A cyber-attack is any action taken by a cyber-criminal in an attempt to illegally gain control of a computer, device, network, or system with malicious intent. Cyber criminals may damage, destroy, steal, encrypt, expose, or leak data as well as cause harm to a system.
Cyber-attacks are on the rise, with cyber-criminal trends and techniques becoming increasingly sophisticated and creative. However, basic cybersecurity tools and practices, like patching, strong passwords, and multi-factor authentication (MFA), can prevent 80 to 90% of cyber-attacks.
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I am certain that most of our readers and listeners have small children, grandchildren, little nieces, nephews, or cousins that they absolutely adore. And because you adore the young people in your life, you probably shower them with love and spoil them with gifts. Increasingly, those gifts are smart devices to help educate or provide a fun, interactive experience for the child.
When you purchase these Internet-enabled devices, I’m sure you never think to yourself, “How can this technology be maliciously used against me or my loved one?” In the past, this question would have seemed very odd; however, with the explosion of Internet-enabled devices from tablets, video games, and even doll babies this question should be asked more. Back in 2015 it was revealed that the data of over 6.4 million children was hacked from their use of the Vtech devices, a global leader of educational toys. (V-Tech Hack Video) In another instance shown on the TV show “Good Morning America,” attackers were able to exploit a baby monitor by hacking the app-controlled device (Baby monitor hack). My hope in sharing these stories and information with you is not to make you fearful or deter you from having Internet-enabled devices in your home. However, I do want to help educate you on some cyber hygiene tips that will drastically reduce the chances of a successful cyber-attack.
At any point prior to gifting children with Internet-enabled devices did you stop to consider whether they had the necessary Cyber Hygiene training or if the device could enable the parental controls?
Most adults have never heard the expression Cyber Hygiene. And a very small number know how to enable or have enabled parental controls. Lacking proper Cyber Hygiene drastically increases a child’s (or an adult for that matter) chances of invasion of privacy, deliberately or inadvertently visiting inappropriate websites, explicit language, cyber-bullying, and or bribery.
The definition of Cyber Hygiene is as follows “the proactive countermeasures one takes to reduce its chances of a successful cyber-attack.” Below, I’ve shared a few helpful tips adults can put in place to help build hygienic practices in our ever-evolving cyber world.
Cyber Hygiene Tips for Parents:
- Carefully read the following terms and conditions and ask the following questions:
- What data do you consent to share with this app? (Location, microphone, photos, etc.)
- How is this information collected?
- Why do they need to collect this data?
- How will this data be used?
- Can I opt out and still use data?
If you are uncomfortable with the information being shared or unhappy with the policy terms, consider not using the service completely or researching a similar product that handles and protects your data more securely. Check out this tool that tracks your Google activity (Google My Activity).
- Reduce the amount of information you share online.
You may have never thought that an innocent picture of your 8-year-old daughter in her bathing suit at the pool that received over 500 likes is harmless until you check the “likes” (creepy I know). I also caution you about the type of personal sensitive information you share about your children like your child’s full name, DOB, phone number, and address. These can easily be compiled to build a fake identity of your child and now they own a Porsche 911.
- Have the conversation with your children.
Traditionally Cyber Security has not been taught early on or built into smart devices for several reasons. However, now is the time to begin having those conversations with our small, loved ones about their technology use. Below are a few analogies we use during our Cyber Hygiene for Parents Workshop that build good Cyber Hygiene habits for small children.
- “Your data (information) online is like your body, we can’t/don’t want to share with everyone” *help them understand what information is sensitive (DOB, Address)
- “You see those locks on the front door, well those locks are similar to the locks I placed on your tablet to keep unwanted people away”
- I encourage parents to involve their children in the process of protecting them online so they can not only gain a better understanding of how to protect themselves but also recognize indicators of compromise and what to do next.
- Create a fake account and follow your kids.
- This allows you to safely monitor account activity from a reasonable distance. You can view their friend lists, posts, and likes.
- However, I caution you that when you do see things that you don’t approve of to not blow your cover but share with them the dangers of failing to protect themselves online. Show them statistics and hacking videos of how easy it is to exploit them using their online profile.
- Adjust privacy settings
- If you can opt out of your data being shared, opt-out
- Ask the app not to track you if you are not using the app
- Don’t allow the app to track your location
- Limit the number of apps that have access to your microphone, camera, and pictures
- Don’t allow your data to be shared with 3rd parties
To learn more cyber hygiene tips for parents to reduce the chances of a successful cyber-attack against their children please visit our website. We offer bi-weekly Cyber Hygiene workshops for parents where we conduct live demonstrations of how to reduce your chances of a successful attack.
About Dontae Tyler
A self-taught college dropout, Dontae Tyler is a Senior IT professional with over 8 years of experience. Dontae’s focus is cyber security, particularly GRC, Data Privacy, and Security Awareness Training. Dontae holds several certifications including CISM, CDPSE, Security+, and CEH. Dontae founded OQPS in 2018 as a government contracting consulting agency that aims to bridge security gaps and align business goals and objectives with the IT Strategy.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable with the amount of personal information you share on the Internet? Do you feel like there’s nothing you can do to really protect your data online? There is something you can do. You can click here to purchase Dontae’s book, “Cyber Hygiene,“ and learn how to increase your Cyber IQ and reduce your risk of being a victim of a cyber attack.