Family Safety – McAfee Blogs https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com Securing Tomorrow. Today. Thu, 17 Jan 2019 18:01:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Family Safety – McAfee Blogs https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com 32 32 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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How to Get Technology Working for You This Christmas https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-get-technology-working-for-you-this-christmas/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-to-get-technology-working-for-you-this-christmas/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 09:10:32 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=93320

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

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

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

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

  1. E-Cards

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

  1. Online Gift Shopping

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

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

  1. Get Some Extra Help Online

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

  1. Create an Online To-Do List

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

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

Merry Christmas

Alex xx

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

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

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

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

How Parties are Organised on Instagram

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

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

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

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

Is There Another Way?

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

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

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

Empathy Is Essential

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

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

Digital Parenting Can Be a Tough Gig

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

Till next time,

Alex xx

 

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

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

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

Holiday Financial Stress Results in Poor Decision Making Online

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

Aussie Shoppers Love an Online Bargain 

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

The Thing Is, Cyber Criminals Love Your Holiday Shopping Too

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

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

How You Can Stay Safe While Shopping Online This Holiday Season

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

  1. Connect with Caution

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

  1. Think Before You Click

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

  1. Always Shop with Security Protection

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Alex xx

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

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

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

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

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

What Does the Law Say?

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

What Happens in Reality?

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

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

What to Do?

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

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

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

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

1. Are They Ready?

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

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

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

2. Family Policy

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

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

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

4. Set the Ground Rules

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

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

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

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

Good luck!

Alex xx

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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

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.

 

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

 

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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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The Importance of Security Awareness in Our Connected Lifestyle https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-importance-of-security-awareness-in-our-connected-lifestyle/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/the-importance-of-security-awareness-in-our-connected-lifestyle/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 16:52:43 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=92082 Not very long ago, people could be seen walking around waving their mobile phones in the air, looking for a network connection. Today, we are talking 5G! Our kids just can’t imagine a world without gadgets and internet! Little kids as young as four can turn on and instruct Alexa, search for new games on […]

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Not very long ago, people could be seen walking around waving their mobile phones in the air, looking for a network connection. Today, we are talking 5G! Our kids just can’t imagine a world without gadgets and internet! Little kids as young as four can turn on and instruct Alexa, search for new games on smartphones and talk to digital devices.

Moving Toward an Increasingly Connected Lifestyle

Ours is a connected world and we are constantly connected to the internet- be it through our smartphones, digital assistants, gaming and reading devices, laptops, wearable devices, remote monitoring devices like CCTV and many more. While this leads to time saving, higher efficiency, and greater comfort, there are a few safety checks, which if ignored, may lead to data and ID thefts.

I was recently reading an article on the 5G revolution. South Korea, I believe, already enjoys phenomenal browsing and download speeds, and so will rest of the world very soon. It will also hopefully reduce lags and connectivity disruptions that we currently experience. More IoT (Internet of Things) devices will come into play and home Wi-Fi routers will have a larger count of devices connected to it. Needless to say, this calls for ensuring maximum security for the router as well as all our devices.

Moreover, we often use public Wi-Fi connections to browse; which expose us to possible cyber attacks. Often, something as innocuous as using external storage devices or delaying the installation of updates can lead to malware entering the device system. What happens if cyber attackers worm into our systems? They can spy on us, regulate our smart devices, and even listen in on our baby monitor, to name a few.

As many countries observe October as Cybersecurity Month, it is the right time to have a discussion on how we can keep our connected homes safe.

Let’s discuss some of the common causes that can lead to device hacking:

  • Software updating not done: Security companies and your OS vendors keep sending patches to give cover for latest viruses and thus enhance protection against cyberattacks. Delay in patch installation exposes our device to attacks. It is therefore advisable to set updates to automatic.
  • Increasing use of IoT devices: Our smartwatch or smartphone, digital assistants or digital toys are all connected to Wi-Fi. This offers cyber criminals a bigger hunting ground. They try to find and exploit vulnerabilities in these devices
  • Outdated security: Despite being aware of safety issues related to not securing devices with licensed comprehensive software, we often neglect this very important step. At best, we download and use free security tools which may not offer cover against more sophisticated attacks.
  • Carelessness of users: But the security chain also includes us, the users. We may click on malicious links or download infected files. We may also visit unsafe websites, making it easy for cyber criminals to target us

How to use smart devices safely:

  • Use unique, complex passphrases: Strong passphrases (not passwords you will notice) will go a long way in keeping hackers at bay. If the thought of remembering several passphrases daunts you, go for a password manager
  • Set up autolock: Set up autolock and PIN protect your devices. Modern devices offer biometric locks as well. Make use of them
  • Keep auto update turned on: This way your OS and security tool would always receive patches and updates on time and you will receive maximum protection
  • Check security settings before buying IoT devices: Before buying any connected toy or device, research the manufacturer to find out if they give security top priority. Check out the security they offer and change default passcodes. Also, do read the terms and conditions to know how the vendor plans to secure your data
  • Secure your home Wi-Fi router: As this will be the point for connecting with the net, this device needs to be secured with a strong passphrase. It’s a good idea to change the passphrase from time to time. Keep an eye on data consumption too
  • Install and run licensed comprehensive security software: Don’t go for free, your devices and your personal data are at stake here. Instead, use a comprehensive security solutionto protect your technology
  • Be aware: Awareness pays. If you know of the latest threats doing the round, you would take necessary precautions and share your knowledge with friends and family accordingly

We can do it, can’t we? A few simple measures help secure our digital lives and allow us to take full advantage of what tech has to offer. Let us be ready to welcome 5G in our lives.

Stay safe, stay secure!

 

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

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Time for a Cyber Safety Check-Up?

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

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

We Are Choosing to Ignore the Risks

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

Keeping It Simple

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

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

1. Protect ALL Your Devices

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

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

Here’s what you need to do:

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

2. Think Before You Click

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

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

Here’s what you need to do:

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

3. Protect Your Personal Information Online

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

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

Here’s what you need to do:

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

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

Take Care

Alex xx

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cybercriminals Capitalise on our ‘Celebrity Culture’

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

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

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

How to Avoid Being Targeted by a Cyber Criminal

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

1. Think Before You Click

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

2. Apply Updates as Soon as they are Available

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

3. Browse with Security Protection

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

4. Use Parental Control Software

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

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

Alex x

 

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

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

The Lure of Likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Should I Start Asking My Child For Consent-

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

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

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

How To Share Safely

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

  1. Lock Down Privacy Settings

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

  1. Set Ground Rules with Friends and Family

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

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

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

  1. Watch Out For Geo-Tagging

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

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

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

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

Alex xx

 

 

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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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Focus on Real Friends This Friendship Day https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/focus-on-real-friends-this-friendship-day/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/focus-on-real-friends-this-friendship-day/#respond Thu, 26 Jul 2018 16:58:32 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90565 I walked into my niece’s room and found her busy making colourful bands. “What are these for?” I asked. “Friendship Day is coming up and this year I have decided to make my own bands to give to my friends. Got to finish making them all today.” “That’s lovely,” and then as a thought struck […]

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I walked into my niece’s room and found her busy making colourful bands.

“What are these for?” I asked.

“Friendship Day is coming up and this year I have decided to make my own bands to give to my friends. Got to finish making them all today.”

“That’s lovely,” and then as a thought struck me, I added, “Are you making them for your friends online?”

“No!!! What a question! How do you think I would give these to them? Virtually? These bands only for real friends.”

Happy as I was to hear that, I couldn’t help adding a parting shot, “Really? Then why do you share so much about yourself with these virtual friends?”

We spent the next few minutes thinking about friends and friendship.

The charm of school and college life lies in friends- the better the group of friends you have the more enjoyable your student life is. Such friendships stand the test of time and can be revived even after years of separation.

If adults can be duped, then aren’t the highly impressionable teens also at risk? Even tech-savvy kids tend to be duped by fake profiles so the smart parenting thing to do is to create awareness beforehand.

Friendship Day is the perfect time to initiate a discussion with your kids on how to establish if online friends are actual people. Start by administering this quiz on real vs. online friends:

Who are your real friends? (Check the boxes that apply):

  • You know them well in person
  • Your parents know them too, and approve of them
  • You are most probably studying in the same school or college
  • You live in the same apartment block or neighborhood
  • You have shared interests and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses
  • You have been to each another’s house
  • You know they will accept you the way you are and never embarrass you in public
  • You trust them

Then, ask them to tick the boxes that apply for their virtual friends and follow it up with a discussion.

Takeaway: The online world holds infinite promises and possibilities but they can be realized only when the user is judicious and careful. In the early years of adolescence, it’s better to keep virtual friends limited to known people.

 Next in line is to find ways to identify fake profiles and learn to block and report:

Teach kids to identify fake profiles online:

  • Profile – Profile pictures is very attractive but there are rarely any family, group pictures
  • Name- The name sounds weird or is misspelled
  • Bio – The personal details are sketchy
  • Friend list – Have no common friends
  • Posts – The posts and choice of videos make you feel uncomfortable or are clearly spams
  • Verification – A Google search throws up random names for profile pic

Show kids how to block and report fake profiles:

  • Save: If you had erroneously befriended a suspicious person, no worries. Keep records of all conversations by taking screen shots, or copy + pasting or through a print screen command
  • Unfriend: Remove the user from your friend list
  • Block: Prevent the person from harassing you with friend requests in future by using the blocking function
  • Flag: Report suspicious profiles to the social media site to help them check and remove such profiles and maintain the hygiene of the platform

Share digital safety tips:

  1. Practice STOP. THINK. CONNECT. -Do not be in a hurry to hike friend count and choose your friends wisely
  2. Share with care: Be a miser when it comes to sharing personal details like name, pictures, travel and contact details online. The less shared, the better it is for the child
  3. Review privacy and security: Check all your posts periodically and delete those you don’t like. Maximize account security and keep privacy at max

Finally, share this message with your kids.

On Friendship Day, pledge to be a good friend to your real friends and limit your online friends to those you know well in real life. Secure your online world by using security tools on your devices and acting judiciously online. If you act responsibly online, you not only make your digital world safer but also help to secure the digital worlds of your friends. That’s the sign of an ideal digital citizen.

 

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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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Handling Social Media Stress – Pointers to Share with Your Teens https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/handling-social-media-stress-pointers-to-share-with-your-teens/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/handling-social-media-stress-pointers-to-share-with-your-teens/#respond Thu, 12 Jul 2018 15:15:56 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=90340 The lion’s share of modern day communication happens online and for that, thanks to the hundreds of apps available. Whether it is news or videos, blogging or education, social media or gaming, entertainment or social movements – a lot is happening online, all the time. In fact, social media apps have become the new ‘hangout’ […]

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The lion’s share of modern day communication happens online and for that, thanks to the hundreds of apps available. Whether it is news or videos, blogging or education, social media or gaming, entertainment or social movements – a lot is happening online, all the time.

In fact, social media apps have become the new ‘hangout’ zones for virtual citizens. After all, we live in a connected world and enjoy being online. But that may not be always good for tweens and teens as they are still too young to process all the information download happening. This may lead to stress.

Stress is not uncommon in our physical lives. We get stressed by our education, career, relationships and the environment. The same happens in the digital world. In the physical world, our responses to stress are primarily venting, having face-to-face spats or ignoring the issue. Not so in the digital world. In the virtual space, stress may arise from different causes and the repercussions may take on a viral form.

Why do children get stressed by social media? The common causes are:

  • Peer pressure: THE most important reason for children being online is to connect with their friends. And to keep this friendship alive and kicking, they often blindly copy the group leaders, even if they are not comfortable with what they are doing
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Teens, especially girls, have a competitive spirit when it comes to online presence and don’t want to be ‘the last to know’ so, they end up spending a lot of time online
  • Keeping up with the Jones’: The same competitive spirit leads kids to spend hours posing and selecting the perfect pics to share online or seek approval from strangers. This is risky, as negative comments online can harm self-confidence
  • Excessive sharing: When kids share a lot of their private information on social media, they leave themselves vulnerable to hacking, as well as opening themselves up to contact from inappropriate individuals online
  • Cyberbullying: Most kids have witnessed or experienced some forms of cyberbullying and often end up as either perpetrators or victims or mute spectators. In all cases, this is a disturbing occurrence
  • Lack of screen time limits: Lack of digital balance can have psychological effects and so digital usage rules are a must
  • Lack of empathy: When children are not taught to respect others and their traditions, they do not develop empathy and may end up bullying those with differing views and lifestyles
  • Exposure to inappropriate content or people: The wrong connections and information are a big source of stress
  • Online spats: Differences crop up, leading to squabbles and heated exchanges. It gets complex when this is done in a public forum and strangers join in
  • Disturbing global news: The slew of violent news often creates negative tension in the minds of youngsters, leaving them feeling confused and belligerent

Parenting plays a major role in helping children learn how to tackle social media stress.  As parents, you know your children the best. Yes, even teens.

Observe them and if you note any change in their social media habits or general behaviour, talk to them. The earlier you start having frank one-to-one conversations, the easier will it be for you later. But before that, you may need to modify your own response to stress and learn to control your reactions. That way you will teach them a very important lesson without having to use a single word.

Help your kids fight social media stress:

  • Accept differences: People are different and will have different opinions. Accept the differences and respect their values
  • Be discerning: Life isn’t a bed of roses for anyone, so don’t let profiles fool you. Don’t judge someone by their bio and pictures
  • Practice tact: When things get bitter, the decent thing to do is to agree to disagree and walk away. If you don’t react, it doesn’t mean you are the weak one; it means you are smart enough not to get provoked. However, if the meanness gets out of hand, be the strong one and report and block account
  • Practice digital balance: Limit screen time and have good friends in the real world who will always stand by you
  • Be aware: The world will have both good and bad and growing up means learning to understand and accept this. Maturity is being able to stay true to values. Wisdom is knowing which is bad and avoiding it

Say goodbye to stress and lead a healthier and happier life online. Apply your values from your physical life in the digital one and practice STOP.THINK. CONNECT. And don’t forget! Use McAfee Total Protection on all connected devices to protect what you value the most.

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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).

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

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How Are Your Kids Navigating the Dangers?

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

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

Gaming Is Not All Bad News

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

Parents Concerned About Risks With Gaming

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

What Are Parents Doing To Manage Risks of Online Gaming?

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

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

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

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

How Can We Protect Our Kids While Playing Video Games

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

  • Start Conversations Early

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

  • Be Careful What You Click

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

  • Control How Long They Play

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

  • Avoid Malicious Links

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

  • Be Protected

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

Responsible Gaming Could Actually Prepare Your Child for Their Career

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

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

Take care,

Alex xx

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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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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).

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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.

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

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

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

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

Online Privacy Made Easier

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

 1. Protect Your Devices

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

 2. Manage Your Passwords

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

 3. Think Before You Download Apps

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

 4. Lock Down Your Home Wi-Fi

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

 5. Stay On Top Of Software Updates

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

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

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

 7. Multi-Factor Authentication

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

Alex x

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

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

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

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

Digital Home Assistants

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

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

What to Do to Stay Safe

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

Fitness Trackers

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

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

What to Do to Stay Safe

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

Smart TVs

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

What to Do to Stay Safe

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

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Alex xx

 

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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!

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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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.

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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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.

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

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

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

Click to view Winning the Game report

The Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

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

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

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

Gamers Could Be the Answer

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

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

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

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

Everything in Moderation, Kids!

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

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

Where to From Here?

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

Take care,

Alex x

 

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

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

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

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

To #DeleteFacebook Or Not To #DeleteFacebook?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  3. Don’t overshare on social media.

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

  4. Cull your Friends list.

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

Alex x

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

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

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

How Big An Issue Is Cyberbullying?

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

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

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

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

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

Why Is Cyberbullying Occurring More Frequently?

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

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

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

How To Minimise The Risk Of Your Child Being Cyberbullied

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

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

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

Alex xx

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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). 

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How to keep our kids safe online – start by talking about it https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/keep-kids-safe-online-start-talking/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/keep-kids-safe-online-start-talking/#respond Tue, 06 Feb 2018 10:19:33 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=84271 Whether or not you’re lucky enough to be a parent or grandparent, as adults we should all be concerned about the safety of children online. That’s why, on Safer Internet Day, a day dedicated to promoting the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people, I wanted to share some thoughts on what we can do about it. Because we all have a responsibility to look out for the generation of tomorrow.

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This blog post was written by Nick Viney.

Whether or not you’re lucky enough to be a parent or grandparent, as adults we should all be concerned about the safety of children online. That’s why, on Safer Internet Day, a day dedicated to promoting the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people, I wanted to share some thoughts on what we can do about it. Because we all have a responsibility to look out for the generation of tomorrow.

Firstly, let’s agree on a few basic truths. Today’s generation of children are unlike any that have come before them. The fortunate ones have grown up with technology all around them, and children are engaging and interacting with technology from an ever-younger age. What’s more, this isn’t always a case of stealing mum’s mobile phone, or dad’s iPad. No, much of it is technology aimed specifically at kids.

It’s not a surprise therefore that today’s generation of children are often seen glued to their phones, tablets and connected toys. And while most of this technology is incredible stuff, the unfortunate reality is that it often opens children up to a whole host of dangers. These might seem like trivialities to the younger generation, but how many children forget to inform their parents about who they are talking to online, the pages they are visiting and what they are sharing.

