs to become a habit much like personal health and hygiene? If we want the habit to stick, the […]

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strong password

strong passwordAs adults, we know the importance of strong passwords, and we’ve likely preached the message to our kids. But let’s rewind for a minute. Do our kids understand why strong passwords are important and why it needs to become a habit much like personal health and hygiene?

If we want the habit to stick, the reason why can’t be simply because we told them so. We’ve got to make it personal and logical.

Think about the habits you’ve already successfully instilled and the reasoning you’ve attached to them.

Brush your teeth to prevent disease and so they don’t fall out.
Eat a balanced diet so you have fuel for the day and to protect yourself from illness and disease.
Get enough sleep to restore your body and keep your mind sharp for learning.
Bathe and groom to wash away germs (and to keep people from falling over when you walk by). 

The same reasoning applies to online hygiene: We change our passwords (about every three months) to stay as safe as possible online and protect what matters. When talking to kids, the things that matter include our home address, our school name, our personal information (such as a parent’s credit card information, our social security number, or other account access).

Kids Targeted

We falsely believe that an adult’s information is more valuable than a child’s. On the contrary, given a choice, 10 out of 10 hackers would mine a child’s information over an adult’s because it’s unblemished. Determined identity thieves will use a child’s Social Security number to apply for government benefits, open bank, and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service or rent an apartment. Also, once a child’s information is hacked, a thief can usually get to a parent’s information.

How to Stay Safe

It’s a tall task to prevent some of the massive data breaches in the news that target kids’ information. However, what is in our control, the ability to practice and teach healthy password habits in our home.

Tips for Families

strong passwordShake it up. According to McAfee Chief Consumer Security Evangelist Gary Davis, to bulletproof your passwords, make sure they are at least 12 characters long and include numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters. Consider substituting numbers and symbols for letters, such as zero for “O” or @ for “A”.

Encourage kids to get creative and create passwords or phrases that mean something to them. For instance, advises Gary, “If you love crime novels you might pick the phrase: ILoveBooksOnCrime
Then you would substitute some letters for numbers and characters, and put a portion in all caps to make it even stronger, such as 1L0VEBook$oNcRIM3!”

Three random words. Password wisdom has morphed over the years as we learn more and more about hacking practices. According to the National Cyber Security Centre, another way to create a strong password is by using three random words (not birthdates, addresses, or sports numbers) that mean something to you. For instance: ‘lovepuppypaws’ or ‘drakegagacardib’ or ‘eatsleeprepeat’ or ‘tacospizzanutella’.

More than one password. Creating a new password for each account will head off cybercriminals if any of your other passwords are cracked. Consider a password manager to help you keep track of your passwords.

Change product default passwords immediately. If you purchase products for kids such as internet-connected gaming devices, routers, or speakers, make sure to change the default passwords to something unique, since hackers often know the manufacturer’s default settings.

When shopping online, don’t save info. Teach kids that when shopping on their favorite retail or gaming sites, not to save credit card information. Saving personal information to different accounts may speed up the checkout process. However, it also compromises data.

Employ extra protection. Comprehensive security software can protect you from several threats such as viruses, identity theft, privacy breaches, and malware designed to grab your data. Security software can cover your whole family as well as multiple devices.

Web Advisor. Keep your software up-to-date with a free web advisor that helps protect you from accidentally typing passwords into phishing sites.

strong password

Use unique passwords and MFA. This is also called “layering up.” 1) Use unique passwords for each of your accounts. By using different passwords, you avoid having all of your accounts become vulnerable if you are hacked (think domino effect). 2) MFA is Multi-Factor Authentication (also called two-step verification or authentication ). MFA confirms a user’s identity only after presenting two or more pieces of evidence. Though not 100% secure, this practice adds a layer of security to an account.

Keep it private. Kids love to show one another loyalty by sharing passwords and giving one another access to their social network accounts. DO NOT encourage this behavior. It’s reckless and could carry some serious privacy consequences. (Of course, sharing with parents, is recommended).

Credential Cracking

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC), the reported number of consumer records exposed containing sensitive personally identifiable information jumped 126 percent in 2018. The report explicitly stated password cracking as an issue: “The exploitation of usernames and passwords by nefarious actors continues to be a ripe target due to the increase in credential cracking activities – not to mention the amount of data that can be gleaned by accessing accounts that reuse the same credentials.”

May 2 is World Password Day and the perfect time to consider going over these password basics with your family.

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The Mute Button: How to Use Your Most Underrated Social Superpower https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-mute-button-how-to-use-your-most-underrated-social-superpower/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-mute-button-how-to-use-your-most-underrated-social-superpower/#respond Sat, 20 Apr 2019 14:05:52 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94957

For a Monday, the school day was turning out to be surprisingly awesome. Mackenzie sat with friends at lunch, chatted with her favorite teacher, and aced her English test. Then came the shift. It happened between 5th and 6th period when Mackenzie checked her Instagram account. One glance showed several posts from the popular girls (yet […]

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For a Monday, the school day was turning out to be surprisingly awesome. Mackenzie sat with friends at lunch, chatted with her favorite teacher, and aced her English test.

Then came the shift.

It happened between 5th and 6th period when Mackenzie checked her Instagram account. One glance showed several posts from the popular girls (yet another party I wasn’t invited to, she thought). She saw her friend Emma’s Spring Break photos (how can someone look that good in a bikini, she wondered) followed by several whos-dating-who posts from blissful looking couples (when is someone going to love me, she mused). In less than 60 seconds, the images and comments Mackenzie saw had the power to subtly alter her heart and mind.

FOMO

Mackenzie isn’t alone. Studies have repeatedly linked Social networks with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and an emotional phenomenon called FOMO (fear of missing out) among teens and — if we’re honest — among plenty of adults.

We can’t control the perpetual stream of photos, comments, and videos that flood our social feeds. Social is here to stay, and to some extent, most of us are required to be online. However, we can control the amount and the quality of the content that comes at us. And, we can teach our kids to do the same.

It’s called the mute button, and it could be your family’s most underrated superpower when it comes to enjoying life online. Many people either don’t know about their mute button or forget they have it.

The mute button allows you to turn off someone’s feed (yes—make it vanish) without the awkwardness of unfollowing or unfriending them. The cool part: No one knows you’ve muted them, so there are no hurt feelings. You can still view a muted person’s profile, and they can see yours. You can send or receive direct messages as if everything were copacetic.

How to mute

Thankfully, you can mute people easily on most social networks.

To mute someone on Instagram, go to the person’s page, find to the three little dots in the top upper right of the page, click and choose mute (you can choose to mute their feed and their stories). You can mute someone on Facebook by going to the person’s main page and clicking the “friends” button under their photo. You will have the option to “unfollow,” which will mute the person’s content but allow you to stay friends. On Twitter, you can stop seeing a person’s tweets by going to the three dots in the top upper right corner and choosing “mute.”

This simple, powerful click will allow you to curate what you see in your feed every day and instantly block the content that is annoying or negative. The result? Fewer emotional darts are flying at you randomly throughout the day and, hopefully, a more enjoyable, positive experience online.

When to mute

What’ s considered annoying or offensive to one person may be entirely acceptable and even enjoyable to someone else. So, the reasons for muting someone can vary greatly.

A few reasons to mute might be: 

  • Inappropriate or offensive content
  • Mean, bullying, or reckless content
  • Posting too frequently
  • Excessive bragging, boasting, or self-promotion
  • Content that negatively impacts your mental health
  • Non-stop political posts or rants
  • Too many selfies
  • Graphic or disturbing images or videos
  • Constant negative or critical posts
  • Useless, uninteresting, or tedious information
  • Monopolizing conversations
  • Perpetual personal drama
  • Too much content on one topic

Talking points for families

Editing your social circle is okay. The voices that surround you have influence, so choose the voices you surround yourself with carefully. Also, being “friends” with 1,000 or even 300 people isn’t realistic or reflective of real life. Remind kids: That tug (or compulsion) you feel to like, comment, post, or chime in online should not rule your time or your mind. You (and your family) may be surprised how good it feels to whittle down the number of voices you allow into your day.

Pay attention to emotional triggers. In many ways, you are what you consume online. Ask yourself: Is this person’s account positive or negative? Does it make me feel included and worthy or excluded and less-than? Do I feel jealous, annoyed, or negative when I see this person’s updates, photos, or tweets? Edit boldly. You can mute negative accounts temporarily or permanently without guilt.

Less noise, less clutter. If you want things to be different, you have to do things differently, and this applies online. Forming your thoughts and opinions is much more difficult when you are constantly absorbing other people’s ideas. The less digital clutter, the more room for quiet contemplation and self-awareness, which is always a good idea for young and older mind minds alike.

Be brave, be you. Kids pay far more attention to friend and follower counts than adults do. They consider it intentional rejection when someone unfollows or unfriends them online. For that reason, you may need to reiterate the importance of putting mental health before popularity or people pleasing. Remind them: It’s okay to mute, unfollow, or unfriend any person who is not a positive influence on your heart and mind.

No one is everyone’s favorite. It’s impossible to like everyone or be liked by everyone — impossible. There will always be individuals who will get under your skin. And, at times, people may feel the same about you. This is a normal part of human relationships. This reality makes striving to be liked by everyone online an impossible, exhausting task.

The digital world is packed with ever-changing social complexities. Seemingly casual clicks can trigger an avalanche of positive or negative emotions that can take their toll (whether we realize it or not). Helping your child think proactively about content and take responsibility for the content comes across his or her screen, is more important than ever in raising wise, healthy digital kids.

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Social Underground: Kids Using Google Docs as New Digital Hangout https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/social-underground-kids-using-google-docs-as-new-digital-hangout/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/social-underground-kids-using-google-docs-as-new-digital-hangout/#comments Sat, 13 Apr 2019 14:00:22 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94896

Over the years kids have succeeded in staying one step ahead of parents on the digital front. Remember the golden days of social? Teens owned Facebook until every parent, auntie, and grandparent on the planet showed up. So, teens migrated to Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat hoping to carve out a private patch of land for […]

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Over the years kids have succeeded in staying one step ahead of parents on the digital front. Remember the golden days of social? Teens owned Facebook until every parent, auntie, and grandparent on the planet showed up. So, teens migrated to Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat hoping to carve out a private patch of land for their tribe. And, according to a report in The Atlantic, the latest app these digital nomads have claimed as a covert hangout surprisingly is Google Docs.

Yes — Google Docs — that boring looking online tool many of us parents use at work to collaborate on projects. Google Docs is perfect when you think about it. The app can be accessed on a tablet, laptop, or as a phone app. It allows multiple users to edit a document at the same time — kind of like an online party or the ultimate private group chat.

To interact, kids can use the chat function or even highlight words or phrases and use a comment bubble to chat. Because teachers use the application in the classroom, kids are using Google Docs to chat during class without getting busted or dupe parents at home into thinking they are doing their homework.

Another big perk: Schools have firewalls that block social networking sites during school hours, but Google Docs is officially cleared for school use.

The Risks

As with any app, what begins as a covert, harmlessly chat channel between friends, can get malicious quickly as more and more people are invited into a shared document to talk.

Kids can easily share videos, memes, and hurtful, joking, or inappropriate content within a Google Doc. They can gang up on other kids and bully others just as they do on any other social network. Similar to the way images disappear on Snapchat in 24 hours or on Instagram stories, the “resolve” button on Google Docs chat function, allows kids to instantly delete a chat thread if a teacher or parent heads their way or hovers too closely.

Because Google Docs live on the cloud, there’s no need to download or install a piece of software to use or access it. Any device connected to the Internet can access a Google Doc, which means kids can also use it as a digital diary without a digital trail and hide potentially harmful behaviors from parents.

10 Ways to Coach Your Kids Around Digital Safety 

  1. Know where they go. Just as you’d ask where your child where he or she is going offline, be aware of their digital destinations online. Check on them during homework hours to be sure they aren’t chatting away their learning time.
  2. Check for other apps. If you’ve grounded your child from his or her smartphone for any reason, and they claim they have online homework to do, check their laptops and tablets for chat apps like Kik, WhatsApp, hidden vault apps, and of course, as we now know, Google Docs (see right for the icon).
  3. Remember, it’s forever. Even if an image or video is “resolved” on Google Docs, deleted on Instagram or Twitter, or “vanishes” on Snapchat, the great equalizer is the screenshot. Anyone can take one, and anyone can use it to bully, extort, or shame another person anytime they decide. Remind kids of the responsibility they have with any content they share anywhere online — privacy does not exist.
  4. Sharing is caring. If your child is on Google Docs and you have a hunch, they aren’t doing homework, ask them to share their document with you so you can monitor their work. Just hit the big blue “share” button and insert your email address and you will have immediate access to the homework document.
  5. Keep in touch with teachers. If your child’s grades begin to slip, he or she could be distracted at school. Ask about what apps are used in the classroom and alert the teacher if you think your child might be distracted be it with technology or anything else.
  6. Parental controls. Hey, we’re busy because we’re parents. Enlist some help in monitoring your child’s online activity with parental control software. This will help you block risky sites, limit excessive app use, and give you a report of where your kids spend most of their time online.
  7. Look for red flags. Everyone needs and desires privacy even your teen. The tough part is discerning when a teen is being private or trying to hide risky behavior. A few red flags to look for include defensiveness when asked about an app or chat activity, turning off a device screen when you come around, and getting angry when you ask to see their screen. Another sign of unhealthy app use is an increase in data use and fatigue at school from lack of sleep.
  8. Connect with other parents. Here’s the snag in the whole plan: The rules that apply to homework and devices at your house, may not apply at other people’s homes where kids often study. Bullying or inappropriate online behaviors often take place under other people’s roofs. So get intentional. Keep in touch with other parents. Find common ground on digital values before letting kids go offsite for homework time.
  9. Talk, talk, talk. Your best defense in keeping your kids safe online — be it using apps or other sites — is a strong offense. Talk with your kids often about what they like to do online, what their friends do, and address digital issues immediately.
  10. Be flexible. Parental monitoring is going to look different in every family. Every child is different in maturity, and every parent-child relationship varies greatly. Find a monitoring solution that works for your family. Coming down too hard on your kids could drive them into deeper secrecy while taking a hands-off approach could put them in danger. Try different methods until you find one that fits your family.

Remember: You won’t be able to keep your finger on everything your child is up to online, but you can still have a considerable influence by staying in the know on digital trends and best online safety practices.

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Teen Texting Slang (and Emojis) Parents Should Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/teen-texting-slang-and-emojis-parents-should-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/teen-texting-slang-and-emojis-parents-should-know/#respond Sat, 06 Apr 2019 15:26:23 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94866

What adults call texting, kids call talking. They “talk” on their phones via chat, social comments, snaps, posts, tweets, and direct messages. And they are talking most of the time — tap, tap, tap — much like background music. In all this “talking” a language, or code, emerges just as it has for every generation only today that […]

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What adults call texting, kids call talking. They “talk” on their phones via chat, social comments, snaps, posts, tweets, and direct messages. And they are talking most of the time — tap, tap, tap — much like background music. In all this “talking” a language, or code, emerges just as it has for every generation only today that language is in acronyms, hashtags, and emojis. And while the slang is perfectly understood peer-to-peer, it has parents googling like crazy to decipher it.

And this language changes all the time. It expands, contracts and specific acronyms and symbols (emojis) can change in meaning entirely over time, which is why we update this list every periodically.

This time we’ve added emojis (scroll to bottom) since those powerful little graphic symbols have singlehandedly transformed human communication, as we know it.

Harmless Banter

We publish this list with an important reminder: Teen texting slang isn’t inherently bad or created with an intent to deceive or harm. Most of the terms and symbols have emerged as a kind of clever shorthand for fast moving fingers and have no dangerous or risky meaning attached. So, if you are monitoring your kids’ phones or come across references you don’t understand, assume the best in them (then, of course, do your homework).

For example, there are dozens of harmless words such as finna (fixing to do something), yeet (a way to express excitement), skeet (let’s go), Gucci (great, awesome, or overpriced), AMIRITE (am I right?) QQ4U (quick question for you), SMH (shaking my head), bread (money), IDRK (I don’t really know), OOTD (outfit of the day), LYAAF (love you as a friend), MCE (my crush everyday), HMU (hit me up, call me), W/E (whatever), AFK (away from keyboard), RTWT (read the whole thread), CWYL (chat with you later), Ship (relationship), CYT (see you tomorrow) or SO (significant other).

The Red Flags 

Here are some terms and emojis that may not be so innocent. Any of these terms can also appear as hashtags if you put a # symbol in front of them.

Potential bullying slang

Ghost = to ignore someone on purpose

Boujee = rich or acting rich

Sip tea = mind your own business

The tea is so hot = juicy gossip

AYFKM? = are you f***ing kidding me?

Thirsty = adjective describing a desperate-acting, needy person

Basic = annoying person, interested in shallow things

Extra = over the top, excessive, dramatic person

TBH = to be honest (sometimes followed by negative comments)

Zerg = to gang up on someone (a gaming term that has morphed into a bullying term)

KYS = kill yourself

SWYP = so what’s your problem?

182 = I hate you
Curve = to reject someone

Shade = throwing shade, to put someone down.

POS = piece of sh**

WTF = what the f***

Derp = stupid

Lsr = loser

Butters = ugly

Jelly = jealous

Subtweet = talking about someone but not using their @name

Bizzle = another word for b***h

THOT or thotties = a promiscuous girl/s

YAG = you are gay

Cyber pretty = saying someone only looks good online with filters

Beyouch = another word for b***h

RAB = rude a** b***h

IMHO = in my honest opinion

IMNSHO = in my not so honest opinion

NISM = need I say more?

Potential risky behavior slang  

Broken = hung over

Pasted = high or drunk

Belfie = self-portrait (selfie) featuring the buttocks

OC = open crib, party at my house

PIR = parents in the room

9, CD9, Code 9 = parents here

99 = parents gone

Smash = to have casual sex

Slide into my DM = connecting through a direct message on a social network with sexual intentions

A3: Anytime, anywhere, anyplace

WTTP = want to trade pictures?

S2R = send to receive (pictures)
sugarpic = Refers to a suggestive or erotic photograph

TDTM = talk dirty to me

KMS = kill myself

AITR = adults in the room

KPC = keeping parents clueless

1174 = invite to a wild party usually followed by an address

53X = sex

Chirped = got caught

Cu46 = See you for sexTDTM = talk dirty to meLMIRL = let’s meet in real life

GNRN = get naked right now

Pron = porn

Frape = Facebook rape; posting to someone else’s profile when they leave it logged in.

NSFW = not safe for work (post will include nudity, etc)

Livingdangerously = taking selfies while driving or some other unsafe behavior

Kik = let’s talk on kik instant message instead

Sue = suicide

Dep = depression

Svv = self- harming behavior

SN = send nudes

Nend sudes = another way to say SN/send nudes

PNP = party and play (drugs + sex)

 

Potential drug-related slang

420, bud, tree = marijuana

Blow, mayo, white lady, rock, snow, yay, yale, yeyo, yank, yahoo = Cocaine

Special K = ketamine, liquid tranquilizer

Pearls = a nicely rolled blunt

Dabbing = concentrated doses of marijuana (began as a dance craze)

DOC = drug of choice

Turnt up / turnt = high or drunk

Geeked up = being high

Bar = Xanax pill

Bar out = to take a Xanax pill

Baseball = crack cocaine

Skrill = Money

Bread = money

CID = acid

E, XTC  = ecstasy

Hazel = heroin

Blue Boogers = snorting Adderall or Ritalin

Pharming = getting into medicine cabinets to find drugs to get high

Oxy, perks, vikes = opioids

Robo-tripping = consuming cough syrup to get high

Tweaking = high on amphetamines

Wings = cocaine; heroin

Speed, crank, uppers, Crystal or Tina = meth

 

Red flag emojis

Frog = an ugly person

Frog + tea (coffee) cup = that’s the tea (gossip)

Any kind of green plant/leaves = marijuana

Maple leaf = marijuana

Broccoli = marijuana

Smoke puff or gasoline = get high

Snowflake = cocaine

Person skiing = cocaine

Pill = ecstasy or MDMA for sale

Face with steam from nose = MDMA drug

Rocket = high potency drug for sale

Syringe = heroin

Diamond = crystal meth, crack cocaine for sale

Skull = die

Knife + screaming face = calling someone a psycho

Bowling ball + person running = I’m gonna hit you, coming for you

Flowers = drugs

Dollar sign = it’s for sale

Syringe = heroine (also tattoo)

Cat with heart eyes = sex

Purple face with horns = sex

Gas pump = sex

Tongue, eggplant, water drops, banana, peach, taco, cherries, drooling face, rocket = sex

Rose, rosette, cherry, pink cherry blossom, growing heart, airplane, crown = emojis that refer to sex trafficking

When it comes to figuring out what your kids are up to online, using your own instincts and paying attention will be your best resources. If something doesn’t sound or look right on your child’s phone trust that feeling and look deeper. You don’t have to know every term or symbol — the more important thing is to stay aware and stay involved.

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10 Ways to Help Your Family Break Bad Tech Habits https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/10-ways-to-help-your-family-break-bad-tech-habits/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/10-ways-to-help-your-family-break-bad-tech-habits/#respond Sat, 30 Mar 2019 14:10:14 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94804

A new study from Pew Research confirms our collective hunch that 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone and that 45% of teens now say they are always online. No shock there. The finding that is far more worrisome? That despite this dramatic digital shift over the past decade, parents are divided on […]

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A new study from Pew Research confirms our collective hunch that 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone and that 45% of teens now say they are always online. No shock there. The finding that is far more worrisome? That despite this dramatic digital shift over the past decade, parents are divided on whether today’s teens face a set of issues completely different than the issues of their youth.

When asked to compare the experiences of today’s teens to their own experiences when they were a teen, 48% of parents surveyed said today’s teens have to deal with a completely different set of issues. Likewise, 51% said that despite some differences, the issues young people deal with today is not that different from when they were teenagers.

This number is alarming from both a parenting perspective and a digital safety perspective. It means that while we’ve made incredible progress in our digital awareness and how to raise kids in this unique culture, a lot of parents are still woefully behind in their thinking. (Seriously: Could our experience as teens — minus the internet and smartphones — be any more different than the experience of today’s digital natives?)

Distracted Parents, Distracted Kids

In trying to understand this reality gap, the survey offered up another morsel of insight: That parents themselves are as distracted as kids when it comes to reliance on devices. Yep! As worried as parents say they are about the amount of time their teen spends online, parents’ digital behavior isn’t exactly praiseworthy. The survey found that 59% of parents say they at least sometimes feel obligated to respond to cell phone messages immediately, while 39% admit they regularly lose focus at work because they’re checking their mobile device and 36% say they spend too much time on their cell phone.

Reality Check

If half of us genuinely believe that our kids are growing up with issues similar to ours as teens (only with strange devices in their hands), and if we are telling our kids to lead balanced digital lives but our digital habits are off the rails, then — if we’re honest — we’ve got some serious work to do as parents.

How do we begin to shift these numbers in favor of our family’s digital health? How do we move from technology leading our family to the other way around?

Like any significant change, we begin at home — with the truth — and move forward from there. We’ve got this!

10 Ways to Improve Your Family Tech Habits

  1. Own your stuff. Let’s get real. Change begins with acknowledging our personal responsibility in what isn’t working. If your own screen time is out of control and you are trying to set healthy digital habits for your family — that contradiction is going to undermine your success. Take a look at your screen time habits, admit to the bad habits, and establish fresh tech goals moving forward.
  2. No shame zone. We know about establishing device-free zones in the home such as the dinner table, movie time, and the bedroom at night. Consider a no shame zone — the understanding that no one is made to feel shame for his or her not-so-great tech habits. It’s hard to move forward toward new goals if we beat ourselves up for the past, compare ourselves to others, or are made to feel like the bad guy for falling short. Acknowledge bad habits, discuss them openly, and help one another do better in the future. Your chances of success double when you have a team supporting you.
  3. Stick to a device curfew. Try a device curfew — say 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. — when devices are turned off and put into a drawer (yes, you have to get this intentional). A curfew increases face-to-face family interaction and creates space for non-device activities. It specifically reduces the temptation to habitually check your phone, get lost scrolling on Instagram, and getting sucked back into work emails. More importantly, it models for your kids that you don’t have to check your phone constantly, which has countless emotional and physical benefits.
  4. Be realistic with changes. The goal is to reduce your tech and strike a balance that complements — rather than conflicts with — your family’s lifestyle and wellbeing. We know that technology is now an ever-present part of family life so cutting it out completely is neither beneficial nor realistic. Achieving a healthy tech balance is an on-going process. Some days you will fare than others. The goal is to make progress (not perfection) toward a healthier, more balanced relationship with your technology. Going haywire with rules and consequences won’t get you there faster. Discuss as a family what changes need to be made and brainstorm ways to get there. Set some realistic goals that everyone can achieve and maintain not just in the short-term but also as a lifestyle.
  5. Turn off notifications. This is a small, powerful act that can transform your digital life. Getting pop up notifications for apps, emails, texts, calendar events, social media actions — you name it — might be your normal for you but far from beneficial. So, turn them all off. I dare you.
  6. Filter content. Tech balance isn’t just about less tech; it’s also about monitoring the content that flows into your home from the other side of the screen. You can turn off your family’s devices for 23 hours a day and if the content you allow into your home for that remaining one hour isn’t age-appropriate or conflicts with your family’s values and tech goals, then that one hour has tremendous influence. Take the time to explore filtering options that allow you to set time limits on your child’s (and your) technology, block dangerous websites and apps, and helps you strike a healthy tech balance that reflects your family’s lifestyle and needs. Roll up your sleeves: Co-view movies, go through apps and video games and discuss the issues that arise around the media your kids consume.
  7. Be the parent. Kids crave consistency and leadership from parents. No matter what age your child may be, as a parent, you are the most influential person in your child’s life. You pay the bills. You can shut devices and routers off — regardless of the tantrum level. Your opinion matters on video games, media, apps, friend groups, and content. Don’t let your child’s emotional protests keep you from parenting well and establishing and enforcing good tech habits. If you think your child has a technology addiction issue trust that instinct and take action.
  8. Get a plan, work it. We all nod when we read this but who has done it? You can’t get where you are going without a map. Put a family tech plan in place (with group input) and stick to it. Ideas to consider: Phone free zones, device curfew, chores and responsibilities, physical activity vs. screen time, social media behavior, tech security rules, TV viewing time, video game time limits, content guidelines, and expectations. If you discover that your tech plan isn’t working, zero in and make adjustments.
  9. Rediscover real life — together. Maybe you’ve gotten in some bad habits over the years. Don’t beat yourself up. Just decide to change things up moving forward. It’s never too late to change your family vibe. Explore new things together — nature, art classes, concerts, camping — anything that helps you disconnect from technology and reconnect to each other and real life.
  10. Keep. On. Talking. Sure you’ve said it before, so what? Make the conversation about digital issues a priority in your home. Ask your kids what’s going on with their friend groups and online. Talk about tech issues in the news. Talk about the health and emotional issues connected to excessive tech use. According to your child’s age, talk about the stuff that’s tough to talk about talking about like cyberbullying, suicide, self-harm, body image, and sexting. A good rapport with your child is the most powerful tool you have as a parent today.

Remember, technology is a tool not a way of life. Healthy screen habits begin parents who are grounded in reality and who model healthy screen habits themselves. Times have changed, there are challenges to be sure but stay the course parent: You’ve got the tools and the tenacity you need to get in front of those challenges and equip our kids to live wise, balanced digital lives.

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Hidden & Fake Apps: How Hackers Could Be Targeting Your Connected Home https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/hidden-fake-apps-how-hackers-could-be-targeting-your-connected-home/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/hidden-fake-apps-how-hackers-could-be-targeting-your-connected-home/#respond Sat, 23 Mar 2019 14:00:09 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94741

Like most parents, before you go to sleep each night, you take extra care to lock doors and windows to keep your family safe from any outside threats. The only thing you may have overlooked is the smartphone illuminated on your nightstand. And if you were to add up the smartphones humming all over your […]

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Like most parents, before you go to sleep each night, you take extra care to lock doors and windows to keep your family safe from any outside threats. The only thing you may have overlooked is the smartphone illuminated on your nightstand. And if you were to add up the smartphones humming all over your house, suddenly you’d have a number of unlocked doors that a determined criminal could enter through. Maybe not tonight — but eventually.

Digital Ecosystem

Over time you’ve purchased and plugged in devices throughout your home. You might have a voice assistant, a baby monitor, a thermostat, a treadmill, a gaming system, a fitness watch, smart TVs, a refrigerator, and many other fun, useful gadgets. Each purchase likely connects to your smartphone. Take stock: You now have a digital ecosystem growing all around you. And while you rarely stop to take notice of this invisible power grid around you, hackers can’t stop thinking about it.

This digital framework that pulsates within your home gives cybercriminals potential new entryways into your life and your data. Depending on your devices, by accessing your smartphone, outsiders may be able to unlock your literal doors while you are away (via your home security system), eavesdrop on your family conversations and collect important information (via your voice assistant), access financial information (via your gaming system, tablet, or laptop).

What you can do:

  • Change factory security settings. Before you fire up that smart TV, drone, or sound system, be sure to change each product’s factory settings and replace it with a bulletproof password to put a layer of protection between you and would-be hackers.
  • Protect your home network. We are connected people living in connected homes. So, part of the wired lifestyle is taking the lead on doing all we can to protect it. One way to do that is at the router level with built-in network security, which can help secure your connected devices.
  • Stay on top of software updates. Cybercrooks rely on consumers to ignore software updates; it makes their job so much easier. So be sure to install updates to your devices, security software, and IoT products when alerted to do so.

Smartphone = Front Gate

The most common entry point to all of these connected things is your smartphone. While you’ve done a lot of things to protect your phone — a lock screen, secure passwords on accounts, and system updates — there are hacking tactics you likely know nothing about. According to McAfee’s recent  Mobile Threat Report, you don’t know because the scope and complexity of mobile hacks are increasing at alarming rates.

Hidden Apps

The latest statistics report that the average person has between 60-90 apps installed on their phones. Multiply that between all the users in your home, and you are looking at anywhere from 200-500 apps living under your digital roof. Hackers gravitate toward digital trends. They go where the most people congregate because that’s where they can grab the most money. Many of us control everything in our homes from our apps, so app downloads are off the charts, which is why crooks have engineered some of their most sophisticated schemes specifically around app users.

Hidden apps are a way that crooks trick users into letting them inside their phones. Typically, hidden apps (such as TimpDoor) get to users via Google Play when they download games or customized tools. TimpDoor will then directly communicate with users via a text with a link to a voice message that gives detailed instructions to enable apps from unknown sources. That link downloads malware which will run in the background after the app closes. Users often forget they’ve downloaded this and go on with life while the malware runs in the background and can access other internal networks on the smartphone.

What you can do:

  • Stay alert. Don’t fall for the traps or click links to other apps sent via text message.
  • Stay legit. Only download apps hosted by the original trusted stores and verified partner sites.
  • Avoid spam. Don’t click on any email links, pop-ups, or direct messages that include suspicious links, password prompts, or fake attachments. Delete and block spam emails and texts.
  • Disable and delete. If you are not using an app, disable it. And, as a safety habit, remove apps from your phone, tablet, or laptop you no longer use.

Fake Apps

Again, crooks go where the most people congregate, and this year it is the 60 million+ downloaded game Fortnite. The Fortnite craze has lead hackers to design fake Fortnite apps masquerading as the real thing. The fraudulent app designers go to great lengths to make the download look legitimate. They offer enticing downloads and promise users a ton of free perks and add ons. Once users download the fake app, crooks can collect money through ads, send text messages with more bad app links, crypto jack users, or install malware or spyware.

What you can do:

  • Don’t install apps from unknown sources. Not all gaming companies distribute via Google Play or the App Store. This makes it even harder for users to know that the app they are downloading is legit. Do all you can to verify the legitimacy of the site you are downloading from.
  • Delete suspicious acting apps. If you download an app and it begins to request access to anything outside of its service, delete it immediately from your device.
  • Update devices regularly. Keep new bugs and threats at bay by updating your devices automatically.
  • Monitor bank statements. Check statements regularly to monitor the activity of the card linked to your Fortnite account. If you notice repeat or multiple transactions from your account or see charges that you don’t recognize, alert your bank immediately.
  • Be a savvy app user. Verify an app’s legitimacy. Read other user reviews and be discerning before you download anything. This practice also applies to partner sites that sell game hacks, credits, patches, or virtual assets players use to gain rank within a game. Beware of “free” downloads and avoid illegal file-sharing sites. Free downloads can be hotbeds for malware. Stick with the safer, paid options from a reputable source.

