Family Safety

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Sadfishing, Deepfakes & TikTok: Headlines You May Have Missed

Sadfishing, Deepfakes & TikTok: Headlines You May Have Missed

Sadfishing, Deepfakes & TikTok: Headlines You May Have MissedTechnology trends move fast and the digital newsfeeds run non-stop. No worries, we’ve got your backs, parents. Here are three important headlines you may have missed about some of the ways kids are using their devices and how you can coach them around the risks.

What’s Sadfishing and is Your Child Doing it Online?

Sadfishing is the act of someone making exaggerated claims about their emotional problems to generate sympathy from other people online. The concept of sadfishing surfaced when some alleged that celebrity influencers Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner were engaging fans a form of sadfishing, which then sparked others to follow suit. The practice is growing to the extent that a  recent Digital Awareness UK report, based on interviews with 50,000 schoolchildren, says sadfishing could be damaging teenagers’ self-esteem and leading to bullying.

The risks: Young people who post emotionally-heavy content could be bullied by peers who see a vulnerable post as an empty bid for attention. But here’s where things get murky. Is a person sadfishing for attention or could that person truly be in crisis? Unless you are a professional, there’s no definite way to know since online interactions tend to lack context. For that reason, professionals say that alarming posts should be taken seriously, and everyone should become familiar with how to help someone in an emotional crisis online.

Talking points: Browsing posts and comments on your child’s social feeds is one way to see if your child is sadfishing. Coach your kids on how to express themselves online and to carefully consider the deeper intent of a confessional post before sharing. Encourage your child to consider these questions themselves posting:

  • What am I hoping to achieve with this post?
  • Could I more effectively work out this issue more if I confided it to a friend or family member face-to-face?
  • Should I journal my feelings privately before sharing them online?

Deepfakes: What Your Family Needs to Know

A deepfake is a video created using artificial intelligence to show real people doing and saying things they never did. Deepfakes can be humorous (like the political deep fakes circulating) or harmful. Deepfakes are on the rise because free apps such as FakeApp and DeepFaceLab allow any amateur to manipulate videos.Sadfishing, Deepfakes & TikTok: Headlines You May Have Missed

The risks: It’s getting tougher to discern real from fake videos, which means that misinformation spreads quickly as does the fallout. Deepfakes can destroy a person’s reputation, spread fake pornography videos, alter election outcomes, or even impact the stock market. Stay tuned for updates, the topic of AI and deepfakes is getting more complex and risky every day.

Talking points: Digital literacy is now a pillar of modern parenting. Teaching kids how to evaluate online information is critical, especially with the rapid growth of AI. Discuss deepfake technology with your kids. Use this Deep Fake overview video to help them understand how the technology works. Explore the topic of personal responsibility online and the ethics of creating misleading content. To spot deepfakes look for things in a video such as lack of eye blinking, shadows or borders that seem wrong, mismatch skin tones, and lip movement that is slightly out of sync with the person’s words.

TikTok App Obsession (and Safety Concerns) on the Rise

TikTok, the looping short-form video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, that’s also wildly popular with teens, is back in the news for several reasons. Recently U.S. Senators asked the Intelligence Committee to look into whether the Chinese-owned app poses a security risk to the United States. Also, a BBC investigation found that TikTok failed to remove cyber predators from the app who were sending sexually explicit messages to children. And, lastly, reports in the Wall Street Journal claim that Islamic State militants have been posting short propaganda videos to TikTok as part of a recruitment effort.

Risks: In addition to online predators, TikTok app users can share inappropriate content such as talk about sex, alcohol, drugs, and girls wearing suggestive clothing. Too, there’s the risk of posting regrettable content, data mining (an issue in the past for TikTok), and, as with any app, there’s the very real (and reported) issue of cyberbullying.

Sadfishing, Deepfakes & TikTok: Headlines You May Have Missed

Talking points: Anyone over the age of 13 can open a TikTok account, but it’s widely known that elementary-aged kids have accounts. If your child wants a TikTok account, consider downloading the app and looking around. After you’ve explored, discuss why age controls are in place, and consider putting comprehensive parental controls on your family devices. Review the most current device and app safety practices. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has a great online safety acronym to guide family discussions called TEAM:

  • Talk about staying safe online
  • Explore the online world together
  • Agree on rules about what’s OK and what’s not
  • Manage your family’s settings and controls.