So what can be done about it, and how can we ensure that children are able to take advantage of the many benefits of technology, while also protecting them from its darker side? As with many things in this world, talking about it helps.

Below are some conversation starters you can use to help talk about these issues with children. These are from Safer Internet Day’s online resource, but there are lots of others out there should you want more inspiration.

Get the conversation started on a positive note:

  • Ask them what they like most about the internet and why?
  • What’s their favourite game/app/site?
  • Ask them to show you the most creative thing they’ve made online, e.g. a video they’ve made, or picture they’ve drawn.
  • Explain how the internet offers brilliant opportunities for making connections with others. Ask them who they like to keep in touch with online and what apps or services do they use?

Talk about safety:

  • Ask them what they would do if they saw that a friend online needed some help or support?
  • Ask them how they stay safe online? What tips do they have and where did they learn them?
  • Ask them to show you how to do something better or safer online.
  • Ask them to tell you what it’s okay to share online. What is it not okay to share online?
  • Do they know where to go for help, where to find safety advice and how to use safety tools on their favourite apps and games?

Discuss digital lives and wellbeing:

  • Ask them how the internet and technology makes their life better?
  • Ask how does the internet make them feel? Do different apps and games makes them feel differently?
  • Ask what could they do if being online was making them feel worse rather than better?
  • Ask them how might they know if they were using the internet and technology too much?

Talk about respect:

  • Ask what could they do if someone online was making them or someone they know feel worried or upset?
  • Who do they look up to or respect online? Why?
  • Ask them if people can say or do whatever they want online? Why / why not?
  • Ask what is different about talking online to someone compared to talking face to face? Is there anything that is the same?
  • Do they have any tips for how to be positive and show respect online?

In the hyper-connected world in which we live, it really is the responsibility of all adults to protect children online. And Safer Internet Day is the perfect opportunity to talk to your child about using the internet safely, responsibly and positively.

If you want to find out more there’s a whole host of resources to be found on the Safer Internet Day website, here: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre

And if you’re interested in joining the discussion on how to keep children safe online, we’ll be hosting a Twitter chat from 13:00 GMT today. You can get involved by including #SetUpSafe in your tweet.

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

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

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

Respecting Others Online

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

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

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

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

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

Respecting Yourself Online

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

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

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

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

Don’t Forget About Empathy!

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

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

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

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

Till next time!

Stay Safe Online,

Alex x

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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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Your Kids Are My Problem, Here’s Why https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kids-problem-heres/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kids-problem-heres/#comments Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:00:16 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=84042 This post was written by Jessica Brookes Snow falls outside the large steamy windows at a popular coffee shop in the suburbs of London. It’s crowded with dogs, children, people on laptops, people on mobiles and people on another planet. At a corner table, two friends are talking about how much (or how little) they […]

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This post was written by Jessica Brookes

Snow falls outside the large steamy windows at a popular coffee shop in the suburbs of London. It’s crowded with dogs, children, people on laptops, people on mobiles and people on another planet. At a corner table, two friends are talking about how much (or how little) they know about keeping their children safe “on devices”.  One remarks they rely on the parental settings in web browsers whilst the other confesses not to know if their mobile phone has parental controls. “Must do better”, “must look into that” is the closing sentiment but not before both do some personal admin whilst chatting; online banking for one and eBay listings for the other. The coffee shop is not unusual and neither are these parents.

According to the latest impact report from Internet Matters, the pace of change from 2013 to 2016 shows that parents’ concern increased in almost every area of online issues children face. Yet Parenting Digital Natives, also from Internet Matters, shows that only 49% of the parents surveyed had spoken to their 6-10 year olds about online safety in the last month, yet 78% of 10-12 year olds have social media accounts and online has overtaken TV with 5-15 year olds spending an average of 15 hours a week online. But what does all this research mean?

It means the children that surround us are spending more time online, potentially without adult insight into what they are doing, seeing and sharing. In contrast to television, knowing what is happening on a tablet, phone or laptop requires being involved. It also requires being educated about the risks as well as benefits of social Apps, games and websites children are frequenting. In order to facilitate information sharing and constructive discussions about how to stay safe it’s imperative, as adults, we know what we are talking about. We may not know more than our children, students, neighbours, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc but we have an obligation to know as much as they do. If they are using the Apps we should be too; especially parents, carers and teachers. And if we can’t keep up to date on the latest, then we can ask the right questions: what are you sharing? Can you chat on it? Can you make friends on it? Can you play games on it? One area often overlooked in social media are the T&Cs. As an example, children usually think they are protected because parents are saying it’s ok. Snapchat is a favourite because the photos disappear after 24 hours, however, the terms and conditions mean that they can and are sold as stock images.

Why all the questions? The question and answer portion of my day is normally at the bequest of my eight-year-old twins, not the other way around. But I know that will change soon. And when it does I want to ensure the lines of communication are open and I know enough about what they are doing to give them practical (even if not always welcome) advice on how to stay safe online. Why then, should other adults in their life or in my community for that matter to also have enough awareness to hold an intelligent conversation with a 10-year-old about online safety? Social apps an online activity are replacing the block party/neighbourhood get together culture I grew up with. I firmly believe that as adults we all have a social responsibility for educating and keeping children safe or society will degrade to the point where the monkeys are running the zoo.

I am back in the steamy café with espresso machines hissing, groups laughing and babies gurgling. The friends conducting financial transactions over an unsecured wi-fi connection gather their things to leave. One dog barks, then another and then another. Within seconds it’s turned from a coffee shop into a rowdy kennel and all it takes is one tall human to quiet a pooch and in an equal amount of time order is restored. If each of us take the view that the small humans of today will be running the world of tomorrow it’s our responsibility to participate in what that world looks like.

Follow me on Twitter @JBroLdn
 

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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). 

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

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

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

What Are The Main Risks Kids Face Online?

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

How Can I Help My Kids Navigate Online Dangers?

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

The Back To School To-Do List

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

1. Install Security Software On ALL Devices.

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

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

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

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

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

3. Schedule Regular Data Backups.

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

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

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

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

5. Understand Your Child’s School BYOD Policy.

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

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

Here’s to a great school year!!

Take care,

Alex xx

 

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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).

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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 allowing this rite of passage.

The variable that’s different between kids today kids of the past is technology. If the meaning of a veiled word or phrase is funny or harmless, then no problem. But when a term is loaded with offensive, abusive, illegal or harmful meaning, then it’s time to take that slang seriously.

As always, we’ve unofficially canvassed a handful of teens, paid attention to the digital chatter, and curated a few impressive lists and here’s the slang we found that kids are using.

Harmless

Scoop: To pick someone up like at their house
Finna: Fixing to do something
Yeet: A way to express excitement over something
Skeet: Let’s go
Dip: To leave
Mans: A man/person
Low key: To keep something confidential between friends
High key: I don’t care who knows
AMOSC: Add me on snapchat
Gualla: Money
Rn: Right now
Slick: Cool
Geekin: Laughing too hard and too loud
Bet: Something is going to happen
Curve:
To reject someone romantically
Salty: Talking in a sassy or bitter way
WRU: Where are you?
WUD: What are you doing?
LYAAF: Love you as a friend
NC: No comment
IDKWTD: I don’t know what to do
DOH:
Expression of frustration, or realizing something
123: I agree
Hml: Hit my line; call or text me, I’ll be waiting
OBS: Obviously
OFC: Of course
ACC: Actually
POA: Plan of action
IMO: In My Opinion
GOMB: Get Off My Back
KOTL: Kiss On The Lips
Huggle: Hug and snuggle
Ship: Abbreviation for relationship
IDEK: I don’t even know
IKR: I know, right?
SMH: Shaking my head
Thirsty: Desperate, impatient, or overly eager
Dime: On an approval scale of 1-10; dime is a very attractive person
Fam: Very good friend
Basic: Someone or something is ordinary or boring
Westan: Showing support for person or cause
Woke: Awareness of current affairs or social issues (i.e., That girl is so woke 24/7.)
Savage: When a person speaks or acts bluntly or without a filter in public
Gucci: Very impressive
Sus: Suspicious

Risky 

Wth: What the heck/hell
Af: As f***, used to mean “extremely”
121: Let’s chat in a private message
Aeap, alap: As early or as late as possible referencing parties
Pods: For your Juul (vape)
Clouds: The vapor from your vape
F2F: Offering to video chat or meet in person
LMIRL: Let’s meet in real life
1174: Invitation to meet at a particular place, often for a wild party
9, CD9, Code 9: Parents are nearby
99: Parents are gone
MOS, POS: Mom/Parents over shoulder
KPC: Keeping parents clueless
WTTP: Want to trade pictures?
 S2R: Send to Receive (pictures)
Sugarpic: Refers to a suggestive or erotic photograph
TDTM: Talk dirty to me
THOT: That wh*** over there
Zerg: To gang up on someone (a gaming term that has morphed into a bullying term)
KMS, KYS: Kill myself, kill yourself
TBH: To Be Honest (a candid compliment or an insult may follow)
SWYP: So What’s Your Problem?
182: I hate you
Shade: Refers to “threw shade” or “throwing shade,” to put someone down.
A3: Anytime, anywhere, anyplace

Illegal 

Blow: Cocaine
Pearls: A nicely rolled blunt
Bud: Marijuana
Tree: Marijuana (i.e., Looking for tree, got any? )
Dabbing: Concentrated doses of marijuana (began as a dance craze)
420: Marijuana or let’s get high
DOC: Drug of choice
Yayo: Cocaine
Baseball = Crack Cocaine
Skrill: Money
CID: Acid
E: Ecstasy
Hazel: Heroin
Blue Boogers: Snorting Adderall or Ritalin
Pharming: Getting into medicine cabinets to find drugs to get high on
Pox: Opium
Robo-tripping: Consuming cough syrup to get high
Tweaking: High on amphetamines
White Lady: Cocaine; heroin
Wings: Cocaine; heroin
Speed, crank, uppers ,Crystal or Tina: Meth

With the nationwide growth in opioid addiction, this year we’re adding this list of slang/text terms for opioids. Opioids are prescription painkillers sold on the street. If you find or overhear your kids using these terms, address it immediately. A few nicknames, slang terms include:

Demmies: Demerol
O, Oxy, kickers, OC, kickers, blues: Oxycontin
Captain Cody, Cody, schoolboy: Codeine with Robitussin or Tylenol
Percs: Percocet/Percodan
Doors & fours, pancakes and syrup: Codeine with glutethimide
Vikes, lorries, Watsons, 357s: Vicodin or Lorcet/Lortab
Pink O, stop signs, pink: Opana (oxymorphone) 
Fentanyl:
China girl, China town, tango and cash
Rids, ritties, skippy, skittles, study buddies: Ritalin
Black beauties, truck drivers, wakeups: Adderall

While these lists could go on for days, we’ve collected the ones we’ve noticed the most. Familiarize yourself with these words and abbreviations, pay attention to what your kids are talking about, who their friends are and whether or not they are using technology is amplifying positive conversations or dangerous ones. As always, make your relationship and open communication with your tween or teen a priority. It’s the #1 way to avoid digital disasters.

Have we missed any slang terms you’ve noticed online? Please comment below! 

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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2018 Resolution: Lose the Weight of Tech Safety Guilt Once and for All https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/2018-resolution-lose-weight-tech-safety-guilt/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/2018-resolution-lose-weight-tech-safety-guilt/#respond Sat, 06 Jan 2018 15:00:00 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83452 January is here, and we’ve got goals to crush. We want to be more productive. We want to spend more quality time with family. We want to get fit and lose some weight. Then there are those brave enough to tackle what’s going on in their parenting knower. The knower is located in every parent’s […]

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January is here, and we’ve got goals to crush. We want to be more productive. We want to spend more quality time with family. We want to get fit and lose some weight. Then there are those brave enough to tackle what’s going on in their parenting knower.

The knower is located in every parent’s internal command center. It knows what it should do but hasn’t quite gotten around to doing it. It won’t appear on an anatomy chart, but if you are a parent, you know precisely where your knower is because you can feel the weight of the guilt that collects there. One of the biggest guilt generators is knowing what we should do to lock down our family’s digital life, but somehow keep putting it off.

According to McAfee’s 2018 digital threat predictions several of the top technology threats coming our way this year target family safety specifically. The first threat: The growing power of the connected home and potential threats to family data privacy from big corporations. And, the second threat: Risky apps kids use and how companies can use content posted by users.

Both issues are big deals as our homes become more connected in new ways that are both exciting and, frankly, concerning when it comes to the issue of privacy.

So who is brave enough to lose the unwanted guilt weight? Here are a few easy things you can do to start 2018 to get your digital life in shape.

Inventory Your Homefront

Chances are you’ve accumulated a stockpile of digital products you don’t even realize pose a threat to your family’s security. Those devices likely need a password and privacy setting tuneup. Four steps to home safety: 1) Make a list of your devices 2) go into the settings and make the necessary updates 3) if a software update is needed, do that as soon as you get a notification. 4) To streamline that process, consider a central built-in security product that ensures every device in your house is well protected.

Products to put on your list: Smart TVs, digital assistants such as Alexa and Echo, drones, laptops, tablets, personal computers, home automation systems such as The Nest, home security systems, your home network, smartphones, Bluetooth car kits, digital toys, game systems, electronic keypads on doors and garages, digital cameras, baby monitors, and any digital appliance. Even cars can be targets for hackers as seen in the Jeep hack of 2015, in which hackers used a laptop to disable a car’s engine on the freeway and forced Fiat Chrysler to recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

With more homes becoming fully connected, experts agree it’s going to become harder to secure your privacy not only from hackers but marketers spying on users for profit. Do your homework on a product’s security standards before you purchase items and know what security gaps are currently in your home. Tip: Companies know that customers rarely read privacy agreements. Weak agreements tempt corporations to frequently change the privacy agreement after the devices and services are deployed to capture more customer information and revenue.

Talk More About the Big 3

Talking to your kids about digital safety is your most valuable defense against family security mishaps. Remind your kids of the Top Three Rules of Digital Responsibility 1) Don’t interact with strangers online 2) Don’t share personal information such as home address, email, birthdate or personal activities and plans and 3) Don’t upload or download inappropriate content or photos. The Internet never forgets and the damage done can be devastating.

Pay Attention to App Privacy

As identified in our threat predictions report, more and more kids are downloading apps with loose guidelines on how companies can use user-generated content. Educate your child about why this poses a danger and how daily interactions with these fun, social apps can affect their reputations in the future.

Slow Down, Click with Care

Living in a streaming, posting, click-here-now world has forced us to read and respond quickly. In doing so, we miss vital details, get in digital misunderstandings, and risk our privacy by clicking suspicious links. In 2018, take back your digital control by merely slowing down. Be it email, texts, social media posts — stop and think before you post, respond, or click links. Cybercrooks understand our habits and are always looking to exploit our weak points.

Make More Meaningful Connections

The ability to connect with others 24/7 can be both empowering and debilitating. We know in our knower when we are spending too much time glued to our smartphone and when our kids are also. Online connections will never compare to the rich relationships we can experience offline. This year, resolve to help your kids maintain a healthy perspective on digital versus face-to-face interactions. A healthy digital balance is especially crucial during tween and teen years since studies show that the more time kids spend online, the more isolation and depression can set in. Resolve to curb screen time by modeling balance, planning physical activity and phone-free outings, and establishing phone free zones in the home.

Remember, in making changes in this new year resolve not to look back. Embrace 2018 for all it is: A clean slate primed and ready for your family to establish and set new habits in motion. You’ve got this!

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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Be Unhackable: Here’s Your Post-Holiday Gift Safety Checklist https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/unhackable-heres-post-holiday-gift-safety-checklist/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/unhackable-heres-post-holiday-gift-safety-checklist/#respond Fri, 29 Dec 2017 15:00:07 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83364 ‘Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house All the smart toys were buzzing and beeping about, The chargers were plugged near the chimney with care, Without a clue that the hackers soon would be there. With the height of the season now behind us, you may be experiencing a bit of a holiday […]

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‘Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house
All the smart toys were buzzing and beeping about,
The chargers were plugged near the chimney with care,
Without a clue that the hackers soon would be there.

With the height of the season now behind us, you may be experiencing a bit of a holiday hangover. But as you wade through the holiday fallout of wrapping paper, instruction manuals, batteries packs, and downloads, don’t forget that the most important step to your family enjoying its cache of digital gifts is protecting them.

McAfee’s Most Hackable Toys  2017 survey revealed our shared habits of connectivity minussolid safeguards. What we know: While most of us realize the importance of protecting our internet-connected devices, we aren’t too concerned with making device security a priority.

So, now that you’ve purchased that new smartphone, drone, smart toy, or appliance, take that next simple step to secure your expanding digital home. Here’s a short, post-holiday checklist to help get you started.

Smart Gift Checklist

Settings, passwords, software. Once you’ve powered up your new device: 1) Make sure it’s password protected with tw0-step authentication. 2) Set a pin or passcode to lock your device. 3) Install the latest software versions as soon as possible and update them regularly. 4) Protect your new devices with additional security software if possible. 5) Avoid downloading suspicious apps and never click on strange links that arrive via email, messenger, or text. 6) And here’s a biggie: If you are selling, donating, or recycling your old devices, make sure you wipe them clean.