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How to Safeguard Your Family Against A Medical Data Breach https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/steps-to-safeguard-your-family-against-a-medical-data-breach/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/steps-to-safeguard-your-family-against-a-medical-data-breach/#respond Sat, 16 Mar 2019 14:14:19 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94597

The risk to your family’s healthcare data often begins with that piece of paper on a clipboard your physician or hospital asks you to fill out or in the online application for healthcare you completed. That data gets transferred into a computer where a patient Electronic Health Record (EHR) is created or added to. From […]

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Medical Data BreachThe risk to your family’s healthcare data often begins with that piece of paper on a clipboard your physician or hospital asks you to fill out or in the online application for healthcare you completed.

That data gets transferred into a computer where a patient Electronic Health Record (EHR) is created or added to. From there, depending on the security measures your physician, healthcare facility, or healthcare provider has put in place, your data is either safely stored or up for grabs.

It’s a double-edged sword: We all need healthcare but to access it we have to hand over our most sensitive data armed only with the hope that the people on the other side of the glass window will do their part to protect it.

Breaches on the Rise

Feeling a tad vulnerable? You aren’t alone. The stats on medical breaches don’t do much to assuage consumer fears.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that the number of annual health data breaches increased 70% over the past seven years, with 75% of the breached, lost, or stolen records being breached by a hacking or IT incident at a cost close to consumers at nearly $6 billion.

The IoT Factor

Medical Data Breach

Not only are medical facilities vulnerable to hackers, but with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) consumer products — which, in short, means everything is digitally connected to everything else — also provide entry points for hackers. Wireless devices at risk include insulin pumps and monitors, Fitbits, scales, thermometers, heart and blood pressure monitors.

To protect yourself when using these devices, experts recommend staying on top of device updates and inputting as little personal information as possible when launching and maintaining the app or device.

The Dark Web

The engine driving healthcare attacks of all kinds is the Dark Web where criminals can buy, sell, and trade stolen consumer data without detection. Healthcare data is precious because it often includes a much more complete picture of a person including social security number, credit card/banking information, birthdate, address, health care card information, and patient history.

With this kind of data, many corrupt acts are possible including identity theft, fraudulent medical claims, tax fraud, credit card fraud, and the list goes on. Complete medical profiles garner higher prices on the Dark Web.

Some of the most valuable data to criminals are children’s health information (stolen from pediatrician offices) since a child’s credit records are clean and more useful tools in credit card fraud.

According to Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and McAfee Fellow, Advanced Threat Research, predictions for 2019 include criminals working even more diligently in the Dark Web marketplace to devise and launch more significant threats.

“The game of cat and mouse the security industry plays with ransomware developers will escalate, and the industry will need to respond more quickly and effectively than ever before,” Says Samani.

Medical Data Breach

Healthcare professionals, hospitals, and health insurance companies, while giving criminals an entry point, though responsible, aren’t the bad guys. They are being fined by the government for breaches and lack of proper security, and targeted and extorted by cyber crooks, while simultaneously focusing on patient care and outcomes. Another factor working against them is the lack of qualified cybersecurity professionals equipped to protect healthcare practices and facilities.

Protecting ourselves and our families in the face of this kind of threat can feel overwhelming and even futile. It’s not. Every layer of protection you build between you and a hacker, matters. There are some things you can do to strengthen your family’s healthcare data practices.

Ways to Safeguard Medical Data

Don’t be quick to share your SSN. Your family’s patient information needs to be treated like financial data because it has that same power. For that reason, don’t give away your Social Security Number — even if a medical provider asks for it. The American Medical Association (AMA) discourages medical professionals from collecting patient SSNs nowadays in light of all the security breaches.

Keep your healthcare card close. Treat your healthcare card like a banking card. Know where it is, only offer it to physicians when checking in for an appointment, and report it immediately if it’s missing.

Monitor statements. The Federal Trade Commission recommends consumers keep a close eye on medical bills. If someone has compromised your data, you will notice bogus charges right away. Pay close attention to your “explanation of benefits,” and immediately contact your healthcare provider if anything appears suspicious.

Ask about security. While it’s not likely you can change your healthcare provider’s security practices on the spot, the more consumers inquire about security standards, the more accountable healthcare providers are to following strong data protection practices.

Pay attention to apps, wearables. Understand how app owners are using your data. Where is the data stored? Who is it shared with? If the app seems sketchy on privacy, find a better one.

How to Protect IoT Devices

Medical Data Breach

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), IoT devices, while improving medical care and outcomes, have their own set of safety precautions consumers need to follow.

  • Change default usernames and passwords
  • Isolate IoT devices on their protected networks
  • Configure network firewalls to inhibit traffic from unauthorized IP addresses
  • Implement security recommendations from the device manufacturer and, if appropriate, turn off devices when not in use
  • Visit reputable websites that specialize in cybersecurity analysis when purchasing an IoT device
  • Ensure devices and their associated security patches are up-to-date
  • Apply cybersecurity best practices when connecting devices to a wireless network
  • Invest in a secure router with appropriate security and authentication practices

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How to Make Sure Spring Break Doesn’t Wreck Your Digital Rep https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-make-sure-spring-break-doesnt-wreck-your-digital-rep/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-make-sure-spring-break-doesnt-wreck-your-digital-rep/#respond Sat, 09 Mar 2019 15:00:38 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94500 Spring Break and reputation management

Spring Break 2019 is in full swing, which means high school and college kids have hit the road determined to make this rite of passage epic. Unfortunately, not everyone will return home with his or her online reputation intact. Despite the headlines and warnings, kids are still uploading their lives 24/7 and not all of […]

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Spring Break and reputation management

Spring Break and reputation management Spring Break 2019 is in full swing, which means high school and college kids have hit the road determined to make this rite of passage epic. Unfortunately, not everyone will return home with his or her online reputation intact.

Despite the headlines and warnings, kids are still uploading their lives 24/7 and not all of their choices will be wise. While impressive at the moment, showcasing one’s exceptional beer pong or body shot skills could become a future digital skeleton.

Define it

The decision to share reckless content online has damaged (even destroyed) scholarships, opportunities, reputations, and careers.

Each day more than one billion names are searched on Google, and 77% of job recruiters look up potential employees up online during the hiring process, according to BrandYourself.com. Also, 45% of people have found content in an online search that made them decide not to do business with someone.

As elementary as it sounds, the first step to helping your child safeguard his or her online reputation this spring break is defining what is and is not appropriate online content.

Spring Break and reputation management

Technology has created a chasm between generations so don’t assume your values align with your child’s in this area. Behavior once considered inappropriate has slowly become acceptable to kids who grew up in the online space. Also, peers often have far more influence than parents.

So take the time to define (and come to an agreement on) content you consider off limits such as profanity, racy photos, mean, disrespectful, or racist comments, irresponsible or prank videos, or pictures that include alcohol or drug use. (Yes, state the obvious!)

Untag It

Spring Break and reputation management

Turn off tagging. Like it or not, people often judged us by the company we keep. Your child’s online behavior may be stellar but tag-happy, reckless friends can sink that quickly. To make sure your child doesn’t get tagged in risky photos on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, encourage them to adjust privacy settings to prevent tagging or require user approval. Also, help your kids to pay more attention to unflattering Snapchat photos and Snapchat story photos that other people post about them that can be problematic if shared elsewhere.

Lock It

Amp privacy settings. By adjusting privacy settings to “friends only” on select social networks content, digital mistakes can be minimized. However, we know that anything uploaded can be shared and screen captured before it’s deleted so tightening privacy settings isn’t a guarantee.

Google It

Spring Break and reputation management To get a clear picture of your child’s digital footprint and what a school or future employer might find, Google your child’s name. Examine the social networks, links, and sites that have cataloged information about your child. One of the best ways to replace damaging digital information is by creating positive information that overshadows it. Encourage your child to set up a Facebook page that reflects their best self — their values, their goals, and their character. Make the page public so others can view it. They may also consider setting up a LinkedIn page that highlights specific achievements, goals, and online endorsements from teachers and past employers.

If for some reason there’s damaging content that can’t be removed by request, encourage your child to set up a personal website and blog weekly. This can be a professional or hobby blog, but the idea is to repopulate the search results with favorable content and push the tainted content further down on Google.

Balance It

In your guiding, don’t forget the wise words of Cyndi Lauper who reminds us all, “Girls just wanna have fun!” Strive for balance in giving kids the room to make memories with friends while at the same time equipping them to make wise choices online.

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Alleged ‘Momo Challenge’ Reminds Parents to Monitor Online Content https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/disturbing-momo-challenge-has-parents-law-enforcement-on-alert/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/disturbing-momo-challenge-has-parents-law-enforcement-on-alert/#respond Sat, 02 Mar 2019 15:00:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94368

Editor’s Note: This blog post includes disturbing content and mentions of suicide. Internet challenges have been going on for years. They can be fun and harmless, or they can be dim-witted and even deadly. The latest challenge referred to as the Momo challenge seemingly hits a whole new level of creepy but experts say there’s […]

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Momo challenge
This eerie image is connected to the alleged Momo challenge causing panic among parents.

Editor’s Note: This blog post includes disturbing content and mentions of suicide.

Internet challenges have been going on for years. They can be fun and harmless, or they can be dim-witted and even deadly. The latest challenge referred to as the Momo challenge seemingly hits a whole new level of creepy but experts say there’s little evidence the challenge is real.

What Is It?

To participate in the alleged challenge players using various apps or games are purportedly urged by a pop-up image of “Momo” to hurt themselves or others to avoid being cursed by the creature. (The creepy image of Momo is reportedly a half-girl-half-bird sculpture created by a Japanese artist unrelated to the game). Rumors allege the game ends with Momo encouraging participants to take their own lives and record it for social media.

Real or rumor?

Is the challenge real or a hoax? While several youth suicides around the world are rumored to be tied to the Momo game, none of the connections have been proven, according to both the Washington Post, Snopes, and other news sources.

Rumored or reality, one thing is for certain: The viral Momo story is creating a genuine panic and perceived threat among parents that requires an equally strategic response.

With devices in the hands of most kids by the time they are 10, the viral Momo challenge offers all of us a chance to stop, think, and connect with our kids specifically about digital content, peer pressure, and the danger of online challenges.

Talking Points for Families

Be hands-on. This story, while considered an internet myth, represents an opportunity to get even more hands-on with your digital parenting efforts. As silly, viral challenges like Momo arise (and there will be more), resolve to routinely monitor the content your kids engage with online. This includes apps, YouTube content, video games, TV shows online, and chat apps. Feel overwhelmed with monitoring? Consider getting a software program to be your eyes and ears online and help filter out risky content.

Get proactive. Depending on the age of your child, chances are if they’ve heard about the Momo game or seen the image, they could be frightened. Talk about the dangers of peer pressure, bullying, and online challenges. Make sure the conversation is two-way and includes your child’s experiences and thoughts on the topic. Ask your child to come to you immediately if anyone or anything online ever makes them feel unsafe, afraid, or provoked.

Stay informed. Risky digital behaviors that affect kids, tweens, and teens make the headlines each week. Any parent in the know will tell you candidly that staying informed about online risk is a part-time job attached to parenting. Read blogs, set google alerts, listen to podcasts, and connect with experts online to stay informed. Other dangerous online challenges include the Bird Box Challenge and several others.

Encourage critical thinking. If your child blows off the potential seriousness of online stunts or games, encourage him or her to think a behavior through. Ask them: “Walk through each step of the stunt and tell me where you think things could go wrong.” This will help your child personally determine if an activity is risky or not.

Know Those Apps! One of the biggest threats to a child’s online safety is his or her choice in apps. Apps run the gamut of risk and range from educational and uplifting to inappropriate and dangerous. Go on your child’s phone regularly and check for risky apps. Google the app and read app reviews. Look at age restrictions and customer reviews so you will be better equipped to evaluate whether an app may be suitable for your child. Dangerous apps include Kik Messenger, Ask.Fm, Tumblr, and any other social network that allows anonymous users.

Monitor online communities. Your kids have friends they bring home, but they also have friends online you will never meet face to face. Dig in and get curious. Look for apps such as WhatsApp or Kik that allow kids to chat with anyone, anywhere. Ask your kids to show you where they spend their time and the kind of people they choose to talk with. Remember: The direct message feature on favorite apps like Instagram and Snapchat are also ways kids connect with peers online.

The contour of our digital life evolves and expands every day. And, unfortunately, along with that growth will come people who attempt to cause harm or plant fear just for sport. Rather than respond with fear, consider approaching risks with a fresh determination to equip your family with the knowledge and tools it needs to thrive and stay safe in this ever-changing digital terrain.

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Don’t Take the Bait! How to Steer Clear of Tax Time Scams https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/dont-take-the-bait-how-to-steer-clear-of-tax-time-scams/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/dont-take-the-bait-how-to-steer-clear-of-tax-time-scams/#respond Sat, 23 Feb 2019 15:00:54 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94213

For cybercriminals tax time is the most wonderful time of the year. They are in the shadows giddy, eager, and methodically setting a variety of digital traps knowing that enough taxpayers take the bait to render their efforts worthwhile. Indeed, with the frenzy of online tax filings, personal information (and money) moving through mailboxes, and […]

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tax time scamsFor cybercriminals tax time is the most wonderful time of the year. They are in the shadows giddy, eager, and methodically setting a variety of digital traps knowing that enough taxpayers take the bait to render their efforts worthwhile.

Indeed, with the frenzy of online tax filings, personal information (and money) moving through mailboxes, and hardworking people eagerly awaiting tax refunds, crooks are perfectly positioned for big returns this year.

So let’s be wiser and let’s be ready.

Last year, the IRS noted a 60 percent spike in bogus email schemes seeking to steal money or tax information. This year its a surge in phishing scams, says the IRS, that should have taxpayers on alert.

“The holidays and tax season present great opportunities for scam artists to try stealing valuable information through fake emails,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Watch your inbox for these sophisticated schemes that try to fool you into thinking they’re from the IRS or our partners in the tax community. Taking a few simple steps can protect yourself during the holiday season and at tax time.”

Scams to Look For

According to the IRS, phishing emails are circulating with subjects such as “IRS Important Notice,” “IRS Taxpayer Notice” and other iterations of that message. The fraudulent emails may demand payment with the threat of seizing the recipient’s tax refund or even jail time.

tax time scams

Attacks may also use email or malicious links to solicit tax or financial information by posing as a trustworthy organization or even a personal friend or business associate of the recipient.

While some emails may have obvious spelling errors or grammar mistakes, some scammers have gone to great lengths to piece together a victim’s personal information to gain their trust. These emails look legitimate, have an authentic tone, and are crafted to get even skeptics to compromise personal data using malicious web links.

Scams include emails with hyperlinks that take users to a fake site or PDF attachments that may download malware or viruses designed to grab sensitive information off your devices. With the right data in hand such as a social security number, crooks can file fake returns and claim your tax return, open credit cards, or run up medical bills.

Other tax scams include threatening phone calls from bogus IRS agents demanding immediate payment of past due tax bills and robocalls that leave urgent callback messages designed to scare victims into immediate payment.

Remember, the IRS will NOT:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
  • Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.tax time scams
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or
    e-mail.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

How to Protect Yourself

Be hyper-aware. Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. In fact, approach all emails with caution even those from people you know. Scams are getting more sophisticated. According to the IRS, thieves can compromise a friend’s email address, or they may be spoofing the address with a slight change in the email text that is hard to recognize.

Reduce your digital footprint. Now is a great time to go through your social accounts and online profiles, posts, and photos and boost your family’s privacy. Edit out any personal information such as your alma mater, your address, birthdate, pet names, children’s names, or mother’s maiden name. Consider making your social profiles private and filtering your friends’ list to actual people you know.

Have a strong password strategy. Cybercrooks count on their victims using the same password for multiple accounts. Lock them out by using unique passwords for separate accounts. Also, consider using two-factor authentification that requires a security code (sent to your phone) to access your account.

Install security software. Phishing emails carry malware and viruses designed to infect your devices and grab your family’s sensitive data or even seize your computer via ransomware. Crooks aren’t messing around so neither should you. Meet fire with fire by investing in comprehensive security software to protect your devices.

If you are the victim of tax fraud or identity theft, take the proper reporting steps. If you receive any unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS, forward them to phishing@irs.gov  (then delete the emails).

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The Risks of Public Wi-Fi and How to Close the Security Gap https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-risks-of-public-wi-fi-and-how-to-close-the-security-gap/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-risks-of-public-wi-fi-and-how-to-close-the-security-gap/#respond Sat, 16 Feb 2019 15:00:58 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94104

As I write this blog post, I’m digitally exposed, and I know it. For the past week, I’ve had to log on to a hospital’s public Wi-Fi each day to work while a loved one recuperates. What seems like a routine, casual connection to the hospital’s Wi-Fi isn’t. Using public Wi-Fi is a daily choice […]

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public wi-fi risksAs I write this blog post, I’m digitally exposed, and I know it. For the past week, I’ve had to log on to a hospital’s public Wi-Fi each day to work while a loved one recuperates.

What seems like a routine, casual connection to the hospital’s Wi-Fi isn’t. Using public Wi-Fi is a daily choice loaded with risk. Sure, I’m conducting business and knocking out my to-do list like a rock star but at what cost to my security?

The Risks

By using public Wi-Fi, I’ve opened my online activity and personal data (via my laptop) up to a variety of threats including eavesdropping, malware distribution, and bitcoin mining. There’s even a chance I could have logged on to a malicious hotspot that looked like the hospital network.

Like many public Wi-Fi spots, the hospital’s network could lack encryption, which is a security measure that scrambles the information sent from my computer to the hospital’s router so other people can’t read it. Minus encryption, whatever I send over the hospital’s network could potentially be intercepted and used maliciously by cybercriminals.

Because logging on to public Wi-Fi is often a necessity — like my situation this week — security isn’t always the first thing on our minds. But over the past year, a new normal is emerging. A lot of us are thinking twice. With data breaches, privacy concerns, the increase in the market for stolen credentials, and increasingly sophisticated online scams making the headlines every day, the risks of using public Wi-Fi are front and center.

Rising Star: VPNpublic wi-fi risks

The solution to risky public Wi-Fi? A Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN allows users to securely access a private network and share data remotely through public networks. Much like a firewall protects the data on your computer, a VPN protects your online activity by encrypting your data when you connect to the internet from a remote or public location. A VPN also conceals your location, IP address, and online activity.

Using a VPN helps protect you from potential hackers using public Wi-Fi, which is one of their favorite easy-to-access security loopholes.

Who Needs a VPN?

If you (or your family members) travel and love to shop online, access your bank account, watch movies, and do everyday business via your phone or laptop, a VPN would allow you to connect safely and encrypt your data no matter where you are.

A VPN can mask, or scramble, your physical location, banking account credentials, and credit card information.

Also, if you have a family data plan you’ve likely encouraged your kids to save data by connecting to public Wi-Fi whenever possible. Using a VPN, this habit would be secured from criminal sniffers and snoopers.

A VPN allows you to connect to a proxy server that will access online sites on your behalf and enables a secure connection most anywhere you go. A VPN also allows hides your IP address and allows you to browse anonymously from any location.

How VPNs work

To use a VPN you subscribe to VPN service, download the app onto your desktop or phone, set up your account, and then log onto a VPN server to conduct your online activity privately.

If you are still logging on to public Wi-Fi, here are a few tips to keep you safe until VPNs become as popular as Wi-Fi.

Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi 

Verify your connection. Fake networks that mine your data abound. If you are logging on to Wi-Fi in a coffee shop, hotel, airport, or library, verify the exact name of the network with an employee. Also, only use Wi-Fi that requires a password to log on.public wi-fi risks

Don’t get distracted. For adults, as well as kids, it’s easy to get distracted and absorbed with our screens — this is risky when on public Wi-Fi, according to Diana Graber, author of Raising Humans in a Digital World. “Knowing how to guard their personal information online is one of the most important skills parents need to equip their young kids with today,” says Graber. “Lots of young people visit public spaces, like a local coffee shop or library, and use public Wi-Fi to do homework, for example. It’s not uncommon for them to get distracted by something else online or even tempted to buy something, without realizing their personal information (or yours!) might be at risk.”

Disable auto Wi-Fi connect. If your phone automatically joins surrounding networks, you can disable this function in your settings. Avoid linking to unknown or unrecognized networks.

Turn off Wi-Fi when done. Your computer or phone can still transmit data even when you are not using it. Be sure to disable your Wi-Fi from the network when you are finished using it.

Avoid financial transactions. If you must use public Wi-Fi, don’t conduct a sensitive transaction such as banking, shopping, or any kind of activity that requires your social security or credit card numbers or password use. Wait until you get to a secured home network to conduct personal business.

Look for the HTTPS. Fake or unsecured websites will not have the HTTPS in their address. Also, look for the little lock icon in the address bar to confirm a secure connection.

Secure your devices. Use a personal VPN as an extra layer of security against hackers and malware.

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Valentine’s Alert: Don’t Let Scammers Break Your Heart or Your Bank Account https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/valentines-alert-dont-let-scammers-break-your-heart-or-your-bank-account/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/valentines-alert-dont-let-scammers-break-your-heart-or-your-bank-account/#respond Sat, 09 Feb 2019 15:02:17 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=94123

It’s hard to believe that as savvy as we’ve become about our tech, people are still getting catfished, scammed, and heartbroken in their pursuit of love online. The dinner conversation between bystanders goes something like this: “How could anyone be so dumb? Seriously? If they are going to be that reckless and uninformed, then maybe […]

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Online Dating ScamsIt’s hard to believe that as savvy as we’ve become about our tech, people are still getting catfished, scammed, and heartbroken in their pursuit of love online.

The dinner conversation between bystanders goes something like this: “How could anyone be so dumb? Seriously? If they are going to be that reckless and uninformed, then maybe they deserve what they got!”

Some friends and I recently had a similar conversation about online dating scams. I noticed, however, that one friend, Sarah*, wasn’t so eager to jump into the conversation. She shrunk back in the booth and quietly sipped her margarita. Only later did she share her story with me.

The power of love

A single mom in her late 40s, well-educated, and attractive, Sarah’s teenager had convinced her to join a dating site the year before. She was especially lonely after her divorce three years earlier, so she agreed to create a profile on a popular dating app. After a handful of dates fell flat, she found Scott. He was charismatic, kind. “We had an instant connection,” according to Sarah. They spent hours on the phone sharing their deepest secrets and even started imagining a future together. But after about three months, Scott fell on hard times. At first, he needed to borrow $400 to pay for airfare to visit a dying relative, which he paid back immediately. Over the next few months, the numbers grew to $1,000 for rent and $3,000 for a business venture.

Online Dating Scams

Before long, Sarah had loaned her new love over $8,500. When she pressed him to repay the money, Scott ghosted Sarah online, moved out of town, and she never saw him again. My friend didn’t share her story with many people. She didn’t report it. She was too embarrassed and humiliated and even became depressed following what she calls “the Scott scam.” Her trust in other people and in love itself has been obliterated.

Sarah’s story doesn’t just echo that of desperate, clueless people, or lonely older women. Scammers are targeting good people who still believe in and value love and companionship. The pursuit of love online extends to adults as well as teens.

Confidence Fraud

Law enforcement calls these kinds of online romance scams confidence fraud because scammers will take a considerable amount of time gaining the trust and confidence of their victims. They will appear empathetic and supportive as they gather personal information they can use over time to carry out their scam.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confidence fraud has jumped 20% in the past year despite reports and warnings — especially around this time of year.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports that romance scams top all other financial online crimes. In 2016, people reported almost 15,000 romance scams to IC3 (nearly 2,500 more than the previous year), with losses exceeding $230 million.

Tips for Safe Online Dating

Never send money. Be it a romantic relationship you’ve engaged with or a phishing email, no matter the sob story, do not send money to anyone online. If you do send money, put a loan agreement in place that is legally enforceable should one party default.

Suspicious behavior. If someone promises to meet you somewhere but keeps canceling or if he or she refuses to video chat, those are red flags. Technology means anyone from anywhere in the world can successfully maintain a scam.Online Dating Scams

Take things slow. If someone is pushing the pace of a relationship or too quick to declare love and talk about the future, pause and assess the situation.

Do a background check. Love is a powerful force and can easily cloud a person’s correct understanding of reality. If you dare to create a dating profile, make a deal with yourself that you will extend the same courage to doing a background check on someone.

Be a sleuth. Don’t be afraid to gather facts on someone you’ve met online. Simple steps such as Googling the person’s name or dropping their photo in Google’s Reverse Image Search will help you get a better understanding of a person. Have faith: Good, legitimate people do exist. However, if there’s anything dubious, it’s best to find it out earlier rather than later. Part of doing your homework is tracking down mutual friends and making inquiries about the person you are talking with online.

Keep your social profiles private. Experts agree that you should edit your online footprint before you start dating people you’ve met online. Making your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook private will guard you against potential.

Never send racy photos. Some scammers gain the confidence of their victims with every intention of extorting them in the future. They will threaten to send any racy photos with your family, friends, or business associates. The best way to avoid this is to never, ever send racy photos to anyone.Online Dating Scams

Google yourself, restrict info. Google yourself to see if there are any digital breadcrumbs that give away your home address or phone number. If possible, delete or revise that info. Likewise, go through your social accounts and remove any personal information you’ve shared in the past. Digital stalking is a risk for people who date online so turn off GPS on your dating apps and make sure your profile information is vague. Even if you get comfortable online with others, never get too comfortable since apps have privacy loopholes that can easily be exploited by hackers.

Take solid precautions. Enlist at least one friend as your dating safety pal. This will be the person who knows where you are going, who you will be with, and the background on the person you are meeting. Ask that person to check in with you during the date and carry pepper spray or a taser for physical protection. Go the extra step and turn on your Friend Finder or a location app that allows safety friend to track your whereabouts during a date.

*Names have been changed

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#PrivacyAware: Will You Champion Your Family’s Online Privacy? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/will-you-champion-your-familys-online-privacy/ Sat, 26 Jan 2019 16:00:08 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93939

The perky cashier stopped my transaction midway to ask for my email and phone number. Not now. Not ever. No more. I’ve had enough. I thought to myself. “I’d rather not, thank you,” I replied. The cashier finished my transaction and moved on to the next customer without a second thought. And, my email and […]

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online privacyThe perky cashier stopped my transaction midway to ask for my email and phone number.

Not now. Not ever. No more. I’ve had enough. I thought to myself.

“I’d rather not, thank you,” I replied.

The cashier finished my transaction and moved on to the next customer without a second thought.

And, my email and phone number lived in one less place that day.

This seemingly insignificant exchange happened over a year ago, but it represents the day I decided to get serious and champion my (and my family’s) privacy.

I just said no. And I’ve been doing it a lot more ever since.

A few changes I’ve made:

  • Pay attention to privacy policies (especially of banks and health care providers).
  • Read the terms and conditions of apps before downloading.
  • Block cookies from websites.
  • Refuse to purchase from companies that (appear to) take privacy lightly.
  • Max my privacy settings on social networks.
  • Change my passwords regularly and keep them strong!
  • Delete apps I no longer use.
  • Stay on top of software updates on all devices and add extra protection.
  • Have become hyper-aware before giving out my email, address, phone number, or birth date.
  • Limit the number of photos and details shared on social media.

~~~

The amount of personal information we share every day online — and off — is staggering. There’s information we post directly online such as our birth date, our location, our likes, and dislikes. Then there’s the data that’s given off unknowingly via web cookies, Metadata, downloads, and apps.

While some data breaches are out of our control, at the end of the day, we — along with our family members — are one giant data leak.

Studies show that on average by the age of 13, parents have posted 1,300 photos and videos of their child to social media. By the time kids get devices of their own, they are posting to social media 26 times per day on average — a total of nearly 70,000 posts by age 18.

The Risksonline privacy

When we overshare personal data a few things can happen. Digital fallout includes data misuse by companies, identity theft, credit card fraud, medical fraud, home break-ins, reputation damage, location and purchasing tracking, ransomware, and other risks.

The Mind Shift

The first step toward boosting your family’s privacy is to start thinking differently about privacy. Treat your data like gold (after all, that’s the way hackers see it). Guiding your family in this mind-shift will require genuine, consistent effort.

Talk to your family about privacy. Elevate its worth and the consequences when it’s undervalued or shared carelessly.

Teach your kids to treat their personal information — their browsing habits, clicks, address, personal routine, school name, passwords, and connected devices — with great care. Consider implementing this 11 Step Privacy Take Back Plan.

This mind and attitude shift will take time but, hopefully, your kids will learn to pause and think before handing over personal information to an app, a social network, a retail store, or even to friends.

Data Protection Tips*

  1. Share with care. Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what it reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future.
  2. Own your online presence. Set the privacy and security settings on websites and apps to your comfort level for information sharing. Each device, application or browser you use will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information.online privacy
  3. Think before you act. Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop and your geographic location, has tremendous value. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and understand how it’s collected through websites and apps.
  4. Lock down your login. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect critical accounts like email, banking, and social media. Strengthen online accounts and use strong authentication tools like a unique, one-time code through an app on your mobile device.

* Provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

January 28 National Data Privacy Day. The day highlights one of the most critical issues facing families today — protecting personal information in a hyper-connected world. It’s a great opportunity to commit to taking real steps to protect your online privacy. For more information on National Data Privacy Day or to get involved, go to Stay Safe Online.

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AI & Your Family: The Wows and Potential Risks https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/artificial-intelligence-your-family-the-wows-and-the-risks/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/artificial-intelligence-your-family-the-wows-and-the-risks/#respond Sat, 19 Jan 2019 19:34:19 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93892

Am I the only one? When I hear or see the word Artificial Intelligence (AI), my mind instantly defaults to images from sci-fi movies I’ve seen like I, Robot, Matrix, and Ex Machina. There’s always been a futuristic element — and self-imposed distance — between AI and myself. But AI is anything but futuristic or […]

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artificial intelligenceAm I the only one? When I hear or see the word Artificial Intelligence (AI), my mind instantly defaults to images from sci-fi movies I’ve seen like I, Robot, Matrix, and Ex Machina. There’s always been a futuristic element — and self-imposed distance — between AI and myself.

But AI is anything but futuristic or distant. AI is here, and it’s now. And, we’re using it in ways we may not even realize.

AI has been woven throughout our lives for years in various expressions of technology. AI is in our homes, workplaces, and our hands every day via our smartphones.

Just a few everyday examples of AI:

  • Cell phones with built-in smart assistants
  • Toys that listen and respond to children
  • Social networks that determine what content you see
  • Social networking apps with fun filters
  • GPS apps that help you get where you need to go
  • Movie apps that predict what show you’d enjoy next
  • Music apps that curate playlists that echo your taste
  • Video games that deploy bots to play against you
  • Advertisers who follow you online with targeted ads
  • Refrigerators that alert you when food is about to expire
  • Home assistants that carry out voice commands
  • Flights you take that operate via an AI autopilot

The Technology

While AI sounds a little intimidating, it’s not when you break it down. AI is technology that can be programmed to accomplish a specific set of goals without assistance. In short, it’s a computer’s ability to be predictive — to process data, evaluate it, and take action.

AI is being implemented in education, business, manufacturing, retail, transportation, and just about any other sector of industry and culture you can imagine. It’s the smarter, faster, more profitable way to accomplish manual tasks.

An there’s tons of AI-generated good going on. Instagram — the #2 most popular social network — is now using AI technology to detect and combat cyberbullying on in both comments and photos.

No doubt, AI is having a significant impact on everyday life and is positioned to transform the future.

Still, there are concerns. The self-driving cars. The robots that malfunction. The potential jobs lost to AI robots.

So, as quickly as this popular new technology is being applied, now is a great time to talk with your family about both the exciting potential of AI and the risks that may come with it.

Talking points for families

Fake videos, images. AI is making it easier for people to face swap within images and videos. A desktop application called FakeApp allows users to seamlessly swap faces and share fake videos and images. This has led to the rise in “deep fake” videos that appear remarkably realistic (many of which go viral). Tip: Talk to your family about the power of AI technology and the responsibility and critical thinking they must exercise as they consume and share online content.

Privacy breaches. Following the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal of 2018 that allegedly used AI technology unethically to collect Facebook user data, we’re reminded of those out to gather our private (and public) information for financial or political gain. Tip: Discuss locking down privacy settings on social networks and encourage your kids to be hyper mindful about the information they share in the public feed. That information includes liking and commenting on other content — all of which AI technology can piece together into a broader digital picture for misuse.

Cybercrime. As outlined in McAfee’s 2019 Threats Prediction Report, AI technology will likely allow hackers more ease to bypass security measures on networks undetected. This can lead to data breaches, malware attacks, ransomware, and other criminal activity. Additionally, AI-generated phishing emails are scamming people into handing over sensitive data. Tip: Bogus emails can be highly personalized and trick intelligent users into clicking malicious links. Discuss the sophistication of the AI-related scams and warn your family to think about every click — even those from friends.

IoT security. With homes becoming “smarter” and equipped with AI-powered IoT products, the opportunity for hackers to get into these devices to steal sensitive data is growing. According to McAfee’s Threat Prediction Report, voice-activated assistants are especially vulnerable as a point-of-entry for hackers. Also at risk, say security experts, are routers, smartphones, and tablets. Tip: Be sure to keep all devices updated. Secure all of your connected devices and your home internet at its source — the network. Avoid routers that come with your ISP (Internet Security Provider) since they are often less secure. And, be sure to change the default password and secure your primary network and guest network with strong passwords.

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Cryptojacking Up 4,000% How You Can Block the Bad Guys https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cryptojacking-up-4000-how-you-can-block-the-bad-guys/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cryptojacking-up-4000-how-you-can-block-the-bad-guys/#respond Sat, 12 Jan 2019 15:00:30 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93718 Think about it: In the course of your everyday activities — like grocery shopping or riding public transportation — the human body comes in contact with an infinite number of germs. In much the same way, as we go about our digital routines — like shopping, browsing, or watching videos — our devices can also pick […]

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Cryptojacking RisingThink about it: In the course of your everyday activities — like grocery shopping or riding public transportation — the human body comes in contact with an infinite number of germs. In much the same way, as we go about our digital routines — like shopping, browsing, or watching videos — our devices can also pick up countless, undetectable malware or javascript that can infect our devices.

Which is why it’s possible that hackers may be using malware or script to siphon power from your computer — power they desperately need to fuel their cryptocurrency mining business.

What’s Cryptocurrency?

Whoa, let’s back up. What’s cryptocurrency and why would people rip off other people’s computer power to get it? Cryptocurrencies are virtual coins that have a real monetary value attached to them. Each crypto transaction is verified and added to the public ledger (also called a blockchain). The single public ledger can’t be changed without fulfilling certain conditions. These transactions are compiled by cryptocurrency miners who compete with one another by solving the complex mathematical equations attached to the exchange. Their reward for solving the equation is bitcoin, which in the crypto world can equal thousands of dollars.

Power Surge

Cryptojacking RisingHere’s the catch: To solve these complex equations and get to crypto gold, crypto miners need a lot more hardware power than the average user possesses. So, inserting malicious code into websites, apps, and ads — and hoping you click — allows malicious crypto miners to siphon power from other people’s computers without their consent.

While mining cryptocurrency can often be a harmless hobby when malware or site code is attached to drain unsuspecting users CPU power, it’s considered cryptojacking, and it’s becoming more common.

Are you feeling a bit vulnerable? You aren’t alone. According to the most recent McAfee Labs Threats Report, cryptojacking has grown more than 4,000% in the past year.

Have you been hit?

One sign that you’ve been affected is that your computer or smartphone may slow down or have more glitches than normal. Crypto mining code runs quietly in the background while you go about your everyday work or browsing and it can go undetected for a long time.

How to prevent cryptojacking

Be proactive. Your first line of defense against a malware attack is to use a comprehensive security solution on your family computers and to keep that software updated.

Cryptojacking Blocker. This new McAfee product zeroes in on the cryptojacking threat and helps prevent websites from mining for cryptocurrency (see graphic below). Cryptojacking Blocker is included in all McAfee suites that include McAfee WebAdvisor. Users can update their existing WebAdvisor software to get Cryptojacking Blocker or download WebAdvisor for free.

Cryptojacking Rising

Discuss it with your family. Cryptojacking is a wild concept to explain or discuss at the dinner table, but kids need to fully understand the digital landscape and their responsibility in it. Discuss their role in helping to keep the family safe online and the motives of the bad guys who are always lurking in the background.

Smart clicks. One way illicit crypto miners get to your PC is through malicious links sent in legitimate-looking emails. Be aware of this scam (and many others) and think before you click on any links sent via email.

Stick with the legit. If a website, an app, or pop-up looks suspicious, it could contain malware or javascript that instantly starts working (mining power) when you load a compromised web page. Stick with reputable sites and apps and be extra cautious with how you interact with pop-ups.

Install updates immediately. Be sure to keep all your system software up-to-date when alerted to do so. This will help close any security gaps that hackers can exploit.

Strong passwords. These little combinations are critical to your family’s digital safety and can’t be ignored. Create unique passwords for different accounts and be sure to change out those passwords periodically.

To stay on top of the latest consumer and security threats that could impact your family, be sure to listen to our podcast Hackable? And, like us on Facebook.

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Do Your Kids Love Gaming? Know How to Protect Them from A Cyberattack https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/do-your-kids-love-gaming-know-how-to-protect-them-from-a-cyberattack/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/do-your-kids-love-gaming-know-how-to-protect-them-from-a-cyberattack/#respond Sat, 05 Jan 2019 15:00:35 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93560 online gaming

Fortnite, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Red Redemption 2, Spiderman, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. If you are the parent of a teenager, you know all about some of these popular online games, and you may even play some yourself. What you may not know is that while your child is fully engaged in his […]

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online gaming

online gamingFortnite, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Red Redemption 2, Spiderman, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. If you are the parent of a teenager, you know all about some of these popular online games, and you may even play some yourself. What you may not know is that while your child is fully engaged in his or her favorite online game, he or she may be in the digital crosshairs of a cyber thief.

According to reports, more than 2.2 billion video gamers helped bring that industry more than $108 billion in revenue in 2017, so it’s not surprising that scammers are following the money.

McAfee Gaming Survey

A recent gaming survey from McAfee uncovered some valuable insights into the gaming world and security. The good news is that most gamers have cybersecurity on their radar (75% of PC gamers chose online security as the issue that most concerned them about the future of gaming). The not-so-good news is that of the gamers surveyed; most still aren’t practicing the best online habits such as reusing passwords across multiple accounts (55%). In addition, the average gamer has experienced almost five cyberattacks due to poor security habits (see graphic, right).

Common Scams

Online cheats or downloads. Gamers love to get and edge on their favorite game, so when they go search online for cheats or someone sends them a link for a cheat or download, they will likely click. That fake cheat can lead to malware, bitcoin theft, or identity theft.

Fake apps. Scammers are capitalizing on favorite games such as Red Dead Redemption 2 by luring users to download the game for free only to trick them into divulging their personal information. Remember, if you come across a download offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Fraudulent trades. Many games often include extras that a gamer can buy for their characters such as weapons, armor, skins, or clothing. Some scammers will offer to purchase or trade items outside of the platform and then dupe the buyer through a phishing link that gains access to his or her credit card information.

Impersonation/Catfishing. Some scammers go to great lengths to access a gamer’s personal information. They will befriend a gamer over time, gain trust, and take advantage of the gamer emotionally or financially in some way.

Account takeovers. This scam is when a hacker gains access to a legitimate player’s account (usually a popular player), blocks that user from accessing his or her account, and uses that account to send out spammy emails, fake offers, and malicious links.

Gaming Safety Tips

  • Don’t reuse passwords. It may take a minute or two longer to log into your favorite games, but there’s a significant layer of protection when you use a unique password for each of your online accounts. Reusing passwords allows a hacker to gain access to multiple accounts once you’ve been compromised.
  • Use a firewall. Gamers should use a firewall to help block would-be attackers from gaining access to their PC and home networks.
  • Smart clicking. Gaming is immersive. Because of that, crooks know that players may have their guards down. Players should never impulsively click on links in messages from people they don’t know. One wrong click can lead to malware, ransomware, or other phishing schemes.online gaming
  • Add extra security. It’s always a good idea to put another layer of protection between you and a hacker. To protect devices from malware and other threats, use a comprehensive security solution like McAfee Total Protection.
  • Browse with caution. Scammers may target gamers through other popular websites like YouTube and Twitter to push out malicious content. Be wise when browsing these sites and keep your guard up when clicking on any game link or offer.
  • Act fast. If you suspect a scam within a game, report it to the developers immediately to help stop the spread and protect other users.

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Mind-Bending Tech: What Parents Need to Know About Virtual & Augmented Reality  https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/mind-bending-tech-what-parents-need-to-know-about-virtual-augmented-reality-%ef%bb%bf/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/mind-bending-tech-what-parents-need-to-know-about-virtual-augmented-reality-%ef%bb%bf/#respond Sat, 29 Dec 2018 15:03:54 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93545

You’ve probably heard the buzz around Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) and your child may have even put VR gear on this year’s wish list. But what’s the buzz all about and what exactly do parents need to know about these mind-bending technologies? VR and AR technology sound a bit sci-fi and intimidating, […]

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Virtual and Augmented reality technology is changing the way we see the world.

You’ve probably heard the buzz around Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) and your child may have even put VR gear on this year’s wish list. But what’s the buzz all about and what exactly do parents need to know about these mind-bending technologies?

VR and AR technology sound a bit sci-fi and intimidating, right? They can be until you begin to understand the amazing ways these technologies are being applied to entertainment as well as other areas like education and healthcare. But, like any new technology, where there’s incredible opportunity there are also safety issues parents don’t want to ignore.

According to a report from Common Sense Media, 60 percent of parents are worried about VR’s health effects on children, while others say the technology will have significant educational benefits.

Virtual Reality

Adults and kids alike are using VR technology — headsets, software, and games — to experience the thrill of being in an immersive environment.

The Pokemon Go app uses AR technology to overlay characters on an existing environment.

According to Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) 20th Annual Consumer Technology Ownership and Market Potential Study, there are now 7 million VR headsets in U.S. households, which equates to about six percent of homes. CTA estimates that 3.9 million VR/AR headsets shipped in 2017 and 4.9 million headsets will ship in 2018.

With VR technology, a user wears a VR Head Mounted Display (HMD) headset and interacts with 3D computer-generated environments on either a PC or smart phone that allows them to feel — or experience the illusion — that he or she is actually in that place. The VR headset has eye displays (OLED) for each eye that show an environment at different angles to give the perception of depth. VR environments are diverse. One might include going inside the human body to learn about the digestive system, another environment might be a battlefield, while another might be a serene ocean view. The list of games, apps, experiences, and movies goes on and on.

Augmented Reality

AR differs from VR in that it overlays digital information onto physical surroundings and does not require a headset. AR is transparent and allows you to see and interact with your environment. It adds digital images and data to enhance views of the real world. AR is used in apps like Pokémon Go and GPS and walking apps that allow you to see your environment in real time. Not as immersive as VR, AR can still enrich a physical reality and is finding its way into a number of industries. VR and AR technologies are used in education for e learning and in the military for combat, medic, and flight simulation training. The list of AR applications continues to grow.

To support these growing technologies, there are thousands of games, videos, live music and events available. Museums and arcades exist and theme parks are adapting thrill rides to meet the demand for VR experiences. Increasingly retailers are hopping on board to use VR to engage customers, which will be a hot topic at the upcoming 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Still, there are questions from parents such as what effect will these immersive technologies have on children’s brains and if VR environments blur the line between reality and fantasy enough to change a child’s behavior. The answer: At this point, not a lot is known about VR’s affect on children but medical opinions are emerging warning of potential health impacts. So, calling a family huddle on the topic is a good idea you have these technologies in your home or plan to in the near future.

VR/AR talking points for families

Apply safety features. VR apps and games include safety features such as restricted chat and privacy settings that allow users to filter out crude language and report abusive behavior. While some VR environments have moderators in place, some do not. This is also a great time to discuss password safety and privacy with your kids.

The best way to understand VR? Jump in the fun alongside your kids.

Age ratings and reviews. Some VR apps or games contain violence so pay attention to age restrictions. Also, be sure to read the reviews of the game to determine the safety, quality, and value of the VR/AR content.

Inappropriate content. While fun, harmless games and apps exist, so too does sexual content that kids can and do seek out. Be aware of how your child is using his or her VR headset and what content they are engaged with. Always monitor your child’s tech choices.

Isolation. A big concern with VR’s immersive structure is that players can and do become isolated in a VR world and, like with any fun technology, casual can turn addictive. Time limits on VR games and monitoring are recommended.

Physical safety/health. Because games are immersive, VR players can fall or hurt themselves or others while playing. To be safe, sit down while playing, don’t play in a crowded space, and remove pets from the playing area.

In addition to physical safety, doctors have expressed VR-related health concerns. Some warn about brain and eye development in kids related to VR technology. Because of the brain-eye connection of VR, players are warned about dizziness, nausea, and anxiety related to prolonged play in a VR environment.

Doctors recommend adult supervision at all times and keeping VR sessions short to give the eyes, brain, and emotions a rest. The younger the child, the shorter the exposure should be.

Be a good VR citizen. Being a good digital citizen extends to the VR world. When playing multi-player VR games, be respectful, kind, and remember there are real hearts behind those avatars. Also, be mindful of the image your own avatar is communicating. Be aware of bullies and bullying behavior in a virtual world where the lines between reality and fantasy can get blurred.

Get in the game. If you allow your kids to play VR games, get immersed in the game with them. Understand the environments, the community, the feeling of the game, and the safety risks first hand. A good rule: If you don’t want your child to experience something in the real world — violence, cursing, fear, anxiety — don’t let them experience it in a virtual world.

To get an insider’s view of what a VR environment is like and to learn more about potential security risks, check out McAfee’s podcast Hackable?, episode #18, Virtually Vulnerable.

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The #1 Gift Parents Can Give Their Kids This Christmas https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-1-gift-parents-can-give-their-kids-this-christmas/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-1-gift-parents-can-give-their-kids-this-christmas/#respond Sat, 22 Dec 2018 15:00:56 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93327

You won’t see this gift making the morning shows as being among the top hot gifts of 2018. It won’t make your child’s wish list, and you definitely won’t have to fight through mall crowds to try to find it. Even so, it is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give your child this year. […]

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quality time with kidsYou won’t see this gift making the morning shows as being among the top hot gifts of 2018. It won’t make your child’s wish list, and you definitely won’t have to fight through mall crowds to try to find it.

Even so, it is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give your child this year. It’s the gift of your time.

If we are honest, as parents, we know we need to be giving more of this gift every day. We know in our parenting “knower” that if we were to calculate the time we spend on our phones, it would add up to days — precious days — that we could be spending with our kids.

So this holiday season, consider putting aside your phone and leaning into your family connections. Try leaving your phone in a drawer or in another room. And, if you pick it up to snap a few pictures, return it to it’s hiding place and reconnect to the moment.

This truism from researchers is worth repeating: Too much screen time can chip away at our relationships. And for kids? We’ve learned too much tech can lead to poor grades, anxiety, obesity, and worse — feelings of hopelessness and depression.

Putting the oodles of knowledge we now have into action and transforming the family dynamic is also one of the most priceless gifts you can give yourself this year.

Here are a few ideas to inspire you forward:

  1. Take time seriously. What if we took quality time with family as seriously as we do other things? What if we booked time with our family and refused to cancel it? It’s likely our dearest relationships would soon reflect the shift. Get intentional by carving out time. Things that are important end up on the calendar so plan time together by booking it on the family calendar. Schedule time to play, make a meal together, do a family project, or hang out and talk.quality time with kids
  2. Green time over screen time. Sure it’s fun to have family movie marathons over the break but make sure you get your green time in. Because screen time can physically deplete our senses, green time — time spent outdoors — can be a great way to increase quality time with your family and get a hefty dose of Vitamin D.
  3. Aim for balance. The secret sauce of making any kind of change is balance. If there’s too much attention toward technology this holiday (yours or theirs), try a tech-exchange by trading a half-day of tech use for a half-day hike or bike ride, an hour of video games for an hour of family time. Balance wins every time, especially when quality time is the goal.
  4. Balance new gadget use. Be it a first smartphone, a new video game, or any other new tech gadget, let your kids have fun but don’t allow them to isolate and pull away from family. Balance screen time with face-to-face time with family and friends to get the most out of the holidays. Better yet: Join them in their world — grab a controller and play a few video games or challenge them to a few Fortnite battles.
  5. Be okay with the mess. When you are a parent, you know better than most how quickly the days, months, and years can slip by until — poof! — the kids are grown and gone. The next time you want to spend a full Saturday on chores, think about stepping over the mess and getting out of the house for some fun with your kids.

Here’s hoping you and your family have a magical holiday season brimming with quality time, laughter, and beautiful memories — together.

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Holiday Rush: How to Check Yourself Before Your Wreck Yourself When Shopping Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/holiday-rush-how-to-check-yourself-before-your-wreck-yourself-when-shopping-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/holiday-rush-how-to-check-yourself-before-your-wreck-yourself-when-shopping-online/#respond Sat, 15 Dec 2018 15:00:38 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93085

It was the last item on my list and Christmas was less than a week away. I was on the hunt for a white Northface winter coat my teenage daughter that she had duly ranked as the most-important-die-if-I-don’t-get-it item on her wishlist that year. After fighting the crowds and scouring the stores to no avail, […]

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It was the last item on my list and Christmas was less than a week away. I was on the hunt for a white Northface winter coat my teenage daughter that she had duly ranked as the most-important-die-if-I-don’t-get-it item on her wishlist that year.

After fighting the crowds and scouring the stores to no avail, I went online, stressed and exhausted with my credit card in hand looking for a deal and a Christmas delivery guarantee.

Mistake #1: I was under pressure and cutting it way too close to Christmas.
Mistake #2: I was stressed and exhausted.
Mistake #3: I was adamant about getting the best deal.

Gimme a deal!

It turns out these mistakes created the perfect storm for a scam. I found a site with several name brand named coats available lower prices. I was thrilled to find the exact white coat and guaranteed delivery by Christmas. The cyber elves were working on my behalf for sure!

Only the coat never came and I was out $150.

In my haste and exhaustion, I overlooked a few key things about this “amazing” site that played into the scam. (I’ll won’t harp on the part about me calling customer service a dozen times, writing as many emails, and feeling incredible stupidity over my careless clicking)!

Stress = Digital Risk

I’m not alone in my holiday behaviors it seems. A recent McAfee survey, Stressed Holiday Online Shopping, reveals, unfortunately, that when it comes to online shopping, consumers are often more concerned about finding a deal online than they are with protecting their cybersecurity in the process. 

Here are the kinds of risks stressed consumers are willing to take to get a holiday deal online:

  • 53% think the financial stress of the holidays can lead to careless shopping online.
  • 56% said that they would use a website they were unfamiliar with if it meant they would save money.
  • 51% said they would purchase an item from an untrusted online retailer to get a good deal.
  • 31% would click on a link in an email to get a bargain, regardless of whether they were familiar with the sender.
  • When it comes to sharing personal information to get a good deal: 39% said they would risk sharing their email address, 25% would wager their phone number, and 16% percent would provide their home address.

3 Tips to Safer Online Shopping:

  • Connect with caution. Using public Wi-Fi might seem like a good idea at the moment, but you could be exposing your personal information or credit card details to cybercriminals eavesdropping on the unsecured network. If public Wi-Fi must be used to conduct transactions, use a virtual private network (VPN) to help ensure a secure connection.
  • Slow down and think before you click. Don’t be like me exhausted and desperate while shopping online — think before you click! Cybercriminal love to target victims by using phishing emails disguised as holiday savings or shipping notification, to lure consumers into clicking links that could lead to malware, or a phony website designed to steal personal information. Check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.
  • Browse with security protection. Use comprehensive security protection that can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. Protect your personal information by using a home solution that keeps your identity and financial information secure.
  • Take a nap, stay aware. This may not seem like an important cybersecurity move, but during the holiday rush, stress and exhaustion can wear you down and contribute to poor decision-making online. Outsmarting the cybercrooks means awareness and staying ahead of the threats.

I learned the hard way that holiday stress and shopping do not mix and can easily compromise my online security. I lost $150 that day and I put my credit card information (promptly changed) firmly into a crook’s hands. I hope by reading this, I can help you save far more than that.

Here’s wishing you and your family the Happiest of Holidays! May all your online shopping be merry, bright, and secure from all those pesky digital Grinches!

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Helping Kids Deal with the Digital Rejection of ‘Ghosting’ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/helping-kids-deal-with-the-digital-rejection-of-ghosting/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/helping-kids-deal-with-the-digital-rejection-of-ghosting/#respond Sat, 08 Dec 2018 15:00:54 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92938 digital rejection of ghosting

Rejection is the unspoken risk that is present when we enter into any relationship be it a friendship or a love relationship. It’s a painful, inescapable part of life that most of us go to great lengths to avoid. That said, there’s a social media phenomenon called “ghosting” that can take the pain of rejection to […]

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digital rejection of ghosting

digital rejection of ghostingRejection is the unspoken risk that is present when we enter into any relationship be it a friendship or a love relationship. It’s a painful, inescapable part of life that most of us go to great lengths to avoid. That said, there’s a social media phenomenon called “ghosting” that can take the pain of rejection to surprising depths — especially among teens.

Ghosting is when a person (or friend group) you’ve been talking to online suddenly stops all communication without any explanation.

Digital Dismissal

If you’re on the receiving end of the ghosting, consider yourself ghosted. Text conversations abruptly stop. You get blocked on all social media accounts. The ghost untags him or herself in all past photos on your profiles and deletes all past comments; theirs and yours. Direct messages (if not blocked) are marked as “seen” but never get a response.

Ghosting makes it feel as if a relationship never existed, which can leave anyone — child, teen, or adult — feeling hurt, frustrated, betrayed and even traumatized.

A teen named Jess* shared her ghosting experience and described feeling “helpless, confused, and worthless,” when a person she considered a boyfriend suddenly disappeared from her life after five months and started talking to another girl online. “One minute we were close and sharing all kinds of deep stuff and then, ‘poof’! He blocked me from his social media, stopped answering my texts, and started ignoring me at school. It’s as if I never existed to him.”

Rejection = Pain

In one study, MRI images showed that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience a social rejection as when we experience physical pain, which is why rejection can hurt so much. According to Dr. Guy Winch, rejection destabilizes our need to belong and causes us to question our self-worth. “We often respond to romantic rejections by finding fault in ourselves, bemoaning all our inadequacies, kicking ourselves when we’re already down, and smacking our self-esteem into a pulp.” Rather, he clarifies, rejection is often just a matter of being mismatched in several areas such as chemistry, goals, and commitment level.

Micro-rejection 24/7

Thanks to social media, ghosting is not only a term but a common (albeit cruel) way to end an online relationship. Because it’s digital it’s easier for some people to view others as avatars; and easier to block rather than confront. It doesn’t help that the online culture fosters micro-rejections at every turn especially for tweens and teens. With every photo that is uploaded, so too, is a young person’s bid for approval. It’s not uncommon that a child’s happiness (or lack of) is influenced by the number of likes and comments a photo racks up.

While it may be impossible to protect our kids from painful digital rejections, we can equip them to handle it when and if it comes their way. Here are a few ideas that may help ease the pain of being ghosted.

Acknowledge the hurt

digital rejection of ghostingNo doubt, being ghosted hurts and can be embarrassing for your child (or anyone for that matter) to even talk about so tread lightly if you suspect it. Listen more than you speak and empathize more than advise if you learn this is a situation your child is experiencing. Acknowledge the real pain of being cut off, dismissed, blocked, and ignored. Ghosting can happen between two people or even with a friend group. If you have a similar situation and can relate, share that experience with your child.

Help frame the situation

Tweens and teens often do not have the tools they need in their emotional toolbox to deal with confrontation. Nor are they pros at communicating. So, rather than exit a relationship properly, some kids will find it easier to disappear with a simple click or two. Help your child understand the bigger picture that not all people will act with integrity or kindness. And, not all people are meant to be your friend or romantic match, and that’s okay. There are plenty of people who will value, love, and treat them with respect.

Help set healthy standards

Being ghosted, while painful, is also an opportunity to help your son or daughter define or re-define his or her standards. Ask: What qualities and characteristics you value in a friend or love interest? What values do you need to share with another person before trusting them? What warning signs should you look for next time that a person isn’t friend material? Advise: Don’t always be the person initiating every conversation, pay attention to the quality of interactions, don’t pursue people who are unresponsive or constantly “busy.”

Discourage retribution

digital rejection of ghostingWhile some ghosting situations are mild and dismissed quickly, others can cause the person ghosted to feel humiliated, angry, and vengeful. Lashing out at or trolling a ghost online as payback isn’t the answer and will only prolong the pain of being ghosted. Encourage your child that discovering the person’s character now is a gift and that moving on with wisdom and integrity (minus conflict) is the fastest way to heal.

Help them move on

One huge pain point for people who have been ghosted is that he or she did not get any closure or insight as to why the relationship ended. To help with this, you might suggest your son or daughter write a letter to get all the feelings out — but never mail it. Need the satisfaction of posting that letter online (minus names)? There’s a site for that (warning: language).

Beware of haunting

Haunting is when a ghost tries to reconnect in small ways over time. He or she may resurface to leave a comment or periodic likes to test the re-entry climate. Some may even send a direct message trying to explain the poor behavior. While every situation is different, warn your kids against reconnecting with anyone who would ghost a relationship. Encourage your child to invest time in friends who value friendships and honor the feelings of others.

*Name changed

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First Smartphone: Are You Putting Cyberbullies Under the Tree This Year? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/first-smartphone-are-you-putting-cyberbullies-under-the-tree-this-year/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/first-smartphone-are-you-putting-cyberbullies-under-the-tree-this-year/#respond Sat, 01 Dec 2018 15:00:13 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92850

There’s pressure — lots of pressure. And not the typical I-want-a-bike or a doll-that-poops kind of pressure your kids may have foisted upon you just a few Christmases ago. No, this is the big leagues. Your child wants his or her first smartphone to show up under the tree this year. Is your son or daughter […]

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first smartphone

There’s pressure — lots of pressure. And not the typical I-want-a-bike or a doll-that-poops kind of pressure your kids may have foisted upon you just a few Christmases ago. No, this is the big leagues. Your child wants his or her first smartphone to show up under the tree this year. Is your son or daughter ready? Bigger question: Are you ready?

A first smartphone is a big step in a family that can’t be unstepped. Because it’s not about what a phone used to be about, which is dialing the number of a person you need to speak with. Today, giving your child a cell phone unlocks a hidden wardrobe door that leads to a whole new Narnia-like world abounding in both hills of goodness and valleys of emotional punches.

A first cell phone isn’t a casual purchase. Besides the financial investment (these things aren’t cheap), there’s a family dynamic that will likely change and a peer-to-peer dynamic that will go through its tumultuous metamorphosis.

Here are a few things to consider and talk through with your family before making your final decision to purchase that first smartphone.

Family talking points

first smartphone

  1. Maturity milestones. A phone is a small computer your child will carry in his or her pocket from this point forward. Has your child demonstrated maturity in other areas? Can he or she stay home alone responsibly for short periods? Does your child take care of his or her possessions, complete chores, and homework on time and without you nagging? Does your child earn/save/spend his or her allowance in a mature way? Does your child show empathy for others or deal with conflict well? These milestones are worth examining. If you feel uneasy about your child’s overall maturity, you might consider setting some goals to move your child toward cell phone ownership sometime in the future.
  2. The cyberbully factor. We know you’d never willingly invite a cyberbully into your home and especially wouldn’t put one under the tree for your child to discover on Christmas morning. However, that’s the reality of what phone ownership will bring sooner or later. Is your child emotionally strong enough to handle mean comments, feeling excluded, or being criticized or joked with in public? How does your child handle peer conflict without a phone? The emotional impact of owning a phone is not something you will see advertised, but it’s a huge factor to consider.
  3. Peer pressure. Digital peer pressure is a real thing. There’s pressure to dress a certain way, post pictures a certain way, and post activities online to gain status points in certain social circles. The selfie craze, online dares, digital trends and hashtags, and other pressures are all part of the smartphone equation.
  4. Harmful content. There’s a lot of great content online — educational, entertaining, and fun — but there’s a lot of content that is harmful to kids such as pornography, hateful ideology, and cruelty. Can your child resist the temptation to seek out or look at concerning content? Can your child discern ideas? Are you as a parent willing to take the extra steps to filter inappropriate content?
  5. Privacy issues. With a new phone comes great responsibility toward guarding first smartphoneone’s personal information. Do you have the time to communicate, teach, and monitor your child’s online footprint? Getting kids off to a strong start will require much time and care up front until your son or daughter has a grasp on the value of personal data.
