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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety

Every day, parents and caregivers teach kids basic safety practices — like looking both ways before crossing the street and holding an adult’s hand in a crowded place. Easy-to-learn life lessons for online safety and privacy begin with parents leading the way. Learning good cybersecurity practices can also help set a strong foundation for a career in the industry.

With family members using the internet to engage in social media, adjust the home thermostat, or shop for the latest connected toy, it is vital to make certain that the entire household — including children — learns to use the internet safely and responsibly and that networks and mobile devices are secure. Week 1 will underscore basic cybersecurity essentials the entire family can deploy to protect their homes against cyber threats.

Three Things You Can Do Today to Protect Your Home and Family

Most of us probably remember our parents advising us to look both ways before crossing the street or to never touch a hot stove. But how many of us can recall parental guidance — or have talked to our own children — about how to secure our social media accounts or how to protect our laptops from hackers?

Cybersecurity isn’t just for the workplace. Technology permeates our daily lives, helping us to connect, create, and cool off. We take our tech home, using smartphones to play music or stream movies when we aren’t answering emails. As the number of devices per household continues to grow, more children are being exposed to more technology in less time.

It’s our responsibility as consumers and family members to be aware of our own security and understand how each of us is empowered to protect it.

1. Engage with your family about the way they use technology.

Communication is important in relationships, whether with a partner or a family. Take the time to talk about technology — and we don’t mean just to share the Wi-Fi password.

For the parents among us, get involved with the technology your children use. What apps and social media sites are helping them connect with friends? What information are they sharing through texts and social media, and with whom? Are they aware of fake profiles, Fortnite scams, and other tricks used by cybercriminals?

Understanding how your children engage with devices and online services will help you protect them from dangers they may not be aware of. Help them understand that they’re in control of their accounts’ privacy settings and what they share, and that a little caution can save a lot of embarrassment and regret down the road. As an added bonus, your tech talks might give you some gift ideas for the approaching holiday season!

2: Change that Wi-Fi password!

Most home routers come out of the box with a default SSID (network name) and password. Usually, this information is printed on a label, and many people never change it. Problem is, most of these passwords also are posted online and are easy for hackers (and neighbors) to find. Some routers might not even require a password by default!

If someone can log in to your router, they can view your connected devices, change your network settings, and even lock you out of your own network. This year, the FBI warned consumers to reset their router passwords in response to an outbreak of Russian malware that allowed hackers to do exactly those things. Even if the hackers don’t poke around, they can use your home like a free hotspot as long as they’re in range (in which case you’d better hope they’re not up to anything illegal!).

Your home has a front door, and so does your network. Make sure you keep both locked tight.

3: Make sure your family’s devices are all password (or fingerprint) protected.

Computers and smartphones include password protection features that you can enable in system settings. Most newer phones and laptops also include biometric protection features such as fingerprint scanners or facial recognition. Some devices may ask you to create passwords or biometric profiles when you first configure them or when you update their operating system. There’s a good reason for that.

If your device doesn’t have a password, anyone who picks it up can view your pictures, messages, and other data. Your thief may place a few Amazon orders in your name or meddle with other open apps.

Setting a strong password or using biometric authentication prevents thieves from stealing your data, even if they manage to get their hands on your computer or phone. It also helps prevent your significant other or your kids from snooping on or pranking you.

Sarah SteinbergTechnologyOctober 4, 20180 comments

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