Research the risks. According to the same McAfee study, some of the most popular digital gifts of 2017 include tablets, smartphones, drones, digital assistants, and connected toys and appliances — all of which come with inherent security risks. With the growing list smart devices, hackers have a million new entryways into our homes. Google the name and model of your new gift and read about possible security holes. Another valuable resource is online reviews posted by people who have encountered security issues.

‘Take Five’ before having fun. Securing a new gift often takes five minutes, but it’s a must in today’s wired world. Go into your new product’s privacy settings and change manufacturer settings and set a new password. Keep the process simple and allow your kids to do it alongside you so that device security is more likely to become a habit.

Don’t be duped by cute. From fuzzy talking puppies to adorable dolls, toys can also carry massive security risks. It’s important to research if there have been any reported security vulnerabilities with toys you’ve purchased or have been gifted, so you know how to secure them. Don’t let a toy’s appearance lull you into a false sense of security. Remember: It may look like a kitty cat, but if it connects to the world wide web, then it’s a computer that could be transmitting data to a remote server. When using connected toys: 1) Use toys in places with trusted and secured wi-fi. 2) Monitor your child’s activity with the toys (such as conversations and voice recordings) through the toy’s partner parent application, if available. 3) Take time to read the toy’s disclosures and privacy policies.

Refresh passwords on your home network. 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, make it a point to change your passwords regularly.

It’s impossible to protect against all risks, but you can frustrate a hacker’s plans by putting up some security obstacles. Even though security and privacy risks come with our new gifts, it’s clear that the demand for faster, better, more impressive digital products is here to stay. Taking the time to boost your family’s security will help make sure this holiday remains a happy one into the New Year and beyond.

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

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

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

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

So, in short – it can happen to anyone…

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

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

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

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

How Big Is the Problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Change Your Password

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

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

2. Let Your Email Contacts Know

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

3. Change Your Security Question

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

4. Commit to Multi Factor Authentication

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

5. Check Your Email Settings

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

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

6. Scan Your Computer for Malware and Viruses

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

7. Change Any Other Accounts with the Same Password

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

8. Consider Creating a New Email Address

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

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

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

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

 

Alex x

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How the IoT supports the world’s largest industries https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/iot-supports-worlds-largest-industries/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/iot-supports-worlds-largest-industries/#respond Tue, 19 Dec 2017 12:30:29 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83330 This blog post was written by Nick Viney. The Internet of Things (IoT) has already helped to connect our world in so many ways, bringing huge improvements and convenience to our lives, homes and health. But we’re often guilty of taking it for granted and failing to celebrate the many ways in which being connected […]

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This blog post was written by Nick Viney.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has already helped to connect our world in so many ways, bringing huge improvements and convenience to our lives, homes and health. But we’re often guilty of taking it for granted and failing to celebrate the many ways in which being connected supports some of the world’s largest industries, such as transport, agriculture, manufacturing and even the cities in which we live. With around half of the world’s population now online and discovering more and more sectors are turning to tech everyday, I thought it would be a perfect time to highlight some of the fundamental changes IoT has made society what it is today.

Agriculture

Farmers are increasingly using their smartphones for new techniques that improve the production of livestock and field activity – also known as ‘agritech’. This includes looking after the health of cattle, analysing grazing time, and even water consumption through sensor-fitted collars. These can even alert farmers when they sense motions associated with labour from pregnant cattle. Meanwhile, organisations like the Wildlife Conservation Society are monitoring endangered species prone to poaching activities through the use of motion-sensing cameras.  

Not only are they finding that IoT minimises their operational costs, but also allows them to achieve better results. For example, harmful pesticides and extreme weather conditions that could have adverse effects on crops can be detected in advance – This way a course of action can be put in place.

Climate and environment

Networking and telecommunications company Ericsson claims that the footprint of IoT could help cut up to 63.5 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Whilst The International Telecommunication Union predicted that rural areas and developing countries will evolve the way they access electricity and the internet thanks to smarter energy saving solutions.  

Various organisations are already providing smarter solutions for protecting the planet, for example, San Franciscan startup, Rainforest Connection, enhanced the protection of forests vulnerable to deforestation including Indonesia and the Amazon. This was achieved by transforming mobile phones into solar-powered listening devices attached to the trees, these are set to alert rangers if they sense the sound of a chainsaw from over a kilometre away. Other examples can be seen through IBM’s China Research Lab and London’s Pigeon Air Patrol, which are scaling up the quality of the city’s air through a forecasting system that monitors pollution levels in different neighbourhoods.   

Transport

In many ways, it feels as though the transport industry has long used IoT, thanks to technologies like sensor street lights, speed cameras, and Sat Navs which have been commonplace since 2013. And the innovation hasn’t stopped there – we’re continuing to see plenty of movement in the space, for example, Transport for London (TfL) supports approximately 21 million commuter trips each day – and has predicted that the city will be populated by a total of 10 million people by 2030. It’s no wonder the introduction of Oyster cards in 2003 was a huge success, later to be replaced by a contactless payment system that today accounts for more than one billion journeys. We later saw London’s iconic red buses also go green in 2014 with the introduction of wirelessly charging hybrid buses. Similarly, car manufacturers such as Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla all have plans to launch driverless cars in the near future, with predictions that 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020.

Although it’s interesting to see the how IoT has become so widespread and had such a massive impact on various industries and people’s lives, it’s almost natural to forget the dangers and risks that come with it or envisage a time when we managed without it. As more and more industries take advantage of the benefits offered by IoT, poorly secured devices pose a growing risk. For this reason we need to remember that all devices need to be protected with secure networks and the latest software. In the age of the internet of things, this will be more important than ever.

To keep up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity news, take a look at the McAfee Security blog here.

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Family Tech: How to Save Your Vanishing Attention Span https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-tech-save-vanishing-attention-spans/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-tech-save-vanishing-attention-spans/#respond Sat, 16 Dec 2017 15:00:05 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83306 Researchers have published a handful of studies in the past few years that examine the impact of technology on the human brain and our dwindling attention spans. One study even compares our now eight-second attention span (down from 12 seconds in the year 2000) to that of a goldfish. While several studies cite the social […]

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technology and attention spanResearchers have published a handful of studies in the past few years that examine the impact of technology on the human brain and our dwindling attention spans. One study even compares our now eight-second attention span (down from 12 seconds in the year 2000) to that of a goldfish.

While several studies cite the social and neurobiological impact of technology, most of us can leapfrog all those statistics and admit that we — as well as our kids — simply aren’t as present as we could be.

It doesn’t take a study to illustrate the reality that most of us have been swept away by the “always-on” river of stimuli created by technology. Our brains have been slowly but surely rewired to engage with and respond to living in a digital culture.

Reclaiming Our Attention Spans

Our attention span can be defined as the amount of concentrated time we give to a task without becoming distracted. So how healthy is your family’s attention span?

Take an honest look at your home on any given Saturday. How many devices are powered up at one time? How many faces are planted on screens? How much time is spent together void of devices? How quick are you to respond to your email, social media, and text messages? How many details need to be repeated because of digital distractions? Do you interrupt face-to-face time with others when your phone beeps? How long does it take an individual to disrupt a gathering to look up something on their phone and then how long does it take before everyone feels permission to do the same?

More and more our entire lives are connected from home to school, to the office, and beyond. It’s easy to conduct our days fully connected and uninterrupted if we chose to do so. Such connectivity brings incredible positives but at what cost to our family’s attention spans?

If you’re serious about nursing your attention span back to health and raising kids that know how to do the same, here are a few practical changes to consider. If our brains can create new neuropaths that can efficiently multitask a digital life, they are also capable of creating paths designed to rebuild our attention spans.

5 Tips to Restore Your Attention Span

  1. Master single tasking. While most people see multitasking as a strength, studies show multitasking actually decreases productivity. Focus on one thing (or person) at a time. Put the phone down, close the laptop, and mute the TV. Not only will this improve your ability to focus and get things done, but you may also see a boost in the quality of your relationships. Resolution: Master the art of single tasking.
  2. No tech zones. The first thing we do in the morning can set the tone for the entire day. So, if you check your phone when you wake up, this can open the door to a distraction-filled day. Go old school. Leave your phone technology and attention spanin another room when you go bed and purchase an old-fashioned alarm clock. Keep your phone in a drawer for the first hour of your day so you can focus on your family and thoughts without distraction. This applies to kids as well. Resolution: Make the bedroom (and mornings) tech-free.
  3. Nurture your senses. Constant technology can deplete our physical senses. Two things can restore them: Taking periodic breaks from technology and drinking more water. Simply by putting down your technology and taking a walk or doing a physical task can restore your senses and boost your attention span. Also, staying hydrated helps every aspect of your ability to stay focused on the things and the people around you. Experts also encourage mediation, breathing deeply, and exercising as ways to nurture focus. Resolution: Take the time daily to restore your senses.
  4. Audit digital distractions. Studies show that for every distraction we indulge, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on course. Time tracking tools such as Toggle and Rescuetime can help you identify distractions. And, tools Google Chrome’s Stay Focused, will even block distracting sites.
  5. Streamline social. If you are active on ten social media channels, it could be time to streamline. Adding online groups and social networks to our lives — from communities within apps to Facebook groups — is a slow creep much like gaining weight. Audit your technology and attention spandigital communities and determine which three deserve your time and attention. Delete or deactivate the others. It may sound extreme but striking balance requires censoring. To help kids in this area, parental controls with time limits are an option. Resolution: Simplify social activity.
  6. Turn off notifications. Yes, sometimes the biggest changes are one simple step away. Turn off notifications that somehow have become the norm. Get rid of those Facebook, email, and Twitter notifications that pop up on your phone and fragment your attention span — and your relationships. Resolution: Live life notification free!

Author Bob Goff says, “What constantly distracts us, will eventually define us.” That’s a heavy thought for parents bringing up kids in a digital world. Building your attention span is like building up a muscle. It will take time, consistency, and you will make revisions along the way. So begin gradually and build. You may be surprised at rewards that start coming your way.

 

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

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

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

1. Do They Really Need One?

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

2. Can They Help Keep Kids Safe?

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

3. What Are The Risks?

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

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

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

How To Secure Your Smartwatch

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

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

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

Happy Christmas!

Alex xx

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

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

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

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

‘It Won’t Happen To Me’

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

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

Why Do We Need To Worry?

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

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

What Should We Do To Stay Safe?

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

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

1. Ban Free Wi-Fi

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

2. Invest in a VPN

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

3. Update ALL Your Devices Before You Leave Home

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

4. Turn Off Bluetooth When Not Using It

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

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

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

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

Happy Christmas and Safe Travels!

Alex xx

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How to Make Sure That Shiny New Device Does Not Get Hacked this Holiday https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-hackable-are-your-gifts-you-might-be-surprised/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/how-hackable-are-your-gifts-you-might-be-surprised/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:00:54 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=83004 Across the country, there’s an awkward pause on Christmas morning no one wants to talk about. It’s that moment when someone opens a gift doesn’t contain some form of shiny, new technology.  Not ready to admit that yet? Okay, Dads, would you prefer a bottle of aftershave or a drone? Moms, would you rather have a […]

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Across the country, there’s an awkward pause on Christmas morning no one wants to talk about. It’s that moment when someone opens a gift doesn’t contain some form of shiny, new technology.  Not ready to admit that yet? Okay, Dads, would you prefer a bottle of aftershave or a drone? Moms, would you rather have a pair of slippers that look like hairy bear claws or a fitness tracker? Would Johnny Jr. enjoy a new backpack or a new smartphone? Exactly.

Going gaga over shiny new gadgets is nothing to be ashamed of. Ideally, you should enjoy every moment and megabyte — minus the worry of being hacked. In this third year of McAfee’s Most Hackable Holiday Gifts survey, based on consumer behavior, there are some specific ways to secure your new gifts.

Are You a Ted or a Ned?

This year we’re introducing Ted and Ned, two little elves who have very different ideas of how to protect their digital devices. Going through this fun, short animated clip with your family is a great way to explain digital security to your kids and get them thinking about personal online safety. So, before firing up those new gadgets, take a few minutes to dive into the misadventures of Ted and Ned. Ask your child if he or she will be more like Ted (careful) or a Ned (careless) with their new toys.

Survey: Security Still Not a Priority

Taking the top spot for most-hackable items are our beloved laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Also, drones, digital assistants, connected toys, and digital appliances took top spots. Much like last year, the  2017 survey revealed that while consumers realize the importance of protecting their online identity and internet-connected devices, they still are unsure if they are taking the right security measures or aren’t too concerned with making device security a priority. Of the 1,206 adults surveyed this year, 20% of consumers are not worried about internet security and would still buy a must-have connected device if they knew it was susceptible to security breaches. For 40% of those surveyed, security is not a top priority when purchasing but is considered after purchase.

And concerns about digital toys? Most consumers agree that security is a necessity for laptops, tablets, and smartphones (69%). But, only 22 percent believe connected toys require protection. Also, 29 percent think drones should be protected, and 56 percent believe that digital assistants need to be secured.

The Risks Are Real

Having a toy or a washing machine hacked sounds farfetched but hackers view our digital devices as unlocked doors into homes. They target built-in microphones, cameras, and location-based services to access your family’s personal information in order to conduct financial and physical crimes. With any phone or tablet, thieves can woo you into clicking or downloading malicious links and apps. With drones, consumers need to be aware of risks associated with drone jacking and fake Wi-Fi signals from rogue drones.

In short, as consumers, we still have a security gap to close. Let’s get started! Here are a few tips to give your family clarity on digital security.

  • Keep it simple: Securing a new gift often takes five minutes much like registering for a product warranty. So make going into a product’s privacy settings a holiday routine and teach your kids to do the same. Keep the process simple device security is more likely to become a habit in your family.
  • Research before you purchase: Not all manufacturers take security seriously, especially when it comes to connected toys, so it’s important to research if there have been any reported security vulnerabilities before purchasing toys.
  • Think before you click: One of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to compromise your device is using a malicious link. Don’t trust a link or other solicitation that you are not expecting.
  • Update, update, update: Whether it’s your PC, smartphone, digital assistant or even your drone, keep the software up to date. Manufacturers plug security holes with device updates, so it’s crucial to install the latest versions as soon as possible. When applicable, use up-to-date security software.
  • Beware of shady public Wi-Fi hotspots: Cybercriminals often deploy fake Wi-Fi hotspots that appear to be legitimate but give them visibility into your browsing habits. If you have to use public Wi-Fi refrain from online shopping or banking. Take extra precautions when linking your life to the world-wide web. If you need to shop or bank on public Wi-Fi, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • Lock down your home network: 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.

 

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

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10 Pro-Active Ways to Dodge the Traps of Identity Thieves https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/10-pro-active-ways-to-dodge-the-traps-of-identity-thieves/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/10-pro-active-ways-to-dodge-the-traps-of-identity-thieves/#respond Tue, 05 Dec 2017 15:33:40 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=82848 According to the latest reports, digital thieves stole more than $16 billion from consumers in 2016 — that’s up nearly $1 billion from 2015. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, some 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year. Those stats will take the jingle out of anyone’s holiday. So how can […]

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According to the latest reports, digital thieves stole more than $16 billion from consumers in 2016 — that’s up nearly $1 billion from 2015. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, some 15.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft or fraud last year.

Those stats will take the jingle out of anyone’s holiday. So how can we fight back? By staying grounded in reality and making sure our identity and bank accounts remain off limits to cyber thieves.

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In 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, my identity was stolen and sold to a third-party distributing stolen social security numbers to hurricane victims who needed phones and purchasing power quickly. I found this out several months later after credit card statements to the tune of $3,000 started arriving in my name.

The emotional toll that followed was brutal. While I went through all the propersteps of filing a police report, canceling my credit cards, putting alerts on and freezing my credit, and spending countless hours explaining the situation to unsympathetic bill collectors, the outstanding bogus bills

continued to surface for years. The authorities believe the leaked social security number was part of a more significant medical data breach similar to the recent Equifax breach.

Identity theft is brutal.

Even though the breach wasn’t my fault, it still took me several years before I dared to make an online purchase. Over a decade later, I still get uneasy when I enter my credit card information. I eventually decided that rather than abandon online purchasing (which is becoming nearly impossible), I would do everything I could to stay a step ahead of the crooks.

Pro-Active Ways to Dodge Identity Theft

No one is 100 percent fraud-proof in our digital world where big corporations store so much of our personal information.When Equifax got hacked, everyone sobered up. With 145 million people affected by the Equifax incident, most everyone will have to monitor their credit activity for years to come closely.

Still, there are some things you can do to reduce the chances that you’ll be a target of identity theft or online fraud. Note: Anyone with a social security number can be a victim of identity theft — including your kids. These tips apply to your child’s identity as well.