  6. Social media. Social media owns vast real estate on a child’s phone and includes everything from gaming, to social networks, to various “communities” attached to apps. Anywhere your child can create a username and profile and connect with others, opens him or her up to risks of cyberbullying, strangers, and scams. Discuss new apps and establish ground rules and phone usage boundaries that make sense for your family. The most important part of setting rules is to enforce the rules.
  7. Screentime ground rules. With a first smartphone comes the risk of too much screen time. Addiction to online gaming, social media, and phones, in general, have become a public health concern. Put family rules in place that set time limits and phone free zones. Keep communication open and consistent to keep your kids following healthy screen time habits.

 

 

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8 Ways to Secure Your Family’s Online Holiday Shopping https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/8-ways-to-secure-your-familys-online-holiday-shopping-fun/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/8-ways-to-secure-your-familys-online-holiday-shopping-fun/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 02:20:42 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92805

It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year — no doubt about it. But each year, as our reliance and agility on our mobile devices increases, so too might our impulsivity and even inattention when it comes to digital transactions. Before getting caught up in the whirlwind of gift giving and the thrill of […]

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It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year — no doubt about it. But each year, as our reliance and agility on our mobile devices increases, so too might our impulsivity and even inattention when it comes to digital transactions.

Before getting caught up in the whirlwind of gift giving and the thrill of the perfect purchase, consider taking a small pause. Stop to consider that as giddy as you may be to find that perfect gift, hackers are just as giddy this time of year to catch shoppers unaware and snatch what they can from the deep, digital holiday coffers. In fact, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the number one cybercrime of 2017 was related to online shopping; specifically, payment for or non-delivery of goods purchased.

8 Ways to Secure Your Family’s Holiday Shopping Online

  1. Make it a family discussion. Make no assumptions when it comes to what your kids do and do not understand (and practice) when it comes to shopping safely online. Go over the points below as a family. Because kids are nearly 100% mobile, online shopping and transactions can move swiftly, and the chances of making a mistake or falling prey to a scam can increase. Caution kids to slow down and examine every website and link in the buying journey.
  2. Beware of malicious links. The most common forms of fraud and cyber attacks are phishing scams and socially-engineered malware. Check links before you click them and consider using McAfee® WebAdvisor, a free download that safeguards you from malware and phishing attempts while you surf — without impacting your browsing performance.
  3. Don’t shop on unsecured wi-fi. Most public networks don’t encrypt transmitted data, which makes all your online activity on public wi-fi vulnerable to hackers. Resist shopping on an unsecured wireless network (at a coffee shop, library, airport). Instead, do all of your online shopping from your secure home computer. If you have to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection use a virtual private network (VPN) such as McAfee® SafeConnect to maintain a secure connection in public places. To be sure your home network is safe, secure your router.
  4. Is that site legit? Before purchasing a product online, check the URL carefully. If the address bar says “HTTP” instead of “HTTPS” in its URL, do not purchase from the site. As of July 2018, unsecured sites now include a “Not Secure” warning, which is very helpful to shoppers. Also, an icon of a locked padlock will appear to the left of the URL in the address bar or the status bar down below depending on your browser. Cybercriminals can make a fake site look very close to the real thing. One added step: Google the site if anything feels wrong about it, and you may find some unlucky consumers sharing their stories.
  5. Review bills closely. Review your credit card statements in January and February, when your holiday purchases will show up. Credit cards offer better fraud protection than debit. So, if you’re shopping online during the holidays, give yourself an extra layer of protection from scams by using a credit card. Think about using the same card between family members to make checking your bill easier.
  6. Create new, strong passwords. If you are getting ready to do a lot of shopping online, it’s a great time to update your passwords. Choose a password that is unhackable rather than one that is super easy to remember.
  7. Verify charities. One of the best things about the holidays is the spirit of giving. Hackers and crooks know this and are working hard to trick innocent givers. This reality means that some seasonal charities may be well-devised scams. Before you donate, be sure to do a little research. Look at the website’s URL; it’s design, its security badges. Google the charity and see if any scams have been reported.
  8. Protect your data from third parties. Sites may contain “third parties,” which are other embedded websites your browser talks to such as advertisers, website analytics engines, that can watch your browsing behavior. To protect your data when shopping and get rid of third-party access, you need to wipe your cookies (data trackers) clean using your settings, then change your browser settings (choose “block third-party cookies and site data”) to make sure the cookies can’t track your buying behavior. You can also go into your settings and direct your browser to shop in private or incognito mode.

No one is immune to holiday scams. Many scams are intricately designed and executed so that even the savviest consumer is duped. You can enjoy the shopping that comes with the holidays by keeping these few safety precautions in mind. Don’t let your emotional desire for that perfect gift override your reasoning skills. Listen to your intuition when it comes to suspicious websites, offers, emails, pop-up ads, and apps. Pause. Analyze. And make sure you are purchasing from a legitimate site.

Stay safe and WIN: Now that you’ve read about safe shopping basics, head over to our Protect What Matters site. If you successfully complete the Holiday Online Shopping Adventure quiz, you can enter your email address for the chance to win a tech prize pack with some of this season’s hottest smart gadgets. Have fun, and stay safe online this holiday season!

 

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Has Your Phone Become Your Third Child? Ways to Get Screen Time Anxiety Under Control https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/has-your-phone-become-your-third-child-ways-to-get-screen-time-anxiety-under-control/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/has-your-phone-become-your-third-child-ways-to-get-screen-time-anxiety-under-control/#respond Sat, 17 Nov 2018 13:00:48 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92734

You aren’t going to like this post. However, you will, hopefully, find yourself nodding and perhaps, even making some changes because of it. Here it friends: That love-hate relationship you have with your smartphone may need some serious attention — not tomorrow or next week — but now. I’m lecturing myself first by the way. […]

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smartphone screen timeYou aren’t going to like this post. However, you will, hopefully, find yourself nodding and perhaps, even making some changes because of it. Here it friends: That love-hate relationship you have with your smartphone may need some serious attention — not tomorrow or next week — but now.

I’m lecturing myself first by the way. Thanks to the June iOS update that tracks and breaks down phone usage, I’m ready — eager in fact — to make some concrete changes to my digital habits. Why? Because the relationship with my phone – which by the way has become more like a third child — is costing me in time (75 days a year to be exact), stress, and personal goals.

I say this with much conviction because the numbers don’t lie. It’s official: I’m spending more time on my phone than I am with my kids. Likewise, the attention I give and the stress caused by my phone is equivalent to parenting another human. Sad, but true. Here’s the breakdown.

Screen time stats for the past seven days:

  • 5 hours per day on my device
  • 19 hours on social networks
  • 2 hours on productivity
  • 1 hour on creativity
  • 18 phone pickups a day; 2 pickups per hour

Do the math:

  • 35 hours a week on my device
  • 1,820 hours a year on my device
  • 75 days a year on my device

Those numbers are both accurate and disturbing. I’m not proud. Something’s gotta give and, as Michael Jackson once said, change needs to start with the man (woman) in the mirror.

A 2015 study by Pew Research Center found that 24% of Americans can’t stop checking their feeds constantly. No surprise, a handful of other studies confirm excessive phone use is linked to anxiety, depression, and a social phenomenon called FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out.

Efficiency vs. Anxiety

There’s no argument around the benefits of technology. As parents, we can keep track of our kids’ whereabouts, filter their content, live in smart houses that are efficient and secure, and advance our skills and knowledge at lightning speeds.

That’s a lot of conveniences wrapped in even more pings, alerts, and notifications that can cause anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress.  In our hyper-connected culture, it’s not surprising to see this behavior in yourself or the people in your social circles.

  • Nervousness or anxiety when you are not able to check your notifications.
  • An overwhelming need to share things — photos, personal thoughts, stresses — with others on social media.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you are not able to access social media.
  • Interrupting conversations to check social media accounts.
  • Lying (downplaying) to others about how much time you spend on social media sites.

We often promote balance in technology use, but this post will go one step further. This post will get uncomfortably specific in suggesting things to do to put a dent in your screentime. (Again, these suggested changes are aimed at this mom first.)

Get Intentional

  • Look at your stats. A lot of people don’t go to the doctor or dentist because they claim “not knowing” about an ailment is less stressful than smartphone screen timeknowing. Don’t take that approach to your screen time. Make today the day you take a hard look at reality. Both iOS and Android now have screen time tracking.
  • Get reinforcements.  There are a lot of apps out there like Your Hour, AppBlock, Stay Focused, Flipd, and App Off Timer designed to help curb your smartphone usage. Check out the one/s that fits your needs and best helps you control your screen time.
  • Plan your week. If you have activities planned ahead of time for the week — like a hike, reading, a movie, or spending time with friends — you are less likely to fritter away hours on your phone.
  • Leave your phone at home. Just a decade ago we spent full days away from home running errands, visiting friends, and exploring the outdoors — all without our phones. The world kept turning. Nothing fell to pieces. So start small. Go to the grocery store without your phone. Next, have dinner with friends. Then, go on a full day excursion. Wean yourself off your device and reclaim your days and strengthen your relationships.
  • Establish/enforce free family zones. Modeling control in your phone use helps your kids to do the same. Establish phone free zones such as homework time, the dinner table, family activities, and bedtime. The key here is that once you establish the phone free zones, be sure to enforce them. A lot of parents (me included) get lax after a while in this area. Research products that allow you to set rules and time limits for apps and websites. McAfee Safe Family helps you establish limits with pre-defined age-based rules that you can be customized based on your family’s needs.
  • Delete unused apps. Give this a try: Delete one social app at a time, for just a day or a week, to see if you need it. If you end up keeping even one time-wasting app off your phone, the change will be well worth it.
  • Engage with people over your phone. If you are in the line at the grocery store, waiting for a show to begin, or hanging out at your child’s school/ sports events, seek to connect with people rather than pull out your phone. Do this intentionally for a week, and it may become a habit!
  • Do one thing at a time. A lot of wasted device time happens because we are multi-tasking — and that time adds up. So if you are watching a movie, reading, or even doing housework put your phone in another room — in a drawer. Try training yourself to focus on doing one thing at a time.smartphone screen time
  • Give yourself a phone curfew. We’ve talked about phone curfews for kids to help them get enough sleep but how about one for parents? Pick a time that works for you and stick to it. (I’m choosing to put my phone away at 8 p.m. every night.)
  • Use voice recorder, notes app, or text. Spending too much time uploading random content? Curb your urge to check or post on social media by using your voice recorder app to speak your thoughts into. Likewise, pin that article or post that photo to your notes to catalog it in a meaningful way or text/share it with a small group of people. These few changes could result in big hours saved on social sites.
  • Turn off notifications. You can’t help but look at those notifications so change your habitual response by turning off all notifications.
  • Limit, don’t quit. Moderation is key to making changes stick. Try limiting your social media time to 10 minutes a day. Choose a time that works and set a timer if you need to. There’s no need to sever all ties with social media just keep it in its proper place.

Slow but Specific Changes

Lastly, go at change slowly (but specifically) and give yourself some grace. Change isn’t easy. You didn’t rack up those screen time stats overnight. You’ve come to rely on your phone for a lot of tasks as well as entertainment. So, there’s no need to approach this as a life overhaul, a digital detox, or take an everything or nothing approach. Nor is there a need to trumpet your social departure to your online communities. Just take a look at your reality and do what you need to do to take back your time and control that unruly third child once and for all. You’ve got this!

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What Parents Need to Know About Live-Stream Gaming Sites Like Twitch https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/what-parents-need-to-know-about-live-stream-gaming-sites-like-twitch/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/what-parents-need-to-know-about-live-stream-gaming-sites-like-twitch/#respond Sat, 10 Nov 2018 13:00:33 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92591 Clash of Clans, Runescape, Fortnite, League of Legends, Battlefield V, and Dota 2. While these titles may not mean much to those outside of the video gaming world, they are just a few of the wildly popular games thousands of players are live streaming to viewers worldwide this very minute. However, with all the endless […]

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Live-Stream GamingClash of Clans, Runescape, Fortnite, League of Legends, Battlefield V, and Dota 2. While these titles may not mean much to those outside of the video gaming world, they are just a few of the wildly popular games thousands of players are live streaming to viewers worldwide this very minute. However, with all the endless hours of entertainment this cultural phenomenon offers tweens, teens, and even adults, it also comes with some risks attached.

The What

Each month more than 100,000 people log onto sites like Twitch and YouTube to watch gamers play. Streamers, also called twitchers, broadcast their gameplay live online while others watch and participate through a chat feature. Each gamer attracts an audience (a few dozen to hundreds of thousands daily) based on his or her skill level and the kind of commentary, and interaction with viewers they offer.

Reports state that video game streaming can attract more viewers than some of cable’s most popular televisions shows.

The Why

Ask any streamer (or viewer) why they do it, and many will tell you it’s to showcase and improve their skills and to be part of a community of people who are equally as passionate about gaming.

Live-Stream Gaming

Live streaming is also free and global so gamers from any country can connect in any language. You’ll find streamers playing games in Turkish, Russian, Spanish, and the list goes on. Many streamers have gone from amateurs to gaming celebrities with elaborate production and marketing of their Twitch or YouTube feeds.

Some streamers hold marathon streaming sessions, and multi-player competitions designed to benefit charities. Twitch is also appealing because it allows users to watch popular gaming conventions such as TwitchCon, E3, and Comic-Con. There are also live gaming talk shows and podcasts and a channel where users can watch people do everyday things like cook, create pieces or art or play music.

The Risks

Although Twitch’s community guidelines prohibit violent behavior, sexual content, bullying and harassment, after browsing through some of the  live games, many users don’t seem to take the guidelines seriously.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind if your kids frequent live streaming communities like Twitch.

  1. Bullying. Bullying happens on every social network in some form. Twitch is no different. In one study, over 13% of respondents said they felt personally attacked on Twitch, and more than 27% have witnessed racial or gender-based bullying in live streaming.Live-Stream Gaming
  2. Crude language. While there are streamers who put a big emphasis on keeping things clean, most Twitch streamers do not. Some streamers will put up a “mature content” warning before you click on their site. Both streamers and viewers can get harsh with language, conversations, and points of view.
  3. Violent games. Many of the games on Twitch are violent and intended for mature viewers. However, you can also find some more mild games such as Minecraft and Mario Brothers if your kids are younger. The best way to access a game’s violence is to sit and watch it with your child.
  4. Health risks. Sitting and playing video games for extended periods of time can affect players and viewers physical and emotional well-being. In the most extreme cases, gamers have died due to excessive gaming.
  5. Costs. Twitch is free to sign-up and watch games, but if you want the extras (no ads), it’s $8.99 a month. Viewers can also subscribe to individual gamers’ feed. Viewers can also purchase “bits” to cheer on their favorite players (kind of like badges), which can add up quickly.
  6. Stalking. Viewers have been known to stalk, harass, rob, and try to meet celebrity streamers. Recently, Twitch announced both private and public chat rooms to try to boost privacy among users.
  7. Live-Stream GamingSwatting. An increasingly popular practice called “swatting” involves reporting a fake emergency at the home of the victim in order to send a SWAT team to barge in on them. In some cases, swatter cases connected to Twitch have ended tragically.
  8. Wasted time. Marathon gaming sessions, skipping school to play or view games, and gaming through the night are common in Twitch communities. Twitch, like any other social network, needs parental attention and ground rules.
  9. Privacy. Spending a lot of time with people in an online “community” can result in a false sense of trust. Often kids will answer an innocent question in a live chat such as where they live or what school they go to. Leaking little bits of information over time allows a corrupt person to piece together a picture of your data.

An endnote: If your kids love Twitch or live stream gaming on YouTube or other sites, spend some time on those sites. Listen to the conversations your kids are having with others online. What’s the tone? Is there too much sarcasm or cruel “joking” going on? Put time limits on screen time and remember balance and monitoring is key to guiding healthy online habits.

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IoT Lockdown: Ways to Secure Your Family’s Digital Home and Lifestyle https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/iot-lockdown-how-to-secure-your-familys-digital-home-and-lifestyle/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/iot-lockdown-how-to-secure-your-familys-digital-home-and-lifestyle/#respond Sat, 03 Nov 2018 14:00:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92367 If you took an inventory of your digital possessions chances are, most of your life — everything from phones to toys, to wearables, to appliances — has wholly transitioned from analog to digital (rotary to wireless). What you may not realize is that with this dramatic transition, comes a fair amount of risk. Privacy for Progress With […]

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Internet Of ThingsIf you took an inventory of your digital possessions chances are, most of your life — everything from phones to toys, to wearables, to appliances — has wholly transitioned from analog to digital (rotary to wireless). What you may not realize is that with this dramatic transition, comes a fair amount of risk.

Privacy for Progress

With this massive tech migration, an invisible exchange has happened: Privacy for progress. Here we are intentionally and happily immersed in the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is defined as everyday objects with computing devices embedded in them that can send and receive data over the internet.

That’s right. Your favorite fitness tracking app may be collecting and giving away personal data. That smart toy, baby device, or video game may be monitoring your child’s behavior and gathering information to influence future purchases. And, that smart coffee maker may be transmitting more than just good morning vibes.

Gartner report estimated there were 8.4 billion connected “things” in 2017 and as many as 20 billion by 2020. The ability of some IoT devices is staggering and, frankly, a bit frightening. Data collection ability from smart devices and services on the market is far greater than most of us realize. Rooms, devices, and apps come equipped with sensors and controls that can gather and inform third parties about consumers.

Internet Of Things

Lockdown IoT devices:

  • Research product security. With so many cool products on the market, it’s easy to be impulsive and skip your research but don’t. Read reviews on a product’s security (or lack of). Going with a name brand that has a proven security track record and has worked out security gaps may be the better choice.
  • Create new passwords. Most every IoT device will come with a factory default password. Hackers know these passwords and will use them to break into your devices and gain access to your data. Take the time to go into the product settings (general and advanced) and create a unique, strong password.
  • Keep product software up-to-date. Manufacturers often release software updates to protect customers against vulnerabilities and new threats. Set your device to auto-update, if possible, so you always have the latest, safest upgrade.
  • Get an extra layer of security. Managing and protecting multiple devices in our already busy lives is not an easy task. To make sure you are protected consider investing in software that will give you antivirus, identity and privacy protection for your PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets—all in one subscription.
  • Stay informed. Think about it, crooks make it a point to stay current on IoT news, so shouldn’t we? Stay a step ahead by staying informed. Keep an eye out for any news that may affect your IoT security (or specific products) by setting up a Google alert.Internet Of Things

A connected life is a good life, no doubt. The only drawback is that criminals fully understand our growing dependence and affection for IoT devices and spend most of their time looking for vulnerabilities. Once they crack our network from one angle, they can and reach other data-rich devices and possibly access private and financial data.

As Yoda says, “with much power comes much responsibility.” Discuss with your family the risks that come with smart devices and how to work together to lock down your always-evolving, hyper-connected way of life.

Do you enjoy podcasts and wish you could find one that helps you keep up with digital trends and the latest gadgets? Then give McAfee’s podcast Hackable a try.

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Ghouls of the Internet: Protecting Your Family from Scareware and Ransomware https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/ghouls-of-the-internet-protecting-your-family-from-scareware-and-ransomware/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/ghouls-of-the-internet-protecting-your-family-from-scareware-and-ransomware/#respond Sat, 27 Oct 2018 14:00:11 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92193 It’s the middle of a workday. While researching a project, a random ad pops up on your computer screen alerting you of a virus. The scary-looking, flashing warning tells you to download an “anti-virus software” immediately. Impulsively, you do just that and download either the free or the $9.99 to get the critical download. But […]

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scareware and ransomwareIt’s the middle of a workday. While researching a project, a random ad pops up on your computer screen alerting you of a virus. The scary-looking, flashing warning tells you to download an “anti-virus software” immediately. Impulsively, you do just that and download either the free or the $9.99 to get the critical download.

But here’s the catch: There’s no virus, no download needed, you’ve lost your money, and worse, you’ve shared your credit card number with a crook. Worse still, your computer screen is now frozen or sluggish as your new download (disguised malware) collects the data housed on your laptop and funnels it to a third party to be used or sold on the dark web.

Dreadful Downloads

This scenario is called scareware — a form of malware that scares users into fictitious downloads designed to gain access to your data. Scareware bombards you with flashing warnings to purchase a bogus commercial firewall, computer cleaning software, or anti-virus software. Cybercriminals are smart and package the suggested download in a way that mimics legitimate security software to dupe consumers. Don’t feel bad, a lot of intelligent people fall for scareware every day.

Sadly, a more sinister cousin to scareware is ransomware, which can unleash serious digital mayhem into your personal life or business. Ransomware scenarios vary and happen to more people than you may think.

Malicious Mayhem

What is Ransomware? Ransomware is a form of malicious software (also called malware) that is a lot more complicated than typical malware. A ransomware infection often starts with a computer user clicking on what looks like a standard email attachment only that attachment unlocks malware that will encrypt or lock computer files.

scareware and ransomware

A ransomware attack can cause incredible emotional and financial distress for individuals, businesses, or large companies or organizations. Criminals hold data ransom and demand a fee to release your files back to you. Many people think they have no choice but to pay the demanded fee. Ransomware can be large-scale such as the City of Atlanta, which is considered the largest, most expensive cyber disruption in city government to date or the WannaCry attack last year that affected some 200,000+ computers worldwide. Ransomware attacks can be aimed at any number of data-heavy targets such as labs, municipalities, banks, law firms, and hospitals.

Criminals can also get very personal with ransomware threats. Some reports of ransomware include teens and older adults receiving emails that falsely accuse them or browsing illegal websites. The notice demands payment or else the user will be exposed to everyone in his or her contact list. Many of these threats go unreported because victims are too embarrassed to do anything.

Digital Terrorists

According to the Cisco 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report, ransomware is growing at a yearly rate of 350% and, according to Microsoft,  accounted for roughly $325 million in damages in 2015. Most security experts advise against paying any ransoms since paying the ransom is no guarantee you’ll get your files back and may encourage a second attack.

Cybercriminals are fulltime digital terrorists and know that a majority of people know little or nothing about their schemes. And, unfortunately, as long as our devices are connected to a network, our data is vulnerable. But rather than living anxiously about the possibility of a scareware or ransomware attack, your family can take steps to reduce the threat.

Tips to keep your family’s data secure:

Talk about it. Education is first, and action follows. So, share information on the realities of scareware and ransomware with your family. Just discussing the threats that exist, sharing resources, and keeping the issue of cybercrime in the conversation helps everyone be more aware and ready to make wise decisions online.

Back up everything! A cybercriminal’s primary goal is to get his or her hands on your data, and either use it or sell it on the dark web (scareware) or access it and lock it down for a price (ransomware). So, back up your data every chance you get on an external hard drive or in the cloud. If a ransomware attack hits your family, you may panic about your family photos, original art, writing, or music, and other valuable content. While backing up data helps you retrieve and restore files lost in potential malware attack, it won’t keep someone from stealing what’s on your laptop.scareware and ransomware

Be careful with each click. By being aware and mindful of the links and attachments you’re clicking on can reduce your chances of malware attacks in general. However, crooks are getting sophisticated and linking ransomware to emails from seemingly friendly sources. So, if you get an unexpected email with an attachment or random link from a friend or colleague, pause before opening the email attachment. Only click on emails from a trusted source. 

Update devices.  Making sure your operating system is current is at the top of the list when it comes to guarding against malware attacks. Why? Because nearly every software update contains security improvements that help secure your computer from new threats. Better yet, go into your computer settings and schedule automatic updates. If you are a window user, immediately apply any Windows security patches that Microsoft sends you. 

Add a layer of security. It’s easy to ignore the idea of a malware attack — until one happens to you. Avoid this crisis by adding an extra layer of protection with a consumer product specifically designed to protect your home computer against malware and viruses. Once you’ve installed the software, be sure to keep it updated since new variants of malware arise all the time.

If infected: Worst case scenario, if you find yourself with a ransomware notice, immediately disconnect everything from the Internet. Hackers need an active connection to mobilize the ransomware and monitor your system. Once you disconnect from the Internet, follow these next critical steps. Most security experts advise against paying any ransoms since paying the ransom is no guarantee you’ll get your files back and may encourage a second attack.

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Have You Talked to Your Kids About a Career in Cybersecurity? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/have-you-talked-to-your-kids-about-a-career-in-cybersecurity/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/have-you-talked-to-your-kids-about-a-career-in-cybersecurity/#respond Sat, 20 Oct 2018 14:00:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92055 Here’s some cool trivia for you: What profession currently has a zero-percent unemployment rate, pays an average of $116,000 a year, and is among the top in-demand jobs in the world? A lawyer? A pharmacist? A finance manager, perhaps? Nope. The job we’re talking about is a cybersecurity specialist and, because of the increase in cyber […]

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career in cybersecurityHere’s some cool trivia for you: What profession currently has a zero-percent unemployment rate, pays an average of $116,000 a year, and is among the top in-demand jobs in the world? A lawyer? A pharmacist? A finance manager, perhaps?

Nope. The job we’re talking about is a cybersecurity specialist and, because of the increase in cyber attacks around the world, these professionals are highly employable.

Job Security

According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a career in cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand, high-paying professions today with an average salary of $116,000, or approximately $55.77 per hour. That’s nearly three times the national median income for full-time wage and salary workers. How’s that for job security?

Why is the demand so high? Sadly, because there are a lot of black hats (bad guys) out there who want our data — our user IDs, passwords, social security numbers, and credit card numbers. Every month it seems banks, hospitals, and major corporations are reporting security breaches, which has put the global cybersecurity talent an estimated deficit of two million professionals.career in cybersecurity

It’s exciting to see gifts and passions emerge in our kids as they grow and mature. If a child is good at math and sciences, we might point them toward some the medical field. If they a child shows an affinity in English and communication skills, maybe a law, teaching, or media career is in their future.

But what about a cybersecurity expert? Have you noticed any of these skills in your kids?

Cybersecurity skills/traits:

Problem-solving
Critical thinking
Flexible/creative problem solving
Collaborative, team player
Continual learner
Gaming fan
A sense of duty, justice
Persistent, determined
Works well under pressure
Curious and perceptive
Technology/tech trend fan
Verbal and written communications

Education

Most jobs in cybersecurity require a four-year bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a related field such as information technology or computer science. Students take coursework in programming and statistics, ethics, and computer forensics, among other courses.

Conversation Starters

First, if your child has some of the skills/personality traits mentioned, how do you start directing him or her toward this field? The first place to begin is in the home. Model smart cybersecurity habits. Talk about digital safety, the importance of protecting personal data and the trends in cybercrimes. In short, model and encourage solid digital citizenship and family security practices. career in cybersecurity

Second, bring up the possibility, or plant the seed. Be sure to encourage both boys and girls equally. Help your child find answers to his or her questions about careers in computer and data science, threat research, engineering and information on jobs such as cybersecurity analyst, vulnerability analyst, and penetration tester.

Third, read and share takeaways from the Winning The Game a McAfee report that investigates the key challenges facing the IT Security industry and the possible teen gaming link to a successful cybersecurity career.

Additional resources*

CyberCompEx. A connection point for everything cybersecurity including forums, groups, news, jobs, and competition information.

CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service. SFS is a program providing scholarships and stipends to undergraduate and graduate students studying cybersecurity at participating institutions. Great for those who want to work in government.

CyberPatriot. This site is created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

GenCyber. This is a summer cybersecurity camp for K-12 students and teachers that focuses on inspiring kids to direct their talents toward cybersecurity skills and closing the security skills gap.

career in cybersecurityNational CyberWatch Center. The National CyberWatch Center is a consortium of higher education institutions, public and private businesses, and government agencies focused on advancing cybersecurity education and strengthening the workforce.

National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies. NICCS provides information on cybersecurity training, formal education, and workforce development.

National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. NICE is an initiative to energize and promote a robust network and an ecosystem of cybersecurity education, cybersecurity careers, training, and workforce development.

*Resource list courtesy of Stay Safe Online.

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Smarter Clicks: 5 Tips to Help Your Family Avoid Risky Cyber Search Traps https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/smarter-clicks-5-tips-to-help-your-family-avoid-risky-cyber-search-traps/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/smarter-clicks-5-tips-to-help-your-family-avoid-risky-cyber-search-traps/#respond Sat, 13 Oct 2018 14:00:57 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91978 Searching the internet has become as much a part of daily life as pouring that first cup of coffee each morning. We rely on it, we expect it to deliver, and often, we do it without much thought. McAfee’s annual Most Dangerous Celebrity list gives us a chance to hit pause on our habits and […]

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smart search habitsSearching the internet has become as much a part of daily life as pouring that first cup of coffee each morning. We rely on it, we expect it to deliver, and often, we do it without much thought. McAfee’s annual Most Dangerous Celebrity list gives us a chance to hit pause on our habits and think about smart search habits.

MDC: Ruby Rose

This year, it’s “Orange is the New Black” and “Batwoman” actress Ruby Rose, who gets to don the digital crown of Most Dangerous Celebrity. That means cyber crooks and hackers are on to the public’s love of Ruby Rose and are exploiting those innocent searches for news, photos, and videos on this top actor. Other top dangerous searches include the list on the right graphic. (Sitcom and television actors — Kristin Cavallari, Debra Messing, Kourtney Kardashian — surprisingly outranked musicians this year by the way, so the click trend is weighted toward TV fans; if you are one, beware)!

This MDC reveal, coupled with October’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a perfect time to sit down with your family and discuss safe clicking practices.

Smart Clicking

  1. smart search habitsBeware of third party movie/music downloads. Some kids (and adults) search the internet for bootleg movies and music to download. Talk to your kids about this unsafe (and illegal) practice and the consequences of doing this. The safest thing to do? Advise your kids to wait for the official release instead of visiting a third-party website that could contain malware. This also applies to MP3 music searches. If you search the phrase “free MP3” results would include some risky websites, so be aware of this cyber trap and search carefully. If a site looks suspect, keep moving. Teach kids that very few things that are legitimate are also free online.
  2. Update ASAP to stay safe! When you get a notification to update your phone, tablet, or PC, do it right away to make sure you have the latest, most secure version — which includes security updates and bug fixes — of your software. Updating timely is a critical way to block hackers and stop malware.smart search habits
  3. Examine links. We aren’t about to stop searching right? So, the solution is to search smarter.Like it or not, we’ve got to become security pros to some degree. Teach your family members to slow down and examine sites in order to spot sketchy third-party links. Look for flaws. Refuse to click on that third-party link that could get you in trouble — it’s simply not worth it!
  4. Protect devices. We are going to search; not much can stop that. So, search with an extra layer of security protection such as McAfee Total Protection. This comprehensive security solution keeps your family devices protected against malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor which can stop your kids from going to malicious websites.
  5. Think about parental control software. Kids are big fans of whomever and whatever is on trend and love to search, scroll, and consume information on celebrities. Helping kids balance online time with daily responsibilities and relationships can take up a big chunk of our time as parents. Consider setting limits on screen time and use software that filters inappropriate content and protects against malicious sites.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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#CyberAware: Teaching Kids to Get Fierce About Protecting Their Identity https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cyberaware-teaching-kids-get-fierce-about-protecting-their-identity/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cyberaware-teaching-kids-get-fierce-about-protecting-their-identity/#respond Sat, 06 Oct 2018 14:00:55 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91806 It wasn’t Kiley’s fault, but that didn’t change the facts: The lending group denied her college loan due to poor credit, and she didn’t have a plan B. Shocked and numb, she began to dig a little deeper. She discovered that someone had racked up three hefty credit card bills using her Social Security Number (SSN) […]

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Identity ProtectionIt wasn’t Kiley’s fault, but that didn’t change the facts: The lending group denied her college loan due to poor credit, and she didn’t have a plan B. Shocked and numb, she began to dig a little deeper. She discovered that someone had racked up three hefty credit card bills using her Social Security Number (SSN) a few years earlier.

Her parents had a medical crisis and were unable to help with tuition, and Kiley’s scholarships didn’t cover the full tuition. With just months left before leaving to begin her freshman year at school, Kiley was forced to radically adjusted her plans. She enrolled in the community college near home and spent her freshman year learning more than she ever imagined about identity protection and theft.

The Toll: Financial & Emotional

Unfortunately, these horror stories of childhood identity theft are all too real. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, more than 1 million children were the victim of identity fraud in 2017, resulting in losses of $2.6 billion and more than $540 million in out-of-pocket costs to the families.

The financial numbers don’t begin to reflect the emotional cost victims of identity theft often feel. According to the 2017 Identity Theft Aftermath report released by the Identity Theft Resource Center, victims report feeling rage, severe distress, angry, frustrated, paranoid, vulnerable, fearful, and — in 7% of the cases — even suicidal.

Wanted: Your Child’s SSNIdentity Protection

Sadly, because of their clean credit history, cyber crooks love to target kids. Also, identity theft among kids often goes undiscovered for more extended periods of time. Thieves have been known to use a child’s identity to apply for government benefits, open bank or credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live. Often, until the child grows up and applies for a car or student loan, the theft goes undetected.

Where do hackers get the SSN’s? Data breaches can occur at schools, pediatrician offices, banks, and home robberies. A growing area of concern involves medical identity theft, which gives thieves the ability to access prescription drugs and even expensive medical treatments using someone else’s identity.

6 Ways to Build #CyberAware Kids

  1. Talk, act, repeat. Identity theft isn’t a big deal until it personally affects you or your family only, then, it’s too late. Discuss identity theft with your kids and the fallout. But don’t just talk — put protections in place. Remind your child (again) to keep personal information private. (Yes, this habit includes keeping passwords and personal data private even from BFFs!)
  2.  Encourage kids to be digitally savvy. Help your child understand the tricks hackers play to steal the identities of innocent people. Identity thieves will befriend children online and with the goal of gathering personal that information to steal their identity. Thieves are skilled at trolling social networks looking at user profiles for birth dates, addresses, and names of family members to piece together the identity puzzle. Challenge your kids to be on the hunt for imposters and catfishes. Teach them to be suspicious about links, emails, texts, pop up screens, and direct messages from “cute” but unknown peers on their social media accounts. Teach them to go with their instincts and examine websites, social accounts, and special shopping offers.Identity Protection
  3. Get fierce about data protection. Don’t be quick to share your child’s SSN or secondary information such as date of birth, address, and mothers’ maiden name and teach your kids to do the same. Also, never carry your child’s (or your) physical Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it in a safe place, preferably under lock and key. Only share your child’s data when necessary (school registration, passport application, education savings plan, etc.) and only with trusted individuals.
