Everybody has become more dependent on cyberspace since the pandemic started. As a result, children’s exposure to the internet has accelerated, leading to some unfavorable consequences. Case in point, NBC News reports that school data from 1,200 K-12 institutions nationwide were published by ransomware gangs. With risks like this present everywhere, teaching your child to be vigilant on the internet becomes even more important than ever.
Four pieces of cybersecurity knowledge to share with your child
1. Securing their information, identity, and finances
The first thing that children need to know about cybersecurity is the reality of the threat. Let them know that cybercriminals can target everybody, even children. This is why staying secure must occur in three key areas: information, identity, and finances. Explain to your child that their information is something they should keep private, particularly passwords, account information, and personal information. Make it a common practice at home to refrain from posting personal information online, especially on social media networks. Cybercriminals may even try to target your finances through your child. Knowing how to safeguard this is essential to preventing greater losses in the future, and by letting kids know what’s out there, they are more likely to care about protecting themselves.
2. Basic cybersecurity threats
There are many types of cybersecurity threats, and it can be overwhelming to explain every single one to your child. Discuss the most common and easiest to understand so that they are able to recognize and avoid them. Phishing is one such threat that may easily confuse a child into providing sensitive information prompted by a fraudulent link. An even more serious cybersecurity threat is ransomware, which restricts a user’s access until they pay a ransom to unlock it. Visiting fellow from George Mason University and former intelligence officer Matthew Ferraro reports that the occurrence of ransomware attacks will continue to rise. In fact, 2021 has seen a 57-fold increase from 2015. Fortunately, there are fundamental ways to avoid them. Be on the lookout for password attacks as well. These can be mitigated by teaching your child how to create strong passwords and keeping them secure.
3. Authorities to call
Even though you and your child have prepared well, cybercriminals are constantly learning and finding smarter ways to get to their victims. Some cyberattacks need to be stopped in time to prevent significant losses. If you fall for one of their schemes, then knowing which professionals to call in this case is extremely important. Maryville University’s cybersecurity program details how professionals with a master’s training in cybersecurity know both offensive and defensive techniques for cyber-attacks. These include mobile device hacking forensics, cyber defense, and cybersecurity incident response, all of which are essential in resolving any cyber issues you may encounter with your child. Prepare a handy list of hotlines should you or your child ever need to get in touch with the authorities.
4. Basic online privacy practices
Teaching your child the basics of internet privacy can go a long way in protecting them online. Here are some measures you can take to decrease their risk as they browse the internet:
Create a strong password: Creating multiple strong passwords is the best way to keep accounts like emails, mobile banking, and social media secure. Passwords are easy to guess, and experienced hackers can easily crack them if you’re not careful. Bear in mind that cybercriminals are likely to guess your child’s password based on the information they’ve shared online.
Use multi-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication adds another layer of security to your password. Even if cybercriminals guess your password, they’d still have to decode another layer to access your accounts. Be sure to turn on these settings for your social media accounts.
Enable software updates: Aside from new features and patches, software updates also ensure that you have the latest security software available. It’s common for children to ignore updates, so remind them to install these regularly if auto-update isn’t already on.
Cybersecurity is just one example of a threat facing kids today. At MMGuardian, we recognize that the internet can also be a tool to access even more dangerous risks, such as substances. Privacy is key to preventing such issues, and a decent knowledge of cybersecurity risks would be a good place to start.
Article written by Ruthie Jeffers
Exclusively for MMGuardian