The pumpkin spice is out, the leaves are changing colour, and the kids are back in school. As your children settle into their new school year, it’s important to teach them about the importance of cybersecurity and staying safe online.
When it comes to teaching your children about cybersecurity, where do you even start? Well, the important part is that you do. From the moment kids are online, we should normalize being vigilant and aware of the risks (in the same way you teach them to look both ways when crossing the road). With that in mind, here are some of the basics to get the conversation started.
If malware (malicious software) infects your device or computer, it will get sick. If your device does get sick, you need to keep it away from other devices on your network (disconnect it from the Internet) so it doesn’t infect others. Doing updates and keeping your anti-virus software up to date keeps the device’s immune system strong.
Make sure your kids know to do their updates to prevent their devices from getting sick. An update is your device’s equivalent of getting a flu shot.
Kind of what it sounds like… Cyber villains are ‘fishing’ for your information with bait to pull you in. This typically comes in the form of an unsolicited email, message or text that looks legitimate at first glance. However, if you look close enough, you can usually tell there’s something ‘fishy’ going on.
Many phishing messages will have spelling mistakes, blurry images or requests for personal information. Teach your kids to be mindful of clicking links or downloading attachments from untrusted sources. If they’re unsure, they should ask an adult.
Watch out for ‘stranger’ networks
Every kid has heard “don’t talk to strangers” before. It’s similar with public Wi-Fi networks. Some cyber crooks will create fake networks that look like legitimate networks to access the information of unsuspecting victims. For instance, “CoffeeShopGuest” might be fine, but “C0ffeeShopGuest” might have been set up by a bad guy.
A good rule of thumb is to check with a trusted adult or a staff member at the store to verify the network before connecting to a ‘stranger’ network, and if possible, avoid logging into accounts or making purchases across a public Wi-Fi network.
Have strong, unique passwords
Teach your kids about strong passwords and password security procedures. Ideally, every account should have its own unique and robust password. Ideally, they should also set up multi-factor authentication (MFA). Think of that just like a fingerprint scan in those cool spy movies! It’s an extra layer of protection.
You won’t be able to cover everything in one sitting, but the important thing is to create a culture of openness and thoughtfulness regarding online security. With our devices being so personal to us, they can seem benign, and in many ways, they are. However, they also need to be treated with respect and reverence because having vulnerable accounts can be as bad as leaving your front door unlocked while you’re away on vacation. Teaching kids this from a young age is a smart move.
For more resources/support keeping kids safe online, check this out from the Government of Canada.
At SeekingFire Consulting, we support small to medium-sized organizations across Western Canada with their cyber security needs. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients. If you want to learn more, please drop us a line to start the conversation.
While we have made every effort to present accurate, unbiased and helpful information in this article, please note that it reflects the author’s opinion and is written for the purposes of general knowledge, information and discussion. This article is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be considered as advice specific to your individual data security situation. If you would like to discuss your cybersecurity needs in specific detail, please get in touch with us.