It has become important to make sure children fully understand their digital profile, as well as the devices and applications they use daily as internet-based devices put them at risk of being compromised by cyber criminals. With a wide array of fun games and educational material just one click away the internet has become such an important resource in every child’s life. Many aspects of a child’s life, including school and communicating with friends, are dependent on devices that are connected to the internet. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are aware of this and oftentimes target kids for their own gain.
Fortinet’s shares a few best practices to incorporate into every child’s internet usage to ensure they are safe, secure and maintain their privacy online:
1. The importance of online privacy: Discuss online security with children, start by explaining the importance of keeping information private to strengthen their online security and to keep their family’s data safe. As many online activities require personally identifiable information (PII) such as name and date of birth, children must know where and when they should share this type of information. For older children, this extends to banking information as well. It’s crucial that the child understands that they should never share their account details with anyone online, outside of official and verified representatives and should minimize the amount of PII they share overall.
2. Create online guidelines: We cannot always control what children do online, however, establishing a set of rules to follow while online will help to protect them. Having specific lists of websites and applications children can use allows parents to determine how they use the internet, guaranteeing their safety. The same principles can be applied to social media, where parents can create guidelines for what is acceptable to share and whom they can connect with.
3. Secure their devices: Personal devices and online accounts have become prime targets for cyber criminals looking to steal personal information. It is of paramount importance that parents make sure their own devices and the child’s devices, are secure. Learning the security features that are built into the websites and applications children use, as well as applying additional security layers to their devices will make it more difficult for cyber criminals to breach their profiles.
4. Defend against cyber threats: For online accounts, security starts with using a strong password. Some best practices to follow include making a new password for every account, as well as avoiding the use of common phrases. Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the next step in bolstering account security. MFA works by adding an extra step to the login process to verify identity. This is usually done in the form of a unique code being sent over email or text to a user-confirmed mobile phone number attached to the account that must be entered before the account is logged into.
Unsecure networks, such as public Wi-Fi are often used by cyber criminals as a way to gain access to devices that are connected to it. When using public wi-fi confirm the network name and exact login credentials with the appropriate staff before logging in.
5. Monitor online activity: It is important to monitor the online activity of children to make sure they are not overstepping into areas that could put them at risk. Keeping the computer in a public area, allows parents to easily intervene if the child misuses online resources.
Parents of older kids should be careful to monitor their online purchases are made from secure sites. Furthermore, recent threat research from FortiGuard Labs shows that ecommerce platforms have been under increased attack and that there has been an increase in card skimming scams to steal financial data. Monitoring your children’s online purchases ensures you can step-in if you see suspicious activity that may indicate your child’s personal information has been compromised.
“With the internet becoming a mainstay in every child’s life, protecting them online has become a necessity for all parents. Protecting a child online encompasses aspects of both owning and securing their internet usage. Ultimately, maintaining an understanding of what children do online, as well as making sure they are secure, culminates in online safety,” said Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India & SAARC, Fortinet.
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