  4. File a proactive fraud alert. By submitting a fraud alert in your child’s name with the credit bureaus several times a year, you will be able to catch any credit fraud early. Since your child hasn’t built any credit, anything that comes back will be illegal activity. The fraud alert will remain in place for only 90 days. When the time runs out, you’ll need to reactivate the alert. You can achieve the same thing by filing an earnings report from the Social Security Administration. The report will reveal any earnings acquired under your child’s social security number.
  5. Know the warning signs. If a someone is using your child’s data, you may notice: 1) Pre-approved credit card offers addressed to them arriving via mail 2) Collection agencies calling and asking to speak to your child 3) Court notices regarding delinquent bills. If any of these things happen your first step is to call and freeze their credit with the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
  6. Report theft. If you find a violation of your child’s credit of any kind go to  IdentityTheft.gov to report the crime and begin the restoring your child’s credit. This site is easy to navigate and takes you step-by-step down the path of restoring stolen credit.

Building digitally resilient kids is one of the primary tasks of parents today. Part of that resilience is taking the time to talk about this new, digital frontier that is powerful but has a lot of security cracks in it that can negatively impact your family. Getting fierce about identity protection can save your child (and you) hours and even years of heartache and financial loss.

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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#CyberAware: Will You Help Make the Internet a Safe Place for Families? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/cyberaware-will-you-join-the-effort-to-make-the-internet-safer-for-everyone/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/cyberaware-will-you-join-the-effort-to-make-the-internet-safer-for-everyone/#respond Sat, 29 Sep 2018 14:00:27 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91659 Don’t we all kinda secretly hope, even pretend, that our biggest fears are in the process of remedying themselves? Like believing that the police will know to stay close should we wander into a sketchy part of town. Or that our doors and windows will promptly self-lock should we forget to do so. Such a […]

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National Cyber Security Awareness MonthDon’t we all kinda secretly hope, even pretend, that our biggest fears are in the process of remedying themselves? Like believing that the police will know to stay close should we wander into a sketchy part of town. Or that our doors and windows will promptly self-lock should we forget to do so. Such a world would be ideal — and oh, so, peaceful — but it just isn’t reality. When it comes to making sure our families are safe we’ve got to be the ones to be aware, responsible, and take the needed action.

Our Shared Responsibility

This holds true in making the internet a safe place. As much as we’d like to pretend there’s a protective barrier between us and the bad guys online, there’s no single government entity that is solely responsible for securing the internet. Every individual must play his or her role in protecting their portion of cyberspace, including the devices and networks they use. And, that’s what October — National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) — is all about.

At McAfee, we focus on these matters every day but this month especially, we are linking arms will safety organizations, bloggers, businesses, and YOU — parents, consumers, educators, and digital citizens — to zero in on ways we can all do our part to make the internet safe and secure for everyone. (Hey, sometimes the home team needs a huddle, right!?)

8 specific things you can do!

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

  1. Become a NCSAM Champion. The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSAM) is encouraging everyone — individuals, schools, businesses, government organizations, universities — to sign up, take action, and make a difference in online safety and security. It’s free and simple to register. Once you sign up you will get an email with a toolbox packed with fun, shareable memes to post for #CyberAware October.
  2. Tap your social powers. Throughout October, share, share, share great content you discover. Use the hashtag #CyberAware, so the safety conversation reaches and inspires more people. Also, join the Twitter chat using the hashtag #ChatSTC each Thursday in October at 3 p.m., ET/Noon, PT. Learn, connect with other parents and safety pros, and chime in.National Cyber Security Awareness Month
  3. Hold a family tech talk. Be even more intentional this month. Learn and discuss suggestions from STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ on how each family member can protect their devices and information.
  4. Print it and post it: Print out a STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ tip sheet and display it in areas where family members spend time online.
  5. Understand and execute the basics. Information is awesome. But how much of that information do we truly put into action? Take 10 minutes to read 10 Tips to Stay Safe Online and another 10 minutes to make sure you take the time to install a firewall, strengthen your passwords, and make sure your home network as secure as it can be.National Cyber Security Awareness Month
  6. If you care — share! Send an email to friends and family informing them that October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and encourage them to visit staysafeonline.org for tips and resources.
  7. Turn on multi-factor authentication. Protect your financial, email and social media accounts with two-step authentication for passwords.
  8. Update, update, update! This overlooked but powerful way to shore up your devices is crucial. Update your software and turn on automatic updates to protect your home network and personal devices.

Isn’t it awesome to think that you aren’t alone in striving to keep your family’s digital life — and future — safe? A lot of people are working together during National Cyber Security Awareness Month to educate and be more proactive in blocking criminals online. Working together, no doubt, we’ll get there quicker and be able to create and enjoy a safer internet.

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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5 Reasons Why Strong Digital Parenting Matters More than Ever https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-reasons-why-strong-digital-parenting-matters-more-than-ever/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-reasons-why-strong-digital-parenting-matters-more-than-ever/#respond Sat, 22 Sep 2018 12:00:53 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91586 As a parent raising kids in a digital culture, it’s easy to feel at times as if you have a tiger by the tail and that technology is leading your family rather than the other way around. But that familiar feeling — the feeling of being overwhelmed, outsmarted, and always a step or two behind […]

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digital parentingAs a parent raising kids in a digital culture, it’s easy to feel at times as if you have a tiger by the tail and that technology is leading your family rather than the other way around.

But that familiar feeling — the feeling of being overwhelmed, outsmarted, and always a step or two behind the tech curve — is just a feeling, it’s not a fact.

Digital Parenting Matters

The fact is, you are the parent. That is a position of authority, honor, and privilege in your child’s life. No other person (device, app, or friend group) can take your place. No other voice is more influential or audible in your child’s mind and heart than yours.

It’s true that technology has added several critical skills to our parenting job description. It’s true that screens have become an integral part of daily life and that digital conversation can now shape our child’s self-image and perspective of his or her place in the world. All of this digital dominance has made issues such as mental health, anxiety, and cyberbullying significant concerns for parents.digital parenting

What’s also true is that we still have a lot of control over our kids’ screen time and the role technology plays in our families. Whether we choose to exercise that influence, is up to us but the choice remains ours.

Here are just a few reasons why strong digital parenting matters more than ever. And, some practical tools to help you take back any of the influence you feel you may have lost in your child’s life.

5 Digital Skills to Teach to Your Kids

Resilience

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience building is the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress. Resilience isn’t something you are born with. Kids become resilient over time and more so with an intentional parent. Being subject to the digital spotlight each day is a road no child should have to walk alone. September is National Suicide Prevention Month and an excellent opportunity to talk to your kids about resilience building. Digital Parenting Skills: Helping kids understand concepts like conflict-management, self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making, is one of the most critical areas of parenting today. Start the conversations, highlight examples of resilience in everyday life, model resilence, and keep this critical conversation going.

Empathy

digital parentingEmpathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Unfortunately, in the online space, empathy isn’t always abundant, so it’s up to parents to introduce, model, and teach this character trait. Digital Parenting Skills: According to Dr. Michele Borba, author of #UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, there are 9 empathy-building habits parents can nurture in their kids including Emotional Literacy, Moral Identity, Perspective Taking, Moral Imagination, Self Regulation, Practicing Kindness, Collaboration, Moral Courage, and Altruistic Leadership Abilities.

Life Balance

Screentime is on the rise, and there’s no indication that trend is going to change. If we want kids that know the value of building an emotionally and physically healthy life, then teaching (and modeling) balance is imperative today. Digital Parenting Skills: Model screentime balance in your life. Be proactive in planning device-free activities for the whole family, and use software that will help you establish time limits on all devices. You might be surprised how just a few small shifts in your family’s tech balance can influence the entire vibe of your home.

Reputation Management

digital parenting

Most kids work reasonably hard to curate and present a specific image on their social profiles to impress their peers. Few recognize that within just a few years, colleges and employers will also be paying attention to those profiles. One study shows that 70% of employers use search engines and social media to screen candidates. Your child’s digital footprint includes everything he or she says or does online. A digital footprint includes everything from posts to casual “likes,” silly photos, and comments. Digital Parenting Skills: Know where your kids go online. Monitor their online conversations (without commenting publically). Don’t apologize for demanding they take down inappropriate or insensitive photos, comments, or retweets. The most important part of monitoring is explaining why the post has to come down. Simply saying “because I said so,” or “that’s crude,” isn’t enough. Take the time to discuss the reasons behind the rules.

Security and Safetydigital parenting

It’s human nature: Most us aren’t proactive. We don’t get security systems for our homes or cars until a break-in occurs to us or a close friend. Often, we don’t act until it gets personal. The same is true for taking specific steps to guard our digital lives. Digital Parenting Skills: Talk to your kids about online risks including scams, viruses and malware, identity fraud, predators, and catfishing. Go one step further and teach them about specific tools that will help keep them safe online. The fundamentals of digital safety are similar to teaching kids habits such as locking the doors, wearing a seatbelt or avoiding dangerous neighborhoods.

Your kids may be getting older and may even shrug off your advice and guidance more than they used to but don’t be fooled, parents. Kids need aware, digitally savvy parents more than ever to navigate and stay safe — both emotionally and physically — in the online arena. Press into those hard conversations and be consistent in your digital parenting to protect the things that truly matter.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Fortnite: Why Kids Love It and What Parents Need to Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/why-kids-love-playing-fortnite-and-what-parents-need-to-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/why-kids-love-playing-fortnite-and-what-parents-need-to-know/#respond Sat, 15 Sep 2018 14:00:36 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91482   Fortnite: Battle Royale is the hottest video game for kids right now. More than 125 million people have downloaded the game and it’s estimated that 3.4 million play it monthly. But while the last-man-standing battle game is a blast to play, it also has parents asking a lot of questions as their kids spend […]

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Fortnite: Battle Royale

 

Fortnite: Battle Royale is the hottest video game for kids right now. More than 125 million people have downloaded the game and it’s estimated that 3.4 million play it monthly. But while the last-man-standing battle game is a blast to play, it also has parents asking a lot of questions as their kids spend more and more time immersed in the Fortnite realm.

Why kids love it

A few hours on Fortnite and you can easily see why kids (and adults) love it. The game drops up to 100 players onto an island, where they try to find weapons to defend themselves and try to eliminate other players. The battlefield gradually shrinks, forcing players into encounters with each other until just one player remains and becomes the winner.

Even though it’s a battle, the Fortnite characters and interface are colorful and cartoon-like and there’s no blood or gore. The game itself possesses an inherent sense of humor and personality that’s lighthearted yet still competitive. The app is free to download, but players can outfit their characters (for purchase) in an array of battle fashions and any number of fun dances.

Ultimate gaming mash-up

Fortnite: Battle Royale

One reason kids love Fortnite: Battle Royale is that it’s the perfect survival mash-up of several popular media titles: The Hunger Games movie, Call of Duty video game, the first Fortnite (Fortnite: Save the World) video game, and the game PUBG (PlayerUnknownBattlegrounds). Fortnite: Battle Royale takes elements from all of these favorite storylines and game interfaces.

The game has a lot of fun attached for sure. Fortnite’s interface and hilarious character moves can be just as much fun to watch as it is to play. However, as with any other wildly popular, multi-player video game, there are some red flags families need to be aware of.

Fortnite: What to look out for

Excessive screen time. Because of the way Fortnite is structured, kids can easily burn through hours a day if left unmonitored. Some parents have reported their kids becoming Fortnite obsessed, even addictedSuggestion: Pay attention to the amount of time your kids spend playing. If your child is playing on Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch, you can turn on parental controls to limit gaming sessions. Another option, for PC, tablets, and mobile devices, is monitoring software that allows parents to set time limits for apps and websites.Fortnite: Battle Royale

Chat feature. Fortnite is a multi-player game, which means kids play against other gamers they may not know. So, Fortnite’s chat feature carries some potential safety issues such as foul language, potentially befriending an imposter, and cyberbullying. Suggestion: Talk to your child about this aspect of the game and the dangers. Spend time and sit in on a few games and listen to the banter. Then, make the best decision for your family. To turn chat off, open the Settings Menu in the top right of the main Fortnite page, go to the Audio Tab and turn it off.

In-app purchases. Fortnite is free to download but can get expensive quickly. Kids can use virtual currency (purchased via credit card) to access animations, weapons, and outfits for their characters. These items aren’t needed to win the game, but they allow a player to express his or her personality within the game, which is especially important to kids. Some parents have reported finding hundreds of dollars in unauthorized purchases on their credit cards due to Fortnite’s array of in-app purchases. Suggestion: If you know your child is passionate about Fortnite, take away the spending temptation by blocking his or her ability to make in-app purchases. Or, set a weekly limit on purchases.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Increased anxiety/stress levels. Fortnite’s game structure is a highly-competitive, fast-moving game that renders only one winner. This means, as a solo player, the odds are stacked against you. Play Fortnite enough, and lose enough, and rage can surface. If your child is prone to anxiety or stress, Fortnite may not be the best environment. Suggestion: Monitor your child’s mood. Discuss the emotional highs and lows potentially associated with Fortnite and put some healthy parameters — that address both the types of content and time limits — around gaming habits.

Unsure about allowing your kids to play (or continue playing) Fortnite? Talk to them about it. Join in or watch your child play. Find out what your child loves about the game and if his or her demeanor changes during or after playing. Monitor the amount of time as well. Once you’ve gathered the facts as they pertain to your child, decide how much (or how little) of the Fortnite world is best for your family.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Could the Photos You’re Sharing Online Be Putting Your Child at Risk? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/could-the-photos-youre-sharing-online-be-putting-your-child-at-risk/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/could-the-photos-youre-sharing-online-be-putting-your-child-at-risk/#respond Sat, 08 Sep 2018 14:00:16 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91413 Confession time. I’m a mom that is part of the problem. The problem of posting photos of my kids online without asking for their permission and knowing deep down that I’m so excited about sharing, I’m not paying much attention at all to the risks. Why do I do it? Because I’m madly in love […]

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sharing photos risksConfession time. I’m a mom that is part of the problem. The problem of posting photos of my kids online without asking for their permission and knowing deep down that I’m so excited about sharing, I’m not paying much attention at all to the risks.

Why do I do it? Because I’m madly in love with my two wee ones (who aren’t so wee anymore). Because I’m a proud parent who wants to celebrate their milestones in a way that feels meaningful in our digital world. And, if I’m honest, I think posting pictures of my kids publically helps fill up their love tank and remind them they are cherished and that they matter. . . even if the way I’m communicating happens to be very public.

Am I that different than most parents? According to a recent McAfee survey, I’m in the majority.

Theoretically, I represent one of the 1,000 interviewed for McAfee’s recent Age of Consent survey* that rendered some interesting results.

Can you relate?

  • 30% of parents post a photo of their child to social media daily.
  • 58% of parents do not ask for permission from their children before posting images of them on social media.
  • 22% think that their child is too young to provide permission; 19% claim that it’s their own choice, not their child’s choice.

The surprising part:

  • 71% of parents who share images of their kids online agree that the images could end up in the wrong hands.
  • Parents’ biggest concerns with sharing photos online include pedophilia (49%), stalking (48%), and kidnapping (45%).
  • Other risks of sharing photos online may also be other children seeing the image and engaging in cyberbullying (31%), their child feeling embarrassed (30%), and their child feeling worried or anxious (23%).

If this mere sampling of 1,000 parents (myself included) represents the sharing attitudes of even a fraction of the people who use Facebook (estimated to be one billion globally), then rethinking the way in which we share photos isn’t a bad idea.

We know that asking parents, grandparents, friends, and kids themselves to stop uploading photos altogether would be about as practical as asking the entire state of Texas to line up and do the hokey pokey. It’s not going to happen, nor does it have to.

But we can dilute the risks of photo sharing. Together, we can agree to post smarter, to pause a little longer. We can look out for one another’s privacy, and share in ways that keep us all safe.

Ways to help minimize photo sharing risks:

  • Pause before uploading. That photo of your child is awesome but have you stopped to analyze it? Ask yourself: Is there anything in this photo that could be used as an identifier? Have I inadvertently given away personal information such as a birthdate, a visible home addresses, a school uniform, financial details, or potential passwords? Is the photo I’m about to upload something I’d be okay with a stranger seeing? sharing photos risks
  • Review your privacy settings. It’s easy to forget that when we upload a photo, we lose complete control over who will see, modify, and share that photo again (anywhere they choose and in any way they choose). You can minimize the scope of your audience to only trusted friends and family by customizing your privacy settings within each social network.  Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have privacy settings that allow you to share posts (and account access) with select people. Use the controls available to boost your family privacy.
  • Voice your sharing preferences with others. While it may be awkward, it’s okay (even admirable) to request friends and family to reign in or refrain from posting photos of your children online. This rule also applies to other people’s public comments about your vacation plans, new house, children’s names or birthdates, or any other content that gives away too much data. Don’t hesitate to promptly delete those comments by others and explain yourself in a private message if necessary.
  • Turn off geotagging on photos. Did you know that the photo you upload has metadata assigned to it that can tell others your exact location? That’s right. Many social networks will tag a user’s location when that user uploads a photo. To make sure this doesn’t happen, simply turn off geotagging abilities on your phone. This precaution is particularly important when posting photos away from home.
  • Be mindful of identity theft. Identity theft is no joke. Photos can reveal a lot about your lifestyle, your habits, and they can unintentionally give away your data. Consider using an identity theft protection solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection that can help protect your identity and safeguard your personal information.

* McAfee commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey of 1,000 parents of children ages one month to 16 years old in the U.S.

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Family Tech: How Safe is Your Child’s Personal Data at School? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-tech-how-safe-is-your-childs-personal-data-at-school/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-tech-how-safe-is-your-childs-personal-data-at-school/#respond Sat, 01 Sep 2018 14:00:44 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91311 Right about now, most kids are thinking about their chemistry homework, the next pep rally, or chiming in on their group text. The last thing on their minds as they head back to school is cybersecurity. But, it’s the one thing — if ignored — that can wreck the excitement of a brand new school year. […]

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Kids and Personal DataRight about now, most kids are thinking about their chemistry homework, the next pep rally, or chiming in on their group text. The last thing on their minds as they head back to school is cybersecurity. But, it’s the one thing — if ignored — that can wreck the excitement of a brand new school year.

You’ve done a great job, parent. You’ve equipped their phones, tablets, and laptops with security software. And, you’ve beefed up safeguards on devices throughout your home. These efforts go a long way in protecting your child’s (and family’s) privacy from prying eyes. Unfortunately, when your child walks out your front door and into his or her school, new risks await.

No one knows this season better than a cybercriminal. Crooks know there are loopholes in just about every school’s network and that kids can be easy targets online. These security gaps can open kids up to phishing scams, privacy breaches, malware attacks, and device theft.

The school security conversation

Be that parent. Inquire about your school’s security protocols.  The K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center reports that 358 school breaches have taken place since January of 2016.  Other reports point to an increase in hackers targeting school staff with phishing emails and seeking student social security numbers to sell on the dark web.

A few questions to consider:Kids and Personal Data

  • Who has physical and remote access to your student’s digital records and what are the school’s protection practices and procedures?
  • How are staff members trained and are strong password protocols in place?
  • What security exists on school-issued devices? What apps/software is are being used and how will those apps collect and use student data?
  • What are the school’s data collection practices? Do data collection practices include encryption, secure data retention, and lawful data sharing policies?
  • What is the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy?

The data debate

As K-12 administrators strive to maintain secure data collection practices for students, those same principles may be dubious as kids move on to college. As reported by Digiday, one retailer may be quietly disassembling privacy best practices with a bold “pay with data” business model. The Japanese coffee chain Shiru Café offers students and faculty members of Brown University free coffee in exchange for entering personal data into an online registry. Surprisingly, the café attracts some 800 customers a day and is planning on expanding its business model to more college campuses.

The family conversation

Keep devices close. Kids break, lose, lend, and leave their tech unattended and open to theft. Discuss responsible tech ownership with your kids. Stolen devices are privacy gold mines.

Never share passwords. Kids express their loyalty to one another in different ways. One way that’s proving popular but especially unsafe nowadays is password sharing. Remind kids: It’s never okay to share passwords to devices, social networks, or school platforms. Never. Password sharing opens up your child to a number of digital risks.

Safe clicking, browsing practices. Remind kids when browsing online to watch out for phishing emails, fake news stories, streaming media sites, and pop-ups offering free downloads. A bad link can infect a computer with a virus, malware, spyware, or ransomware. Safe browsing also includes checking for “https” in the URL of websites. If the website only loads with an “http,” the website may not be enforcing encryption.Kids and Personal Data

Be more of a mystery. Here is a concept your kids may or may not latch on to but challenge them to keep more of their everyday life a mystery by posting less. This includes turning off location services and trying to keep your whereabouts private when sharing online. This challenge may be fun for your child or downright impossible, but every step toward boosting privacy is progress!

Discuss the risk of public Wi-Fi. Kids are quick to jump on Wi-Fi wherever they go so they can use apps without depleting the family data plan. That habit poses a big problem. Public Wi-Fi is a magnet for hackers trying to get into your device and steal personal information. Make sure every network your child logs on to requires a password to connect. Go a step further and consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added security for your whole family.

Want to connect more to digital topics that affect your family? Stop by ProtectWhatMatters.online, and follow @McAfee_Family on Twitter. Also, join the digital security conversation on Facebook.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Snapstreaks: Why Kids Keep them Going and What Parents Need to Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/snapstreaks-why-kids-keep-them-going-and-what-parents-need-to-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/snapstreaks-why-kids-keep-them-going-and-what-parents-need-to-know/#respond Sat, 25 Aug 2018 14:00:41 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=91129 People who use the popular social networking app Snapchat, understand what happens after three consecutive days of messaging the same person. A little flame automatically shows up next to that person’s name signaling that a Snapstreak is officially on. And, keeping that streak alive, is a bigger deal than you might guess. From that day […]

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People who use the popular social networking app Snapchat, understand what happens after three consecutive days of messaging the same person. A little flame automatically shows up next to that person’s name signaling that a Snapstreak is officially on. And, keeping that streak alive, is a bigger deal than you might guess.

From that day forward, the Snapstreak continues unless one person fails to respond within the allotted 24-hour window. Slowly but surely, Snapstreaks have become a way of measuring the quality of a friendship for teens.

Streak = Commitment

The longer two users go without breaking the streak — and some streaks can go on for years — the stronger the relationship is perceived to be. Since other users can see how many streaks you have going, displaying Snapstreaks has also become a popularity metric. And, if the streak is broken (either intentionally or unintentionally) well, that speaks volumes as well.

One 18-year-old recently shared with me, “I broke up with my boyfriend but we kept up our streak for a few more weeks. But, once he broke the streak, I knew it was officially over. That day was so sad.” Their streak lasted 457 days. She added: “It can really hurt when a streak ends. Some of my friends get offended if I break a streak and others don’t care as much. It all depends on the person.”

To keep a streak going, a user simply sends or returns a photo (also called a snap). Sometimes it has a short message typed across it, other times, it’s just a picture of the ceiling, a plant, or a light — a random snap to ensure the streak isn’t broken that day.

This particular teen admits that she gets up early or stays up late to make sure she doesn’t break her streaks. “My parents took my phone away one time, and I gave my friend my login to my Snapchat so she could keep up my streaks,” she says. “I was panicked about losing them all because I couldn’t get to my phone for two days while I was grounded.”

Time Investment

So how much time does Snapstreaking take? “I have to spend at least 10 minutes a day keeping up about 45 streaks,” the teen said. “It can be a hassle.”

When I told her that amounted to 70 minutes a week and nearly 2.5 days a year spent maintaining her Snapstreaks, she paused. “Wow. That’s crazy. But I seriously don’t think I can give up my streaks.”

The flip side of Snapstreaks is this: Starting a streak with someone can result in a new friendship. Snapstreaks can give kids a way to keep in touch with multiple people and strengthen their social connections.

The Snapstreak feature, designed to keep people in the app for more extended periods of time, runs contrary to recent app changes by Facebook and Instagram focused on time management. Both apps recently introduced time tracking features to help users be mindful of how much time they spend on the apps.

If your child loves Snapchat, you can assume, he or she has several if not dozens of Snapstreaks going. To make sure steaks don’t get out of control, here are a few family talking points.

Family Talking Points

Respect their culture. While streaks may seem like a silly use of time to an adult, Snapstreaks are a social dynamic many teens value. Streaks may help kids feel included, accepted, and connected to their peers. So if you suspect your child’s Snapchat use is unbalanced, bring up the topic with understanding and respect for the way their digital communities work. Listen to their reasoning before you hand out new rules.

Privacy reminder. Kids may share login information with friends to maintain their Snapstreaks. Remind your kids not to share their passwords with anyone — even best friends. It’s a bad habit to start and can put your child’s privacy at risk.

Discuss the ROI of streaks. Ask questions to spark a conversation regarding streaks. Ask questions about the importance of face-to-face time with friends and what makes a quality relationship. Do the Snapstreak math so your child can see how much time he or she is investing in maintaining their streaks versus the return they get on that time investment (ROI).

Consider a device curfew. Kids are increasingly losing sleep because they take their devices to bed with them. Setting a device curfew will take effort and consistency on your part because kids will rarely hand over their device each night. This rule may not reduce Snapstreaks, but it will immediately allow your child to start banking more sleep and help limit their screen time.

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

 

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College Bound? 7 Important Technology Habits for Students https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/college-bound-7-important-technology-habits-for-students/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/college-bound-7-important-technology-habits-for-students/#respond Sun, 19 Aug 2018 21:33:55 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90971 You’ve loved, shaped, and equipped your child to succeed in college and move in day is finally here.  But there’s still one variable that can turn your child’s freshman year upside down, and that’s technology. That’s right, that essential laptop and indispensable smartphone your child owns could also prove to be his or her biggest […]

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You’ve loved, shaped, and equipped your child to succeed in college and move in day is finally here.  But there’s still one variable that can turn your child’s freshman year upside down, and that’s technology.

That’s right, that essential laptop and indispensable smartphone your child owns could also prove to be his or her biggest headache if not secured and used responsibly. College students can be targets of identity theft, malware, online scams, credit card fraud, property theft, and internet addiction.

The other part of this new equation? You, parent, are no longer in the picture. Your child is now 100% on his or her own. Equipping time is over. Weekly tech monitoring and family chats are in the rearview mirror. Will they succeed? Of course, they will. But one last parenting chat on safety sure can’t hurt. Here are a couple of reminders to share with your college-bound kids.

7  Technology Habits for Students

1. Minimize use of public computers. Campuses rely on shared computers. Because campus networks aren’t always secure, this can open you up to identity theft. If you have to log on to a public computer be it a cafe, library, or lab, be sure to change any passwords each time you return. If you are working with a study group, don’t share passwords. Public devices can be prone to hackers seeking to steal login credentials and credit card numbers. If you do use public devices, get in the habit of browsing in the privacy mode. Clear browser history, cookies, and quit all applications before logging off.

2. Beware when shopping online. Online shopping is often the easiest way for students to purchase essentials. Be sure to use a secure internet connection when hitting that “purchase” button. Reputable sites encrypt data during transactions by using SSL technologies. Look for the tiny padlock icon in the address bar or a URL that begins with “https” (the “s” stands for secure) instead of “http.” Examine the site and look for misspellings, inconsistencies. Go with your instincts if you think a website is bogus, don’t risk the purchase. Online credit card fraud is on the rise, so beware.

3. Guard your privacy. College is a tough place to learn that not all people are trustworthy — even those who appear to be friends. Sadly, many kids learn about online theft the hard way. Never share passwords, credit card numbers, or student ID numbers. Be aware of shoulder surfing which is when someone peers over your shoulder to see what’s on your computer screen. Avoid leaving computer screens open in dorm rooms or libraries where anyone can check your browsing history, use an open screen, or access financial information. Also, never lend your laptop or tablet to someone else since it houses personal information and make sure that all of your screens are password protected.

4.  Beware of campus crooks. Thieves troll college campuses looking for opportunities to steal smartphones, laptops, wearables, and tablets for personal use or resale. Don’t carry your tech around uncased or leave it unguarded. Conceal it in a backpack. Even if you feel comfortable in your new community, don’t leave your phone even for a few seconds to pick up your food or coffee at a nearby counter. If you are in the library or study lab and need a bathroom break, take your laptop with you. Thieves are swift, and you don’t want to lose a semester’s worth of work in a matter of seconds.

5. Use public Wi-Fi with caution. Everyone loves to meet at the coffee shop for study sessions — and that includes hackers. Yes, it’s convenient, but use public Wi-Fi with care. Consider using VPN software, which creates a secure private network and blocks people from accessing your laptop or activity. To protect yourself, be sure to change your passwords often. This is easy if you use a free password manager like True Key.

6. Social media = productivity killer. Be aware of your online time. Mindless surfing, internet games, and excessive video gaming with roommates can have an adverse effect on your grades as well as your mental health.  Use online website blockers to help protect your study time.

7. Social media = career killer. We can all agree: College is a blast. However, keep the party photos and inappropriate captions offline. Your career will thank you. Remember: Most everything you do today is being captured or recorded – even if you’re not the one with the camera. The internet is forever, and a long-forgotten photo can make it’s way back around when you least expect it.

8. Don’t get too comfortable too fast. Until you understand who you can trust in your new community, consider locking your social media accounts. Disable GPS on mobile apps for security, don’t share home and dorm addresses, email, or phone numbers. While it may be the farthest thing from your mind right now — campus stalking case are real.

toni page birdsong

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Tech Talk: Ways to Help Your Child Conquer Back-To-School Fears https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/tech-talk-ways-to-help-your-child-conquer-back-to-school-fears/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/tech-talk-ways-to-help-your-child-conquer-back-to-school-fears/#respond Sat, 11 Aug 2018 13:29:28 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90794 The first-day-of-school jitters nearly did me in as a kid. Our military family moved ten times, so I got used to the stomach aches and stares that came with every new school. I can’t imagine making those big moves as a kid in today’s digital culture.  The cliques are far more visible. The fails are far […]

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Tech and back-to-school fears

The first-day-of-school jitters nearly did me in as a kid. Our military family moved ten times, so I got used to the stomach aches and stares that came with every new school.

I can’t imagine making those big moves as a kid in today’s digital culture.  The cliques are far more visible. The fails are far more public and weaknesses, far more exploited.

This digital layer of scrutiny and exposure sends my admiration and respect for kids today to heroic levels.

Tech and Anxiety

Reports of tech-related anxiety* and depression in kids on the rise, which can put a whole layer of angst on first-day jitters. And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to ease that stress, helping your child manage his or her technology can help diminish it.

Tips to Help Ease Stress

1. Unplug more. Discuss the power and emotional pull of the smartphone and how it can escalate the stress of starting school. Remind kids that the edited, seemingly perfect version of life people post on social media doesn’t represent reality and that constant comparison can be harmful.

While we recommend families establish a phone curfew every night for health reasons, it’s especially crucial in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. Other simple ways to ease stress this school year: Turn off all push notifications during school hours and use parental control apps to help with time limits and safety. Tech and back-to-school fears

2. Make time to talk. Ask your child what concerns him or her most about starting school. Then, just listen. Acknowledge your child’s fears and try to relate or find common ground. Let your child know that worry is normal, it can help protect us, and everyone experiences it from time to time. Some of the stresses they might share: Finding friends and fitting in, who they will sit with at lunchtime, having the right clothes or fashion sense, being able to find their classes, opening the combinations on their lockers, sports or music auditions, body image and appearance, school work challenges, and more.

3. Visualize the first day. Help your child map out his or her classes. Based on your child’s feedback, talk through possible awkward or stressful situations that might come up to help build his or her confidence and reduce worry. Often just getting a fear from your brain to your lips can strip power from fear. Brainstorm one-liners your kids might use to introduce themselves to new people or positive responses that might deflect a negative comment.

4. Practice the present. Anxiety* can be triggered when we live more of life in the future — imagining the what-ifs — than living in the right now. Who hasn’t imagined tripping in the lunchroom or falling down the stairs? A few simple tips: Teach kids to practice deep breathing, to challenge their negative thoughts, and to talk/think about life in the present tense.Tech and back-to-school fears

5. Encourage. Without going over the top (because kids can smell inflated praise), remind your child of his or her strengths. Fear creates a wall that blocks our view of past accomplishments. Provide that recollection for your child. Give truthful reminders of your child’s strengths, talents, and unique qualities.

6. Help kids with balance on and offline. A new school year represents a clean slate. There’s no need to bring bad habits along. So make the changes you’ve always intended to make. Set time limits on technology and stick to them. Help your kids prioritize face-to-face time with peers. Know what’s going on in your child’s online life and make sure his or her digital community isn’t unraveling your parenting goals. Pay close attention to new friends and your child’s demeanor on a daily basis.

* It’s important to note that while the word “anxiety” is commonly used, the American Acadamy of Pediatrics says that 8% of kids are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. If your child’s stress level becomes serious, please seek professional help.

 

toni page birdsongToni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Too Much Tech: 4 Steps to Get Your Child to Chill on Excessive Snapchatting https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/too-much-tech-4-steps-to-get-your-child-to-chill-on-excessive-snapchatting/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/too-much-tech-4-steps-to-get-your-child-to-chill-on-excessive-snapchatting/#respond Sat, 04 Aug 2018 17:27:04 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90640 We were in the midst of what I believed to be an important conversation. “Just a sec mom,” she said promptly after a Snapchat notification popped up on her iPhone. She stopped me mid-sentence, puckered her lips, rolled her eyes, typed a few lines of copy, and within three seconds, my teenage daughter Snapchatted a few […]

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We were in the midst of what I believed to be an important conversation.

“Just a sec mom,” she said promptly after a Snapchat notification popped up on her iPhone.

She stopped me mid-sentence, puckered her lips, rolled her eyes, typed a few lines of copy, and within three seconds, my teenage daughter Snapchatted a few dozen friends.

“Sorry, mom, what were you saying?” she turned back toward me her face void of any trace of remorse.

It was clear: Snapchat had far more influence than I, the parent, and it was time to make some serious changes.

Imbalance of Power

It’s obvious the power apps hold over our lives. In fact, in an attempt to encourage responsible app use, Facebook and Instagram recently announced it would implement tools allowing users to track how much time they spend on the apps. This mom is hoping Snapchat will follow suit.