  1. Just say ‘No!’ Be discerning when giving personal information online be it on social platforms, email signups, polls, surveys, and on apps. Just because a website is asking for your information doesn’t mean it’s necessary to provide it to them. Ask who wants the information and why. Don’t be click bait. And all those “fun” social media apps and games that show up in your feed and woo you into clicking to see your celebrity lookalike? Skip them! Many are designed to gather information needed to put your identity puzzle together for thieves. They lack safeguards and are never worth the click. Don’t post your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, or other personal information on social sites or even in your posts or content — many people just use an initial of a child when posting online. Determined thieves can use these bits and pieces of information to verify your identity and access to your electronic accounts.
  2. Slow down. Having a world of information at our fingertips has spoiled us. We want the information we want when we want it. Crooks bank on the fact that we are moving fast and likely not taking the time to question a suspicious link. So slow down and think before you click and encourage your kids to do the same. The same applies to our internet searches. In a world where we Google everything, safety becomes critical. Using a tool like McAfee WebAdvisor can help keep you safe by identifying malicious websites and warning the user before they click. Also, search engines siphon personal and behavioral data. So, as an extra layer of protection, go into your browser and adjust the privacy settings to block tracking used by advertisers.Identity Theft
  3. Shred it. I used to think this was such an old-school, irrelevant practice but safety digital experts agree: If you don’t own a shredder, you might consider one to guard your privacy. Identity theft via snail mail is still an issue. What kind of information should you shred? Anything containing:
    • Your Social Security Number (even just the last four digits)
    • Your birth date
    • Your credit card numbers
    • Any account numbers from financial institutions
    • Medical insurance numbers
    • Unsolicited credit applications
  4. Back to basics checklist. No matter how much you think you know about technology and the risks, stay humble about your vulnerability to online crime. Pay attention to privacy basics which include: updating passwords, amping privacy settings on all social networks, avoiding public Wi-Fi, and using two-step authentication for logins.
  5. Update and protect. Update your virus protection software regularly and do not download files from strangers. Too, when you get an alert to update software — be it your phone, laptop, or tablet — pay attention. Updates put one more lock on your digital security. Criminals can exploit flaws in old software versions to hack into your device.
  6. Secure Your Home Network. Limit your circle of trust when it comes to access to your home network — doing so protects your whole family physically and financially. Be sure to name your home network something other than your family name and don’t be casual when it comes to giving out your password. Treat your network password the way you would a house key. Think about creating a guest network so visitors can connect without gaining access to your family’s other networked devices or shared files.
  7. Know the signs. If a thief is using your data, you may notice: 1) Pre-approved credit card offers arriving via mail 2) Collection agencies calling 3) Court notices regarding delinquent bills. If you suspect someone is using your personal information to open accounts, file taxes, or make purchases, visit IdentityTheft.gov.
  8. Understand the scope. Identity theft isn’t just about money. Sometimes it’s about access to services. Medical identity theft is when someone uses your information to receive medical care or benefits. Crooks have even applied for apartment rentals, mortgages, jobs, and tax refunds using other people’s identities.
  9. Freeze your accounts. If you think there’s been a breach, ask each credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to freeze your credit reports, which prevents anyone else from using your personal information to open a new line of credit. Put an alert on your credit that will warn you if attempts to use your name or credit.
  10. Move with confidence. It won’t take you long to do a security sweep of your digital activity and make some changes. Once you know you’ve done all you can, enjoy your digital life with confidence, not fear. Why let a crook rob you of anything more? Celebrate National Identity Theft Awareness Month (December) by doing everything you can do to shut down online criminals.

 

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

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Holiday Challenge: How Serious Are You About Curbing Your Screentime? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/holiday-challenge-how-serious-are-you-about-curbing-your-screentime/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/holiday-challenge-how-serious-are-you-about-curbing-your-screentime/#respond Tue, 28 Nov 2017 15:00:24 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=82741 I tinkered with the idea of signing off Facebook for the holidays. I even wrote the popular “I’m unplugging for the holidays” post, looked at it for a moment, and then deleted it. What about the holiday photos I wanted to share? And the fun pictures of friends and family that had become a welcome […]

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I tinkered with the idea of signing off Facebook for the holidays. I even wrote the popular “I’m unplugging for the holidays” post, looked at it for a moment, and then deleted it. What about the holiday photos I wanted to share? And the fun pictures of friends and family that had become a welcome part of my routine? Oh, and all those kids dressed in holiday outfits — I confess — I look forward to the warm fuzzies that come with seeing babies or puppies online. Sad but true, Facebook has become my daily dose of Vitamin F for fun (or rather, Vitamin D for distraction).

Is that so bad? Yes and no.

No, it’s not a ding in our character if we hop online seeking out friends, knowledge, laughs, or entertaining content to fill our curiosity wells. However, it becomes a problem when we spend more time (and prefer) scrolling through pictures of Christmas lights rather than getting in the car together to see them. Or, when we’d rather admire, like, and comment on other people’s Christmas memories rather than taking time to create our own.

Real life trumps screen life — every single time.

So here’s the challenge. Don’t try to go cold turkey with your screentime — and by screen time we mean smartphone, tv, tablets, and gaming systems — just try to reduce that time by half. Pay attention to the activity that takes most of your time and cut that out. For me, as noted, that would be Facebook. For some reason, I’ve started checking Facebook before I even open my email — not a wise strategy for a successful day. Without thinking, I find myself giving my first 20 minutes of my day scrolling, liking, searching for the right emoji, wishing people happy birthday, writing heartfelt comments, and clicking on a variety of news links that frankly, I could skip.

Maybe your one vice is endless hours of Hallmark movies, Netflix binging, or a favorite news channel. We challenge you to cut that routine in half.

So this holiday, will you join us? We’re not trying to be perfect, just trying to do better with the valuable 24 hours we have each day. For every hour you are absent from your screen, you become fully present to enjoy family and friends and make this holiday season unforgettable.

Need a little nudge off the couch (I do!)? Here are just a few ideas that may inspire you to reduce your tech and boost your family time.

Dream a little. Fire up the imaginations. Ask each family member what the perfect holiday looks like to them. Then, figure out how to make as many of those ideas come to life this holiday as possible. Maybe it’s starting a new tradition together, finding a favorite story to read each night, sharing more meals around the table, visiting a tree farm, making handmade gifts, finding local events to attend, Christmas caroling, volunteering in a soup kitchen, ice skating, or taking a few outings to pop in and visit friends you’ve been missing.

Grab some rays. Get outside. Grab your mittens, your hat, and head out. Tip: Don’t take a poll and ask who wants to go, just announce the family hike that’s about to go down. Because screen time can physically deplete our senses, green time — time spent outdoors — can be a simple, but powerful way to recharge the spirits and refresh perspectives. A hefty dose of Vitamin D from sunlight and moving your eyes from a boxed-in screen to a boundless sky is one of mother nature’s most potent anti-depressants. And, it will bring your family together immediately.

Make unplugging fun. Depending on the age of your kids, unplugging may seem like a punishment. So make it fun. Play a game. For every half or a full day spent minus a device or tv, let your child choose and plan how to spend the day. Maybe it’s volunteering, baking cookies, playing board games, singing Karaoke together, doing a puzzle or craft together, or spending time together downloading all those online photos and making real photo albums.

Plan for success. Make sure you are armed and ready with activity suggestions before you set screen limits. Don’t underestimate the fact that some of the best family memories have likely been planned out. Winging it and trusting kids to keep themselves busy apart from their devices could disappoint.

Prepare a family meal together. What’s your family heritage? Have you explored the foods related to your country of origin? Find some of the meals your ancestors may have prepared and have a culinary adventure together in the kitchen. Or, if you have a few of grandma’s recipes on hand, now is a great time pass the torch to the next generation.

Build team spirit. It’s never too late to start the tradition of a family football, basketball, bowling, mini-golf, or volleyball tournament. Split into teams, wager a few chocolate Santas, and let the tech-less games begin.

Create together. The possibilities here are endless. Get an oversized canvas, some acrylic paints, and create a family masterpiece together. Add some dimension. Use magazines clippings, old clock parts, discarded jewelry, and even some small childhood toys or book pages to create a meaningful collage that represents the whole family. Not into paint? Make some handmade ornaments that represent each family member’s unique personality or make a Christmas tree garland using paper or cranberries and popcorn.

It’s easy to read this article, nod in agreement, then tuck it away in your database without taking action. But if you do just one thing on this list, consider your holiday a success. It won’t be easy. Routine — especially a digital routine — can be tough to break. You aren’t alone; we’re accepting the challenge as well to unplug and plug fully into the holiday season. Happy Less-Tech Holidays to you and yours and let us know how it goes!

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

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

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

  • Online shopping is Booming But We Are Taking Risks!

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

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

  • There Is Still Confusion About Protecting Our Devices

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, What Does This All Mean?

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

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

Which Are The Most Hackable Devices?

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

1. Laptops, Smartphones and Tablets

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

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

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

2. Drones

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

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

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

3. Digital Assistants

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

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

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

4. Connected Toys

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

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

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

5. Connected Appliances

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

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

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

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

Happy Christmas!

Alex x

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Tech-Thankful: 10 Ways Technology Empowers Our Parenting Today https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/tech-thankful-10-ways-technology-empowers-parenting-today/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/tech-thankful-10-ways-technology-empowers-parenting-today/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:00:43 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=82386 Have you taken a moment to reflect and collect a list of the things for which you are grateful this year? Here’s a kickstart: Imagine your life without _________________. Then, give thanks for those things. Once you get started on your list, you may have trouble stopping simply because it’s human nature to pay more […]

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thankful for technologyHave you taken a moment to reflect and collect a list of the things for which you are grateful this year? Here’s a kickstart: Imagine your life without _________________. Then, give thanks for those things.

Once you get started on your list, you may have trouble stopping simply because it’s human nature to pay more attention to life’s pain points. This means too often the good stuff of life — the stuff that makes it so sweet — quietly passes us without garnering its due applause.

One of those good things we may take for granted is technology.

As much as we naturally ferret out the potential dangers tech brings, for every one negative, we’re thankful that countless positives flood that equation. Face it. We’re plugged-in, click-happy, smartphone parents who have a lot to be grateful for — namely the way technology has revolutionized parenting.

What would life look like without the internet? How about the world minus that Smartphone? And what would our day look like without our kid tracking, fitness, social, or map apps? With technology comes opportunity; the opportunity for smarter working, living — and parenting.

10 pieces of technology that empower parenting

  1. The internet. Wow, where do we begin? The internet has put the world at our fingertips and given our parenting experience a million new dimensions. Just to name a few perks: Shopping, crowdsourcing, collaboration, cloud computing, innovation, communication, philanthropy, education, entertainment and the list goes on. For the infinite positives and added scope of knowledge, this has added to our life; we are beyond thankful.
  2. Facetime. Can’t get home for the holidays? Isn’t it amazing that we can facetime with friends and family all over the world? Don’t forget to fire up your smartphone or Skype this holiday and connect in real time with the ones you love (no texting!). Technology like this makes all the difference sometimes.
  3. Pinterest. Many of us will hover over the stove this week, smartphone in hand, as we follow a new, rock star recipe found on Pinterest. In just a click, Pinterest helps with any life hack imaginable making us instantly more confident as we tackle new skills alongside a community of pinners around the world.
  4. Tracking apps. If you’re a parent of a tween or teen tracking or location apps, have spared you more than a few grey hairs. Can’t find your child? No worries, a tracking app will keep you connected 24/7. And, we all know what happens if they turn off their location . . . phone privileges get zapped. Add to this anti-anxiety mix, the handful of apps that keep kids from texting and driving.
  5. Facebook. Okay, this one brings all kinds of issues — addiction, bullying, narcissism, hate speech, and the list goes on — however, let’s rest our attention the genius of Facebook for just a moment. Arguably, this pioneering social network has done more to shrink the world and amplify connectivity than any other tech tool. We’re now connected instantly to everyone from childhood friends, to new friends, to aging parents at any time of the day or night. Facebook’s influence, reach, and power, as a resource, is endless. For that, we’re taking a moment to be thankful.
  6. Amazon. This one site has radically changed the way we purchase and make buying decisions for our family. Amazon has saved us countless hours of travel, shopping time, and the dreaded time and cost of returns — who isn’t grateful for those helpful (verified) consumer reviews? Along with Amazon, we can now add countless grocery, restaurant delivery, meal services, and car shuttle services to our technology Thanksgiving list.
  7. Safeguards. Filtering and security tools come in many shapes and sizes these days. From software packages to network security built into products, the consumer’s safety and security are now at the forefront of many minds. Without intentional safeguards, it would be impossible to enjoy the power of our technology. We’re also grateful for the battalion of watchdogs, companies, and innovators committed to keeping technology and the internet a better place to be.
  8. EBooks. If you grew up in love with the library or running to the mailbox to see if your book of the month arrived, the avalanche of reading material now available with one click deserves its own parade. Is there anything more gratifying than seeing a young child reading a book on his or her tablet or a teenager engrossed in a reading site? Books, and the knowledge they carry, continue to shape us — now more than ever — thanks to technology. Along with books, we can celebrate the many, many free educational resources online that make learning (and helping our kids learn) so much more exciting for kids and parents.
  9. Wi-Fi and data. This bit of technology has revolutionized the way we work, which in turn, has dramatically impacted our families. Many parents now enjoy flexibility making the elusive work-life balance more possible than ever. The opportunities for our children in their work choices have also expanded thanks to technology.
  10. Google. Google has empowered parents everywhere to step into shoes that sometimes feel way too big. Can’t answer the tough ones like “How do planes stay in the sky?” or “Why can’t the government just print more money and get out of debt?” No worries! Just Google it and come off as a superhero every time. Adding to our superhero parenting skills are the amazingly informative and empowering YouTube and HowItWorks where we can become pros on any topic in a matter of minutes.

No doubt technology comes carrying a bucketful of concerns that can easily keep any parent up at night. But for this moment of reflection, it’s clear — we love our tech, we’re better for it, and this moment of applause is long overdue. Have a wonderful, rest-filled, tech-thankful holiday!

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#WorldKindnessDay: How to Help Kids Tap into their Superpower of Being Kind https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/worldkindnessday-how-to-help-kids-tap-into-their-superpower-of-being-kind/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/worldkindnessday-how-to-help-kids-tap-into-their-superpower-of-being-kind/#respond Mon, 13 Nov 2017 14:01:02 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=82219   “There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world.” —Mary Anne Radmacher, American writer, and artist With so many tragedies in the news, World Kindness Day, Nov. 13, could not come at a better time. But can one day — or month — put a dent in the accumulation […]

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World Kindness Day“There is no small act of kindness. Every compassionate act makes large the world.” —Mary Anne Radmacher, American writer, and artist

With so many tragedies in the news, World Kindness Day, Nov. 13, could not come at a better time. But can one day — or month — put a dent in the accumulation of hate and grief affecting so many?

Yes. And you can see evidence of that everywhere — if you look for it. They are the ripples, the one kind act that sparks the next act, and the next. Even in the midst of heartbreaking stories, eventually, the river of human compassion begins to reshape and redefine the event.

And this is where we can pull kids in. Kindness is a superpower. Each one of us — kids included — have the power to make someone else feel good or bad at any given moment. And, once a child experiences that superpower they know that even though they are small, young, or inexperienced, their actions have the power to impact others.

5 Truths About Kindness

Kindness is often the harder choice. Some people equate kindness with weakness. Not true. Often, kindness takes a Herculean effort. It’s easier to be flippant, rude, and self-serving at times — especially online where emotions can run high and clicks come so easily. It’s harder to stop, look at the needs of others, take the time to empathize, and choose to act in a way that benefits another person.

  1. Small is powerful. You don’t have to stage big acts of kindness. Even our smallest actions can have a big impact that continues to resonate in ways we can’t anticipate.
  2. Kindness is a win-win. Just like smiling, kindness boosts your mood, your relationships, and your outlook. Kindness literally makes you glow from the inside out.
  3. Kindness changes everything — you and those caught in its ripple effect. One act of kindness can change the trajectory of a person’s day or even life. The stories are endless.World Kindness Day
  4. Kindness is healthy. Connection with others in small — even micro-moments — can boost your immune system and lift depression and anxiety. Kindness reinforces that we are not alone and that human connection is one of the most powerful, healing medicines within our immediate reach (no prescription needed).
  5. Kindness costs nothing. Sure, you can give gifts and spend some cash, but the majority of kind acts cost nothing. Give your time, your focus, your smile, a helping hand, or an encouraging word and see how that multiplies your emotional wealth.

One of the best ways to explain the power of kindness to kids (outside of the concept) is to become kindness in front of them. By modeling kindness and being others-focused, we take kindness from an idea to a very real force that teaches kids to become powerful participants and leaders — rather than bystanders or reactors — in the world around them.

Here are just a few ideas your family can explore to kick up the kindness quotient in your home and community. Even if this list takes you 60 or 90 days, the important thing is to begin.

30 Days of Kindness

Day 1: Online a lot? Read posts and comment sincerely and with a genuine heart with the people in your online community. If someone needs encouragement, information, or help, take the time to provide that.

Day 2: Pay for someone’s coffee in the car behind you.

Day 3: Patrol the neighborhood with your kids and pick up trash for an hour.

Day 4: As a family, visit an elderly neighbor and offer an hour of your time to do whatever needs to be done around the house. If you have three family members, that’s three hours of giving.

Day 5: Compliment three random people today.

Day 6: Donate food to a local food pantry as a family.

Day 7: Honor your favorite teachers together with notes of thanks or small, handmade gifts.