Keeping up with the online trends your kids gravitate to is one of the most important things you can do to keep your family conversations relevant and keep your kids safe online. To stay updated on all of the latest family and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and get even more family safety insights on Facebook.

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Helping Kids Think Critically About Influencers They Follow Online

Helping Kids Think Critically About Influencers They Follow Online

Helping Kids Think Critically About Influencers They Follow OnlineWhen I was a teenager, my role model was Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton. I admired everything about her. I cut my hair like hers and brushed my teeth three times a day, determined to get my smile to sparkle like hers. I even started eating Wheaties when she endorsed them, thinking it would help me land my back handspring (spoiler alert: it didn’t).

It’s natural and healthy to seek out role models. Who doesn’t want to excel at a skill or possess admirable qualities? Teens today are no different. They look to others to figure out how to attain their goals. But while kids today may have the same emotional desire for role models, the online culture has confused the meaning of influence.

Algorithm vs. Character

We no longer bestow titles like role model and influencer on the few, but the many. And the requirements? Not too steep. Today, influencers win the public’s affections based on the number of likes, follows, shares, or sponsors a person accumulates. When it comes to emulating others, kids turn to famous Instagrammers and YouTubers whose fame is determined by algorithm strength rather than character strength.

For parents, this force field of influence can feel impossible to penetrate. Many (this mom included) constantly feel torn. As our kids mature, we want to give them space to explore and form opinions and preferences of their own apart from our commentary. On the flip side, technology brings more risk to the choices kids make today. Those risks can be severe and include online scams connected to celebrities, data breaches, and mental health issues linked to social influence.

Equipping vs. Condemning

So, what practical steps can we take to help our kids think more critically about the role models, celebrities, or influencers they choose to follow and even emulate? One way to move the needle is to thoughtfully and consistently increase the dialogue about values, beliefs, and goals.

Helping Kids Think Critically About Influencers They Follow Online

Keeping the conversation focused can be tricky. The goal of guiding your child should aim to equip, not condemn. Hint: The goal isn’t to debate the questionable things a celebrity or influencer chooses to say or do. The goal is to explore and build the values that inform the things your child chooses to say and do.

Here are a few conversation starters to challenge your child to look a little more closely at the influencers and celebrities he or she esteems.

Family Talking Points

Highlight common ground. I instantly connected with Mary Lou Retton because we about the same age and were both half-pints. She was 4’9,” and at that time, I was barely an inch taller and struggling with that. But Mary Lou was fierce, unstoppable, and had a positive attitude that was contagious. Suddenly, short was cool. In talking to your child about the people they admire, point to the common ground, he or she might share with that person. Questions: What kind of character or personal traits do you think you might share with this person? How do you think the two of you are similar or different? If you could have lunch with this person, what do you think you could teach them? What could they teach you?

Find the friction. Encourage your child to look beyond the social surface and find influencers who have overcome real-life struggles. The discussion might turn to issues such as depression, grief, addiction, bullying, or dealing with a disability. Questions: What influencers or celebrities do you admire who have conquered a difficult situation? What have you learned from watching how he or she responded to that situation? How do you think you might respond if you were in that situation?

Learn the back story. If your child admires a person and you can’t figure out the reason, challenge her thinking. If the reasoning is that someone is “so pretty” or “goes to Coachella,” challenge your child to dig deeper and learn as much as she can about her favorite person. Questions: What specific qualities or achievements do you think make this person famous? Do you agree with that? Did you discover events in this person’s life that may have shaped who they are? What did you learn about this person that makes you admire them more? What did you learn that makes you admire them less? How does this person help others? If you were in this person’s shoes, how would you use your influence differently?

Helping Kids Think Critically About Influencers They Follow Online

Get personal. Sometimes we can strengthen a perspective by looking close to home. Challenge your child to think about the people in his or her family or community. Who do you know that stands up for what’s right? Who makes time to help others? Point out someone who has conquered an addiction or made a courageous comeback of some kind. Questions: What do you think are the three most important traits a person can have? Who do you know who has these traits? If you overheard people talking about you in the future, what words would you hope they would use to describe you?

Asking great questions can improve the quality of family conversations. While technology has changed our vocabulary in dramatic ways, the meaning we apply to our words can survive any cultural shift if we’re intentional. Take the time this week to ask your kids great questions. And stick with it, parents — you have more influence than you think.