Since its inception in 2011, Snapchat has become one of the most popular apps with an estimated 187 daily active users. A 2017 study released by Science Daily found that 75% of teens use Snapchat. But it’s not the only app winning our kids affections:

  • 76 percent of American teens age 13-17 use Instagram.
  • 75 percent of teens use Snapchat.
  • 66 percent of teens use Facebook.
  • 47 percent of teens use Twitter.
  • Fewer than 30 percent of American teens use Tumblr, Twitch, or LinkedIn.

If you have a teen, you understand the dilemma. We know that social ties are essential to a teen’s psychological well-being. We also know that excessive time online can erode self-esteem and cause depression. We can’t just yank our child’s favorite app, but we also can’t let it run in the background of our lives 24/7, right?

What we can do is take some intentional steps to help kids understand their responsibility to use apps in healthy, resilient ways. In our house, taking that step meant addressing — and taming — the elephant in the room: Snapchat. Here are a few things that worked for us you may find helpful.

4 Steps to Help Curb Excessive Snapchatting

  1. Strive for quality relationships. With so much more information available on the downside of excessive social media use, it’s time to be candid with our kids. Excessive “liking,” carefully-curated photos, and disingenuous interactions online are not meaningful interactions. Stress to kids that nothing compares to genuine, face-to-face relationships with others.
  2. Zero phone zones. This is a rule we established after one too many snaps hijacked our family time. We agreed that when in the company of others — be it at home, in the car, in a restaurant, at church, at a relative’s house — all digital devices get turned facedown or put in a pocket. By doing this, we immediately increased opportunities for personal connection and decreased opportunities for distraction. This simple but proven strategy has cut my daughter’s Snapchat time considerably.
  3. Establish a Snapchat curfew. Given the opportunity, teens will Snapchat until the sun comes up. Don’t believe me? Ask them. If not for the body’s physical need for sleep, they’d happily Snapchat through the night. Consider a curfew for devices. This rule will immediately begin to wean your child’s need to Snapchat around the clock.
  4. Track Snapchat time. Investing in software such as McAfee® Safe Family is an option when trying to strike a healthy tech balance. The software will help with time limits, website filtering, and app blocking. There is also helpful time tracking apps. For the iPhone, there’s Moment, and for Android, there’s Breakfree. Both apps will track how much time you spend on your phone. Seeing this number — in hours — can be a real eye-opener for both adults and kids.

    toni page birdsongToni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her onTwitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures)

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Family Matters: How to Help Kids Avoid Cyberbullies this Summer https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-matters-how-to-help-kids-avoid-cyberbullies-this-summer/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-matters-how-to-help-kids-avoid-cyberbullies-this-summer/#respond Sat, 28 Jul 2018 14:00:27 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90526 The summer months can be tough on kids. There’s more time during the day and much of that extra time gets spent online scrolling, surfing, liking, and snap chatting with peers. Unfortunately, with more time, comes more opportunity for interactions between peers to become strained even to the point of bullying. Can parents stop their kids […]

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The summer months can be tough on kids. There’s more time during the day and much of that extra time gets spent online scrolling, surfing, liking, and snap chatting with peers. Unfortunately, with more time, comes more opportunity for interactions between peers to become strained even to the point of bullying.

Can parents stop their kids from being cyberbullying completely? Not likely. However, if our sensors are up, we may be able to help our kids minimize both conflicts online and instances of cyberbullying should they arise.

Be Aware

Summer can be a time when a child’s more prone to feelings of exclusion and depression relative to the amount of time he or she spends online. Watching friends take trips together, go to parties, hang out at the pool, can be a lot on a child’s emotions. As much as you can, try to stay aware of your child’s demeanor and attitude over the summer months. If you need help balancing their online time, you’ve come to the right place.

Steer Clear of Summer Cyberbullies 

  1. Avoid risky apps. Apps like ask.fm that allow outsiders to ask a user any question anonymously should be off limits to kids. Kik Messenger and Yik Yak are also risky apps. Users have a degree of anonymity with these kinds of apps because they have usernames instead of real names and they can easily connect with profiles that could be (and often are) fake. Officials have linked all of these apps to multiple cyberbullying and even suicide cases.
  2. Monitor gaming communities. Gaming time can skyrocket during the summer and in a competitive environment, so can cyberbullying. Listen in on the tone of the conversations, the language, and keep tabs on your child’s demeanor. For your child’s physical and emotional health, make every effort to help him or her balance summer gaming time.
  3. Make profiles and photos private. By refusing to use privacy settings (and some kids do resist), a child’s profile is open to anyone and everyone, which increases the chances of being bullied or personal photos being downloaded and manipulated. Require kids under 18 to make all social profiles private. By doing this, you limit online circles to known friends and reduces the possibility of cyberbullying.
  4. Don’t ask peers for a “rank” or a “like.” The online culture for teens is very different than that of adults. Kids will be straightforward in asking people to “like” or “rank” a photo of them and attach the hashtag #TBH (to be honest) in hopes of affirmation. Talk to your kids about the risk in doing this and the negative comments that may follow. Remind them often of how much they mean to you and the people who truly know them and love them.
  5. Balance = health. Summer means getting intentional about balance with devices. Stepping away from devices for a set time can help that goal. Establish ground rules for the summer months, which might include additional monitoring and a device curfew.

Know the signs of cyberbullying. And, if your child is being bullied, remember these things:

1) Never tell a child to ignore the bullying. 2) Never blame a child for being bullied. Even if he or she made poor decisions or aggravated the bullying, no one ever deserves to be bullied. 3) As angry as you may be that someone is bullying your child, do not encourage your child to physically fight back. 4) If you can identify the bully, consider talking with the child’s parents.

Technology has catapulted parents into arenas — like cyberbullying — few of us could have anticipated. So, the challenge remains: Stay informed and keep talking to your kids, parents, because they need you more than ever as their digital landscape evolves.

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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5 Screen Time Principles to Establish When Your Kids are Still Babies https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/raising-digital-kids-5-timeless-tech-principles-to-establish-when-your-kids-are-young/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/raising-digital-kids-5-timeless-tech-principles-to-establish-when-your-kids-are-young/#respond Sat, 21 Jul 2018 14:00:56 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90433 Screen time — how much is too much — is a red-hot issue right now and for good reasons. Now, with several decades of a technology-saturated lifestyle behind us, the research repeatedly tells us: Too much screen time can be detrimental to kids. Balance is the new black when it comes to screen time. However, if […]

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Screen time — how much is too much — is a red-hot issue right now and for good reasons. Now, with several decades of a technology-saturated lifestyle behind us, the research repeatedly tells us: Too much screen time can be detrimental to kids.

Balance is the new black when it comes to screen time. However, if you are parenting younger children, you may be confused by the mixed signals surrounding you. Studies state the risks, yet everywhere you turn, the retail shelves are brimming with digital products targeting babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Which way should a parent turn?

The Wee Ones

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping all screens off around babies and toddlers younger than 18 months. They note that a small amount of screen time is acceptable for older toddlers and that children two and older should get no more than an hour of screen time per day as long as it’s quality shows or games.

So the focus remains on balance for the entire family. It’s tempting to use technology as a babysitter when your kids are younger (guilty party, right here!). However, the more we know about the downside of too much screen time, the more motivating it is to curb it. If you are parenting a younger crew, here are some basics to keep in mind if you want to stay on top of their screen time.

5 Tech Principles for Young Families

  1. Set goals early. When your kids are still babies, sit down with your partner and develop a healthy screen time plan. What is healthy for your child? What works in the context of your family? If you decide on 30 minutes a day of a specific program or interactive game, stick to that limit. As difficult as it can be at times, try to avoid the temptation to calm a crying baby or toddler with television, tablet, or a handheld game. Options to screens depending on age might include books, a stroller ride, exploring outdoors, self-directed play, music, touch/sensory toys, face-to-face play. Every age group will vary on acceptable screen time. When kids get older, establish family ground rules and attach consequences to those rules. Be sure you do your part, parent. Don’t leave kids unsupervised with their technology, keep screens out of bedrooms, and monitor their connected devices and online activity. Revisit your ground rules from time to time and make sure your child not only understand the rules but also why they are necessary. When age-appropriate, be sure to include kids in amending ground rules, so they feel the rules are in place to protect a privilege and not a punishment.
  2. Limit and co-view content. The AAP recommends for children ages two to five years of age, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. Also, parents should consider co-viewing media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  3. Be consistent, maintain balance over time. For children, ages six and older, the AAP recommends placing consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media. Make every effort screen time does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to your child’s health.
  4. Media free time. Establish media-free family times as well as zones such as the bedroom, dinner table, car time and restaurants. Keep in mind that modeling this behavior, as a parent is key to your child adopting his or her healthy screen time habits. Be aware of the time you spend on devices and binging on those TV shows — your kids are watching and absorbing your media habits.
  5. Start talking early and often. It’s never too early to start having the technology discussion. Just as you teach a child why eating cake for every meal isn’t healthy, so too, for health reasons, limits must be put on screen time. As kids begin interacting with peers online, start talking about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

No doubt about it — technology has improved our lives in incredible ways and enhanced every part of our culture from education to health, to entertainment, to business. However, as parents, it’s critical to present our kids with the whole picture, which includes the ways technology, if poorly used, can threaten our quality of life. Helping kids understand that too much technology can make you tired, cranky, and even harm your brain, has become part of our role as digital parents, caregivers, and grandparents.

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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Family Tech Check: 5 Ways to Help Kids Balance Tech Over Summer Break https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-tech-check-5-ways-to-help-kids-balance-tech-over-summer-break/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-tech-check-5-ways-to-help-kids-balance-tech-over-summer-break/#respond Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:11:55 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90316 It’s mind-blowing to think that when you become a parent, you have just 18 summers with your child before he or she steps out of the mini-van and into adulthood. So at the mid-summer point, it’s a great time to ask: How balanced is your child’s screen time? Don’t panic, it’s normal for screen time […]

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It’s mind-blowing to think that when you become a parent, you have just 18 summers with your child before he or she steps out of the mini-van and into adulthood. So at the mid-summer point, it’s a great time to ask: How balanced is your child’s screen time?

Don’t panic, it’s normal for screen time to spike over the summer months, which is why kids not only know how to balance their screen time but why it’s important.

Besides impacting family time and relationships, there are other potential risks that can result from excessive screen time such as obesity, depression, technology addiction, and anxiety. Too, there are risks such as privacy, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and predators. So, while summer brings fun, it also requires parents to be even more diligent — and creative — when it comes to helping kids achieve some degree of balance with their tech.

A Small, Powerful Step

Kids are connected. Forever. There’s no going backward. Not all changes take a huge effort. Small changes matter.

Try this one small but powerful change. Turn your phone over whenever anyone in your family enters a room or begins talking to you. The simple act of turning our screens face down and looking at the person speaking strengthened our family dynamic. Try it — you might experience some of the same results we did. The kids may stick around and talk longer. Your spouse may feel more respected. And, most importantly, you won’t miss the priceless smiles, expressions, laughter, and body language that comes with eye contact and being fully present with the people who mean the most.

Another small step is agreeing to screen free zones (this includes TV) such as the dinner table, restaurants, and during family outings. Again, this one small step might open up a fresh, fun family dynamic.

If you feel your summer slip sliding away and need to seriously pull in the tech reigns, these five tips may help.

5 Ways to Help Curb Summer Tech

  1. Create summer ground rules. Include your kids in this process and come up with a challenge rather than a list of rules. Ground rules for summer might look different from the rest of the year, depending on your family’s schedule. Establishing a plan for chores, exercise, reading and waking up, puts expectations in place. To keep the tech in check, consider a tech exchange. For every hour of screen time, require your child to do something else productive. Keep it fun: Set up a reward system for completed chores.
  2. Get intentional with time. Carving out time to be together in our tech-driven world requires intentionality. Try sitting down together and making a summer bucket list for the remainder of the summer. Try your hand at fishing, canoeing, or hiking some new trails together. Board games, crafts, puzzles, a family project are also ways to make great memories.
  3. Keep up with monitoring.  Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can ease up on monitoring online activity goes by the wayside. Keep up with your child’s favorite apps and understand how he or she is using them. During summer especially, know the friends your kids connect with online. Review privacy and location settings. Note: Kids — especially teens — want their friends to know what they are doing and where they are at all times in hopes of finding something to do over the summer. This practice isn’t always a good idea since location-based apps can open your family up to risks.
  4. Consider a tech curfew. Establish a “devices off” rule starting an hour before lights out. This won’t be a favorite move, but then again, parenting well isn’t always fun. More and more studies show the physical toll excessive technology use can take on teens. Just because your child is in bed at night does not mean he or she is asleep. The ability to face time, text, watch movies, or YouTube videos can zap kids of valuable sleep.
  5. Maintain a balanced perspective. Kids and tech are intertwined today, which makes it nearly impossible to separate the two. Sure the risks exist, but there’s the upside of tech that brings values that echo throughout every generation: Friendship, connection, and affirmation. Checking social media and sharing one’s thoughts and life online is a regular part of growing up today. Keep this in mind as you work together to find the balance that works best for your family.

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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Report: Gaming Addiction is a Real Thing. So What Can Parents Do Next? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/report-digital-games-can-be-addictive-so-what-can-parents-do-next/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/report-digital-games-can-be-addictive-so-what-can-parents-do-next/#respond Sat, 07 Jul 2018 12:00:57 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90228 It’s one of my biggest parenting regrets to date: About a decade ago, I failed to put limits around my teen’s passion for playing video games. He loved them, and I let him. I convinced myself that my son’s video gaming provided him with an instant community where he daily climbed to the top of the […]

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It’s one of my biggest parenting regrets to date: About a decade ago, I failed to put limits around my teen’s passion for playing video games. He loved them, and I let him.

I convinced myself that my son’s video gaming provided him with an instant community where he daily climbed to the top of the scoreboard. A personal, consistent win for my first-born, more quiet child, right?

Looking back, I lied to myself at crucial moments along the way. I minimized his growing obsession by calling it a hobby. As he grew more engaged with gaming, he became more distant from our family. I ignored the fact that he was acquiring friends I didn’t know and forfeiting time outdoors for his preferred virtual landscape.

When our relationship hit several rough patches in later years, I failed to connect that friction back to his topheavy gaming habits. All the while, as a mom, I knew deep down (in my mom “knower”) I could have — should have — done more to limit his gaming.

New Findings

Not surprising, the World Health Organization (WHO) just recently classified a new form of addiction called “gaming disorder.” That designation means health professionals can now treat dangerous levels of video gaming as a legitimate addiction.

Thankfully, my son’s one-time excessive gaming didn’t reach the addiction level even though it was serious enough to negatively impact our family dynamic.

I can’t go back. However, if there’s a parent who can learn from my heartache in this area, I hope this post might help.

The Upside

We know gaming isn’t the enemy. In fact, gaming has been credited with helping kids overcome depression, anxiety, and social insecurities. Gaming is also blowing open new doors in education as we understand how today’s digital learners (many of whom are gamers) consume information and find solutions. We know gaming skills are helping build tomorrow’s cybersecurity experts, app developers, programmers, military strategists, surgeons, and leaders.

With the benefits understood, balance is the magic word when it comes to the healthy use of any technology we welcome into our homes.

Definition

The WHO’s official definition of “gaming disorder” includes:

  • A pattern of behavior for at least 12 months in which gaming is out of control.
  • The pattern of behavior must show an “increased priority given to gaming” to the point that gaming “takes precedence over other interests and daily activities.”
  • A “continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences,” or behavior that affects one’s relationships, education, or occupation.

So what can you do if you recognize even one of the warning signs above? Plenty. It’s never too late to make changes in your family. All you need is knowledge, action, and some mad follow-through skills.

5 Ways to Help Kids Balance Gaming

Set and enforce time limits. Start setting technology time limits when your kids are young. If your kids are older, don’t shy away from announcing new house rules starting today. Yes, kids may complain, but experts agree: Rules help kids feel loved and safe. Parental control software will help you set time limits on your child’s device usage and help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites. Another tip: Set a timer on your smartphone or go old school and crank up that kitchen timer. Take it from this regret-filled mom: Time limits will make every difference in helping kids find balance.

Be a role model. You can’t tell your kids they have to get off of Call of Duty then spend the next eight hours constructing high-scoring word combos on Words with Friends. Model smart tech use and moderation. Even place that kitchen timer next to you if you need it.

Roll up your sleeves — get gaming. Jump into the game with your kids so you can better understand the content, the community, and the messages coming into your home. Get a glimpse into the appeal of the game for your child and the skills needed to advance. Once you have this perspective, you will intuitively know how to monitor your child’s time on specific games. This is also a great opportunity to share your values on certain topics or narratives addressed in games.

Stay safe while gaming. Gaming’s purpose is fun, so it’s rare that a child or even a parent is focused too much on safety when kids log on to play. Still, there are safety risks. A recent McAfee survey found that parents are concerned with issues connected to gaming such as sexual predators, data risks, inappropriate content, and bullying, but few take steps to remedy those concerns. Several products such as McAfee Total Protection can help keep connected devices safe from malware and McAfee WebAdvisor can help you avoid dangerous websites and links.

Don’t overreact. It’s easy to fear what we don’t understand. True video game addiction is rare. The WHO’s new classification isn’t describing the average gamer who spends a few of hours a day gaming with friends. The designation targets serious gaming habits that destroy people’s lives such as neglecting hygiene and nutrition, rejecting loved ones, staying up all night, and losing jobs due to gaming. The more you understand about your child’s favorite games, the better parenting decisions you will be able to make.

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post Report: Gaming Addiction is a Real Thing. So What Can Parents Do Next? appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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What Parents Need to Know About the Popular App Mappen https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/what-parents-need-to-know-about-the-popular-app-mappen/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/what-parents-need-to-know-about-the-popular-app-mappen/#comments Sat, 30 Jun 2018 14:00:51 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90158 Kids love their apps but in their excitement to download the new ones, app safety often falls straight off their radar. One of those new, fun, not-so-safe apps is Mappen. Kids, pre-teens specifically, are jumping on Mappen to connect with friends nearby and, as the app’s tagline encourages, “Make Things Happen.” The location-based app allows […]

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Kids love their apps but in their excitement to download the new ones, app safety often falls straight off their radar. One of those new, fun, not-so-safe apps is Mappen.

Kids, pre-teens specifically, are jumping on Mappen to connect with friends nearby and, as the app’s tagline encourages, “Make Things Happen.” The location-based app allows friends to see each other’s location, what they are doing, and make it easy to meet up. Sounds like fun except for the fact that the app is brimming with potential security flaws.

How It Works

Anyone who downloads the Mappen app can send a friend request to anyone else and begin sharing his or her location (and data) immediately. While on Mappen, friends can share updates and photos much like any other social network. Personal data that can be shared: names, birthdates, location, likes, dislikes, photos, and friend lists.

Once a user installs the app (icon, right), he or she is asked to turn on location services that must remain on to share location, see others, and post content updates. The app also asks to access a user’s full contact list before it can be used.

The Risks

While many location-based apps exist now, Mappen specifically targets tweens. Mappen’s privacy policy states clearly that it collects and shares data, which presents a privacy risk to minors who use the app.

Likewise, the location requirement to use the app poses a safety risk. This feature means anyone on your child’s friend list can see your child’s location at any time. As your child’s Mappen circle grows, so too might the chance of your child sharing his or her location and personal information with an unsafe “friend.”

Tips to Help Boost App Safety

Stay connected with your kids. The greatest risk to your child’s online safety is a strained relationship. Every family dynamic and circumstance varies, but consider doing all you can to make your relationship with your child a priority. When communication and trust are strong with your child, you will better know what’s going on in his or her life, whom their friends are, and if there’s a situation in which they might need help.

Monitor apps! The best way to know which apps your kids use and how they use them is to routinely monitor their phones. How do you do this? You do this physically and with technology. About once a week, look at your child’s phone and laptop or tablet (preferably with your son or daughter next to you), look at the display screen, examine the app icons, and ask questions. If you don’t recognize an app, click it open, or ask questions. Also, if there’s an app icon you click that asks for a password, it may be a vault app that requires a few more clicks or a conversation. Another way to monitor apps is using technology such as filtering software that will help you filter and track the content that comes into your home via your child’s devices.

Do your research, stay aware. Stay on top of trends in apps by reading this and other technology or family blogs. New apps come out all the time, and word-of-mouth among teens quickly spreads. One of the best ways to keep your kids safe online is to understand where they connect online and what risks those digital spaces may present. Potential risks to be aware of that some apps may carry potential privacy infringements, cyberbullying, pornography, phishing scams, malware, predators, and sex-related crimes.

Turn off location. Mappen, as well as other apps such as Facebook, Kik, and Snapchat, access a user’s location while using the app and even when the app is not in use. To ensure your location isn’t shared randomly, turn off location when apps are not in use. Depending on the age of your child, you may consider not allowing the use of location-based apps at all.

Say NO to random friend requests. It’s easy for criminals to create a fake profile and gain access into your child’s life. An attractive peer from a nearby town who wants to “connect” may be a catfish using another person’s identity or a predator looking to groom a vulnerable tween or teen.

Guard your child’s privacy. When your child shares personal information through an unsafe app, it opens up them up, and it opens up your entire family to risk. Often kids get comfortable online and forget — or don’t fully understand — the problem with sharing personal details. Review the importance of keeping details such as full name, school, birthdates, address, personal photos, and other family information private.

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Summer Refresh: Take Time to Relax but Not on Password Security https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/summer-refresh-whats-keeping-you-from-updating-your-passwords/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/summer-refresh-whats-keeping-you-from-updating-your-passwords/#respond Sat, 23 Jun 2018 14:00:00 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90045 With summer comes permission to relax a little more, sun a little more, and fun a little more. But, as Newton’s Third Law reminds us, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Apply that principle to online safety and it might read like this: Each time you relax your family’s digital security a […]

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With summer comes permission to relax a little more, sun a little more, and fun a little more. But, as Newton’s Third Law reminds us, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Apply that principle to online safety and it might read like this: Each time you relax your family’s digital security a little, there’s a hacker nearby who will step up his or her schemes accordingly.

If your summer routine includes more traveling, online gaming, or time for social connecting, your first line of digital defense is strong, unhackable passwords.

Now is a great time to pump up those passwords to make sure your summer playlist streams seamlessly and summer goes off without a hitch. (Note: If you feel confident in your password strength, type your email address into the site ;– Have I been pwned? to see if your passwords have been compromised).

5 Tips to Pump Up Your Password Strength

  1. Think strength. It’s never too late to put serious thought into creating strong passwords. Begin today. Visualize your password as a superhero. Because of their strength, superheroes like Hulk, Thor, or Optimus Prime can handily protect the world. Strip them of their strength, and each warrior becomes an average Joe vulnerable to the elements of evil. Strength is inherent to password power. Infuse your password with superhero strength by including numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters, and symbols. The more complex your password is, the more difficult it will be for a crook to crack (it’s okay to add a personal touch to your password). A few examples of a secure password might be: myDogisCr@yCr@y!!, Ilov3Gummi3B3ars!! or $oundOfMu$ic_1965.
  2. Get a password manager. If you are driving yourself crazy trying to wrangle a million passwords, a password manager will do the remembering for you. A powerful password manager will:  Generate random passwords that are difficult to guess, require Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), auto-save and securely enter your passwords on frequented sites.
  3. Use unique passwords and MFA. If taken seriously, these two extra steps could save you a million headaches. 1) Use unique passwords for each of your accounts. By using different passwords, you avoid having all of your accounts become vulnerable if you are hacked (think domino effect). 2) MFA is Multi-Factor Authentication (also called two-step verification or authentication ). MFA confirms a user’s identityonly after presenting two or more pieces of evidence. Though not 100% secure, this practice adds a layer of security to an account.
  4. Pay attention and take action. It might be summer, but if you snooze, you will lose — privacy in this case. Be sure to pay attention to the news and know if a data breach affects your family. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC), the number of U.S. data breach incidents in2017 hit a new record high, rising a drastic 44.7 percent over 2016. Popular sites such as Facebook, Netflix, and Twitter have experienced breaches might easily have affected you or a member of your family.
  5. Connect carefully. So you’ve done everything you can to create strong passwords and that’s awesome! What you can’t control is how others protect your account data, which often includes passwords. Make sure that websites, platforms, and companies that have access to your sensitive information take security seriously and have privacy and security plans in place. Google the company before you establish an account to see if it has had a data breach.

What are the potential consequences of a weak password? A determined hacker can track a person’s online activity, identify and hack weak passwords then use those weak passwords to access banking information, credit card numbers, and personal data used to steal a person’s identity. Remember: Just as you go to work each morning to put food on the table for your family, a hacker has similar goals. So, work with equal diligence to protect what’s yours.

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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Vacation Checklist: 5 Easy Ways to Help Secure Your Family’s Devices When Traveling https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/vacation-checklist-5-easy-ways-to-help-secure-your-familys-devices-when-traveling/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/vacation-checklist-5-easy-ways-to-help-secure-your-familys-devices-when-traveling/#respond Sat, 16 Jun 2018 13:21:02 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=89612 With this writing, we’re joyfully en route to a much-anticipated Florida vacation. A sneak peek into our car — and the thousands of other cars headed south on Interstate 4 — offers a reflection of family life today. Mom has her earbuds on and is listening to her newest audiobook, Dad is nodding along with […]

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With this writing, we’re joyfully en route to a much-anticipated Florida vacation. A sneak peek into our car — and the thousands of other cars headed south on Interstate 4 — offers a reflection of family life today. Mom has her earbuds on and is listening to her newest audiobook, Dad is nodding along with his favorite podcaster over the car stereo, and the teenager in the back seat is making faces into her phone for her Snapchat pals.

Can we get through this vacation without our faces planted in our phones? Can we find ways to unplug more and plug into the moment? That’s certainly our plan. However, each one of us will have to rely on his or her tech from time to time. Frankly, who doesn’t these days?

Our Tech Reality

It’s nearly impossible to vacation minus our electronics, but we’ve agreed to unplug for several reasons. The first reason, of course, is the goal of being present and enjoying our time together. The second reason we want to limit our tech use while traveling is safety. Nothing has the power to obliterate a family vacation faster than stolen data, credit card info, or devices.

5 tips for a more secure family vacation

  1. Keep devices protected and close. Device theft season is upon us. And, distracted vacationers are the perfect target. So, make sure your smartphone is password protected, security settings are tuned up, and screen lock is on. Keep your phones, tablets, laptops, and handheld gaming devices on your person or locked in a hotel safe when you are away. And, leave at home any electronic equipment you don’t need during your trip.
  2. Turn on Find My Phone. This is a bigger deal than you might guess. No one plans on losing a phone, but hey, it happens. Have the “don’t lose your phone” conversation with your kids several times but back that up by having everyone in the family turn on his or her lost phone app just in case. Consider an extra layer of protection on mobile devices with mobile security software.
  3. Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi. If you need to send an email, photos, or preserve your family’s data plan by jumping on the hotel’s public Wi-Fi while on vacation, make sure that Wi-Fi is secure and attached to a trusted source. Ask for the establishment’s Wi-Fi and log on to that exact name. Hackers can easily create fake hotspots (called faux towers) with similar names. Also, if you aren’t actively using a hotspot, turn off your Wi-Fi setting as well as “auto-join” setting so that your device is not visible to others. Consider shutting off your Bluetooth setting as well. To be extra sure of security, two tips from the Federal Communications Commission: While using a public Wi-Fi network, periodically adjust your phone settings to forget the network, then log back in again. And, if you want to asses the network’s security, try purposely logging onto the public Wi-Fi using the wrong password. If you can get on anyway, that’s a sign that the network is not secure. The best way to stay safe while traveling may be a Virtual Private Network or VPN. According to one McAfee study, when it comes to Wi-Fi security specifically, 58% of survey respondents know how to check if a Wi-Fi network is secure and safe to use, but less than half (49%) take the time to ensure their connection is secured. Be aware and don’t be in that latter percent.
  4. Keep software updated. Before you travel, check for any software updates on your devices. Updates often fix security bugs and seal up cracks in the system. Add another layer of protection by safeguarding your devices with security software.
  5. Avoid accessing financial data. It’s a good idea to get your banking in order before you leave for vacation. Trying to move funds from one account to another or even check your balance can open you up to hackers if you have to do so on a public network.One of the most significant ways you can secure your family vacation is adopting a mindset of awareness. We get excited while on vacation. We want to send those pictures, transfer that money, or get that email out of the way. Very few of us — especially our kids — are concerned about cyber crooks and thieves trying to ransack our well-laid vacation plans. With a few extra minutes invested into your travel plans, you can thoroughly enjoy your family time.

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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#CyberAware: 4 Actionable Steps to Boost Your Family’s Safety Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/cyberaware-4-actionable-steps-to-boost-your-familys-safety-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/cyberaware-4-actionable-steps-to-boost-your-familys-safety-online/#respond Sat, 09 Jun 2018 15:05:33 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=89355 Summer has officially rolled out its welcome mat. But as most parents might be thinking about slowing down, for most kids, summer is when digital device use goes into overdrive. That’s why June — which also happens to be Internet Safety Month — is a perfect time strengthen your family’s digital readiness. Good news: This […]

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Summer has officially rolled out its welcome mat. But as most parents might be thinking about slowing down, for most kids, summer is when digital device use goes into overdrive. That’s why June — which also happens to be Internet Safety Month — is a perfect time strengthen your family’s digital readiness.

Good news: This digital safety skills booster is quick and actionable. And who knows — if a few of these tips boost your family’s safety, you may have just saved summer for everyone!

4 Ways to Boost Family Safety Online 

Practice safe social. Challenge your family to reign in its social footprint by taking these specific actions: 1) Adjust privacy settings on all social networks. 2) Trim friend and follower lists. 3) Delete any personal data on social profiles such as birthdate, address, or school affiliation. 4) Edit, limit app permissions. As we’ve just seen in the headlines, the misuse of personal data is a very big deal. 5) Share with care. Routinely scrolling, liking, and commenting on social sites such as Snapchat and Instagram can give kids a false sense of security (and power). Remind tweens and teens to share responsibly. Oversharing can damage a reputation and words or images shared callously can damage other people.

Practice safe gaming. Summertime is a gamer’s heaven. Endless battles and showdowns await the dedicated. However, some digital pitfalls can quickly douse the fun. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance’s gaming tip sheet, safe gaming includes: updating gaming software, protecting devices from malware, protecting your child’s personal data, using voice chat safely, and paying close attention to content ratings.

Practice strong security. There are some steps only a parent can take to safeguard the family online. 1) Parental controls. Filtering software blocks inappropriate websites and apps as well as establishes boundaries for family tech use. 2) Comprehensive security software helps protect your PCs, tablets, and devices from viruses, malware, and identity theft. 3) Keeping your guard up. According to McAfee’s Gary Davis staying safe online also includes digital habits such as using strong passwords, boosting your network security and firewall, and being aware of the latest scams that target consumers.

Practice wise parenting. 1) Know where kids go. Know which apps your kids love and why, how they interact with others online, and how much time they spend online. 2) Unplug. Establish tech-free family activities this summer. Powering off and plugging into quality time is the most powerful way to keep your family safe online. Strong relationship empowers responsibility. 3) Be confident. As parenting expert, Dr. Meg Meeker says, parents should be parenting from a place of confidence, rather than from a place of fear. “The temptation for parents is to think that they have no control over what their child does online. This isn’t true,” says Meeker. “Parents, you are in control of your child’s technology use; it is not in control of you.”

toni page birdsong

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post #CyberAware: 4 Actionable Steps to Boost Your Family’s Safety Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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High-Tech & Hackable: How to Safeguard Your Smart Baby Devices https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/high-tech-hackable-how-to-safeguard-your-smart-baby-devices/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/high-tech-hackable-how-to-safeguard-your-smart-baby-devices/#respond Sat, 02 Jun 2018 14:00:32 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=89098 It’s just about as creepy as it gets: A hacker breaking into a smart device in your baby’s nursery. The Internet of Things (IoT) has wrapped our homes technology, which means any piece of technology you own — be it a smartphone, a thermostat, or even a baby toy or monitor — is fair game […]

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It’s just about as creepy as it gets: A hacker breaking into a smart device in your baby’s nursery. The Internet of Things (IoT) has wrapped our homes technology, which means any piece of technology you own — be it a smartphone, a thermostat, or even a baby toy or monitor — is fair game for hackers.

High tech products geared toward parents of newborns and kids are on the rise. Reports show that new parents are fueling this industry and purchasing everything from smart diapers, onesies, baby monitors, digital bassinets, soothers, high-tech swings, breathing monitors, play pads, and a string of smart toys. Parents purchasing baby tech and digital toys are counting on fresh tech ideas and products to increase efficiency and maintain a constant connection to their kids.

But these seemingly efficient products, some argue, could be increasing parent’s stress in some cases. Are these tech products, which are also highly hackable, worth the risk and worry?

The Pros

Peace of mind, safety. Smart baby devices give anxious parents added peace of mind when it comes to worries. Who doesn’t want to see their sweet baby deep in sleep and go to bed without worry? Given a chance, many parents welcome the opportunity to know their baby’s temperature, oxygen levels, heartbeat, and breathing are on track.

Remote monitoring, convenience. When you can be downstairs or working in the yard, or in your home gym, and still check on a sleeping baby, that’s an incredible convenience that many parents welcome as a productivity booster.

Learning and development. Many parents purchase smart devices for kids in an effort to help them stay on track developmentally and ensure they are prepared for the tech-driven world they are heading into.

The Cons

Hackable. Any device that is web-enabled or can connect to the cloud has the potential to be hacked, which can create a whole new set of issues for a family. If you are getting sleeping, breathing, and health data on your child, anyone else could be getting that same information.

False readings. Baby technology, as useful as it appears, can also have glitches that medical professionals argue can be more harmful than helpful. Can you imagine waking up at 2 a.m. to a monitor alarm that falsely says your baby isn’t breathing?

Complex, pricey. Some of the products can be complicated to program and set up and pricey to purchase or replace.

So why would a hacker even want to break into a baby monitor, you may ask? For some hackers, the motive is simply because they can. Being able to intercept data, crash a device, or prove his or her digital know-how is part of a hacker’s reward system. For others, the motives for stalking your family’s activities or talking to kids in the middle of the night can prove to be a far more nefarious activity.