Day 8: Go to Yelp or Facebook and compliment or show public appreciation for local business owners who have served your family well in the past.World Kindness Day

Day 9: Make cookies or a fruit basket for your local fire, EMT, or police station.

Day 10: Bring in your neighbor’s trashcans.

Day 11: Paint encouraging rocks and leave them throughout your community to be discovered by others.

Day 12: Like to write? Write a poem or note of hope and leave them in public places for others to find.

Day 13: See an overwhelmed mom in the grocery store? Offer to help her carry her groceries to the car or occupy her kids in line.

Day 14: Get a stack of postcards and together, write I miss you notes to relatives and friends who live far away.

Day 15: Upload at least one encouraging post a week that sparks kindness in others. If you tend to be cynical online, think twice before posting words that can bring others down or feed negativity.

Day 16: Donate coloring books and crayons to the children’s hospital.

Day 17: Write soldiers serving overseas thank you notes.

Day 18: Volunteer at a local soup kitchen for a day.

Day 19: Is your family artistic? Paint several pieces of art and donate them to the local retirement home for residents.

Day 20: Buy extra school supplies for teachers.

Day 21: Listen to the people around you. Really listen.

Day 22: Pay an old debt.

Day 23: Cook a meal for a sick, grieving, depressed, or elderly friend.

Day 24: Give a gift to the school custodian to thank him or her for all their hard work.

Day 25: Smile, laugh, and take yourself lightly. It’s contagious.

Day 26: See someone being bullied? Stand up and help online or off.

Day 27: Donate socks, gloves, or other supplies to the local homeless shelter.

Day 28: Surprise your mail carrier with a thank you note or gift card.

Day 29: Call your grandparents and ask them about their childhood. Write it down.

Day 30: Talk to someone new at school. Reach out to those who are different.

We can never predict what will happen when we stop, look around, and extend a kind act to another person. That action may bring strange look, a smile, or even render incredible results. The important thing is to get started. Experience trumps talk every time and experience changes the world from the inside out.

The ideas for World Kindness Day are endless. Use the hashtag #WorldKindnessDay or #KindnessDay on Twitter to share your stories throughout the month. Be inspired by others and know that you too can encourage others to choose kindness every single day. What have you got to lose?

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

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

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

Research Shows Few Women Involved in STEM Industries

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

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

So, what are we doing?

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

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

What Can We Do as Parents?

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

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

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

2. Encourage an Enquiring Mind

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

3. Go on Lots of Science and Technology Excursions

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

4. Get a Science and Robotics Club Happening

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

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

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

6. Surround Your Kids with Positive Female Role Models

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

7. Seek Our Movies with Positive Female Role Models

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

8. Shake Off Gender Stereotypes at Home

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

9. Find your Science-loving Teen a Mentor

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

10. Include Science Kits and Construction Blocks in your Toybox

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

And Why Should We Bother?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex x

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Kids Glued to YouTube? Here are 7 Ways to Keep them Safe While Having Fun https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kids-glued-youtube-7-ways-keep-safe/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/kids-glued-youtube-7-ways-keep-safe/#respond Tue, 07 Nov 2017 15:17:53 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=81952 I spend a lot of time on YouTube. I watch health, parenting, and cooking videos until my eyes cross. And on the weekends I become a DIY expert thanks to YouTube teaching me how to caulk my tub, fix my lawn mower, and change the oil in my car. YouTube is amazing. But, it’s also […]

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YouTube safety

I spend a lot of time on YouTube. I watch health, parenting, and cooking videos until my eyes cross. And on the weekends I become a DIY expert thanks to YouTube teaching me how to caulk my tub, fix my lawn mower, and change the oil in my car. YouTube is amazing. But, it’s also got some safety glitches that can impact your family.

As much time as I spend on YouTube, I know my kids hang out there even more. In fact, they are no doubt part of the loyal 30 million people that log-on to the video channel every single day.

If your kids and their friends are huddled around a phone screen, laughing hysterically chances are they are on YouTube where viral videos, hilarious stunts, and make-up and beauty tutorials rule the day. YouTube is also the music hub for up and coming artists as well as the celebrity launching pad for countless teen YouTubers that captivate millions of teen fans.

Unfortunately, along with the fun, kids can also encounter inappropriate content and behavior. Site guidelines state that users are not to post: “Nudity, pornography, or other ‘sexually explicit’ content, or harmful or dangerous content that encourages others to do things that might lead to injury. Or, violent or graphic content that’s shocking, sensational, or disrespectful or hateful content that promotes or condones violence.” However, people have found ways around these rules and like any other platform, unsafe content finds its way in.

Family-Related YouTube Facts:

  • Despite the popularity of sites such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, more teens report using YouTube over any other platform.
  • YouTube on mobile alone reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • The number of hours people spend watching videos on YouTube is up 60% year-over-year. In fact, 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV.
  • YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and third most visited site after Google and Facebook.

So with all this time spend glued to video content, here are just a few tips to help sharpen your YouTube skill and keep your kids safe on this popular platform.

YouTube Family Talking Points:

  1. Respect age limits. To create a YouTube account, users must be at least 13 yrs old. These age limitations are in place for a reason. Kids can encounter crude language, inappropriate content, and get into conflicts in the comment section of the videos. So, whether your child wants to browse videos, or create his or her own channel, make sure he or she is of age to become part of the YouTube community. If they can’t wait, set up a family account and keep tabs on your child’s activity. Any videos they view on the account will show up in the History button on the left-hand side of the screen.YouTube safety
  2. Use the platform. If your kids love YouTube and you want to understand the risks, spend time there. Ask them what their favorite channels are and look around. Get to know kids’ favorites such as: PewDiePie, Smosh, NigaHiga, Bethany Mota, Shane DawsonTV, Tyler Oakley, Zoella, Joey Graceffa, Nash Grier, and Todrick Hall.
  3. Block pornography. Worried about inappropriate content? Google has a security filter, or safety mode, in YouTube that if turned on, will hide objectionable videos from the site. However, this option isn’t 100% reliable. If you want to make sure nothing inappropriate streams into your home, filtering software is a must.
  4. Report problems. If you see a video that is inappropriate, harmful, or incites bullying, report it to YouTube. YouTube’s policy center covers everything from harassment, to hate speech, to childhood endangerment.
  5. Discuss concerns immediately. If your kids view or post questionable content on YouTube, or comment inappropriately, address it immediately. Speak with your kids directly about editing or removing videos, comments, or profile information that compromises their safety or reputation.
  6. Read YouTube’s Safety Center. Take the time to read through the YouTube Safety Center for anything and everything related to safety such as privacy settings, cyberbullying and harassment, suicide and self-harm content, and other issues directly related to teens.
  7. Be wise with video. Video content goes viral quickly. Remind kids: Don’t post or share videos you wouldn’t want your Grandmother to see. Show discernment and wisdom in the content you post, comment on, and share with others.

YouTube and other video-based platforms grow each year in popularity. Connecting, sharing, and expressing oneself through a video community is likely one of your child’s favorite online activities. So, have fun with it too, explore the video world, learn, and more important, know how to coach your kids through the danger zones.

 

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

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Risky Apps, Jail Time for Parents of Bullies, and More Family Safety News https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/risky-apps-jail-time-for-parents-of-bullies-and-more-family-safety-news/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/risky-apps-jail-time-for-parents-of-bullies-and-more-family-safety-news/#respond Tue, 31 Oct 2017 13:31:58 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=81856 If you haven’t been able to skim the family safety headlines lately — no worries. We’ve plucked a few stories from the top of the family safety heap for you. Talk about them around the dinner table tonight, continue monitoring smartphone apps, and most importantly, keep the relationship and communication with your kids strong. ~~~ […]

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Saraha App Icon

If you haven’t been able to skim the family safety headlines lately — no worries. We’ve plucked a few stories from the top of the family safety heap for you. Talk about them around the dinner table tonight, continue monitoring smartphone apps, and most importantly, keep the relationship and communication with your kids strong.

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Sarahah and Live.me are two new apps tweens and teens seem to love that, unfortunately, also bring inherent dangers into your family.

Saraha, an Arabic word that roughly means honesty, allows kids to send anonymous comments to friends. Users can also comment on other profiles anonymously, including accounts of strangers. While some kids use the app to send kind comments or flirt harmlessly with a crush, Saraha has also become a hub for bullying. Comments are anonymous, which can give kids the digital courage they need to say things online they would never say to a person’s face.

Live.me App Icon

Live.me is a live-streaming app that allows users to broadcast to unseen followers and encourages building a celebrity-like following. Unfortunately, while most kids dream of becoming Instagram or YouTube famous and are attracted to this app for that reason, they may also encounter pornographic, illegal, and predatory accounts. Live.me also shares a user’s location and allows others to search for people streaming near them.

Family Talking Points

Anonymity = bullying. Anonymity and technology just don’t mix. When apps allow anonymity, then it’s likely that bullying and crude behavior become part of that culture. Discuss integrity — the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles — so that kids understand why being accountable (not hiding anonymously) online is important.

Live streaming is risky. Live steaming opens the door to a world of content that your child may or may not expect to see including pornography, drug use, criminal activity, racy behavior, racism, crude language, and even live violence. Remember: Live streaming invites strangers into your home and you into the homes of countless strangers, where it’s uncertain what you will find.

Monitor apps. Your child isn’t going to be the first to surrender his or her phone each week for review so if you want to know what apps your child uses; it’s up to you to be consistent with monitoring. Be able to recognize the app icons to look for (see above, right) and make sure you approve of the apps your child is using. Remember, you are the parent, you set the expectations and rules, and enforce the consequences.

21-Year-Old Blind After Excessive Gaming on Smartphone

Smartphone Addiction: Know the signs

A recent story out of China reminds us that good digital habits begin early and that technology addiction is a real thing with real consequences.

A 21-year-old Chinese woman has reportedly gone blind in one eye after days of playing Honor of Kings, a favorite, multiplayer Smartphone game. According to reports, doctors diagnosed the young woman with Retinal Artery Occlusion (RAO) in her right eye. RAO is a blockage in one of the small arteries that carry blood to the retina, which is a layer of tissue in the back of the eye able to sense light.

Family Talking Points

Know the signs. Signs of tech addiction include a sense of euphoria when digitally connected, neglecting friends and family, sleeping less, dishonesty about usage, feeling ashamed, anxious, guilty or depressed as a result of too much technology use, and withdrawing from favorite activities.

Take action. As parents, we usually sense when something is awry in our family dynamic — even if we linger in denial for a little while. If you have a hunch your kids (or you) are too tethered to technology, you are probably right. Some quick tips: Practice being present. Being present requires you to put away your phone, make eye contact, ignore visual distractions, actively listen and engage with the person speaking. Also, establish tech-free zones such as movie time, dinnertime, and car time. If the expectation is in place and parents are leading the charge, kids will learn early to unplug.

Is Your Kid a Bully? Then You Could Go to Jail

Technology has taken bullying to historic levels both online and off. And, a new law in one city addresses the issue of bullying by punishing parents of bullies with fines and even jail time.

Could you be at risk for jail time?

Parents could face punishment if their child violates the city’s curfew or any city law, including bullying, twice over the course of 90 days. According to reports, parents could be fined $250 and sentenced to 15 days in jail. The law is now in effect in North Tonawanda, a city just north of Buffalo.

Family Talking Points

Stress Accountability. What the police are doing to parents — holding them accountable and responsible for the actions of their minor children — models real-world consequences. With schools and cities overwhelmed with bullying cases, take the time to discuss with your child, the responsibility that comes with owning a piece of technology and what happens with misuse. Put consequences in place for inappropriate or intimidating behaviors online or in a public place. Most importantly, know what your kids are doing. Stay connected, stay talking, and stay on top of their behavior online and off.

Get serious about empathy. Don’t ignore or minimize the damaging ways kids can treat one another. The wounds of bullying today run deeper than prior generations can imagine. Ask your child to think about what mean comments, exclusion, or “joking” words would feel like if directed his or her way. Teach empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person — every chance you get. Get involved immediately if you see bullying happening to your child, another child, and explore ways to help them heal.

 

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

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Conversation Starters: Keep Your Kids Safe on the Road, at School, and Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/keep-kids-safe-road-school-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/keep-kids-safe-road-school-online/#respond Tue, 24 Oct 2017 15:00:04 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=81178 Making “safety” a priority for kids is about as exciting as watching the snow melt on a snow day. So how do we make safety a priority to a fun-loving, preoccupied tween or teen? We make consistency the goal. We make digital safety as practical an expectation as brushing teeth and finishing homework. Just as […]

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Making “safety” a priority for kids is about as exciting as watching the snow melt on a snow day. So how do we make safety a priority to a fun-loving, preoccupied tween or teen?

We make consistency the goal. We make digital safety as practical an expectation as brushing teeth and finishing homework. Just as you’d take away car privileges for reckless driving, much of the responsibility for getting digital safety information to sink in comes back to consistent parenting. That means the 360-degree commitment of communicating, setting expectations, and following through with consequences.

This month there’s a ton of digital chatter around bullying, distracted driving, and cybersecurity — and for a good reason. All three areas can wreak havoc on a family if ignored.

On the Road: Distracted Driving

Facts:

  • Younger drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes and are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone.
  • 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving.
  • Every day, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.
  • Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • According to an AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway.
  • Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.

Practical Solutions: 

  • Avoid temptation. Place your cell phone in the glove box or trunk every time you get in your car.
  • Secure potential distractions before you get on the road. Clean your car and get rid of soda or water bottles or any other loose items that can roll under your feet while driving.
  • If driving, don’t allow kids to bring pets in the car.
  • Install an app that blocks calls while driving.
  • Discuss. Just because your state may not don’t ban drivers from using handheld devices, doesn’t mean your family can’t establish and enforce its own its own rules. Discuss expectations around phone use while driving and consequences. Talk about accidents in the community caused by distracted drivers, their impact, and what you can all learn.
  • Put it in writing. Develop your family contract that includes expectations and consequences. Get everyone to sign it — parents too!

Conversation Starters:

Phrase it well. Let’s face it, too often when underlying parental fear collides with teen defensiveness, a family “chat” quickly becomes a lecture, and things get awkward quick. One way to avoid this is to ask your teen questions that inspire critical thinking. So turn statements into questions such as:

“Hey, can I brainstorm with you about creating a family driving contract?”
“Let’s talk about this and see what we can come up with together.”
“What kind of consequence do you think is fair if someone breaks the contract?
“Here’s a time I did something stupid behind the wheel and learned from it . . .”
If in the car together, ask your child: “How many drivers can you count on cell phones right now . . . what are a few of the things you think could happen while they aren’t looking at the road?”

At School: Cybersecurity

October is also National Cybersecurity Month, and chances are, your kids are thinking about anything but what they need to do to keep these devices secure at school. Here’s what you need to know:

Facts:

  • Kids adore their devices. According to a recent McAfee study, 86% of students spend at least one hour per day using an internet-connected device during school hours for school-specific work. And, 57% of students spend three or more hours per day using a connected device during school hours for school-specific work.
  • Kids use devices to cheat. Half of the students (47%) claim to have seen or heard of another student using a connected device in the classroom to cheat  – with 21% admitting to doing it themselves.
  • Kids blow off restrictions. Students are finding ways around school online security restrictions. Still, 24% of the students have leapfrogged restrictions and accessed banned content.

Practical Solutions:

Clarify the rules. Get a copy of the school/student technology contract. Go over the contract with your kids and clarify if
needed. Discuss the reasons schools put restrictions in place and why using phones and technology wisely at school matter. Does the contract spell out the terms of a ‘classroom device usage’ so there is no room for misunderstanding? Discuss things such as staying on task, being considerate of others’ privacy, and staying honest when using devices for in-classroom work.

Review the basics. Help kids understand the reality and risks to their private information online — which includes using technology at school correctly. Empower them — rather than scare your child — into becoming a savvy digital citizen wherever he or she logs on. This includes locking devices, choosing strong, two-factor authentication passwords, watching out for scams, software updates, and being responsible online.

Celebrate the wins. As you observe your child online, catch him or her being a digital leader and praise them. When she makes smart security decisions, is an encourager to others, reports a bully, or demonstrates she is using apps and networks wisely, make sure you recognize the effort.

Conversation Starters:

“What are some of the reasons you think your school puts restrictions on wifi and cell phones during school hours?”
“What kinds of things would you change about cell phone use at school if you could be principal for the day? Why?how would you treat students who used their phones to cheat?”
“Why do you think people cheat? What do you think you can gain by cheating? What do you think you can lose by cheating?”
“When people say your name, what are some of the values and things you want to be known for?”

Online: Bullying

With all the good that comes from the internet, there’s going to be conflict, meanness, embarrassment, and people who abuse their digital power. And like it or not, your child is going to brush elbows with a bully sooner or later — and it’s gonna hurt.

Facts:

  • Almost one out of every four (22%) students have been cyberbullied
  • 44% are experiencing or seeing it before the 9th grade
  • Facebook (69%), Instagram (46%) and Snapchat (38%) are mostly used for cyberbullying.