The post Helping Kids Think Critically About Influencers They Follow Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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7 Ways to Help Girls Pursue Their Passion for Tech

7 Ways to Help Girls Pursue Their Passion for Tech

7 Ways to Help Girls Pursue Their Passion for TechOne of my favorite binges of late is the Netflix series Halt and Catch Fire. It’s a story about the personal computer revolution of the 1980s. The lead character, Cameron Howe, is a brilliant, self-assured young woman who runs circles around her, mostly male, co-workers, with her mad coding skills.

I remember being influenced by a similar female lead. It was Jane Craig (played by Holly Hunter) in the movie Broadcast News. As the credits rolled, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. Likewise, Cameron Howe (played by Mackenzie Davis) possesses just the right mix of courage and intellect required to spark the tech fire in girls today.

STEM and beyond

What better way to close out our National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) series than to encourage the next generation of cybersecurity superheroes to grow their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills and consider a future in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a rewarding career, boasting an average salary of $96,000, and yet few women pursue the field. According to The U.S. Department of Labor, employment opportunities for Information Security Analysts will grow by 28% between 2016 and 2026. It’s also predicted that 3.5 million jobs in cybersecurity will remain unfilled by 2021.

Why focus on girls? Because while the numbers are improving, in the tech field or otherwise, in 2019, women are still paid 80 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, and 93.4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are men.

If your daughter shows a talent for tech, here are a few ways to nurture that passion.

  1. Challenge stereotypes. Girls get steeped in pink from the moment they arrive in the delivery room. This “pinkification,” in general, experts argue, is one factor distracting girls from pursuing tech. Consider the conscious and even unconscious ways you may be deterring your daughter from pursuing traditionally male subjects such as computers, engineering, robotics, or programming. Challenge perceptions like a 2012 Girl Scouts found there’s a common belief that girls are not high achievers in math and science. However, a study by the American Association of University Women found high school girls and boys perform equally in the subjects.
  2. Expose her to the rock stars. Women like YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, HP’s Meg Whitman, and Google coder Marisa Mayer are great role models for girls today. Also, choose media (check ratings before viewing to stay age-appropriate) with strong female leads who excel in tough career fields.
  3. Ask her. How many times do we make assumptions and skip this crucial step in parenting? Ask your daughter what camps appeal most to her, what activities she enjoys, what qualities she admires most in others, and what she dreams of achieving.7 Ways to Help Girls Pursue Their Passion for Tech
  4. Don’t overdo it. If your daughter has a natural ability in STEM subjects, don’t push too hard. She will find her path. Suggest adjacent activities to complement her strengths. Is she good at math? Encourage a musical instrument as a hobby. Good at science? Suggest cooking or gardening to compliment her love for creative problem-solving. Integrate creative activities such as art, writing, or theatre.
  5. Seek out tech opportunities. Few kids will pursue experiences on their own, so consider giving them a nudge. Encourage age-appropriate camps, clubs, and activities that play to her strengths. The choices in quality camps — rocketry, science, coding, physics — are endless. Be your daughter’s tech companion. Take her to a women’s tech conference so she can begin to visualize her future and meet women who work in the field. Encourage an internship or even a job shadowing opportunity during high school or college, like this one that changed Gwendolyn’s career path.
  6. Model, teach resilience. The tech field tends to be a male-dominated culture of “brogrammers,” which can be intimidating for women. For this reason, your daughter may need to develop a tough skin and learn to push through obstacles with ease.
  7. Help her find her people. Organizations like Girls Go CyberstartGirls Who CodeCode.org, and uscyberpatriot.org can be game-changers for a tech-minded girl and help grow her passion among peers.

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing, in-demand professions out there. With the rise in security breaches of all kinds, it’s also a field experts say is “future proof.” If your daughter shows a desire to fight the bad guys and make her mark safeguarding the digital realm, then cybersecurity may be the best place for her to start blazing her trails.

The post 7 Ways to Help Girls Pursue Their Passion for Tech appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business

How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business

Did you know that searching for your favourite celebrities online may very well increase your chance of running into trouble?

For the thirteenth year running, McAfee has put together its Most Dangerous Celebrities List which includes the celebrities who generate the riskiest search results that could potentially expose their fans to malicious websites and viruses. And, as usual, Aussies feature!!

Who Are the Riskiest Aussie Celebrities?