Tips to safeguard baby tech:

Think before you purchase. According to the tech pros, think before buying baby tech and evaluate each item’s usefulness. Ask yourself: Do I need this piece of technology? Will this product potentially decrease or increase my stress? If a product connects to the wi-fi or the cloud, weight its convenience against any risk to your family’s data.

Change default passwords. Many products come with easy-to-guess default passwords that many consumers don’t take the time to change. This habit makes it easy for hackers to break in. Hackers can also gain access to entire wifi networks just by retrieving the password stored on one device. (Sometimes all a hacker does is google a specific brand to find the product’s password — yes, it’s as easy as that!)

Buy from known brands. Buy from reputable manufacturers and vendors. Google to see if that company’s products have ever been digitally compromised. And although it’s tempting to get your device used to save a little money, second-hand technology might have malware installed on it so beware.

Update software, use strong passwords. If there’s a software update alert connected to your baby tech, take the time to update immediately and be sure to choosing a password with a minimum of 16 characters and not using the same password for more than one device.

Turn off. When your devices are not on, there’s no vulnerability so, even with all the safeguards, remember to turn off devices not in use for that last layer of protection.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post High-Tech & Hackable: How to Safeguard Your Smart Baby Devices appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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3 Ways to Strengthen Your Family Bond this Summer (Without Ditching Your Devices) https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/3-ways-to-strengthen-your-family-bond-this-summer-without-ditching-your-devices/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/3-ways-to-strengthen-your-family-bond-this-summer-without-ditching-your-devices/#respond Sat, 26 May 2018 14:00:31 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=89039 My parents recently went through a health crisis that required me to travel to be with them for several weeks. During that time, I started using FaceTime on my iPhone to daily connect with my teenage daughter back home. Until this life event, I wasn’t one to video chat. However, the live video technology of […]

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My parents recently went through a health crisis that required me to travel to be with them for several weeks. During that time, I started using FaceTime on my iPhone to daily connect with my teenage daughter back home. Until this life event, I wasn’t one to video chat. However, the live video technology of FaceTime bridged the miles between us in a way texting, calling, or social media scrolling simply couldn’t. Happily, the grandparents kept the habit up, and now FaceTime has become a powerful daily connection tool for our family that lives 2,000 miles apart. In fact, FaceTime has replaced Facebook and texting as our preferred check-in tools.

Small Shifts, Big Power

This small but powerful shift got me thinking.

How many other digital tools do I have at my disposal that could actually strengthen rather than chip at our family bond? With a child now headed off to college in just weeks, the goal this summer is to spend more quality time with her while exploring digital ways to keep our connection strong once she moves to campus.

My views on technology use in the family have changed significantly over the years. Like many parents who contribute to the conversation in this space, I have gradually shifted my parenting approach from one of anxiety and monitoring to equipping and balance. The change has been cultural as well as practical; the older my children became, and the more filtering tools evolved, so too, did my view of technology within our family.

Even so, the storm clouds loom. I’m reminded daily that unless we intentionally seek and strike a balance in our collective tech use, our family relationships could easily (and irreversibly) go by the wayside. So how do we make a dent in this effort to stay connected — not just in theory — but a real dent? How do we find that elusive balance that preserves, protects, and nurtures family relationships and at the same time keep step with the professional and cultural demands technology puts on each one of us?

We do it (I’ve humbly resolved) with much intention. And, we do it with reality and balance at the helm of our efforts. Spending more quality time together — as FaceTime taught me — isn’t necessarily void of devices. Here are just a few ideas our family hopes to implement this summer you might find useful as well.

Three ways to boost the family bond

  1. Discuss your summer goals together. Unless you parent kids 13 and under, the days of handing down technology mandates are over. Devices are now too ingrained in our educational system and in the social fiber of older kids to attempt issuing no-tech edicts. This reality makes any effort to build stronger family relationships a genuine team effort. So, let’s get talking! Summer goes quickly, so ask your kids what they’d like to achieve this summer as a family. Is it more camping trips? A beach adventure? Family movie nights? More family dinners? Whatever picture emerges, follow up with, “How do we achieve that goal?” Get out a calendar and put your goals in ink! As Antoine de Saint-Exupery has said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Put the power in your kids’ hands, so everyone shares the path to achieving the goal.
  2.  Set ground rules to protect family time. We don’t have to banish technology to boost our family bond. We can, however, agree on standards that everyone can happily buy into. Setting summer ground rules depends on your summer goals, the age of your kids, and your family dynamic. Here are some basics to get you thinking: 1) No devices at the dinner table, restaurants, or during short drives. These times are set aside for one-on-one conversations. 2) Put your phone away when a family member enters the room. Prioritize the living, breathing person in front of you ahead of the ding on your phone. 3) No devices during movie nights, beach days, hikes, or any other official family event.
  3. Try new technologies. Finding common ground between family members is one sure-fire way to strengthen a bond. Can we admit that sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know? What is your son or daughter’s favorite video game? What exactly do they enjoy about it? To figure this out, try it for yourself. Join them (even try to beat them) on that digital battlefield. What’s the big deal about all those funny Snapchat filters? Open an account and find out; it’s easy. Explore apps specifically designed to build personal connections. There are chat, photo, location, family journaling apps, family tree, and online games such as Words with Friends and Trivia to play together. And remember: When exploring new apps, make sure you have both your security software and privacy settings fired up on all devices.

Technology isn’t winning and the family isn’t losing. The world is just changing and as parents, we can find creative, strategic ways to change with it. By working with and not against your family’s love of devices this summer, it may just be possible to hit a stride that works for everyone. With some open discussion and small shifts, you too might find surprising new ways to connect hearts and adventure together.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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Study: Digital Self-Harm Among Teens Real; Here’s What Parents Need to Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/study-digital-self-harm-among-teens-real-heres-what-parents-need-to-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/study-digital-self-harm-among-teens-real-heres-what-parents-need-to-know/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 14:55:58 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=88625 When we think of self-harm, most of us think about rituals such as cutting in which a person may physically cut themselves in an attempt to deal with overwhelming emotions. Very few of us, especially parents, think about self-harm manifesting itself in the digital realm. However, according to a new study published in the Journal of […]

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digital self-harmWhen we think of self-harm, most of us think about rituals such as cutting in which a person may physically cut themselves in an attempt to deal with overwhelming emotions. Very few of us, especially parents, think about self-harm manifesting itself in the digital realm. However, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, digital self-harm is “a new problem” that demands attention.

What is Digital Self-Harm?

Digital self-harm as defined by the Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC) is the “anonymous online posting, sending, or otherwise sharing of hurtful content about oneself.” A child engages in digital self-harm by creating a fake account that he or she then uses to post mean comments to his or her real social account — comments visible to the public. An example of digital self-harm might be a child posting anonymous comments to oneself such as: “You are a waste of space. Why don’t you just die?” or “You are so ugly, why do you keep posting pictures of yourself?”

Digital self-harm, more simply put, is self-cyberbullying. Digital self-harm has allegedly been linked to two high-profile bullying cases that ended in the self-bullying teens committing suicide. According to the study, 6% of teens surveyed admitted to digital self-harm and males were significantly more likely to take part in digital self-harm (7.1% compared to 5.3%).

Possible Motivations

The CRC study suggested that some kids (in their own words) engaged in digital self-harm to be funny, get attention, or because they had low self-esteem, self-hate or hoped to get a reaction from friends. In a recent NPR story, psychologists nodded to the motivation behind self-harm as the need for others to worry about them, to prove how tough they were, or to get an adult’s or their peers’ attention. One student cited in the NPR story said she posted bullying comments to herself as a way to “beat others to the punch,” in potentially rejecting her. Whatever the reasons for posting self-harming statements or threats, doing so rings an alarm for parents, educators, counselors, and law enforcement.

According to Cyberbullying Research Center’s study authors Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin, study takeaways include the fact that 1) Parents shouldn’t ignore the possibility that a hurtful message received online by their child was sent by their child. 2) Educators, law enforcement officers, or others charged with investigating cyberbullying incidents should remain open to the possibility of digital self-harm, and conduct a thorough examination of all available evidence to get to the bottom of the incident. 3) Any time a student experiences cyberbullying, there is a problem that needs to be resolved. Even if—no, especially if—the sender and receiver are the same person.

What Parents Can Do

Monitor social media. Self-harm — digital or otherwise — is serious. Whatever the motivation behind the act may be, digital self-harm highlights a deeper hurt that’s manifesting publically that needs immediate attention. One way parents can know if their child is self-harming is to monitor social media paying close attention to the tone of the social interactions. Go a step further than reading your child’s posts. Look at the comments closely. If there’s a negative or threatening comment, examine the attached account. Is it a real account? Ask your child about the person who posted the comments. Using a filtering tool to consistently know what apps your child uses may help you monitor more consistently and thoroughly.

Avoid judgment. The reasons why a child may engage in digital self-harm can vary from serious emotional issues to a passing curiosity. If you find your child is digitally self-harming, avoid being judgmental. It’s tempting to panic and respond by shutting down all your child’s social media, but don’t. Talk the issue through and try to get to the reasons behind the action. Validate your child’s emotions without diminishing them. You don’t have to agree with the way your child expresses his or her feelings, however, validation shows support and helps your child feel heard and understood. Assess the seriousness of the situation and, if necessary, promptly, get professional help from a counselor or therapist.

Listen, observe. Listening is perhaps one of the most underutilized connection tools a parent possesses. We can gather much about our child’s emotional and social health by listening more we talk in a conversation. Pay attention to body language and tone. Understand the signs of depression or emotional distress in your teen. According to HelpGuide.org, signs of depression in teens can include sadness or hopelessness, irritability/anger, tearfulness, isolation, loss of interest in schoolwork or friends, lack of motivation, changes in eating or sleeping, abnormal fatigue or complaints of body aches, thoughts or jokes about death or suicide. If you suspect that a teenager is suicidal, take immediate action. For 24-hour suicide prevention and support in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post Study: Digital Self-Harm Among Teens Real; Here’s What Parents Need to Know appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Trivia Time: Test Your Family’s Password Safety Knowledge https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/trivia-time-test-your-familys-password-safety-knowledge/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/trivia-time-test-your-familys-password-safety-knowledge/#respond Sat, 05 May 2018 14:00:54 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=88660 Passwords have become critical tools for every citizen of the digital world. Passwords stand between your family’s gold mine of personal data and the entirety of the internet. While most of us have a love-hate relationship with passwords, it’s beneficial to remember they do serve a powerful purpose when created and treated with intention. But […]

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Strong PasswordPasswords have become critical tools for every citizen of the digital world. Passwords stand between your family’s gold mine of personal data and the entirety of the internet. While most of us have a love-hate relationship with passwords, it’s beneficial to remember they do serve a powerful purpose when created and treated with intention.

But asking your kids to up their password game is like asking them to recite the state capitals — booooring! So, during this first week of May as we celebrate World Password Day, add a dash of fun to the mix. Encourage your family to test their knowledge with some Cybersavvy Trivia.

Want to find out what kind of password would take two centuries to crack? Or, discover the #1 trick thieves use to crack your password? Then take the quiz and see which family member genuinely knows how to create an awesome password.

We’ve come a long way in our understanding of what makes a strong password and the many ways nefarious strangers crack our most brilliant ones. We know that unique passwords are the hardest to crack, but we also know that human nature means we lean toward creating passwords that are also easy to remember. So striking a balance between strong and memorable may be the most prudent challenge to issue to your family this year.

Several foundational principles remain when it comes to creating strong passwords. Share them with your family and friends and take some of the worries out of password strength once and for all.

5 Password Power Principles

  1. Unique = power. A strong password includes numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters, and symbols. The more complicated your password is, the more difficult it will be to crack. Another option is a password that is a Strong Passwordpassphrase only you could know. For instance, look across the room and what do you see? I can see my dog. Only I know her personality; her likes and dislikes. So, a possible password for me might be #BaconDoodle$. You can even throw in a misspelling of your password to increase its strength such as Passwurd4Life. Just be sure to remember your intentional typos if you choose this option.
  2. Diverse = power. Mixing up your passwords for different websites, apps, and accounts can be a hassle to remember but it’s necessary for online security. Try to use different passwords for online accounts so that if one account is compromised, several accounts aren’t put in jeopardy.
  3. Password manager = power. Working in conjunction with our #2 tip, forget about remembering every password for every account. Let a password manager do the hard work for you. A password manager is a tech tool for generating and storing passwords, so you don’t have to. It will also auto-log you onto frequently visited sites.
  4. Private = power. The strongest password is the one that’s kept private. Kids especially like to share passwords as a sign of loyalty between friends. They also share passwords to allow friends to take over their Snapchat streaks if they can’t log on each day. This is an unwise practice that can easily backfire. The most Strong Passwordpowerful password is the one that is kept private.
  5. 2-step verification = power. Use multi-factor (two-step) authentication whenever possible. Multiple login steps can make a huge difference in securing important online accounts. Sometimes the steps can be a password plus a text confirmation or a PIN plus a fingerprint. These steps help keep the bad guys out even if they happen to gain access to your password.

It’s a lot to manage, this digital life but once you’ve got the safety basics down, you can enjoy all the benefits of online life without the worry of your information getting into the wrong hands. So have a fun and stay informed knowing you’ve equipped your family to live their safest online life!

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Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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Does Your Family Need a VPN? Here are 3 Reasons it May Be Time https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/virtual-private-network/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/virtual-private-network/#respond Sat, 28 Apr 2018 14:30:24 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=88628 At one time Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) used to be tools exclusive to corporations and techie friends who appeared overly zealous about masking their online activity. However, with data breaches and privacy concerns at an all-time high, VPNs are becoming powerful security tools for anyone who uses digital devices. What’s a VPN? A VPN allows […]

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At one time Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) used to be tools exclusive to corporations and techie friends who appeared overly zealous about masking their online activity. However, with data breaches and privacy concerns at an all-time high, VPNs are becoming powerful security tools for anyone who uses digital devices.

What’s a VPN?

A VPN allows users to securely access a private network and share data remotely through public networks. Much like a firewall protects the data on your computer, a VPN protects your activity by encrypting (or scrambling) your data when you connect to the internet from a remote or public location. A VPN allows you to hide your location, IP address, and online activity.

For instance, if you need to send a last-minute tax addendum to your accountant or a legal contract to your office but must use the airport’s public Wi-Fi, a VPN would protect — or create a secure tunnel in which that data can travel —while you are connected to the open network. Or, if your child wants to watch a YouTube or streaming video while on vacation and only has access to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, a VPN would encrypt your child’s data and allow a more secure internet connection. Without a VPN, any online activity — including gaming, social networking, and email — is fair game for hackers since public Wi-Fi lacks encryption.

Why VPNs matter

  • Your family is constantly on the go. If you find yourself conducting a lot of business on your laptop or mobile device, a VPN could be an option for you. Likewise, if you have a high school or college-aged child who likes to take his or her laptop to the library or coffee shop to work, a VPN would protect data sent or received from that location. Enjoy shopping online whenever you feel the urge? A VPN also has the ability to mask your physical location, banking account credentials, and credit card information. If your family shares a data plan like most, connecting to public Wi-Fi has become a data/money-saving habit. However, it’s a habit that puts you at risk of nefarious people eavesdropping, stealing personal information, and even infecting your device. Putting a VPN in place, via a subscription service, could help curb this risk. In addition, a VPN can encrypt conversations via texting apps and help keep private chats and content private.
  • You enjoy connected vacations/travel. It’s a great idea to unplug on vacation but let’s be honest, it’s also fun to watch movies, check in with friends via social media or email, and send Grandma a few pictures. Service to some of your favorite online streaming sites can be interrupted when traveling abroad. A VPN allows you to connect to a proxy server that will access online sites on your behalf and allow a secure and easier connection most anywhere you go.
  • Your family’s data is a big deal. Protecting personal information is a hot topic these days and for good reason. Most everything we do online is being tracked by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ISPs track us by our individual Internet Protocol (IP) addresses generated by each device that connects to a network. Much like an identification number, each digital device has an IP address which allows it to communicate within the network. A VPN routes your online activity through different IP addresses allowing you remain anonymous. A favorite entry point hackers use to eavesdrop on your online activity is public Wi-Fi and unsecured networks. In addition to potentially stealing your private information, hackers can also use public Wi-Fi to distribute malware. Using a VPN cuts cyber crooks off from their favorite watering hole — public Wi-Fi!

As you can see VPNs can give you an extra layer of protection as you surf, share, access, and receive content online. If you look for a VPN product to install on your devices, make sure it’s a product that is trustworthy and easy to use, such as McAfee’s Safe Connect. A robust VPN product will provide bank-grade encryption to ensure your digital data is safe from prying eyes.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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You vs. the Internet: 5 Hands-On Ways to Begin Safeguarding Your Family’s Privacy https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/you-vs-the-internet-5-hands-on-ways-to-safeguard-your-familys-privacy-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/you-vs-the-internet-5-hands-on-ways-to-safeguard-your-familys-privacy-online/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:59:08 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=88480 Data mining. Privacy breaches. Malicious third parties. Do you ever feel like these scary sounding, albeit significant, concerns got left at the curb somewhere between carpool duty, doctor appointments, and trying to hit two softball games and a track meet in the same day? You are far from alone. If asked, most of us would […]

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Data mining. Privacy breaches. Malicious third parties. Do you ever feel like these scary sounding, albeit significant, concerns got left at the curb somewhere between carpool duty, doctor appointments, and trying to hit two softball games and a track meet in the same day?

You are far from alone. If asked, most of us would confess: Our digital safety habits aren’t keeping up with the wild pace of technology. We understand the risks to our privacy online, but few of us have the time to protect it.

Have you given up? Perhaps you believe the internet is winning and that personal privacy is an outdated, even naïve, expectation online.

That sentiment is true but only to a small extent. Here’s what’s truer: With intention, a small chunk of time — and enlisting the whole family — you can begin to rewrite your privacy future.

You can take steps toward managing (and enjoying) your technology like a boss. Here’s how to get the whole crew on board for a family-wide privacy update.

5 Hands-On Ways to Begin Safeguarding Your Family’s Online Data

  1. Call a family huddle. Change takes action. A successful family-wide privacy update will require, well, the whole family. Call a family huddle. Ask each family member to inventory all devices including phones, tablets, PCs, toys, televisions, gaming systems. This list represents vulnerabilities or points of entry. Assign responsibility to each device. Just as you’d lock windows and doors, commit to securing down digital doorways. Huddle goals: Make privacy a family priority, discuss the online risks, challenge your digital-loving pack to higher digital standards, set up a reward system for keeping family devices safe. Remember: Technology is a privilege, not a right (no matter how culture positions it to the contrary).
  2. Upgrade privacy settings on social platforms. Any social platform — be it Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or others — requires attention when it comes to protecting personal data. Go through each app and update your privacy settings. Educate yourself on what data you are sharing and with whom. Look closely at the information you’ve willingly shared, and make adjustments from there. For kids: Wipe social profiles clean of any personal information such as school name, age, address, phone number, email, location, and any other personal content.
  3. Scrub apps, update software, add security. Technology brings with it oodles of convenience. However, as with an automobile, our tech also needs maintenance to be enjoyed responsibly. Smartphones, tablets, televisions, and PCs require regular cleaning and updating. As a family, commit to making these changes. 1) Delete unused apps 2) Select “auto update” for software on both your mobile devices and computers 3) Install (and update) robust security software that protects devices against viruses, hackers, and spyware. Useful security software should also filter offensive content, pictures, and websites.
  4. Create strong, unique passphrases. As part of your family’s overall security update, make sure to create strong passwords for family devices. What’s a strong password? According to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), think in terms of a passphrase rather than a password. Passphrases should be simple, long and memorable. They should contain lowercase letters and word associations only you would know. For instance: cottoncandyskies, burntsmoresinsummer, or poetrypinkpasta.Make sure everyone from the eight-year-old to the 18-year-old understands why it’s important to use strong, unique passphrases. To reinforce this, consider a reward for family members who stay on top of their digital housekeeping.
  5. Follow-through, follow-through, follow-through! The only plan of any value is the one that is executed. So much of parenting is spent communicating goals, but effective parenting happens in following through with those goals. Be a firm, focused digital parent. Don’t just communicate the digital risks; follow through to make sure your child makes the hands-on changes listed here to protect their online data. Sit down, watch them do it. Review devices and settings. Discuss and physically check off privacy basics which include: 1) Updating privacy settings on devices and social networks 2) Use strong passphrases 3) Not sharing personal information online 4) Deleting unused apps and auto-updating software 5) Making digital privacy a personal priority.

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Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

The post You vs. the Internet: 5 Hands-On Ways to Begin Safeguarding Your Family’s Privacy appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Group Chat Etiquette: 10 Tips to Help Your Family Navigate the Digital Chatter https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/group-chat-etiquette-10-tips-help-family-navigate-digital-chatter/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/group-chat-etiquette-10-tips-help-family-navigate-digital-chatter/#respond Sat, 07 Apr 2018 14:00:25 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=88278 Technology is touching and transforming nearly every area of our lives, especially our relationships. The group chat, for instance, is replacing face-to-face conversations. With that digital shift, comes unspoken etiquette, safety considerations, and a level of responsibility that can easily get lost in the chatter. Group chats are efficient and fun. But whether you use […]

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Technology is touching and transforming nearly every area of our lives, especially our relationships. The group chat, for instance, is replacing face-to-face conversations. With that digital shift, comes unspoken etiquette, safety considerations, and a level of responsibility that can easily get lost in the chatter.

Group chats are efficient and fun. But whether you use SMS or group chat apps such as What’s App, GroupMe, Messenger, or others, chances are you (or your kids) have had at least one texting mishap along the way.

Who among us hasn’t messaged the wrong person, responded impulsively or been misunderstood via text? In a group chat, that blunder is multiplied. So here’s a quick primer on how to navigate the dos and don’ts of the all-powerful group chat. Use them yourself and share them with your kids.

10 Ways to Tame the Digital Chatter in Your Life

  1. Be discerning. It’s easy to believe that a group text will be kept private between members. However, anything shared in a digital space can be made public at any time. Share appropriate content. If wouldn’t want the information shared publically, don’t share it in a group chat.
  2. Input = interest. If you’ve been added to a group text, be sure to chime in from time to time. Staying silent can be taken as disinterest or ignoring others. If you don’t have time to keep up with the flow of information but value the relationships, check in once in a while with a text saying, “I haven’t had time to keep up, but here’s my input . . . ” Likewise, answering with one-word texts can also be considered rude in a group chat. Rather than a curt “k” or “yup,” take the time to add a few more words such as “sounds like a good idea,” or “yes, I’ll be there. I can’t wait.” Because so much emotion gets lost in the digital banter, by taking the time to add a few extra words or even sentences, you immediately can help clarify communication and strengthen relationships.
  3. Review before sending. This is a biggie. A group chat can feel comfortable quickly. However, don’t become hasty or too casual with your comments. Be sure to read — and review — your replies before hitting send. An ambiguous sentence can easily be misconstrued or offend several people at once if you don’t stop and take time to properly communicate.
  4. Mute rather than leave. If a group chat is interrupting your work or becomes bothersome, rather than leave the group, which could be considered rude, mute the conversation. If you don’t think you belong in the group or were mistakenly added, privately text the person who originated the group and ask him or her to remove you.
  5. Stay relevant. A group chat assumes all parties will be responsible to the purpose of the group. If the group was established as confidential, maintain that bond. If the chat originated around a school event or business-related topic, make sure the content you share stays relevant to that group. Uploading random memes, inside jokes, or starting arbitrary conversations between individual members is disrespectful to the group. Direct message individuals if you have a separate question, topic, or concern you’d like to discuss outside of the group chat.
  6. No text bombing. Think before you text in a group message. Condense and organize your thoughts rather than sending multiple texts consecutively, otherwise known as text bombing. No one likes ten consecutive text alerts on their phone when just one would suffice.
  7. Minimize conflict. It’s easy for misunderstandings to arise in a group chat. A casual comment can be misread (and confusion multiplied) as texts fly back and forth between members. The best way to minimize conflict is to 1) Carefully read, correct, and clarify comments before posting. 2) If you suspect friction, address it immediately with the group or individually in a direct message if it’s with one person. 3) Check in with quiet members. Feelings of exclusion or paranoia can perpetuate in a group chat among friends. Take the time to check in with a personal text or a phone call if you suspect a fracture in the group.
  8. Keep up with context. If you don’t understand a comment or a question, don’t randomly ask the group for a recap or add a “what?” or “huh?” Instead, take the time to scroll up to get the details and context you need to comment.
  9. Be smart, stay safe. If you are put in a group text and don’t personally know all the people in the group, be sure to never give out personal or confidential information such as your full name, home address, phone number, social security number, passwords, names of family members, or credit card numbers. Dishonest individuals can show up anywhere and exploit any digital relationship.
  10. Show respect, compassion, and kindness. Sometimes a social, cultural, or political climate can spill over into a group chat. Conversations can go from fun to emotionally charged instantly. While you can’t control the crowd, you can control yourself. Take a step back and carefully weigh comments. Even in the midst of disagreeing, show respect, compassion, and kindness.

Remember, balance is everything. If multiple group chats are taking up too much of your energy, emotion, and time, it may be time for a group chat detox. Digital relationships may seem more efficient, but in reality, they can be emotionally draining you. Texting will never equal the value of face-to-face time with friends. Using technology wisely and teaching your children to do the same is essential to living a healthy, balanced digital life.

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Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

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Don’t Get Duped: How to Spot 2018’s Top Tax Scams https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/dont-get-duped-how-to-spot-2018s-top-tax-scams/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/dont-get-duped-how-to-spot-2018s-top-tax-scams/#respond Sat, 24 Mar 2018 14:00:01 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=87612 It’s the most vulnerable time of the year. Tax time is when cyber criminals pull out their best scams and manage to swindle consumers — smart consumers — out of millions of dollars. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), crooks are getting creative and putting new twists on old scams using email, phishing and malware, […]

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It’s the most vulnerable time of the year. Tax time is when cyber criminals pull out their best scams and manage to swindle consumers — smart consumers — out of millions of dollars.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), crooks are getting creative and putting new twists on old scams using email, phishing and malware, threatening phone calls, and various forms of identity theft to gain access to your hard earned tax refund.

While some of these scams are harder to spot than others, almost all of them can be avoided by understanding the covert routes crooks take to access your family’s data and financial accounts.

According to the IRS, the con games around tax time regularly change. Here are just a few of the recent scams to be aware of:

Erroneous refunds

According to the IRS, schemes are getting more sophisticated. By stealing client data from legitimate tax professionals or buying social security numbers on the black market, a criminal can file a fraudulent tax return. Once the IRS deposits the tax refund into the taxpayer’s account, crooks then use various tactics (phone or email requests) to reclaim the refund from the taxpayer. Multiple versions of this sophisticated scam continue to evolve. If you see suspicious funds in your account or receive a refund check you know is not yours, alert your tax preparer, your bank, and the IRS. To return erroneous refunds, take these steps outlined by the IRS.

Phone scams

If someone calls you claiming to be from the IRS demanding a past due payment in the form of a wire transfer or money order, hang up. Imposters have been known to get aggressive and will even threaten to deport, arrest, or revoke your license if you do not pay the alleged outstanding tax bill.

In a similar scam, thieves call potential victims posing as IRS representatives and tell potential victims that two certified letters were previously sent and returned as undeliverable. The callers then threaten to arrest if a payment the victim does not immediately pay through a prepaid debit card. The scammer also tells the victim that the purchase of the card is linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) system.

Note: The IRS will never initiate an official tax dispute via phone. If you receive such a call, hang up and report the call to the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Robo calls

Baiting you with fear, scammers may also leave urgent “callback” requests through prerecorded phone robot or robo calls, or through a phishing email. Bogus IRS robo often politely ask taxpayers to verify their identity over the phone. These robo calls will even alter caller ID numbers to make it look as if the IRS or another official agency is calling.

Phishing schemes

Be on the lookout for emails with links to websites that ask for your personal information. According to the IRS, thieves now send very authentic-looking messages from credible-looking addresses. These emails coax victims into sharing sensitive information or contain links that contain malware that collects data.

To protect yourself stay alert and be wary of any emails from financial groups or government agencies Don’t share any information online, via email, phone or by text. Don’t click on random links sent to you via email. Once that information is shared anywhere, a crook can steal your identity and use it in different scams.

Human resource/data breaches

In one particular scam crooks target human resource departments. In this scenario, a thief sends an email from a fake organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments, requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2.  This scam is sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES). 

Using the collected data criminals then attempt to file fraudulent tax returns to claim refunds. Or, they may sell the data on the Internet’s black market sites to others who file fraudulent tax returns or use the names and Social Security Numbers to commit other identity theft related crimes. While you can’t personally avoid this scam, be sure to inquire about your firm’s security practices and try to file your tax return early every year to beat any potentially false filing. Businesses/payroll service providers should file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

As a reminder, the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you several bills.
  • Call or email you to verify your identity by asking for personal and financial information.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone or e-mail.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you are the victim identity, theft be sure to take the proper reporting steps. If you receive any unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov (and then delete the emails).

This post is part II of our series on keeping your family safe during tax time. To read more about helping your teen file his or her first tax return, here’s Part I.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

The post Don’t Get Duped: How to Spot 2018’s Top Tax Scams appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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7 Digital Safety Tips for Teens Filing Their First Tax Returns https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/7-digital-safety-tips-teens-filing-first-tax-returns/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/7-digital-safety-tips-teens-filing-first-tax-returns/#respond Sat, 17 Mar 2018 14:00:21 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=86513 Landing that first part-time job in high school and filing your first tax return is a rite of passage for a young person. So why am I so anxious about my daughter becoming a taxpayer and sharing her pristine personal data with the U.S. government? Where do I begin? The fact is, the more widely […]

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Landing that first part-time job in high school and filing your first tax return is a rite of passage for a young person. So why am I so anxious about my daughter becoming a taxpayer and sharing her pristine personal data with the U.S. government?

Where do I begin? The fact is, the more widely her personal information travels, the more digital risks she faces. Adding to my angst is my own experience with identity theft over a decade ago that still haunts me and is the last stress I’d wish upon my child or anyone else’s.

So as my daughter waves her W-2 at me and elatedly chatters about how she’s going to spend her refund, I — like so many other parents across the country — put on my coach’s hat for a key talk around the digital risks that come with tax season.

7 Tax Filing Safety Tips for Families

  1. Allow your child to file. Sometimes it’s easier just to file a 1040-EZ form for your child and be done with it. The wiser route is to take the time to teach your child the few steps needed to file correctly and the legal reasons we all must pay taxes. Part of this discussion is going over the digital risks of tax season such as identity theft, malware and viruses, tax fraud, and identity theft.
  2. Discuss the power of a SSN. Talk about the responsibility and power of owning a Social Security Number (SSN) and why it must be safeguarded. A SSN is the most critical piece of government-issued identification an American citizen can possess. It is tied to personal credit, identification, and is the primary way the way the government tracks earnings of an individual during his or her lifetime. The SSN is the golden ticket for cyber thieves who make a career of stealing and selling social security numbers and identities online.
  3. Secure all digital doorways. One of the ways cyber thieves gain access to personal information is through hacking, and the best way to slam that door is by creating strong passwords. Easy passwords are the #1 way hackers unlock our data. Tax time is a perfect opportunity to challenge your child to create stronger passwords for all of his or her devices and email accounts. At the same time you upgrade password security, make sure updates on software, PCs, phones, and web browsers are current to protect your devices against viruses and malware that can grab login information.
  4. File early. Start the habit of early filing. The sooner you file your tax return and teach your child to do the same, the more you lessen the chance of a thief using yours or your child’s identity to claim a refund before your return goes through. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, tax return fraud is on the rise due to more significant security breaches and the number of identities now for sale online.
  5. Be overly cautious every step of the way. Use a reputable firm or company to handle yours and your child’s tax return. Legitimate tax preparers must sign all forms with their IRS preparer identification number. If you end up filing the 1040-EZ form on paper, be sure to hand deliver your returns to the post office mailbox. Thieves target March and April as prime for stealing tax information from curbside, residential mailboxes. Filing online? That’s fine if you make sure you do so over secured wifi. The local coffee shop or library isn’t going to protect your tax information from unscrupulous, prying eyes. Look for the HTTPS web designation at the front of the Internal Revenue System’s web address before submitting your documents.
  6. File a fraud alert. Because your child has rarely used his or her social security number, set up a fraud alert. By submitting a fraud alert in your child’s name with the three main credit bureaus several times a year, you will be able to catch any credit fraud early. Since your child hasn’t built any credit, anything that comes back will be illegal activity. The fraud alert will remain in place for only 90 days. When the time runs out, you’ll need to reactivate the alert. You can achieve the same thing by filing an earnings report from the Social Security Administration. The report will reveal any earnings acquired under your child’s social security number.
  7. Celebrate. Tax time tends to bring out the anxiety in just about everyone. Change that mentality with your child if possible. Make tax time rewarding. Go out for a celebration dinner or dessert. Congratulate him or her on filing safely and responsibly. And, don’t forget to recognize the even bigger accomplishment of stepping into the workforce and taking on the challenge of a first job.