Practical Solutions:

Be aware. Be on the lookout for changes in your child’s grades, mood, or friends.
Monitor devices. You don’t have to be a hawk to check in with your kids. If they are on twitter, lurk and listen to conversations there (don’t interact).
Coach them well. Often it’s the unfortunate misuse of a word or a small misunderstanding that blows up between kids online. Know how to coach them through (not control) the daily drama.
Talk values. Talk about the values that are important to you and your family: respect, kindness, integrity, and compassion.

Conversation Starters:

If you suspect your child is being bullied, has witnessed it, or may even be a bully, these prompts may help spark a more in-depth conversation:
“What do you think you can do to help turn this around? Is there anything I can do to help?”
“I sense something is off. Are you okay?”
“Wow, how scary that must have been; I’m glad you’re okay. What happened next?”
“I know it’s embarrassing to talk about, but I’ve been bullied, and this is how I felt . . .”
“What would you do differently next time?”
“What’s your plan to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”
“Who gets bullied or teased at school? Why?”
“How should someone handle it if they are bullied?”
“If you were XX and someone said or did that to you online, how would you feel?”
“If you are in trouble, I want you to know that you are not alone. Is there anything I can do to help?”

~~~

Stay positive about covering this vast digital terrain as a parent. You’ve got everything you need to raise awesome digital kids who know how to handle any digital situation be it while driving, at school, or in their online communities. It’s too easy to slip into parenting out of fear rather than a sense of faith in our kids and ourselves. This is why a good relationship is the #1 Internet safety tool a parent can possess. Connect with your children. Talk casually and frequently with your kids about what’s happening in their life, what’s up with school, friends, problems, and anything else important to them. Along the way, you’ll find out plenty about their online life and gain the necessary permission (and trust) to talk candidly and impactfully about all of these topics with your kids.

 

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

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‘No One Likes You’: And the Other Hurtful Ways Kids Bully One Another Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/no-one-likes-many-ways-kids-bully-one-another-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/no-one-likes-many-ways-kids-bully-one-another-online/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 12:41:13 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=79946 One of the most wounding things a young person can hear is “No one likes you.” Most likely because that one phrase sums up our deepest fears: The fear of rejection and the fear that somehow we may not ever measure up. And sadly, kids — bullying kids — use this phrase not always understanding […]

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National Bullying Prevention MonthOne of the most wounding things a young person can hear is “No one likes you.” Most likely because that one phrase sums up our deepest fears: The fear of rejection and the fear that somehow we may not ever measure up.

And sadly, kids — bullying kids — use this phrase not always understanding it’s full weight along with other callous phrases such as:

“Why are you here?”

“Go kill yourself.”

“Why do people even like you?”

“You’re so annoying.”

“You gonna cry?”

“You’re ugly/stupid/fat.”

“Chill out. It’s just a joke!”

Cyberbullying is the intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices — which means that it also comes with its own native language. And while we often associate it with youth, we can’t ever forget that every day — even all day — adults can be the worst offenders in the digital space.

Veiled VernacularNational Bullying Prevention Month

Often, coded messages may be a parent’s first clue their child is being bullied (or bullying) online. Here are just a few texting terms related to bullying to look out for in your child’s digital circles:

Dirl: Die in real life

Gcad: Get cancer and die.

Foad: F*** off and die.

Fugly: F****** ugly.

IHML: I hate my life.

KMS: Kill myself.

KYS: Kill yourself.”

182: I hate you

4Q: F*** You

GCAD: Get cancer and die

FINE: F***ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional

FUB: Fat ugly b**tard

IWTKM: I want to kill myself

JLMA: Just leave me alone

Cyberbullying looks, sounds, and affects differently than traditional bullying simply because of the amplification factor of technology.

Cyberbullying Terminology

  • Dissing: Sending or posting cruel gossip or rumors about a person (target) to damage his or her reputation or friendships.
  • Target: The person who is on the receiving end of online social cruelty.
  • Bash Board: An online bulletin board on which individuals can post anything they want. Frequently, posts are malicious, hateful statements directed against an individual.National Bullying Prevention Month
  • Exclusion: Deliberately excluding someone from an online chat group, friend group, or event.
  • Flaming: Sending angry, rude, or obscene messages directed at a person or persons privately or an online group. A flame war erupts when flames are exchanged between individuals (or groups) repeatedly.
  • Impersonation: Breaking into someone’s account, posing as that person and sending messages to make the person look bad or damage that person’s reputation.
  • Outing: Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information online.
  • Harassment: Repeatedly sending offensive, rude and wounding messages.
  • Cyberstalking: Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or are highly intimidating. Cyberstalking also includes engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety.
  • Trolling: Intentionally posting confrontational comments about sensitive subjects to create conflict and bait others into an online argument.

While we can’t singlehandedly shift an entire digital culture, we can educate ourselves and our kids about the power of words, the direct and indirect ways people bully, and how to respond if in a hostile or intimidating environment be it online or in other areas of daily life.

Family Talking Points

Tell someone. Encourage your child to come to you (or another trusted adult) at the first sign of bullying or conflict online. Monitor his or her online circles and take the time to evaluate the tone of conversations.

Sometimes it’s a friend. Though rarely discussed, sometimes the person bullying your child may be a friend. Look for signs of intimidation, jealousy, insincerity, and dishonesty — the bully could be closer than you think.

Offer perspective. The emotional roots of bullying run deep. Kids bully for some reasons. Often, bullies hurt others because they’ve been hurt. They lack compassion, empathy, and kindness because they haven’t been shown that in their home environment. While this is no excuse, talking about this with your kids can help them not take the words of a bully to heart.National Bullying Prevention Month

Words = power. Stress the consequence of hurtful words when they are shared and multiplied online. Be candid about the effects cyberbullying can have on another person such as depression, anxiety, and self-harm. Define and discuss kindness, empathy, and compassion and model it in your relationships.

Don’t respond. In the cyber arena, it’s wise not to respond to harassing, negative, or intimidating comments. The best thing to do (as hard as it is to refrain from engaging) is to print out the comments before you delete them and report the abuse. Also, save all evidence. If someone is bullying your child, print copies of messages and websites. Use the save feature on instant messages and take screenshots of posts or comments on social networks. Depending on the severity of the situation, report the abuse to the online platform, to school and/or the Internet Crimes Department of your local law enforcement agency.

Technology has elevated bullying to terrifying levels for kids. Be aware of your child’s demeanor by connecting and talking consistently. If your child’s schoolwork slips, he or she loses interest in friendships, or becomes anxious or depressed — it could be a symptom of being bullied. Follow your instincts, monitor devices, and err on the side of being intrusive if you suspect your child is suffering in silence.

 

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

The post ‘No One Likes You’: And the Other Hurtful Ways Kids Bully One Another Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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October is Bullying Prevention Month. Are You Willing to Do Just One Thing? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/october-bullying-prevention-month-willing-just-one-thing/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/october-bullying-prevention-month-willing-just-one-thing/#respond Mon, 09 Oct 2017 15:01:18 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=79676 Life is busy. Events, celebrations, and deadlines fight for space on the family calendar. It’s so easy to zoom through October, which also happens to be Bullying Prevention Month. But please don’t. Because your child needs you to know a few things and chances are, he or she is not going to bring it up […]

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Life is busy. Events, celebrations, and deadlines fight for space on the family calendar. It’s so easy to zoom through October, which also happens to be Bullying Prevention Month.

But please don’t. Because your child needs you to know a few things and chances are, he or she is not going to bring it up these facts around the dinner table*:

  • Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school.
  • 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying and 20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
  • Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others.
  • 15% of high school students (grades 9–12) were electronically bullied in the past year. However, 55.2% of LGBT students bullying online.
  • 6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools and 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.

*Source: StopBullying.gov

What does all of this mean? It means that your child likely falls in one of three categories: 1) is a victim of bullying 2) is bullying someone else 3) is witnessing bullying. All three carry their own emotional and physical risks.

Prevent Bullying: Choose One Thing

So rather than play detective, lecture your kids, or lay awake wondering how to best parent through the complexities of bullying today, try committing to doing just one thing. And what happens if we all choose to do just one of these things? Together, we can put a considerable dent in the devastating effects of bullying.

Look up, look around. Commit to becoming more aware and encourage your kids to practice this too. Look up from your phone, look around, and make a difference. Bullying can take place in school, outside of school, and on the school bus. Bullying also happens wherever kids gather in the community such as ball fields, the mall, or parks. And of course, cyberbullying — a significant type of bullying — happens online. Just being more aware of different kinds of bullying and where bullying occurs online, can help diminish its impact. A recent study from McAfee reveals that cyberbullying starts early and students see and experience it on different mediums. Almost one out of every four (22%) students have been cyberbullied, and shockingly 44% are experiencing or seeing it before the 9th grade. Facebook (69%), Instagram (46%) and Snapchat (38%) are mostly used for cyberbullying.

Celebrate differences. It’s a fact: Young people who are perceived as different from their peers are often at risk for being bullied. Ask your kids to share with you some differences they notice in others and discuss how those differences make that person unique, courageous, creative, or beautiful. With understanding, rather than criticism, we can open our children’s minds to the gifts we all possess. A 2014 McAfee study revealed that in 2014 cyberbullying tripled with 87% of youth have witnessed cyberbullying versus the prior year. The reasons? Of those cyberbullied, 72% responded it was due to appearance while 26% answered due to race or religion and 22% stated their sexuality was the driving factor.

Make an impact — in ten seconds. Studies show that bystanders who intervene on behalf of young people being bullied make a huge difference. When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time. This doesn’t mean encouraging your kids to put themselves in danger; it merely means teaching them how to step in and help deflect an escalating situation online or off.

Expand your reading. The world is changing quickly around us and digital culture shifts can and will affect your family. It’s a chilling reality that digital disaster is just one click away. Choose just one book this month to strengthen your perspective on digital issues. Internet safety expert Sue Scheff looks at online shaming in Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate, written with Melissa Schorr. The book covers a variety of topics, including revenge porn, cyberbullying, and backlash-inspiring gaffes, and offers strategies for protecting yourself and your family online. It will open your eyes to the cultural ripple effect of our words and actions online and is a powerful family read.

Define bullying clearly for kids. Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavi54eor; observed or perceived power imbalance; and repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition. Bullying can be direct — in the physical presence of a target — or indirect in the form of rumors or innuendo. There are many different modes and types of bullying. It can also be physical, verbal, relational, or damage to property. So what your kids call others just being mean, is bullying. Teach kids to understand it when they see it and how to handle it and report it.

Have the conversation. Bullying may cross your mind but have you taken the time to talk about it with your kids? Make October the month you do just that. Parents can help prevent bullying by keeping the lines of communication open with kids. Talk about bullying and encourage your kids to make a difference by being part of the crowd that refuses to bully others, speaks up if they are bullied, and understands how to help others.

Teach empathy and kindness. These two words have earned new meaning in today’s digital world. We’ve seen so much hate, judgment, and bullying that these two words have become two core digital prescriptions. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. One of the best ways to grow your child’s empathy muscle is to role-play. Find teachable

moments in which empathy has been overlooked. Has a friend been neglected for a party invitation? Is someone not present being mocked or talked about cruelly? Look for opportunities to explain and illustrate empathy. Model kindness for your kids in ordinary moments throughout your day. It can be as simple as returning your shopping cart, helping a neighbor carry in packages, or anonymously paying for a person’s coffee in the car behind you — these simple acts reiterate the importance of being aware of others and finding small ways to inject kindness into your community.

With the added element of technology, bullying has reached epidemic proportions and has played out in some surprising (and tragic) ways across the headlines. The effects of bullying can cause depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties and poor school performance in kids. Want to do more? Here’s a list of ways you and your family can take part in October’s Bullying Prevention efforts.

ToniTwitterHS

 

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

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

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Stay Safe Online Week 2017

Cyber safety: outsourcing to experts makes such sense!

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

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

Sound a little crazy? Let me explain.

We’re human, after all.

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

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

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

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

Sounds like every parent’s dream!!

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

But we’re not there quite yet…

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

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

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

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

Stay Smart Online Week

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

1. Create complex passwords.

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

2. Secure your connections.

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

3. Keep your software up-to-date.

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

4. Keep your guard up.

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

5. Be a selective sharer and practise safe surfing.

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

 

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

Take care

Alex x

 

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Smart Parents Dig Deeper Than Clickbait https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/smart-parents-dig-deeper-clickbait/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/smart-parents-dig-deeper-clickbait/#respond Sun, 08 Oct 2017 23:00:42 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=79647 This blog was written by Jocelyn Brewer. We’ve all seen it – that family at the café, heads down, scrolling on screens. Tsk tsk! We judge instantly and bemoan a loss of connection with nostalgic memories of how we used to play cricket in the street and talk to each other instead. Cue the sensational […]

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This blog was written by Jocelyn Brewer.

We’ve all seen it – that family at the café, heads down, scrolling on screens. Tsk tsk! We judge instantly and bemoan a loss of connection with nostalgic memories of how we used to play cricket in the street and talk to each other instead.

Cue the sensational headlines warning of the dangers of screens being linked to everything from speech delays to autism and stripping humans of empathy, replacing it with narcissism – these play into our niggling fears and are rich sharable fodder for social media where we can absolve our parenting doubts with digital thumbs-up.

Regularly our tech use is compared to drugs and addiction, a harsh and overplayed analogy that further entrenches melodrama while failing to propose the practical skills to empower positive digital citizenry. Preparing young people for a technologically enhanced future requires older generations to become meaningfully engaged in the complex issues of what it means to be a human in an online world – one in which most  children have a ‘digital tattoo’ before they’re born and on average 1000 images shared on social media by their 5th birthday.

Modern parents are just as likely to be glued to their screens as their teenage offspring. While they’re checking work emails from the footy sideline in an effort to keep the epidemic of busyness at bay, they’re playing a powerful role in their child’s social learning. Like playing dress-ups in high-heels, children mimic adults’ tech-use – watching eagle-eyed at the brightly lit screen and competing with the device for attention.

Not ‘getting’ technology is no longer an excuse that these ‘digital immigrants’ can hide behind while young people are left, quite literally, to their own devices. Where high-powered computing gadgets are regularly gifted for birthdays and festive seasons, and ‘keeping up with the iPhoneses’ is a by-product of digital obsolescence – we need to also give the gift of digital literacy and digital intelligence (DQ) by knowing how to model it ourselves.

Being ‘smart’ online is not simply about protecting kids from being groomed by predators, stopping them from sexting or saving their grandparents from online email scams. More-and-more it’s about our overall digital health and wellbeing and our ability to find that elusive balance between using technology to flourish and getting trapped in a downward scrolling spiral.

This week is Stay Smart Online Week. It’s an opportunity to move beyond the simplistic narratives of ‘switch it off’ and counting digital calories through ‘virtually impossible’ screen time limits, and engage in the tougher, deeper conversations around the quality of the online content, the context in which its consumed, and the cognitions that accompany it. While computers will certainly become more and more invaluable to parents, there’s no app “solution” (yet) for present, patient parenting.

Banning technology or promoting ‘detoxing’ from it doesn’t equip us with the skills to moderate usage. Instead it becomes a salacious item to cunningly access or to binge/purge from. Conversely using screens to bribe or pacify young people as they learn to regulate their emotions can teach dysregulated responses and demand behaviours.

In some instances, we can use software to mitigate security risks, track our scrolling habits and help regain control of our time online, but increasingly it’s the development of ‘soft skills’ – traits linked to emotional intelligence – that are key to mastering a savvy and sustainable relationship to technology.

What’s missing are the skills to stop and smell the science – to think critically about the headlines (many of which we can’t resist sharing out on social media, sometimes without even reading), the quality of the research we’re shown and the discourse that goes with it.  Both media and digital literacy are skills, quite different to the traditional technical ones, that cannot be taught effectively by ad-hoc school incursions or annual guest speaker slots. Parents and schools must be partners in providing young people with ongoing and authentic opportunities to safely explore the digital frontier and to understand the emerging cyber-psychological issues which add a new layer of complexity to an already challenging developmental period of their lives.

So, next time you see that family in the café – maybe wonder if they haven’t already been on a long bike ride together and dig deeper into what they’re really doing, reading an open source journal, improving their phonics with a research-backed app, chatting to a cousin in Hanoi or booking into their next gym class.  It’s not all sexting, selfies and Candy Crush.

Key points:

  • Beware of sensational headlines about the zombie apocalypse: the kids are alright.
  • Being smart online is also about protecting our digital health and wellbeing, creating healthy digital habits (including how we think and behave online).
  • Screen ‘time’ is a simplistic metric and we need to ask deeper questions about the quality of the content, context and function of the activity.
  • Parents benefit from checking/correcting their own online habits and consider their role as media-mentors, and co-consumers/participants alongside their kids.
  • Digital abstinence or detoxes, bans or a reliance on monitoring software don’t teach the social-emotional skills required to use technology in a balanced meaningful way.
  • Developing digital literacy and digital intelligence (#DQ) are crucial skills for being a savvy digital citizen.

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Artificial Intelligence: Friend Or Foe? https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/artificial-intelligence-friend-or-foe/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/artificial-intelligence-friend-or-foe/#respond Sun, 08 Oct 2017 17:00:10 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=79641 The future of cyber safety and personal development lies in the partnership between humans and machines. While our primary interactions with the digital world today may be through our PCs, laptops, smartphones, and smart watches, in the future they will become much more sophisticated. Overall, the digital world will inevitably become a lot less cumbersome […]