After a tumultuous year in and out of love, Liam Hemsworth – Aussie actor and ex-husband of popstar Miley Cyrus – has taken out top honours as the most dangerous Australian born celebrity coming in at 19th place on the list. Rose Byrne, Cate Blanchett and Kylie Minogue also feature on the list coming in at 37th, 41st and 52nd place respectively.

Talk Show Hosts Top the List

While previous years have seen Reality TV stars, such as The Kardashians, top of the list, in 2019 – it’s all about talk show hosts. In fact, there are 4 talk show hosts in the top 10. John Oliver takes out 1st place, followed by James Corden in 4th place, Jimmy Kimmel in 6th place and Jimmy Fallon in 10thplace.

Whether it’s their karaoke singing or their viral views on politics, our fascination with charismatic talk show hosts is clearly very strong. McAfee’s research also shows that the names of these 4 hosts are strongly associated with the search term ‘torrent’. This indicates people may be trying to avoid paying expensive subscriptions to view these cult shows and are pursuing free yet riskier alternatives.

Singers Are Also Proving Risky!

English singer Dua Lipa came in at no 2 on the list, followed by Scottish singer/DJ Calvin Harris in 5th place and teen favourite Billie Eilish at no 7. Our quest for immediate or free content about our favourite singers could mean that we visit sites purposefully designed by cybercriminals to extract our personal information or even better, our credit card details!

And then there’s Game of Thrones

The world’s love affair with Game of Thrones saw Emilia Clarke take out the 9th spot in this year’s list of risky celebs to search for online. Clarke, who played Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy series, was joined by Hollywood royalty Morgan Freeman in the top 10 list.

Cybercriminals Capitalise on Our Love for Celebrities

Our love of ‘all things celebrity’ has clearly not escaped the attention of cybercriminals with many spending a lot of time

How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business

and energy creating malicious websites designed to trick consumers into visiting. Whether it’s the promise of a ‘sneak-peak’ of the latest Star Wars movie, or free access to full episodes of a favourite American talk show, consumers will often drop their guard in favour of speed or convenience and quickly enter their personal details to gain access to a site without thinking about the consequences.

How to Avoid Getting Stung!

The good news is that you don’t need to give up your obsession with your favourite celebrity to stay safe online. Instead, develop some patience and trust your gut. Here are my top tips to help you stay ahead of the cybercriminals:

  1. Be Careful What You Click

Only stream and download movies and TV shows from reliable sources. While it may feel boring, the safest thing to do is wait for the official release of a movie instead of visiting a 3rd party site that could contain malware.

  1. Avoid Using Illegal Streaming Sites – No Exceptions!

Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware or adware disguised as pirated videos. Do yourself a favour and stream the show from a reputable source.

  1. Use a Web Reputation Tool

A web reputation tool such as McAfee’s freely available WebAdvisor will alert users if they are about to visit a malicious website. Very handy!

  1. Consider Parental Control Software

Kids love celebrities too! Ensure you set limits on device usage with your kids and use parental control software to help minimise exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

But if you aren’t convinced your kids are going to take your advice on board then why not invest in some comprehensive security software like McAfee’s Total Protection for the whole family? This Rolls Royce cybersecurity software will protect you (and your kids) against malware and phishing attacks. A complete no-brainer!!

Alex xx

 

The post How Googling Our Favourite Celebrities Is A Risky Business appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips

Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips

Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 TipsThe topics parents need to discuss with kids today can be tough compared to even a few years ago. The digital scams are getting more sophisticated and the social culture poses new, more inherent risks. Weekly, we have to breach very adult conversations with our kids. Significant conversations about sexting, bullying, online scams, identity fraud, hate speech, exclusion, and sextortion — all have to be covered but we have to do it in ways that matter to kids.

With 95% of teens now having access to a smartphone and 45% online ”almost constantly,” it’s clear we can’t monitor conversations, communities, and secret apps around the clock. So the task for parents is to move from a mindset of ”protect” to one of ”prepare” if we hope to get kids to take charge of their privacy and safety online.

Here are a few ideas on how to get these conversations to stick.

