By Melodie Veldhuizen
It is not only families’ physical security that is put at risk by dangers such as car hijacks, robbery and burglaries. Because most modern families use technology for playing, recreation and work, everybody’s online security must also be guarded. We share a few security measures.
- Install reliable antivirus software to protect your computers against viruses, spyware and malware.
- Secure your wi-fi network so that cyber criminals cannot use your bandwidth or infect your computers with malware or launch malware attacks from your system. Use a strong password for your router, enable cordless encryption to avoid strangers from seeing your network and restrict access to your network.
- Use different passwords for every account. Create safe, strong and unique passwords ─ at least eight characters, mix figures, letters and symbols and, if possible, use security questions the answer to which only you know. Lock the screen of your phone with a password.
- If possible, use two-step verification to warn you if somebody else tries to sign in on your account without your permission.
- Ensure safe internet searches. Cyber criminals can put false web addresses in your search results that they can use to their own advantage. Take note of the warning notice that appear during searches if a website is unsafe.
- Download and install only software from reliable sources. Some free games, music and films contain spyware and other types of malware. Also read the licence agreement before you download new software.
- Keep all computer programs updated. Obsolete programs and/or software have weak spots that can easily be penetrated by viruses or abused by hackers.
- Regularly back-up all important files on your computers. You can in an instant lose all your information, photos and videos due to spyware, malware or viruses, or by inadvertently clicking on the wrong key or link.
- Make sure that the source address (URL) of websites that you sign into or where you do business has an “s” in the http address (in other words, https//), which means that the website is secure (especially in the addresses of banks and online shops.
- Recognise and avoid phishing. Cyber criminals send out phishing messages via email, messages, commentary and posts on social networks with a view to getting hold of user names, passwords, PIN numbers and complete credit-card and bank-account numbers. Take note of spelling and grammatical mistakes in the messages and do not click on any links.
- Protect your and your children’s privacy and security by not sharing addresses, names of children’s daycare centres or schools, telephone numbers, identity numbers or car registration numbers and information about school outings and holidays on social media. And also be careful with the photos you share and who can see them.
- Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know.
Additional precautions for your and your children’s online security:
– Install parent control on all your computers and smartphones. Do the same with every platform to which your children subscribe. Mutual trust is essential and they must not think that you are spying on them. However, security measures are necessary to protect them from online dangers.
– Warn them against all possible online dangers: protect passwords, do not post personal information, be careful with who can see their photos and also with which photos they post ─ what you post stays in cyberspace forever and can be abused by others. It is illegal to download certain cartoons, films or music; do not download files from strangers or open any links.
– Decide on an age restriction yourself. If you feel uncomfortable with Facebook’s age restriction of 13 years and you feel your child is not ready, let them wait another year or so. Keep a watchful eye on their social-media usage and stay aware of everthing they are subscribed to.
– Online games are a fun way of interreacting with their friends, but it also exposes them to bullying or harassment by strangers. Make sure they know how to act in such situations. Also be on the lookout for aggressive behaviour shown by your child during such games. Monitor the games they play and with whom. Warn them to use pseudonyms at all times and never to share personal information.
Internet security threats change constantly. Therefore, stay informed so that you can inform and warn your child and other family members.
Bull Guard. https://www.bullguard.com/bullguard-security-center/internet-security/security-tips/family-online-safety.aspx