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The future of cyber safety and personal development lies in the partnership between humans and machines.

While our primary interactions with the digital world today may be through our PCs, laptops, smartphones, and smart watches, in the future they will become much more sophisticated.

Overall, the digital world will inevitably become a lot less cumbersome and confusing. A large number of the purposeful decisions we are forced to make every day will be made for us by digital assistants powered by artificial intelligence.  For some this will sound scary or unsettling, but there are actually incredibly significant benefits that these new technologies will bring in streamlining the ways we associate with the ever more pervasive, digitally-connected world … all the while keeping us safe.

Contrary to popular belief, our cyber safety is not usually compromised by some “dark force” hacking away at our online lives and personas, in an unknown or unspecified location.  It’s more often because we, as individuals, have developed a casual approach to what needs to be done to keep ourselves and our families safe when we’re online.

That’s not to suggest that anyone is “at fault”. The speed at which technology constantly develops means that it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with healthy online practices, that would keep us all digitally savvy.

In the future, much of what will be required of us to remain safe online could actually be offloaded to these increasingly present, artificially intelligent digital assistants, thus removing the boring part of having to improve security at the cost of an enjoyable and exciting user experience.

Looking at this further, we can even see that the combination of digitally-powered, situational awareness around cyber safety could be combined with behavioural analysis to make for more educated, intelligent human beings.

For example, scientifically-proven behavioural and psychological research could be applied to help shape, guide or restrict kids and developing adults’ interactions with the digital world, with the appropriate levels of intervention from parents. In this way, we would be able to create situations where computers are no longer the enemy of conscientious parents, and actually become a positive influence and assistance in helping to raise healthy, well-balanced young people.

Computers – in all their forms – are often an area of great uncertainty, confusion and, even, anxiety for parents. Take screen-time, for example. It’s a commonly debated topic. Are kids spending too much time in front of screens? What are the social, psychological, and future-professional ramifications of social media? Are there other things I should be worrying about that I’m not aware of? These are just some of the questions commonly asked by parents, and they will evolve as technology changes.

Imagine if a digital assistant powered by artificial intelligence, which is programmed by scientific research around brain and human development, could interject at crucial points during a child’s interaction with digital content to educate them. It could tell them to perform a chore before allowing more online access.  Or limit their screen time when a scientifically-proven or parent-enforced limit has been reached.  All the while keeping them safe online. Parents should be able to set guidelines and goals, and use digital assistants to see that these are met.

This week is Stay Smart Online Week, and it serves as a timely reminder that the challenge, in a rapidly developing, hyper-connected world, is in having to keep up with an increasing number of technologies. The way forward is in allowing the machines to aid ourselves and our kids in our quest to be smarter, safer, and future-proofed in a rapidly accelerating digital landscape.

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Cybersecurity Supermom: Take Charge and Become the IT Pro in Your Home https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cybersecutiy-101-become-pro-home/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/cybersecutiy-101-become-pro-home/#respond Tue, 03 Oct 2017 15:24:35 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=79290 Wouldn’t it be great if we all had our own IT department at home? Think about it. If we had a tech problem, we could just call the IT guy, and he’d emerge from the guest room and take care of all our pesky problems. Unfortunately, that scenario isn’t going to happen. However, with technology […]

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Wouldn’t it be great if we all had our own IT department at home? Think about it. If we had a tech problem, we could just call the IT guy, and he’d emerge from the guest room and take care of all our pesky problems. Unfortunately, that scenario isn’t going to happen. However, with technology now influencing every area of family life, it’s clear that mom, dad, and even grandparents are fast becoming the IT pros on the digital home front.

IT in the home can seem overwhelming, but if we could put a simple framework in place that would allow us to reign in, secure, and take charge of our home IT? It all starts with addressing the basics, committing to a mindset of maintenance, and building up our IT confidence in small ways. Here are some simple but powerful ways to get rolling.

10 ways to boost your personal IT skills

  1. Take a day and 2-step everything. Inventory your digital activity to determine your vulnerabilities. What online activities do you engage in the most? What sites do you purchase from online? Make a list and go into each of these digital hubs and secure them with two-factor authentication. Record your new passwords in one place. Here’s a potential short list: Email, online banking, life and health insurance, top shopping sites such as Amazon or Paypal, any site that possesses your financial information.
  2. Install antivirus software. Home computers are powerful gateways into your family’s privacy and hold way more information than we care to admit. Sometimes this step is so commonplace, it gets overlooked. Inventory your computers, do your research and install the antivirus software that makes sense.
  3. Declutter your digital life. Some of us have accounts we’ve forgotten about online that have access to our digital information. Examine your bank statements for monthly automatic withdraws, make a list of accounts, and delete unused services. This may take a day, but it will be worth the effort. If you choose to keep a service or app, reset the password with a two-step authentication. Not only does decluttering feel good it also puts an extra lock on your digital door.
  4. Lockout ransomware. Ransomware can hit anyone, and it’s on the rise. Cybercrooks use ransomware to seize your home computer (think tax records, family photos, manuscripts) then extort you for money to free it up. This crime likely isn’t even on our radar, but if it happens, it can cause financial and emotional torment. Here’s a closer look at what ransomware is and what to do if you get targeted. Steps to protect your home: Perform routine data backups on every device, don’t keep sensitive information on your computer, and don’t open unsolicited .zip files, links, or emails from unknown senders. Use antivirus software to safeguard your systems and take the time to trim down your email list to only family, friends, and known business associates. Just say no to those magnetic subject lines cybercrooks know will lure you in.
  5. Assume confidence. Put on the attitude that you you have the skills to master something new. This is a big step in commandeering your home’s IT front. Here’s a fact: Technology product companies realize that consumers differ when it comes to technical skills. So, to stay competitive, retailers now make instruction manuals easy-to-understand and products easy-to-secure. So, doing these “techie” things no longer requires you to work at the Mac store. If the average consumer can’t install and secure a product, tech companies lose business.
  6. Purchase and secure your modem. Here’s the thing: Modems provided by your cable or internet company are not 100 percent secure. They include access to their technicians, which in turn, can be hackable. To solve this problem, do your research, purchase your modem and install it with your password. This one step puts a padlock on a very vulnerable door.
  7. Configure your network router settings. This one IT move is critical and locks down your family’s Wi-Fi from outsiders. Purchase your router and follow the instructions in the manual to secure it. Necessary steps: 1) Set up the firewall 2) Limit remote access 3) Change the network router default password to your own, two-step authentication 4) change default IP address (the name of your network).
  8. Https connection smarts. Before you enter your credit card or personal information on a website, make sure it is encrypting your data against hackers. Check to see if the site address begins with https — the “s” on the end is the critical part that ensures no one else can see your data. If there’s no “s”, do not enter your data. Teach your kids this crucial step as well — especially with Christmas season approaching.
  9. Smartphone lockdown. Treat your family’s smartphones like laptops. They too represent unlocked doors into your family’s privacy. Call a family meeting and agree to the following: 1) turn on screen locks 2) delete any confidential information you may have stored or shared 3) turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use 4) remove unused apps 5) warn against downloading rogue apps or games 6) backup your data from your smartphone to your laptop 7) turn on Find My iPhone or similar app in case of theft 8) delete unknown friends from social networks 9) warn your family against clicking unknown links in emails, texts, or messaging apps 10) commit to maintaining security standards together.
  10. Inventory and secure digital products. Make a list of all potential digital loopholes in your home. Be it a baby monitor, a thermostat, a drone, a high-tech toy, or a smart TV; make sure the settings are secure. Also, research and analyze new devices before you purchase them. Compare security standards of potential devices. Read customer reviews, Google safety issues with products, and make security part of your purchasing decision

ToniTwitterHS

 

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

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

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

What Is Fake News?

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

Where Did The Term Come From?

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

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

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

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

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

Why Did Fake News Gain Such Momentum In 2016?

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

Critical Thinking Cyber Skills Are Essential

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

Tips To Identify Fake News

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

1. Investigate the site.

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

2. Is it a solo news story?

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

3. Look past the headline.

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

4. Trust your gut instinct.

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

5. Perhaps it’s a joke?

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

6. Check your biases.

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

7. How did you react?

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

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

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

 

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

Till next time!

Alex x

 

 

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

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

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

Why Do Aussies Choose To Unplug?

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

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

Pros And Cons Of Unplugging

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

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

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

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

How To Protect Our Digital Lives When We Travel

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

1. Avoid Public Or Open Wi-Fi

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

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

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

3. Turn On Your Laptop’s Firewall

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

4. Disable Bluetooth When Not Using

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

5. Invest In A Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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

6. Update Your Devices

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

7. Use A Device Locating App

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

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

Happy Holidaying!

Alex x

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How Cyber Thugs Use Music and Celebrity Searches to Dupe Your Family https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/avril-lavigne-most-dangerous-celebrity/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/avril-lavigne-most-dangerous-celebrity/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 14:35:08 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=78872 Like stockbrokers watch the market, cybercriminals keep an eye on the public’s latest obsessions. And, once they spot a trend in our search behavior, they know exactly where to plant malware links designed to steal personal information from our devices. Such is the case with Canadian pop-punk artist Avril Lavigne, who by no fault of […]

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Like stockbrokers watch the market, cybercriminals keep an eye on the public’s latest obsessions. And, once they spot a trend in our search behavior, they know exactly where to plant malware links designed to steal personal information from our devices.

Such is the case with Canadian pop-punk artist Avril Lavigne, who by no fault of her own, has landed in the #1 spot on the McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities™ 2017 study. The public’s love of music and obsession with the personal lives of the celebrities who make it is clear this year since, in fact, the top 10 list is solely comprised of artists (see graphic, above).

The search habits that put Lavigne on the top of the list were two-fold: The first was a strange internet conspiracy theory claiming she’s an imposter, and the second was the announcement that she planned to release a new album this year. Those two content searches skyrocketed the 32-year-old pop punk artist to the top slot for malicious links.

So if we love our music and searching out everything about it, how do we spot those malicious links before it’s too late? More importantly, how do we curb the fast-moving fingers of our kids who aren’t about to quit their music obsession? Here are just a few tips to help your family feed its musical appetite and still hang on to its privacy.Celebrity Searches

5 Safe Search Tips for Families:

Slow down. Having a world of information at our fingertips has spoiled us. We want the information we want when we want it. Crooks bank on the fact that we are moving fast and likely not taking the time to question a suspicious link. So slow down and think before you click and encourage your kids to do the same. If there’s a trending conspiracy theory or a link to “free” music, video files or even a downloadable screensaver these can be red flags that malicious links may be attached to the information.

Talk about it. Just as you’d talk to your family about locking the doors and taking personal safety precautions, teach your kids to build up the same awareness online. Challenge them to be savvy about malicious links designed to siphon information and infect devices. Educate them about the consequences of malicious links such as identity theft, password hacking, financial theft, viruses, spyware, extortion, click fraud, and other forms of digital theft.

Go to the source. In many ways, you have to become an internet sleuth and be able to spot that sketchy third-party link. Looking for a specific music or video download? Your best bet is to always go to the source. Rather than risk getting duped by a third party site, wait for the official release of an album or song. Before you click any link: Examine the site. Look for flaws. Refuse to click on that third-party link that could get you in trouble — it’s simply not worth it.Celebrity Searches

Be careful searching MP3s. The search “Avril Lavigne + free mp3” was by far the riskiest way to search for Avril Lavigne content and resulted in a risk percentage of nearly 22%. Searching the phrase “free MP3” returned the highest number of 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. There is an exchange going on and in the case of malware—that transaction can be risky.

Browse with safeguards. In a world where search is everything, safety becomes everything. Using a tool like McAfee WebAdvisor can help keep you safe by identifying malicious websites and warning the user before they click.

As long as we are searching out the content we love, there will be cyber thugs searching for new and innovative ways to trap us into that wayward click. Advise your loved ones to just slow down and think before they click. It’s still possible to enjoy the feast of excellent content online (especially music!) and keep your privacy intact.

ToniTwitterHS

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee

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The importance of cyber self-defense education https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/importance-cyber-self-defense-education/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/importance-cyber-self-defense-education/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:43:08 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=79021 This blog post was written by Nick Viney. As recent headlines have highlighted, one thing is clear; there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in the world of cybersecurity. Whether it is companies being breached or personal data being offered to the highest bidder, it is an incredibly challenging job […]

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This blog post was written by Nick Viney.

As recent headlines have highlighted, one thing is clear; there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in the world of cybersecurity. Whether it is companies being breached or personal data being offered to the highest bidder, it is an incredibly challenging job to keep everyone safe online. In order to protect the online world, it is vital that not only are we creating technology and software that can prevent these attacks, but also making investments to help educate individuals on the cybersecurity landscape. So as cybersecurity professionals, should we be doing more and how are tomorrow’s generation making sure they are staying one step ahead?

Only recently, it was reported that cybersecurity firms were facing a chronic shortage of qualified staff. One organisation commented that the pipeline of security talent isn’t where it needed to be and that until the problem was rectified and the quality of education improved, cybersecurity positions would continue to be unfilled. As far back as 2015, Frost & Sullivan forecast a shortfall of 1.5 million would be experienced by 2020, with more recent predictions by Cybersecurity Ventures claiming that figure could be closer to 3.5 million by 2021. The danger of having such a chronic shortfall in cybersecurity professionals is the risk it poses to not just businesses, but individuals as well. As we become more and more reliant on our connected devices, the more exposed and ultimately at risk we are of being targeted by cybercriminals.

Along with the need to upskill at a professional level, improving education much earlier will also help narrow the skills gap. With 12 to 15 year olds spending over 20 hours a week online, it is imperative we find a way to not only educate but also to nurture cyber skills. We need to be encouraging children to explore the digital world and teach themselves the broader cybersecurity skill set that is required in today’s connected world.

Despite this much-publicised shortfall in cybersecurity professionals, is there any hope or are are we going to be considering cybersecurity a career of yesteryear in a few years? If the most recent A-Level results are anything to go by, absolutely not! Whilst there are still some obvious concerns about filling cybersecurity roles, the increase in popularity of Maths and Further Maths at A Levels by nearly 25% since 2010 bodes very well for narrowing that skills gap. As cybersecurity is linked so closely to STEM subjects, the increase in popularity of Maths is incredibly encouraging to see.

With a solid understanding of STEM subjects, students seeking a career in cybersecurity are well equipped to deal with fast-evolving security threats and being able to adapt a dynamic environment but the help needs to start early. Whether it’s support from the Government through to scholarships and internships to teaching young children about how to behave online, we must help individuals today to secure the world of tomorrow, and with the number of cybersecurity jobs in the UK increasing at nearly 20% a year, there is no better time to enter the exciting world of cybersecurity.

To keep up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity news, take a look at the McAfee Security blog here.

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Are You Click Bait? How to Calm Your Clicks and Keep Your Privacy Intact https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/are-you-click-bait/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/are-you-click-bait/#respond Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:00:46 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=78118 It all feels so harmless. Who isn’t even alittle curious which celebrity is their look-a-like or what ’80s song best matches their personality? While some of these fun little quizzes and facial recognition-type games that pop up on social media are advertiser-generated and harmless, others have been carefully designed to steal your data. According to […]

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It all feels so harmless. Who isn’t even alittle curious which celebrity is their look-a-like or what ’80s song best matches their personality? While some of these fun little quizzes and facial recognition-type games that pop up on social media are advertiser-generated and harmless, others have been carefully designed to steal your data.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) consumers need to beware with the IQ tests, quizzes that require you to trade information. Depending on the goal of the scam, one click could result in a new slew of email or text spam, malicious data mining, or even a monthly charge on your phone bill.

Besides the spammy quizzes, scammers also use click bait, that are headlines designed to get your click and your data. Such headlines often promise juicy info on celebrities and may even legitimate human interest stories that claim, “and you won’t believe what happened next.” While some of those headlines are authored by reputable companies simply trying to sell products and compete for clicks, others are data traps that chip away at your privacy.

The best defense against click bait is knowledge. Similar to the plague of fake news circulating online, click bait is getting more sophisticated and deceptive in appearance, which means that users must be even more sophisticated in understanding how to sidestep these digital traps.