  1. Bring the headlines home. A quick search of your local or regional headlines should render some examples of kids who have risked and lost a lot more than they imagined online. Bringing the headlines closer to home — issues like reputation management, sex trafficking, kidnapping, sextortion, and bullying — can help your child personalize digital issues. Discussing these issues with honesty and openness can bring the reality home that these issues are real and not just things that happen to other people.
  2. Netflix and discuss. Hollywood has come a long way in the last decade in making films for tweens and teens that spotlight important digital issues. Watching movies together is an excellent opportunity to deepen understanding and spark conversation about critical issues such as cyberbullying, teen suicide, sextortion, catfishing, stalking, and examples of personal courage and empathy for others. Just a few of the movies include Cyberbully, 13 Reasons Why (watch with a parent), Eighth Grade, Searching, Bully, Disconnect. Character building movies: Dumplin’, Tall Girl, Wonder, Girl Rising, The Hate U Give, Mean Girls, and the Fat Boy Chronicles, among many others.
  3. Remove phones. Sometimes absence makes that heart grow appreciative, right? Owning a phone (or any device) isn’t a right. Phone ownership and internet access is a privilege and responsibility. So removing a child’s phone for a few days can be especially effective if your child isn’t listening or exercising wise habits online. One study drives this phone-dependency home. Last year researchers polled millennials who said they’d rather give up a finger than their smartphones. So, this tactic may prove to be quite effective.Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips
  4. Define community. Getting kids to be self-motivated about digital safety and privacy may require a more in-depth discussion on what “community” means. The word is used often to describe social networks, but do we really know and trust people in our online “communities?” No. Ask your child what qualities he or she values in a friend and who they might include in a trusted community. By defining this, kids may become more aware of who they are letting in and what risks grow when our digital circles grow beyond trusted friends.
  5. Assume they are swiping right. Dating has changed dramatically for tweens and teens. Sure there are apps like MeetMe and Tinder that kids explore, but even more popular ways to meet a significant other are everyday social networks like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Instagram, where kids can easily meet “friends of friends” and start “talking.” Study the pros and cons of these apps. Talk to your kids about them and stress the firm rule of never meeting with strangers.
  6. Stay curious. Stay interested. If you, as a parent, show little interest in online risks, then why should your child? By staying curious and current about social media, apps, video games, your kids will see that you care about — and can discuss — the digital pressures that surround them every day. Subscribe to useful family safety and parenting blogs and consider setting up Google Alerts around safety topics such as new apps, teens online, and online scams.Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips
  7. Ask awesome questions. We know that lectures and micromanaging don’t work in the long run, so making the most of family conversations is critical. One way to do this is to ask open-ended questions such as “What did you learn from this?” “What do you like or dislike about this app?” “Have you ever felt unsafe online?” and “How do you handle uncomfortable or creepy encounters online?” You might be surprised at where the conversations can go and the insight you will gain.

Make adjustments to your digital parenting approach as needed. Some things will work, and others may fall flat. The important thing is to keep conversation a priority and find a rhythm that works for your family. And don’t stress: No one has all the answers, no one is a perfect parent. We are all learning a little more each day and doing the best we can to keep our families safe online.

Be Part of Something Big

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Become part of the effort to make sure that our online lives are as safe and secure as possible. Use the hashtags #CyberAware, #BeCyberSafe, and #NCSAM to track the conversation in real-time.

The post Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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15 Easy, Effective Ways to Start Winning Back Your Online Privacy

NCSAM

NCSAM

Someone recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, and I had to think about it for a few minutes. I certainly don’t need any more stuff. However, if I could name one gift that would make me absolutely giddy, it would be getting a chunk of my privacy back.

Like most people, the internet knows way too much about me — my age, address, phone numbers and job titles for the past 10 years, my home value, the names and ages of family members  — and I’d like to change that.

But there’s a catch: Like most people, I can’t go off the digital grid altogether because my professional life requires me to maintain an online presence. So, the more critical question is this:

How private do I want to be online?  

The answer to that question will differ for everyone. However, as the privacy conversation continues to escalate, consider a family huddle. Google each family member’s name, review search results, and decide on your comfort level with what you see. To start putting new habits in place, consider these 15 tips.