This post is the first of a two-part series focused on digital safety during tax season. Next week, we will highlight some of the scams thieves use and how to safeguard your family.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

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Can’t Keep Up? 6 Easy Things You Can Do to Keep Your Kids Safe Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cant-keep-up-6-easy-things-you-can-do-to-keep-your-kids-safe-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cant-keep-up-6-easy-things-you-can-do-to-keep-your-kids-safe-online/#respond Sat, 10 Mar 2018 15:00:45 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=85216 Having a hard time doing what needs to be done to keep your kids safe online? Do you mentally shrink back when you realize you don’t do any of the tips experts so often recommend? Let the guilt go, parent because you are not alone. Family life moves at warp speed. We want to keep […]

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Having a hard time doing what needs to be done to keep your kids safe online? Do you mentally shrink back when you realize you don’t do any of the tips experts so often recommend? Let the guilt go, parent because you are not alone.

Family life moves at warp speed. We want to keep up, we do everything we can to keep up, but sometimes — depending on the season of life — our best intentions get left on the roadside gulping dust.

So if you feel like you are falling behind, we put together this quick cheat sheet that will allow you to cover your safety bases and regain some ground on the technology front.

6 Easy Things You Can Do to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

Ask about apps

Restrictions on apps exist for a reason. Glance through your child’s home screen and ask about any app you don’t recognize. If you are unsure about an app’s functionality, audience, or risks, dig deeper. This step covers a lot of ground since apps are the #1 way tweens and teens gain access to mature content.

YouTube Safety Mode

Your kids probably spend a ton of time watching videos online andwho knows what their eyes have seen or what links they’ve clicked. What you may not realize is that YouTube has a safety feature that will block most inappropriate or sexual content from search, related videos, playlists, shows, and films. For kids under four, there’s YouTube Kids.

Google SafeSearch

While it’s not going to be as powerful as filtering software, Google has a SafeSearch feature that will filter explicit content (links, videos, and images) on any device. Google also has a reporting system if anything gets through their feature.

Verify Privacy Settings

This step is a five-minute conversation with your child that will remove some risks. If your child is on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter, make sure their privacy settings are marked “private.” This will keep anyone outside of their friend group from connecting with them. As part of the privacy settings chat, review strong password practices.

Relationship over rules

The #1 way to safeguard your kids against online risk, is making sure you have a strong relationship. Spend tech-free time together, listen and observe how your child uses and enjoys his or her devices. A healthy parent-child relationship is foundational to raising a wise digital citizen who can make good choices and handle issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, conflict, or online scams. Connect with your child daily. Talk about what’s new with school, their friends, and anything else important to them. Along the way, you’ll find out plenty about their online life and have the necessary permission (and trust) to work your concerns about online safety into any conversation.

Friend and follow but don’t stalk

Many parents cringe at the thought of opening a Twitter or Snapchat account, but if that is where your child spends most of his or her time, it’s time to open an account. It’s easy by the way. The wise rule here is that once you follow your child, give them space and privacy. Don’t chime in on the conversation or even compliment them. While they may appreciate your “likes” on Instagram, they aren’t too happy with “mom comments” as my daughter calls them. If you have a concern about a photo or comment your child has uploaded, handle it through a Direct Message or face to face but never in the public feed.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

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6 Tips to Help Protect and Improve Your Child’s Online Reputation https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/6-tips-to-help-protect-and-improve-your-childs-online-reputation/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/6-tips-to-help-protect-and-improve-your-childs-online-reputation/#respond Sat, 03 Mar 2018 15:00:07 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=84890 Not the better choice. Take it down, please. That’s the short, efficient text message I’ve sent more times than I can count over the years while monitoring and coaching my kids’ online content choices. My daughter is now a senior in high school with her eyes fixed on college. And while she can take credit […]

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Not the better choice. Take it down, please.

That’s the short, efficient text message I’ve sent more times than I can count over the years while monitoring and coaching my kids’ online content choices.

My daughter is now a senior in high school with her eyes fixed on college. And while she can take credit for her strong grades and test scores, I will (unapologetically) take credit for influencing her digital reputation, which impacts everything from college applications to scholarships to career opportunities.

Looking back, it hasn’t been easy. There have been arguments. There have been tears. There have been consequences and days I despised the invention of the smartphone. There were other days I watched helplessly as other kids — kids I knew— made choices online that would have long-lasting consequences. Still, our family made it through (mostly) unscathed. Thankfully, my daughter is walking into the next phase of life with a solid understanding of how to shape and manage her online reputation. The best part: I trust her.

If you are frustrated, weary, or just fed up with the daily battle over your child’s online choices and trying to wrangle their daily digital activity, here’s a word of encouragement just for you. You can do this. Stay the course. Be consistent and persistent. Your efforts will be worth it as your kids earn their digital wings and fly without you one day.

6 Tips to Protect Your Child’s Online Reputation

Be a coach, not a critic

The most effective tool you have in your parenting arsenal is building a good relationship with your child. Build your relationship with your child before you throw down the rules. Approach monitoring your child’s digital life as a coach and not as a 24/7 critic. Take the time to understand your child’s favorite apps, their online friend groups, and what they love most about connecting and sharing with others online. Taking the time to understand your teen’s digital life will permit you to be a coach they will listen to (not just a parent throwing out random rules). The secret to connecting with teens? Listen attentively. Teens will talk to adults that they feel want to hear what they have to say.

Help them hone their “knower”

As adults, we have an inner “knower,” or a wise voice that knows the better choice. Kids, on the other hand, have a further to go before their knower, or their conscience takes over. Remember, as intelligent as your child may be, there’s still critical physiological (brain) and emotional (maturity) development taking place. In that process, help your kids to listen to that small inner voice that advises them against unwise choices such as using profanity online, sending racy photos, impulsive comments, or making a snap judgment. Most colleges and employers will think twice before considering a person who is disrespectful or irresponsible online.

Encourage discernment

Things once considered personal have found their way into the digital mainstream. Don’t assume your kids have the same understanding of modesty or privacy as you. Remember: They take more cues from their peers than you these days. Kids often vent and work out their problems through public posts, which can impact his or her online reputation. Things such as a family crisis, legal issues, or a relationship dispute should not be shared or worked through online. While it may feel right at the moment, over-sharing personal issues can lead to online shaming and deep wounds for a child if bullies and trolls are on the loose. When difficult circumstances arise, encourage your child to log off and talk face to face with you, friends, or a counselor. Online shaming and hate, as captured in the book, Shame Nation, has become an epidemic. Knowing how to avoid online hate begins with coaching kids on sound judgment.

Google it, and revise it

To get a clear picture of your child’s digital footprint and what a school or employer sees, Google your child’s name and piece together the picture yourself. Examine the social networks, links, and sites that have cataloged information about your child. One of the best ways to replace damaging digital information is by creating positive information that overshadows it. Encourage your child to set up a Facebook page that reflects their best self — their values, their goals, and their character. Make the page public so others can easily view it. They may also consider setting up a LinkedIn page that highlights specific achievements, specific goals, and online endorsements from teachings and employers.

Turn off tagging

Like it or not, we all get judged by the company we keep. This hard and fast rule also applies to kids the online world. Your child’s online behavior may get an A+, but reckless friends can sink that grade fast. To make sure your child doesn’t get tagged in risky photos on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, make sure privacy settings prevent tagging or require user approval. Also, encourage your kids to pay more attention to unflattering Snapchat photos and Snapchat story photos that other people post about them that can be problematic if shared elsewhere.

Get proactive & practical 

With a few safeguards in place, you can help protect your child’s reputation. 1) Privacy settings. By adjusting privacy settings to “friends only,” mistakes can be minimized. However, we know that anything uploaded can be shared and screen captured before it’s deleted so tightening privacy settings isn’t a guarantee. 2) Parental controls. Your kids may not like having filters on their phone or PC, but like eating vegetables, it’s what’s best for them. By using additional filtering, you could be closing off digital roads and relationships that could be harmful to your child’s reputation. Also, double-check that social settings are marked private.

 

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

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Is Your Teen Using Tinder? Here’s What You Need to Know https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/is-your-teen-using-tinder-heres-what-you-need-to-know/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/is-your-teen-using-tinder-heres-what-you-need-to-know/#respond Sat, 24 Feb 2018 15:00:14 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=84627 Teens are curious.  It’s fun to meet and date people they don’t see in the hallways every day.  It feels good when someone swipes right and finds them attractive. Flirting is fun.  These are just a few reasons many teens are exploring Tinder these days, the dating app popular in the twenty- and thirty-something crowd. […]

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Teens on Tinder

Teens are curious. 
It’s fun to meet and date people they don’t see in the hallways every day. 
It feels good when someone swipes right and finds them attractive.
Flirting is fun. 

These are just a few reasons many teens are exploring Tinder these days, the dating app popular in the twenty- and thirty-something crowd.

While Tinder isn’t new (launched in 2012), app trends among teens change constantly, and this is a recent one. We’ve got a lot on our digital radar as parents but apps that match (underaged) users within a defined geographic area get popular, it quickly shoots to the top of our radar. So, let’s take a look.

What’s the Big Deal

Tinder allows users 18 and over to register for nearby “matches” but because Tinder links to Facebook accounts for verification, underage users can easily input a false birthdate to circumvent the rules.Teens on Tinder

To tweens and teens, chatting with people nearby sounds fun, but to parents, the app opens the door to anything from pedophiles to bullies to stalkers to abuse. From a parent’s point of view, when the dating pool widens, so too do the risks. High school students are not immune from abuse. In fact, according to LoveIsRespect.org, every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner; one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

Tinder allows users to connect three main social accounts: Spotify, Instagram, and Facebook, which can easily put personal information into the hands of the wrong people. Users are also encouraged to give the name of their High School and their workplace to further refine matching.

Emotional Risks

While our first thought is physical danger, using dating apps too early also threatens a child’s emotional health and confuses their still-developing social and interpersonal skills.  The risk of heartbreak, betrayal, and emotional abuse can be devastating for kids who aren’t ready to date — let alone wisely discern an endless pool of possible matches.Teens on Tinder

Too, there’s no shortage on Tinder of teens making it clear that they are just looking for a “hookup” or a “good time.” So, allowing tweens into that arena before they are ready can carry huge emotional and physical consequences.

Worth Distortion

Dating apps can also distort your child’s understanding of a worthy partner and reinforce looks-based relationships. If choosing a mate is as natural as swiping left (don’t like) and swiping right (like), then the hope of someday meeting “the one” could become a whole lot more difficult, if not impossible. And how much easier can your child’s uniqueness and worth be overlooked with just a swipe? Using dating apps before you are ready is an emotional wreck waiting to happen.

Under 18 

Monitor apps. Check your child’s phone for the Tinder app icon (see below). Don’t forget: Kids hide apps behind vault apps that may look like a game, a calculator, or a safe. So, do some clicking. If you discover your son or daughter is using Tinder ask them why and have them walk you through how they use it personally. Discuss the reasons against using the app, listen to their reasoning, decide on a family plan moving forward. If they are under 18, consider having them delete the app.

Tinder app icon.

Factors such as age and maturity will, no doubt, affect every family’s dating app plan. My daughter is almost 18, a high school senior, and heading to college in a blink. So, my conversation will be dramatically different from the parent of a 13-year-old.

 

Discuss the bigger picture. In a swipe right culture, values can quickly vanish. If you allow your child to date, discuss his or her relationship values. What makes a person attractive? What character traits do you desire? What expectations do you have of a relationship?

Over 18

Look beyond profiles. Advise your teen to do some sleuthing and look beyond a person’s Tinder profile for red flags revealing inconsistencies in truthfulness and character. Tinder warns: “Bad actors often push people to communicate off the platform immediately. It’s up to you to research and do your due diligence.”

Set up ground rules. Face-t0-face meetings with a stranger outside of Tinder (or any online platform) should be in a public location. Your child should always drive his or her vehicle and have their phone fully charged. Make sure inform you of who they are meeting with and where.

Reality Check

Kids establishing online friendships is here to stay. Some of your child’s best friends will likely be found online. Dating apps aren’t “bad,” but people can be careless and abusive when using them. And, using dating apps under 18, as many kids are doing today, only invites premature risk.

Remember, a digital connection may not have been the way you met friends or love interests in your day, but it’s a natural channel today. Be open to the social shift but equally alert and willing to exercise full-throttle parenting to keep your kids safe.

 

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

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Could You Have a Toxic Relationship with Your Smartphone? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/smartphone-addiction/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/smartphone-addiction/#respond Sat, 17 Feb 2018 15:00:17 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=84516 It’s the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about: our devotion to and dependence on our smartphones. For most of us, our children included, smartphones have become an appendage; a limb of voracious digital consumption and social obligation that keeps us scrolling, refreshing, swiping, and responding with no end in sight. Any friend […]

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It’s the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about: our devotion to and dependence on our smartphones. For most of us, our children included, smartphones have become an appendage; a limb of voracious digital consumption and social obligation that keeps us scrolling, refreshing, swiping, and responding with no end in sight.

Any friend or psychologist would encourage us to rid ourselves of toxic relationships that hinder — even threaten — our emotional and physical well-being, but what if that relationship is with a smartphone? Would you be willing to give it up (or reset the relationship) if you knew it was toxic?

Researchers are increasingly debating the impact of the smartphone on our emotional well-being, and the debate often returns to striking a balance between the ethical design of technology versus corporate profitability. One of the most compelling arguments is that of researcher Tristan Harris, a former Google Design Ethicist, on a crusade to inspire people to stop clicking and start caring about how technology is intentionally designed to shape the behavior of the people who use it. Harris has launched a nonprofit called Time Well Spent. His viral TED Talk proposes a renaissance in online design that can free tech users from being manipulated by apps, websites, and advertisers as the race for user attention increases.

From Facebook notifications to Snapstreaks to YouTube auto plays, Harris argues that our online behavior is anything but random. Instead, our thoughts and feelings are being carefully manipulated by technologists behind the scenes persuasively competing for more and more our attention.

Not convinced you among the tech lemming crowd? I wasn’t either. But the discussion got me thinking and inspired me to make some specific changes to test my smartphone dependence.


5 Ways to Drastically Reduce Smartphone Dependence

  • Turn your phone to grayscale mode (google how to do this – it’s amazing)
  • Turn off all push notifications (reclaim your attention span).
  • Park your phone in one physical location (stop carrying it everywhere).
  • Stand up when you use your phone (no more getting cozy for hours).
  • Ban your phone from the bedroom (get an alarm clock).

I made these changes for a week and here’s what happened.

Not as interesting, right?

Grayscale mode, iPhone.

Absolutely no fun in sight for the first three days. Initially, I felt overcome with a sense of vulnerability, panic even that suddenly, somehow, I wasn’t in control of something. I felt an overwhelming need to check my phone every 15-30 minutes. That time gradually increased to about an hour by the third day. Not having my phone nearby, I was sure I’d miss out on something important. For the first few days, I constantly felt as if I had lost something and I’d get up and wander around before realizing my phone was docked safely in the kitchen — just like when I was growing up and had to physically walk to the kitchen to use the phone. I resolved to check my phone once every three hours rather than carry it with me from room to room. When I did check it, surprisingly, the world had not collapsed without my attention to it. I found an average of three texts (two from family with non-critical comments, and usually, one discount text from a retailer).

Because I turned my screen grayscale (wow, what a game changer!) I didn’t feel the anticipation of checking social media, scrolling, reciprocating, uploading, or commenting. My phone in the grayscale mode made using it stale, almost irritating. I realized looking at my phone in grayscale that I being overly influenced and pulled by pretty pictures and all the colors, sounds, links, and prompts, which had come to own my attention. Sadly, I was giving my time to this relationship without any meaningful, lasting benefit coming back to me. I was in a toxic relationship, and something had to change.

By the end of the week, I felt awesome, empowered almost. I had successfully distanced myself from a toxic relationship and redefined it on my terms. I also realized something profound: There’s an unspoken cost to unbalanced technology use I’m not willing to hand over any longer, and that is my time.

When I parked my phone in the kitchen, banned it from the bedroom, and refused to sit down with it, I noticed patches of extra time magically appear in my day. What could I do with all the time I once poured into my phone? As it turns out, quite a lot.

I’m keeping my new habits, and I’m encouraging my family to do the same for a good reason. Here’s what we know: Kids are spending more time on digital devices than ever before, and that trend has no reason to reverse. Anxiety disorders linked to social media use is at an all-time high. Also, researchers are confirming the link between technology, depression, and suicide among youth.

I’m not willing to just go with the flow on this one. There’s just too much is at stake.

Take the challenge: Are you willing to take specific steps (like the ones listed above) to rethink and redefine your relationship with your smartphone?

Let us know the highs and lows of your experience by commenting below. We’re cheering you on.

 

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

 

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8 Easy Ways to Hack-Proof Your Family’s Smartphones https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/8-ways-hack-proof-familys-smartphones/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/8-ways-hack-proof-familys-smartphones/#respond Sat, 10 Feb 2018 15:00:34 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=84325 Smartphones have changed the face of parenting in profound ways. But for all the efficiency they’ve introduced into family life, those same devices simultaneously bring risk. With smartphone and tablet use growing at ten times the rate of PCs, hackers know precisely where to shift their focus these days. Cyber thieves love smartphones because once […]

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Smartphones have changed the face of parenting in profound ways. But for all the efficiency they’ve introduced into family life, those same devices simultaneously bring risk.

With smartphone and tablet use growing at ten times the rate of PCs, hackers know precisely where to shift their focus these days. Cyber thieves love smartphones because once inside, they can access private information, location, email, photos, social media, and bank accounts.

If you’re a parent, a smartphone breach is an even bigger deal. Shoring up the security gaps in your phone isn’t a big deal but what about the other four or more smartphones under your roof? If you were to multiply the risk, you’d soon realize the potential havoc that’s looming.

While you can’t shut out every digital risk, you can tackle the most prominent ones. Let’s get started!

8 Ways to Hack-Proof Your Family’s Smartphones

  1. Think Like a Criminal. Work a potential hack backward. Look at every possible entryway into your phone and ask yourself, “How could I get into this phone if I were determined?” Then, methodically lock up each digital door. Challenge yourself to find every security gap. Examine your password strength, social profiles, web browsing security, general and app settings.
  2. Juice Up Your Password. How do you create a password that a criminal can’t hack? With great intention and a few extra layers. 1) Avoid the common error of using easy passwords such as “12345” or “password.” Get complex and create a combination that isn’t logical. 2) Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). Having multiple factors to authenticate your phone use such as your fingerprint, face, or a trusted device, increases security. Most smartphones offer MFA so, even if it seems tedious, use it. The more factors — or digital layers — you can combine, the more protected your smartphone will be. Too many passwords crowding your brain? Consider a password manager.
  3. Trust No App. Not all apps you download to your phone are created equal. Many third-party apps do not go through rigorous security vetting of Google or Apple. Hackers can infect apps with malware or viruses that demolish your phone’s security and allow hackers access to your data. Beware. Examine all apps, read reviews, and steer clear of apps that ask for too much access. Even legitimate apps can be used for malicious purposes such as listening in via a phone’s microphones and even spying using a phone’s camera. To pull back an app’s access, just go to your settings. On Android: Go to Apps and Notifications, choose App Permissions and make changes. On iOS: Go to your settings, select Privacy, and make changes to app permissions accordingly.
  4. Passcode, Track Your Phone. Be proactive in case your phone gets stolen or lost. Make sure your device is passcode and fingerprint protected. Take a few minutes to enable phone tracking. For Android, you’ll download the app Find My Device and for Apple use Find My iPhone. Make sure those apps are always enabled on your phone. If your phone is lost or stolen it can be tracked online.
  5. Log out, Lock Online Services. If you bank, shop, or access sensitive accounts via your smartphone do it with extreme care. This means logging out and locking those accounts when not in use and avoiding using auto-login features. Instead, use a password manager app the forces you to re-enter a master password each time you want to access an account. It’s worth the extra step. An essential part of this equation is disabling keychain and auto-fill in your browser. You can do this by finding your web browser in Settings and toggling each option to OFF. Also, avoid using public Wi-Fi for accessing sensitive accounts or conducting any transactions.
  6. Turn Off Bluetooth. Bluetooth carries inherent vulnerabilities and is another open door for hackers to enter. When Bluetooth is turned on it is constantly looking for other open connections. Hackers work quickly through open Bluetooth connections, and often victims don’t even know there’s been a breach (there’s no evidence a phone has connected with a criminal source). Make sure to switch Bluetooth off if you are not using it.
  7. Take Updates Seriously. Because people design phones, phones will be flawed. And, it’s just a matter of time before a hacker discovers and exploits those flaws. Developers use updates to combat all kinds of breaches, which make them critical to your phone’s security. Along with staying on top of updates, consider the added safeguard of antivirus, identity, and privacy protection that covers all family devices.
  8. Stop! Don’t Click that Link. Unless you are 100% sure of the legitimacy of a link sent to you through text, email, or direct message, do not click it. Random links sent by hackers to access your data are getting more and more sophisticated as well as destructive.

 

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

The post 8 Easy Ways to Hack-Proof Your Family’s Smartphones appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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5 Digital Family Values to Embrace to Make the Internet a Better Place https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-digital-family-values-embrace-make-internet-better-place/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/5-digital-family-values-embrace-make-internet-better-place/#respond Sat, 03 Feb 2018 15:00:54 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=84189 A better internet — one free of bullying, division, hate, and crime — isn’t just an aspiration, it’s truly possible. And, it starts with the individual digital user. It starts with you, with me, and the next generation of users we’re raising up. That’s the message of the annual worldwide Safer Internet Day, which is […]

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A better internet — one free of bullying, division, hate, and crime — isn’t just an aspiration, it’s truly possible. And, it starts with the individual digital user. It starts with you, with me, and the next generation of users we’re raising up. That’s the message of the annual worldwide Safer Internet Day, which is Tuesday, February 6.

The global movement has a message this year to “create, connect and share respect” online and challenges everyone from parents, to youth, to educators, to businesses to focus on how to use the internet’s power to bring people together.

We’ve put together a list of values to consider that might help your family respond to the challenge of Safer Internet Day. Can one family make the internet a safer, more positive place for us all? We think so. People affect change and influence millions of people every day online. Each one of us has the choice to lead or sit on the sidelines on this critical topic. Even the smallest act of kindness or respect online generates digital ripples. So, just begin. (You can also join in the worldwide social media push with a Thunderclap post supporting #SID2018 on the morning of Feb. 6 to kick start Safer Internet Day)!

5 Digital Family Values to Upload Every Day

  1. The value of the pause.

    The online culture gives our discernment a workout every second, doesn’t it? Teaching kids to become critical thinkers who are responsible for their online choices is a value that is reinforced in big and small ways every day. A few questions to challenge kids to ask before posting might be:

  • Is this a value I share or am I just echoing my friends?
  • Am I too emotional to be online right now?
  • Do I have all the facts before I respond?
  • What’s the flip side of this issue, the other opinions?
  • Is what I want to say online necessary, helpful, or kind?
  1. The value of empathy.

    Empathy is making a genuine attempt to understand another person’s struggle and it’s a powerful way to combat bullying, hate, and prejudice online. Digital communication can make it harder to feel empathy for other people. Hearts get lost in the clicking, liking, and sterile acronyms. Looking for ways to teach empathy means highlighting real-life situations and asking your kids to think deeper, put themselves in another person’s shoes, and genuinely reflect on the emotional fallout.

  2. The value of responsibility.

    Making the internet a safer place for all, requires parents and kids to embrace, repeat, and consider the basic safety principals that create our digital footprint. One way is to help kids understand their digital footprint and the responsibility that comes with owning a digital device of any kind. Pose these questions to your child:

  • Is this something you really want everyone to know that about you?
  • What do you think this photo communicates about you (use adjectives)?
  • How do you think that person would feel if he or she saw your post about them a few years from now?

One of the best ways to grow your child’s sense of digital responsibility is to role-play. Find teachable moments in which empathy or responsible online behavior has been ignored.

Ask your child questions that will challenge him or her to verbalize what another person might be feeling or thinking. Putting words to a cruel or unfair situation brings it to life and is an effective way to dismantle stereotypes, prejudices, and digital inequities.

4. The value of media literacy.

Media literacy is a skill that allows digital users to become critical thinkers and creators, effective communicators, and active digital citizens. This means we all play a role in making the Internet a safe place to exchange ideas and appropriate content. Cyberwise.org is an excellent media literacy equipping hub for families and educators.

5. The value of parental example.

If you’re serious about influencing your child’s behavior online, the most powerful teacher is you. Take inventory. Be the example of a balanced, responsible, empathy-driven internet user. Model balance. Limit your time on social networks when at home, unplug consistently, don’t let technology come before people. Model responsibility. Post and comment wisely, and always keep your emotions in check online. Model humility. Part of being the example includes being able to admit your digital mistakes. Kids need to know you aren’t perfect and learn from how you handled a digital situation such as cyberbullying, a political argument, or even a closeted tech addiction. Be open, honest, and candid in leading your kids in social appropriateness. Model empathy. Be sensitive to others online. Use your wisdom to mend a broken situation and do the harder thing in an emotion-charged circumstance. Your kids are watching you.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

 

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How to Treat Your Family’s Personal Data Like Gold in a Hyper-Connected World https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/treat-familys-personal-data-like-gold-hyper-connected-world/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/treat-familys-personal-data-like-gold-hyper-connected-world/#respond Sat, 27 Jan 2018 13:00:43 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83918 Tomorrow, January 28, is National Data Privacy Day. While that may not mean a lot to you at first glance, the day shines a light on one of the most critical issues facing families today — protecting personal information in a hyper-connected world. The day gives us an opportunity to 1) honestly examine the many ways our […]

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Tomorrow, January 28, is National Data Privacy Day. While that may not mean a lot to you at first glance, the day shines a light on one of the most critical issues facing families today — protecting personal information in a hyper-connected world.

The day gives us an opportunity to 1) honestly examine the many ways our lives are connected and, 2) to take responsibility (and steps) to safeguard each area of personal privacy we expose — or potentially misuse — every time we power up.

Data Channels

Every day we connect our lives to external sources that are useful, productive, and entertaining without even realizing the many ways others can exploit our digital connections. There are the obvious sources that present a risk to our data such as social networks, online shopping, web browsing, and apps. Then there are the not-so-obvious sources that gather our information such as medical offices, schools, financial institutions, retail businesses, household assistants, TVs, home security systems, appliances, toys, and wearables.

Studies show that most of us certainly are not going to give up our connected lives to prevent a data breach. So, the next practical step is to get more intentional about our family’s privacy and take specific actions to minimize our risk.

The Risks Are Real

If you’ve never suffered the consequences of another person or organization exploiting your personal information, then you may not understand the seriousness of protecting it. However, as we all become more seamlessly connected in an Internet of Things (IoT) world, chances are you will experience some data misuse or abuse in the future. Those acts might be large-scale breaches such as the ones we’ve seen with Equifax, Uber, and Verizon or the breach may be on a smaller scale but just as financially and emotionally damaging.

When personal data gets hacked, sold, or exploited several things can happen. Digital fallout includes identity theft, credit card fraud, medical fraud, home break-ins, data misuse by companies, reputation damage, location and purchasing tracking, ransomware, and much more.

So the technology-driven future we’ve imagined is here — and it’s pretty awesome — but so too are the risks. And who among us could have guessed that parenting in the 21st century would include teaching kids about cybercriminals, data mining, and privacy breaches?

Step-Up Family Privacy

Treat privacy like gold. If more of us saw our personal information the way cybercriminals see it — like gold — then we may be more inclined to lock it up. Guiding your family in this mind-shift requires real effort. Teach your kids to view their personal information — address, habits, personal routine, school name, relationships, passwords, connected devices — as gold. Gold is to be treasured, locked up, and shared with great discernment. This attitude change may take time but, hopefully, the return on investment will mean your kids pause before handing over personal info to an app, a social network, a retail store, or even to friends.

Stress responsibility and respect. Stopping to think before you share online or connect a digital device is a key to safeguarding digital privacy. By teaching your kids that living in a connected world comes with responsibility for one’s actions and respect for others, you a leap in securing our family’s online privacy.

Routinely secure the basics. There are fundamental security measures under our roofs that cybercriminals are counting on all of us to neglect (and many of us do just that). Powerful security steps include: 1) Update all software (PC, phone, tablets, etc.) routinely 2) Establish and maintain strong passwords 3) Secure privacy settings on all social networks 4) Lock down your home network 5) Don’t overshare family details (names, travel, location, address, friends) online.

Make privacy fun. Here’s something to ponder. Challenge your kids to keep a low profile online. Talk about the power of being discreet, private, and mysterious in their digital peer group. Encourage them to set themselves apart by being the one who isn’t so easily accessed. Ask: Is digital sharing an enjoyable thing or, in reality, has it become an exhausting habit? Challenge them to go undercover (dark) online for a week and journal the pros and cons of being hyper private online. Come up with an incentive that works for your family.

Enjoy the Wows

Overall, stop and consider what your digital devices, apps, games, and products are asking of you. Is that fitness tracker getting a little too personal? Does that new toy, home security system, or household assistant know more than your family than your own mother does?Then don’t fill in every blank box. Go into the privacy settings and shore up product access, freshen up your passwords, and make sure you stay on top of software updates. Stop giving retailers, government agencies, and online marketers your email address. In short — pay attention, protect, and cherish your personal data. You can enjoy the wows of your technology without opening up your family’s privacy.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures). 

The post How to Treat Your Family’s Personal Data Like Gold in a Hyper-Connected World appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Determined to Find Love Online in 2018? Here are 5 Ways to Protect Your Privacy https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/determined-to-find-love-online-in-2018-here-are-5-ways-to-protect-your-privacy/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/determined-to-find-love-online-in-2018-here-are-5-ways-to-protect-your-privacy/#respond Sat, 20 Jan 2018 17:00:29 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83821 It turns out January is the busiest month for online dating since millions of singles have resolved to embark on new adventures — and even finding love — in 2018. And why not? According to the Pew Institute, over the last ten years, online dating has lost a lot of its stigma, and a majority […]

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It turns out January is the busiest month for online dating since millions of singles have resolved to embark on new adventures — and even finding love — in 2018.

And why not? According to the Pew Institute, over the last ten years, online dating has lost a lot of its stigma, and a majority of Americans now say online dating is a great way to meet people.

But before you start answering personal questions, uploading photos, and chatting with strangers on dating apps like Match, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Tinder, or OkCupid, it’s a good idea to add a measure of security to your strategy.

We’ve all heard stories of online dates that end terribly or even tragically. However, what you may not be aware of is that with just a few small nods toward security, you can enjoy the fun of online dating minus the worry.

5 ways to protect your privacy on dating apps

  1. Choose a reputable dating app. Check to see if the dating site takes your privacy seriously. Currently, there are hundreds of dating apps and most will ask you dozens, even hundreds, of personal questions to match you with another member. It’s important to understand what the company is planning to do with all of the information it gathers from you. This information should be under the service’s terms of service/use.Consider the following:
  • Does the dating app delete your data after you close your account?
  • Some dating sites make user profiles public by default, which means search engines can index them. You can change this immediately to your account’s privacy settings.
  • A site’s privacy policy should be clear about how it shares your personal information, other members. It should also be clear about any third-party access to your data.
  • Make sure you understand how your uploaded photos will be used and opt out of any advertorial applications.
  1. Keep personal info zipped. Everyone wants to make a great impression but create your profile with care. Go through your digital footprint (past online activity) and delete any information that gives away too much personal insight into where you live, your family, your favorite places, or your job. Delete details that could help someone track you outside of the dating app. Think carefully about what you write.
  2. Check your digital self. When dating online take a few extra steps to protect the privacy of your daily routine. 1) Stop using check-in apps 2) turn off the geo-location in your phone settings, which could allow a dating app to track you 3) When using apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram choose not to post your location. To take your privacy a step further, go back and delete the location on earlier photos. It’s easier than ever for someone to go into an app and see a mapped pattern of places you frequent. 4) Consider making your social media accounts private for the duration of your online dating.
  3. Beware of the catfish. Unfortunately, catfish — people posing as someone else online — have made their way into dating apps. Do your homework on the other person as much as possible. Check out social profiles. If something feels fishy, rethink meeting IRL (In Real Life). Use Reverse Image Search to make sure a person’s profile picture is legitimate. When messaging within a dating app, never share your location, phone number, banking information (obvious but not for everyone), or workplace. Catfish have become incredibly sophisticated and should not be underestimated.
  4. Inform a friend. This one is more about physical safety but can’t be stated enough. If you arrange to meet with a person outside of the dating app, be sure to let a friend know all the details of the meeting including the name of the person you are meeting. Agree on a location where your friend can pick you up if there’s a problem. Always meet a “date” in a public place and never allow a date to pick you up or drop you off at your home.

Thanks to technology, the world is now your digital oyster when it comes to finding love. So, after you’ve locked down a few critical pieces of your online life, don’t forget to have fun . . . and swipe right.

toni page birdsong

 

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

The post Determined to Find Love Online in 2018? Here are 5 Ways to Protect Your Privacy appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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2018 Texting Slang Update: How to Decode What Your Teen is Saying Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/2018-texting-slang-update-decode-teen-saying-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/2018-texting-slang-update-decode-teen-saying-online/#comments Sat, 13 Jan 2018 15:51:24 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83688 Every year we update our teen slang and this year we’ve added a handful of terms that may make your jaw drop. Slang is an integral part of growing up. A word or abbreviation can add significant meaning or emotion to a message or text. Slang helps kids define their connections, feel accepted, and gain […]

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Every year we update our teen slang and this year we’ve added a handful of terms that may make your jaw drop.

Slang is an integral part of growing up. A word or abbreviation can add significant meaning or emotion to a message or text. Slang helps kids define their connections, feel accepted, and gain independence. And of course, there’s the bonus of slang which is keeping parents in the dark. Every piece of that logic is reasonable for the most part, so we should be hands-off but aware in allowi