Guest Article: Cyberscout – 5 Rules to Safeguard Kids

26 May 2020

Cyber learning enables schoolchildren and university students to learn remotely. Schools use a variety of educational platforms, including proprietary systems, Google Classroom, and even business web conferencing tools like Zoom and WebEx. Remote learning holds tremendous potential—from keeping school going during pandemics and natural disasters to delivering instruction from the world’s top experts—but there are also some cybersecurity concerns. Here are five tips to help parents establish smart “ground rules” for keeping kids safe online.

1.) Think before clicking. Online security threats change by the hour and become more sophisticated all the time. Ask children to approach every email with caution—the message may sound right, but the messenger may not be. Kids need to learn to pause and check with a parent before they open any email, click on links or open any attachments.

2.) Verify domain names and email senders. If a child is required to maintain access to email for school, talk with them about how to identify proper sources and senders. Check the URL before typing it in a browser or clicking a link. Help them to recognize spelling errors, altered graphics and logos as signs something isn’t right. When you spot an obvious phishing email, show it to your child and point out how you knew it was a fake.

3.) Use better passwords. Increasingly, people are turning to password managers to keep their accounts safe, since it can be difficult to remember many long and strong passwords. These managers generate random passwords and allow managing the process with a single master password. If a password manager is not being used, make sure everyone in the house is using sufficiently complex passwords that are unique to the key accounts, and never let children use any passwords associated with parents’ online accounts!

4.) Monitor them. Parents should monitor their children’s online behavior regularly. Set restrictions and enable parental controls to limit what kids can access. Look at internet history, app usage and be sure to know what programs and apps school is requiring, ensuring children are downloading the correct versions. Establish rules about purchases by a parent or adult.

5.) Secure mobile devices. Children may use their phones, laptops, tablets and even watches to complete schoolwork and stay entertained. Secure all mobile devices in the household with frequent and routine firmware and software updates. Back up data frequently on hard drives that are not connected 24/7 to the internet.