15 ways to reign in your family’s privacy

  1. Limit public sharing. Don’t share more information than necessary on any online platform, including private texts and messages. Hackers and cyber thieves mine for data around the clock.
  2. Control your digital footprint. Limit information online by a) setting social media profiles to private b) regularly editing friends lists c) deleting personal information on social profiles d) limiting app permissions someone and browser extensions e) being careful not to overshare.NCSAM
  3. Search incognito. Use your browser in private or incognito mode to reduce some tracking and auto-filling.
  4. Use secure messaging apps. While WhatsApp has plenty of safety risks for minors, in terms of data privacy, it’s a winner because it includes end-to-end encryption that prevents anyone in the middle from reading private communications.
  5. Install an ad blocker. If you don’t like the idea of third parties following you around online, and peppering your feed with personalized ads, consider installing an ad blocker.
  6. Remove yourself from data broker sites. Dozens of companies can harvest your personal information from public records online, compile it, and sell it. To delete your name and data from companies such as PeopleFinder, Spokeo, White Pages, or MyLife, make a formal request to the company (or find the opt-out button on their sites) and followup to make sure it was deleted. If you still aren’t happy with the amount of personal data online, you can also use a fee-based service such as DeleteMe.com.
  7. Be wise to scams. Don’t open strange emails, click random downloads, connect with strangers online, or send money to unverified individuals or organizations.
  8. Use bulletproof passwords. When it comes to data protection, the strength of your password, and these best practices matter.
  9. Turn off devices. When you’re finished using your laptop, smartphone, or IoT devices, turn them off to protect against rogue attacks.NCSAM
  10. Safeguard your SSN. Just because a form (doctor, college and job applications, ticket purchases) asks for your Social Security Number (SSN) doesn’t mean you have to provide it.
  11. Avoid public Wi-Fi. Public networks are targets for hackers who are hoping to intercept personal information; opt for the security of a family VPN.
  12. Purge old, unused apps and data. To strengthen security, regularly delete old data, photos, apps, emails, and unused accounts.
  13. Protect all devices. Make sure all your devices are protected viruses, malware, with reputable security software.
  14. Review bank statements. Check bank statements often for fraudulent purchases and pay special attention to small transactions.
  15. Turn off Bluetooth. Bluetooth technology is convenient, but outside sources can compromise it, so turn it off when it’s not in use.

