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Cyber Crime and Family Safety – Top Tips
Cybercrime may sound like something that only happens to big corporations or super-secret government agencies, but it happens all the time to regular people and their families.
Cybercriminals use the internet to attack you (or other people) for their financial gain. It can be difficult to guarantee that your family is protected but there are some simple things you can do to keep them as safe as possible.
Choose good passwords
If you’re one of those people who use PASSWORD or 123456 as your password, you’re potentially leaving yourself exposed to all kinds of attacks. It’s a bit like leaving the key in your front door when you go out for the day.
Your password is often your first line of defence against cybercrime so try and ensure that you have a strong password, with eight letters or more and a combination of letters, number and symbols. Change it on a regular basis and change it immediately if you notice any suspicious activity on one of your accounts.
Make sure that your kids follow these habits as well and either memorise your passwords or keep them in a safe place. A sticky note on your home computer doesn’t qualify as a safe place, in case you’re wondering.
Keep everything updated
It can be tempting to ignore those constant reminders about available updates but this could leave you and your family exposed to hackers. The latest updates and patches ensure that any vulnerabilities in your software will be fixed so the bad guys will find it harder to find a way in.
It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be safe from attack but it’s a good way to reduce the opportunities for attack. If you don’t want the hassle of constantly updating programs, simply change your settings to update automatically.
Use good security software
An obvious way to keep yourself safe from cybercrime is to hire a bit of muscle to help. In this case, that would be good security software to keep your family safe from attack. The exact package will depend on your needs or budget but remember that prevention is better than having to remove a virus.
If your children are using the internet, it’s probably a good idea to invest in parental control software to block out harmful sites or keywords and keep an eye on your child’s internet activity. This will stop them from accidentally (or intentionally) wandering into the murkier parts of the web.
Not only will this keep them safe but it will reduce the risk of them picking up something that will eat through your hard drive like the Tasmanian devil in the Looney Tunes cartoons.
Beware of dodgy links or ads
Cybercriminals target websites with attractive ads that promise you the sun, moon and a five star holiday. If it walks like a scam and quacks like a scam, it’s probably a scam.
If your children have email or social media account, let them know about mail-based viruses or the perils of strange links that come from a friend’s account. Taking the time to show them examples or talk them through the concept could save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Some ads or links can be particularly tempting for children so you need to explain the risks. Dodgy links may stand out when you know what you’re looking at but don’t underestimate the appeal of that “free iPad” to a young person (Or a not-so-young person if mum or dad clicks a link they shouldn’t!).
Avoid illegal downloading
If your child is reasonably computer savvy, they may know how to download movies, music or games from torrenting sites so this will be a serious temptation.
Everyone loves free stuff but they could be getting more than they bargained for. Aside from the fact that it’s illegal, it’s also a great way to introduce your computer to particularly nasty viruses or spyware.
Illegal downloading sites or torrents tend to be rife with all sorts of disguised infections so the apple of your eye could end up downloading more than just the latest Minions film. A blanket ban on downloading without a parent present will prevent your younger users from getting into trouble for illegal activities and reduce the risk of them being exposed to cybercrime.
If they insist on watching lots of TV shows and films online, a Netflix account will do the job.
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