Children are literally growing up “connected.” New social media services pop up like weeds and there is an ever-increasing number of apps and games that connect online. Additionally, many schools are migrating to cloud services, such as Google Drive, and require work to be submitted online. While this connected lifestyle has benefits, there are also risks to your child’s safety. We will explore three common risk areas and what you can do to help your children stay safe.
Conduct: The lack of physical presence can create a powerful sense of anonymity. This may lead kids to act differently that would in real life.
Contact: The lack of physical presence often causes kids to forget that the individual on the other end may not be who they say they are or may not have their best interests in mind.
Content: The most popular social media sites focus on ways to capture and post content online, including messages, photos and videos. The temptation for children to “out-post” others or over-share information about themselves is very real and they often do it without realizing the consequences. Children may not realize that publicly posting personal information can lead to identity theft or malware infection.
Safety at Home: Educate your children about safe online behavior and closely monitor online activity.
Safety Outside the Home: Emphasize to your children that they should use the same etiquette they use at home when online at school or anywhere else.
Online Etiquette: Remember what they say online could go viral or be published in your local newspaper. Educate your children to evaluate their intended comments or postings in this light. “Would you want what you are about to post to be published in the newspaper for all to see and know that you said it?”
Use parental controls: Many web browsers and mobile phones offer robust features to block objectionable or dangerous content. Third party web-filtering software is also an option.
Run malware protection software: Malware protection can provide protection from ‘drive-by’ or otherwise misleading downloads, which children may be tempted to click on.
Malware, also known as malicious code and malicious software, refers to a program that is inserted into a system, usually covertly, with the intent of compromising the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the victim’s data, applications, or operating system or otherwise annoying or disrupting the victim. Malware has become the most significant external threat to most systems, causing widespread damage and disruption, and necessitating extensive recovery efforts within most organizations.
There are five types of malware:
Ransomware – Ransomware is a subcategory of malware which typically will block access to computers or data until a payment is made.
Trojan – A Trojan is a self-contained, non-replicating program that, while appearing harmless, actually has a hidden malicious purpose. Trojans either replace existing files with malicious versions or add new malicious files to hosts.
Spyware – Spyware is a type of malware used to covertly observe a user’s activity and gather information about a user without their knowledge or consent.
Virus – A virus self-replicates by inserting copies of itself into host programs, data files or propagating through network file sharing. Viruses are often triggered through user interaction, such as opening a file or running a program.
Worm – A worm is a self-replicating, self-contained program that usually executes itself without user intervention.
Signs to Look Out For:
Unexpected computer crashes
Pop-up ads (even when no browser is open)
Excessive hard drive activity
New browser homepage or toolbars
Unexpected Antivirus disabling
Ways To Avoid An Attack:
Do not open suspicious emails oremail attachments, click on hyperlinks, etc. from unknown or known senders, or visit websites that are likely to contain malicious content
Do not click on suspicious web browser popup windows
Do not open files with file extensions that are likely to be associated with malware (e.g., .bat, .com, .exe, .pif, .vbs)
Do not disable malware security control mechanisms (e.g., antivirus software, content filtering software, reputation software, personal firewall) and ensure that they are continuously updated
Do not use administrator-level accounts for regular host operation
Do not download or execute applications from untrusted sources
One of today’s most effective cyber-attack methods is to take advantage of the human tendency to trust.
Social engineering, a form of psychological manipulation where an attacker cons users into divulging information or doing something they want the user to do, can occur through phone calls, email, text messaging, social media and online chats.
Indicators of social engineering attacks include:
A tremendous sense of urgency, or pressure to make a quick decision
Someone asking for information they should already know
Something too good to be true
To avoid social engineering attacks, never share your passwords and don’t share too much personal information on social media, which can give attackers information to mislead you. If someone asks for something personal, verify their contact information first.