National Internet Safety Month

June is designated as National Internet Safety Month as a means of spotlighting the importance of safe online practices for you and your family.

As we head into summer, and, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance, our children and teens begin spending an average of 7.5 hours each day with electronic devices, this month provides the perfect time to spread awareness of the various ways we can keep our families and ourselves safe on the Internet.

Today, with social media and social networking becoming increasingly important in people’s everyday lives, even Grandma’s, ensuring a safe online experience for you and your family can seem daunting. So, here are a few guidelines that can help you keep the entire family safe in today’s increasingly threatening digital world.

  • Home Wi-Fi Security

Your home Wi-Fi gives your children or grandchildren access to the Internet from anywhere in your house. This makes it more difficult to monitor their online activity. So, make sure your Wi-Fi is highly secured by using strong router passwords, enabling wireless encryption, to prevent strangers from seeing or having access to your network.

  • Read Online Privacy Policies Carefully

Websites and social networks that require basic information from you when you create an account with them have privacy policies. So, whenever you or a family member want to join a new social network or set up a new website account make sure you know the creator’s privacy policies – how they intend to use your information and what they do to ensure the information you give them remains safe from dangers such as phishing and identity theft.

  • Ensure the Whole Family Practices Safe Social Networking

Unless a social network is specifically created for kids, a child under the age of 13 shouldn’t subscribe to a social network. However, everyone else that does should use their personal information wisely – don’t use full names, disclose birthdays or addresses. In addition, you shouldn’t discuss your vacation plans or share photos with identifiable details (your home address, car license plate number, etc.). You should also talk to your children about cyberbullying and online predators and stalkers.

  • Ensure Safe Online Gaming

Kids and teens can interact with their friends and people they don’t know in a fun way via live online games. However, this can expose them to dangers such as bullying and predators. Make sure your child uses only a nickname or an avatar (a icon or a figure) when playing games. In addition, carefully monitor your child’s play and use the parental controls – safety measures – the game offers.

  • Install Parental Control Tools on Family Computers

Although open communication and trust is always the best practice when it comes to your child’s online use, some extra precaution doesn’t hurt. Parental control tools can block your child’s access to inappropriate websites as well as monitor their online activity. Implementing a parental control tool isn’t about spying on your child. It’s about keeping them safe from the growing number of online dangers.

  • Create Safe Passwords

Creating strong account passwords will help keep hackers from breaching your online accounts and stealing your identity. Create a strong, unique password for each online account and change it regularly.  Make your passwords long, at least eight characters, and a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. Also, whenever possible, use security questions with answers only you’d know. Teach your family members this practice as well.

  • Install A Complete Internet Security Program on Family Computers

An effective security program will protect you and your family from malicious links, viruses and malware.

  • Only Download and Install Software from Trusted Sources

The Internet provides access to free games, movies, etc. However, some of them contain spyware and other types of malware that can compromise your computer as well as the whole family’s Internet security.

  • Look for https:// in Website URLs

The https:// at the beginning of a web address means it’s a secure site. This should appear in every bank or online shopping site you use. In addition, if you or a family member bank or shop online, make sure the Wi-Fi is secure.

  • Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams

Cybercrooks are after your personal information, and they’ll use all kinds of email and text scams to try to obtain it. Watch out for alarming messages and threats of bank account or credit card closures. You and your family members should also be wary of requests for charitable donations, lottery wins and giveaways as well as links contained in suspicious looking emails, texts or websites.

  • Backup Important Files/Data on Your Computer Regularly

You never know when your computer will crash or become the victim of an accident or a cyber attack. So, backup your home computers on a regular basis to keep your data safe and sound.

  • Stay Informed About Internet Security Threats

The best defense is always a good offense. You don’t have to be an Internet security specialist/analyst to defend your family from online dangers. You just need some basic knowledge.  So, do your homework and stay informed.

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