Stepping Into a Cyber Safe 2018

A very Happy New Year to all my dear readers and may this year be another fragrant flower that you will be adding to your bouquet of memories. 2018! How quickly the years fly by? leaving us with new experiences, understanding and learning.

Take our own digital world for instance. Most of us, discussed and researched cyberbullying seriously, for the first time only after the Blue Whale Challenge and Sarahah app made headlines last year. We also started taking interest in device security when ransomware attacks and data breaches became breaking news. Some of us have stopped being passive observers and started playing a proactive role in our children’s digital lives. But often, due to low awareness levels, some parents don’t know what to do when their kids face digital threats.

Let’s do something new in 2018, shall we? Let us turn the table around on cyber criminals by anticipating their moves and being prepared to handle new threats. Ready for the challenge?

The McAfee Labs 2018 threat predictions that I shared in my last blog gave a preview of 5 cybersecurity trends, if you remember. The report predicts a rise in attacks on connected devices and misuse of user-generated content. This is something we need to educate our kids about for they may not be aware that their digital footprints may have future consequences. They need to know how to keep their personal details private and why not to overshare information online.

Our concern is not with the positive posts that will help them on their digital journey, but the negative ones that could cause a hindrance. According to the McAfee Labs Threat Predictions 2018 report, many future adults will suffer from negative digital baggage, even if it comes about without their intention.

You may ask how can content be generated unintentionally? You will be surprised to know it is done all the time, even by us. A piece of malware in our phone may collect data about us, even take or store our pictures. A drone can be hacked to gather and transmit data about the user. A social engineering attack like a fun test may require us to enter personal details. This data may be shared with 3rd party vendors who will use it to sell their services or to keep track of social habits, for later use.

As smart homes and all connected devices are expected to increasingly become the targets of hackers, inadvertent content generation is a big concern and we need to take precautions to safeguard our kids online.

Here are some cyber safety tips to set your kids on the right path in the digital world:

  • Upgrade security features on all connected devices: Ensure that the devices offer more than basic security and that their passwords can be changed. Keep passwords a secret, even from BFFs.
  • Turn off unnecessary features: Do periodic checkup of all devices used by kids. Are all the apps necessary? Can some be disabled or uninstalled? What are the permissions required by the apps and what terms and conditions have your children agreed to? Remember to keep location services and Bluetooth turned off too.
  • Manage digital footprints: Teach kids the importance of STOP.THINK. SHARE. Too much information can prove an obstacle, like during internship applications, college admissions or even job recruitment. Sharing your location online by “checking in” to places can also provide potential hackers with too much information.
  • Keep conversation channels open: Teach children to make the right choices in the digital world early on. Have regular discussions on how important it is to share minimal personal data online. Let them know you are there for them 24/7 and that together you can better handle all cyber issues.

And remember the first rule, secure all your connected devices, with a comprehensive security solution.

Our children face an amazing potential future, full of wonderful gadgets, supportive services, and amazing experiences. Let’s teach them how to pack their digital backpacks so that they can make the most of it.

In the next blog, we will discuss data privacy in greater details and I will be sharing some useful tips with you on how to teach your kids to keep data about themselves minimal and safe. Till then ciao!

 

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