5 Tips to Help You Tame Your Clicks

  1. Just say no, help others do the same. Scammers understand human digital behavior and design quizzes they know will get a lot of shares. “Fun” and “wow!” easily goes viral. Refuse to pass on the information and when you see it, call it out like blogger David Neilsen did (right). A scammers goal is access to your data and access to your social pages, which gives them access to your friend’s data. If you want to find out which Harry Potter character you are most like, just know you will pay with your privacy — so just practice saying no.
  2. Vet your friends. Gone are the days of hundreds of thousands of “friends and followers” to affirm our social worth. With every unknown friend you let into your digital circle, you increase your chances of losing more privacy. Why take the risk? Also, take a closer look at who is sharing a contest, quiz, or game. A known friend may have been hacked. Go through their feed to see if there’s anything askew with the account.
  3. Beware of click jacking. This malicious technique tricks a web user into clicking on something different from what the user perceives they are clicking on, which could result in revealing confidential information or a scammer taking control of their computer.
  4. Be aware of ‘Like Farming’ scams. Quizzes can be part of a scam called “Like Farming.” In this scenario, scammers create a piece of legitimate content, then swap it out for something else less desirable once the post has gone viral.
  5. Adjust your settings. Since these quizzes mainly show up on Facebook, start adjusting your settings there. You will be prompted from your Settings to select/deselect the level of permissions that exist. This is one easy way to stop the madness. Another way is to go to the actual post/quiz and click on the downward facing arrow to the top right of the post. Tell Facebook to block these types of ads or posts, or if you are sure it’s a scam, report the post.
  6. Value your online time. Click bait is an epic waste of time. When a headline or quiz teases users to click without giving much information about will follow, those posts get a lot more clicks, which moves them up the Facebook food chain. Keep in mind click bait is a trap that A) tricks you B) wastes valuable time and C) edges out content from your friends and Facebook pages that you actually want to see.

Our digital landscape is peppered with fake news and click bait, which makes it difficult to build trust with individuals and brands who have legitimate messages and products to share. As you become savvy to the kinds of data scams, your discernment and ability to hold onto your clicks will become second nature. Continue to have fun, learn, connect, but guard your heart with every click.

 

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11 Easy Ways to Start Reclaiming Your Family’s Vanishing Privacy https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-privacy-online/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/family-privacy-online/#respond Tue, 12 Sep 2017 14:00:28 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=77417 Every day search engines collect our data, companies sell our information, prying algorithms stalk our clicks and our cell phones and apps spy on us in a new and concerning ways. Relationship Status: It’s Complicated We’re in a privacy conundrum with our tech: We hate it, but we love it; we wanna toss it, but […]

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Every day search engines collect our data, companies sell our information, prying algorithms stalk our clicks and our cell phones and apps spy on us in a new and concerning ways.

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

We’re in a privacy conundrum with our tech: We hate it, but we love it; we wanna toss it, but we need it. We love the ease of shopping online, connecting with friends, and downloading useful apps but we forfeit our data every time we feed the cyber beast.

So how do we partake in the many joys of the online world without giving away our family’s precious privacy with every click?

Taking back the privacy we’ve slowly given away online is an ongoing task, much like weeding a garden. We tend to it, water it, and do a little each day to maintain our piece of land hoping to yield a healthy harvest.

Privacy Basics include updating passwords, amping up privacy settings on all social networks, avoiding public Wi-Fi, and using two-step authentication for logins. Still, there’s more much more and here’s a start. Below are ten powerful but sometimes overlooked ways to begin taking back your family’s privacy piece by piece.

Let’s Roll: 11-Step Privacy Take Back Plan

  1. Outsmart Your Smart TV. Our televisions are out-evolving us. With the inclusion of automatic content recognition (ACR) systems built into many smart televisions, a TV can transmit data to analytics companies that can use it for marketing purposes. Go into your smart settings on your TV and turn off this capability. (It’s not always called ACR so you may have to figure out what gimmicky name your TV has ascribed to it).
  2. Secure Your Home Network. Limit your circle of trust when it comes to your home network to protect your family physically and financially. Be sure to name your home network something other than your family name and don’t share your password. Treat your network password the way you would a house key. Think about creating a guest network so visitors can connect without gaining access to your family’s other networked devices or shared files.
  3. Lock all digital doors (screens). I used to think this was a hassle but I’m a true believer in screen locks since I lost my phone one day and realized my banking app, email, and social accounts were exposed. So, take the time to set a password or PIN for every laptop, smartphone, and tablet.  Simply go into your settings and lock all your digital doors.
  4. Shred it. If you don’t own a shredder, you might consider one to gain back some of your privacy. Identity theft via snail mail is still an issue. What kind of information should you shred? Anything containing:
    • Your Social Security Number (even just the last four digits)
    • Your birth date
    • Your credit card numbers
    • Any account numbers from financial institutions
    • Medical insurance numbers
    • Unsolicited credit applications
  5. Stop unsolicited credit offers. Thieves can steal mail from your home and search out discarded mail from landfills that allow them to rack up debt in your name. Stop a lot of these offers by going to optoutprescreen.com or calling 888-567-8688. To stop the other slew of unwanted mail, go to dmachoice.org ($2 charge).
  6. Update all software. When you get an alert to update software — be it your phone, laptop, or tablet — pay attention. Updates ensure that criminals can’t exploit flaws in old software versions to hack into your device. An update alert may look like an administrative task, but it is a powerful way to boost your device security instantly.
  7. Delete unused apps. Approved apps attached to your smartphone, laptop or social networks are always siphoning user data. Just like the garage in your home, junk just naturally collects on our devices. Clean house. Go through your accounts and only the apps you use.
  8. Restrict the power of your browser. Google is a data magnet and the bigger it gets, the more it siphons personal and behavioral data. Go into your browser and adjust the privacy settings to block tracking used by advertisers.
  9. Cover your laptop camera. Got a Post-It note? Tear off a little piece and cover your laptop camera so hackers can’t see anything if they took control of it remotely. Yes, this actually happens so don’t let it happen to you.
  10. Disappear a little. If you are serious about increasing your privacy, take steps to add some mystery to your online presence and pull back on the information you share. A) Go through your Facebook friends and clean house. Don’t know them? Don’t interact? Delete them. B) Disappear on search. Go into your Facebook settings under the “Who Can Look Me Up?” section and change it up. C) Avoid your name being attached to Facebook ads by going into your Ad Settings. D) Hide your personal info such as birthday, hometown, etc.  Many of these provide thieves with possible answers to potential security questions. Using the Privacy Checkup Tool under the padlock on the upper right of any Facebook page to make hide all of this.
  11. Think before sharenting. When it comes to our kids, we love to celebrate, congratulate and mark important mile stones on Facebook and other social sites. But sometimes social sharing by proud parents can put your family (and the relationships with your child) at risk. Get familiar with sharenting best practices to make sure protecting your child’s privacy is always first.

ToniTwitterHS

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee

The post 11 Easy Ways to Start Reclaiming Your Family’s Vanishing Privacy appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Oh No! 8 Signs that Grandma’s Getting Baited by a Catfish! https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/8-signs-that-grandmas-getting-baited-by-a-catfish/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/8-signs-that-grandmas-getting-baited-by-a-catfish/#respond Tue, 05 Sep 2017 14:00:19 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=77331 His name was Colonel Lance Shimmeroff. He was a retired U.S. Army officer and happened to be an ace Words With Friends player, according to my 75-year-old mother, who no one in the family could beat at the online game. They played the game often, and he impressed with his word combinations and witty banter. […]

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grandma catfished

His name was Colonel Lance Shimmeroff. He was a retired U.S. Army officer and happened to be an ace Words With Friends player, according to my 75-year-old mother, who no one in the family could beat at the online game. They played the game often, and he impressed with his word combinations and witty banter. Within a few months, Grandma received a Facebook friend request from Col. Shimmeroff. She accepted. The personal questions and lunch invitations soon followed.

As she recounted the story and how she politely declined his advances, I took a closer look at “the Colonel’s” account. Sure enough, Grandma was being catfished.

I consider my mother one of the most brilliant people on the planet. It never crossed my mind that she wouldn’t know about catfish accounts online designed to gain the friendship — and eventually scam — older women.

She blushed. We laughed. And then she proceeded to block “The Colonel” and several other accounts posing as military men that had started following her other social media profiles. Mom’s a whiz on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — but now knows to lock her accounts and only “friend” people she knows in person.

What’s a Catfish?

A fishing story is a story that’s been inflated, exaggerated, and is about as untrue and far-fetched as it can be. Thus, the term catfishing.

A catfish is someone who uses the internet to create a false identity. Catfishing is common on online dating sites and social media sites in general. People catfish others for several reasons. A catfish’s goal can be to build a fantasy relationship and manipulate another person’s emotions. Sometimes, however, the catfish’s intention is to gain trust to solicit funds, commit identity theft, extortion, or even a home robbery. Catfish target the young and the elderly and both males and females.

Smart people get catfished. Careless people get catfished.

grandma catfished

No one is immune to a catfish’s schemes because they’ve become very sophisticated in the very personal ways they engage their victims — especially if the motive is financial.

Romance scams, also called confidence scams, result in the highest amount of financial losses when compared to other Internet crimes. According to FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, 14,546 people were victims of romance or confidence scams in 2016, up from 5,791 people in 2014. The financial losses are on the rise with victims losing nearly $220 million in 2016, more than double the nearly the numbers in 2014.

Casting a Very Wide Net

Catfishing is a numbers game. If a catfish creates a fake profile hoping to entice 50 people, just one bite is all a catfish needs to orchestrate his or her scam. Their methods can be simple or graduate into very sophisticated schemes that leave victims emotionally traumatized.

A lot of people online are genuine, awesome people but sadly, many aren’t. For catfish and cyber criminals, crime and deception are the full-time jobs they clock into every single day.

How can you tell if a catfish is trying to bait you? Pay attention to the signs below, listen to your instincts, and make every effort to keep your digital circle tight and trusted.

8 ways to spot a catfish

  1. Limited pictures. Everyone online has access to a camera these days but catfishes will post only one or two on their social profiles. If they do offer more photos, they’ve usually stolen them from another profile so they can they can pretend to be that person. One way to check the to see if photos belong to the person claiming them is to do a reverse image Google search. Simply right-click a photo, copy the URL, and paste in the box at images.google.com. Image searches could reveal if your new friend’s photo appears anywhere else online.
  2. Strange social profiles. Another way to spot a catfish is by examining their social media accounts. Their friend counts are low, posted are usually gifs or memes, and friend comments are low or non-existent. Catfish don’t usually post a lot of original content, express personal opinions, or share any kind of photo that hints to their personal life.
  3. They move fast. Beware of new online friends who rush things. They make the first move, reveal secrets too soon, express love too soon, and tend to be passive-aggressive with comments as a way to gage your sympathy level. They identify and prey on vulnerabilities and will exploit you if they detect you are lonely, naive, or an overly generous person.
  4. Inconsistent information. Catfish scams that originate outside of the U.S. often include information that does not add up. For example, if someone claims to live in Cleveland but knows nothing about the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they are probably lying. Ask a lot of questions. Catfish tend to ask the questions but shy away from answering with specifics.
  5. Dreamy lifestyle and looks. A catfish’s life (and looks) is usually too good to be true. Their lifestyle is inspiring. They volunteer, help people in need, and are unafraid of adventure. At the same time, a catfish may be sharing bits and pieces about a surprising setback in employment, illness, or a heartbreaking family situation that feels out of his or her control. grandma catfished
  6. Offbeat military (or other) career. The military catfish seems to be a very common scam and unfortunately, women fall for it every day. Catfish posing as soldiers often will ask victims for money to come home on leave or claim they can’t access their bank account while on a mission. They also duck out of a webcam, Skype, or Facetime call by claiming they are Special Forces or on a secret mission. Beware of any career (not just military) or circumstance that prohibits someone from meeting face to face. The catfish is full of excuses. Entire Facebook groups and websites have been established to alert people to the many bogus military photos circulating online.
  7. Requests for money. Catfish move fast emotionally, play on your sympathies, engage in hours of flirtatious, flattering texts, and may even ask for money. Often, they’ve architected their conversations methodically to access enough personal information to commit identity fraud or even a home robbery. Don’t fall for it.
  8. Spelling and grammar mistakes. It’s okay to flub up your grammar once in a while but if you meet someone online that constantly stumbles over spelling and grammar, it could be a catfish from another country. Note: Behind the uniform, the attractive face, or the drama-filled story, a scam can be going on. Sadly, as publicized as the decade-old Nigeria-based scams are, people still fall for these digital hoaxes.

The best weapon against being catfished is education. The more you know about this online crime, the faster a catfish scheme can be exposed. Trust yourself and follow your gut. Stop communicating before a friendship goes too far and you’ve opened yourself up emotionally or financially.

Report any accounts that appear to be fake to the social media or dating platform immediately. If a situation has progressed to a criminal level report your experience (or a loved one’s) to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

ToniTwitterHS

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee

The post Oh No! 8 Signs that Grandma’s Getting Baited by a Catfish! appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Protect that Rep! Tips to Help Your High Schooler Shine Online https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teens-and-online-reputation/ https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/consumer/family-safety/teens-and-online-reputation/#respond Tue, 29 Aug 2017 14:00:15 +0000 https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/?p=77060 Do you remember being a teenager and your mom threatening to surgically remove the telephone receiver from your face because you’d been on the phone all night? How about dying your hair or sneaking out at night to decorate a few trees with toilet paper? Finding what works and what doesn’t is all part of youth […]

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Do you remember being a teenager and your mom threatening to surgically remove the telephone receiver from your face because you’d been on the phone all night? How about dying your hair or sneaking out at night to decorate a few trees with toilet paper? Finding what works and what doesn’t is all part of youth and evolving into adulthood.

Much has changed in the world today but the core need of kids to connect and express remains the same.

Peer connection and self-expression are critical pieces of a teen’s emotional development only today, social media plays a huge role in both. In fact, according to a 2015 Pew Institute study, 55% of teens spend time every day texting with friends, 79% of all teens instant message their friends. Also, 72% of all teens spend time with friends via social media. That same study also found that a majority of teens depend on social media to feel more connected to friends, to understand their peers’ feelings, and for their emotional support through challenging times.

Focus: Reputation Managment

As you coach your child through the importance of reputation management, it’s important to remember that creativity, conflict, humor, physical appearance, peer approval, and exploring different interests all shape a teen’s journey to adulthood. And, sometimes what a parent may consider irresponsible behavior online, is a child maturing (albeit publicly) and expressing his or her natural need for acceptance, affirmation, and individuality.

So with our kids’ never-ending connecting taking place how can parents respectfully encourage a teen’s independence and still step and influence when needed?

Our digital reality:

  • High school teachers, advisors, and coaches are aware of — and care about — students’ online behavior
  • College recruiters review digital information of potential applicants
  • Employers and recruiters search digital profiles before deciding to hire
  • Content on the internet is forever
  • A digital reputation becomes like a tattoo — once it exists, it’s nearly impossible to erase
  • Actions online — both positive and negative — impact others, sometimes in very viral ways

To help keep your child’s online reputation sparkling — and your sanity in tact through the high school years — take a few minutes to review and discuss these eight tips around the dinner table this week.

10 Ways to Help Kids Protect their Online Rep 

1. Tie digital behavior to goals. Does your child aspire to go to teach, go to law school, or play a college or professional sport someday? Relate the importance of reputation management to your child’s passions and dreams. Discuss goals and bring the reality of digital behavior up close and personal. Take the time to review and discuss digital content and, together, remove questionable posts.

2. Be flexible. Be consistent in coaching your child but also be flexible in your approach to each situation. If your child has a history of wise behavior online, be sure to reward that. Don’t employ restrictive rules out of fear of what might happen. Allowing fear to drive your parenting will only damage your relationship with your child at a time when relationship, trust, and communication is everything. If there’s a consequence for an online misstep, stay calm and keep communication open and honest.

3. Words can be weapons. Words matter and wield an incredible amount of amount of power to lift up or tear down. Words in the online world can become weapons. Kids may take social media accounts for granted even though each account profile represents an enormous responsibility. Use real world examples to teach your child about the power of words and their consequences when used recklessly online. Specific cases more recently include online word wars between celebrities and several cyberbullying cases that ended tragically.

4. Create, keep boundaries. While it’s important not to stifle your teen while he or she explores various means of self-expression online, don’t be afraid to draw the line when it counts. If a behavior or attitude is hurting themselves or anyone around them, don’t let it slide. The more clearly you communicate your family’s values and expectations, the more likely your child will be to make wise digital decisions when you are not around.

5. Assign some adjectives. Ask your child list out the adjectives he or she would like other people to use when describing them online. It helps to establish goals and visualize attributes such as honest, funny, kind, considerate, smart, and compassionate.  If the list of adjectives doesn’t line up with your child’s online behavior, discuss some ways to close that gap.

5. Evaluate the digital company you keep. If your child’s network of friends is known for bullying, being reckless, or posting inappropriate content, that behavior can tarnish your child’s online reputation. Take a stroll through his or her stream and point out the red flags (including friends) that may need a closer look. Block tagging: 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.

6. Practice the pause. Teens and impulsivity live intertwined. Emotion can cloud judgment, and when a majority of one’s day transpires online, that combination can cause problems. For instance, if your child posts a few angry comments following a family (or friend) argument, those comments can do far more damage than the initial tiff. Model patience and pausing online and coach your kids when in doubt, don’t post that anger-laced comment.

7. Embrace the basics. The start of a new school year — especially for seniors — is the perfect time to remind your child not to share personal data or details online. It’s a good idea to search your child’s name on social networks, search engines, and databases. If any negative information does exist, be diligent about coaching your child in how to ask others to remove unflattering photos or comments about your child. Make sure they understand the details of what to keep and what to delete in their profiles to strengthen their digital footprint as they move into adulthood.

8. Teach your kids to fish. No, not for grouper or salmon but for the confidence they need to be awesome digital citizens and shine online. It’s easy to jump in and “handle things” for our kids without allowing them to benefit from the experience — no matter how bumpy it may be. If there’s a security issue online, a personal conflict, or a reputation issue, let your child be part of the solution (be it face-to-face or online). That way, the next time he or she can attempt to resolve an issue themselves.