Is it possible to keep ourselves and our children off the digital grid and lock down our digital privacy 100%? Sadly, probably not. But one thing is for sure: We can all do better by taking specific steps to build new digital habits every day.

~~~

Be Part of Something Big

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Become part of the effort to make sure that our online lives are as safe and secure as possible. Use the hashtags #CyberAware, #BeCyberSafe, and #NCSAM to track the conversation in real-time.

The post 15 Easy, Effective Ways to Start Winning Back Your Online Privacy appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Device & App Safety Guide for Families

Device & App Safety Guide for Families

app safetyWhile we talk about online safety each week on this blog, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), a time to come together and turn up the volume on the digital safety and security conversation worldwide.

To kick off that effort, here’s a comprehensive Device and App Safety Guide to give your family quick ways to boost safety and security.

Device Safety Tips

  • Update devices. Updates play a critical role in protecting family devices from hackers and malware, so check for updates and install promptly.
  • Disable geotagging. To keep photo data private, turn off geotagging, which is a code that embeds location information into digital photos.
  • Turn off location services. To safeguard personal activity from apps, turn off location services on all devices and within the app. 
  • Review phone records. Monitor your child’s cell phone records for unknown numbers or excessive late-night texting or calls.
  • Lock devices. Most every phone comes with a passcode, facial, or fingerprint lock. Make locking devices a habit and don’t share passcodes with friends. 
  • Add ICE to contacts. Make sure to put a parent’s name followed by ICE (in case of emergency) into each child’s contact list.
  • Back up data. To secure family photos and prevent data loss due to malware, viruses, or theft, regularly back up family data. 
  • Use strong passwords. Passwords should be more than eight characters in length and contain a mix of capital and lower case letters and at least one numeric or non-alphabetical character. Also, use two-factor authentication whenever possible.  
  • Stop spying. Adopting healthy online habits takes a full-court family press, so choose to equip over spying. Talk candidly about online risks, solutions, family ground rules, and consequences. If you monitor devices, make sure your child understands why. 
  • Share wisely. Discuss the risks of sharing photos online with your kids and the effect it has on reputation now and in the future. 
  • Protect your devices. Add an extra layer of protection to family devices with anti-virus and malware protection and consider content filtering
  • Secure IoT devices. IoT devices such as smart TVs, toys, smart speakers, and wearables are also part of the devices families need to safeguard. Configure privacy settings, read product reviews, secure your router, use a firewall, and use strong passwords at all connection points. 

App Safety Tips

  • Evaluate apps. Apps have been known to put malware on devices, spy, grab data illegally, and track location and purchasing data without permission. Check app reviews for potential dangers and respect app age requirements.app safety
  • Max privacy settings. Always choose the least amount of data-sharing possible within every app and make app profiles private.
  • Explore apps together. Learn about your child’s favorite apps, what the risks are, and how to adjust app settings to make them as safe as possible. Look at the apps on your child’s phone. Also, ask your child questions about his or her favorite apps and download and explore the app yourself. 
  • Understand app cultures. Some of the most popular social networking apps can also contain inappropriate content that promotes pornography, hate, racism, violence, cruelty, self-harm, or even terrorism.
  • Monitor gaming. Many games allow real-time in-game messaging. Players can chat using text, audio, and video, which presents the same potential safety concerns as other social and messaging apps.
  • Discuss app risks. New, popular apps come out every week. Discuss risks such as anonymous bullying, inappropriate content, sexting, fake profiles, and data stealing. 
  • Avoid anonymous apps. Dozens of apps allow users to create anonymous profiles. Avoid these apps and the inherent cyberbullying risks they pose.
  • Limit your digital circle. Only accept friend requests from people you know. And remember, “friends” aren’t always who they say they are. Review and reduce your friend list regularly.
  • Monitor in-app purchases. It’s easy for kids to go overboard with in-app purchases, especially on gaming apps.

Our biggest tip? Keep on talking. Talk about the risks inherent to the internet. Talk about personal situations that arise. Talk about mistakes. Nurturing honest, ongoing family dialogue takes time and effort but the payoff is knowing your kids can handle any situation they encounter online.

Stay tuned throughout October for more NCSAM highlights and information designed to help you keep your family safe and secure in the online world.

The post Device & App Safety Guide for Families appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids

online privacy

5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your KidsOver the years, I’ve been the star of a number of sub-stellar parenting moments. More than once, I found myself reprimanding my kids for doing things that kids do — things I never stopped to teach them otherwise.

Like the time I reprimanded my son for not thanking his friend’s mother properly before we left a birthday party. He was seven when his etiquette deficit disorder surfaced. Or the time I had a meltdown because my daughter cut her hair off. She was five when she brazenly declared her scorn for the ponytail.

The problem: I assumed they knew.

Isn’t the same true when it comes to our children’s understanding of the online world? We can be quick to correct our kids when they fail to exercise the best judgment or handle a situation the way we think they should online.

But often what’s needed first is a parental pause to ask ourselves: Am I assuming they know? Have I taken the time to define and discuss the issue?

With that in mind, here are five digitally-rich terms dominating the online conversation. If possible, find a few pockets of time this week and start from the beginning — define the words, then discuss them with your kids. You may be surprised where the conversation goes.

5 digital terms that matter

Internet Privacy

Internet privacy is the personal privacy that every person is entitled to when they display, store, or provide information regarding themselves on the internet. 

Highlight: We see and use this word often but do our kids know what it means? Your personal information has value, like money. Guard it. Lock it down. Also, respect the privacy of others. Be mindful about accidentally giving away a friend’s information, sharing photos without permission, or sharing secrets. Remember: Nothing shared online (even in a direct message or private text) is private—nothing. Smart people get hacked every day.
Ask: Did you know that when you go online, websites and apps track your activity to glean personal information? What are some ways you can control that? Do you know why people want your data?
Act: Use privacy settings on all apps, turn off cookies in search engines, review privacy policies of apps, and create bullet-proof passwords.

Digital Wellbeing

Digital wellbeing (also called digital wellness) is an ongoing awareness of how social media and technology impacts our emotional and physical health.

Highlight: Every choice we make online can affect our wellbeing or alter our sense of security and peace. Focusing on wellbeing includes taking preventative measures, making choices, and choosing behaviors that build help us build a healthy relationship with technology. Improving one’s digital wellbeing is an on-going process.
Ask: What do you like to do online that makes you feel good about yourself? What kinds of interactions make you feel anxious, excluded, or sad? How much time online do you think is healthy?5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids
Act:
Digital wellness begins at home. To help kids “curb the urge” to post so frequently, give them a “quality over quantity” challenge. Establish tech curfews and balance screen time to green time. Choose apps and products that include wellbeing features in their design. Consider security software that blocks inappropriate apps, filters disturbing content, and curbs screen time.

Media Literacy

Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms. It’s the ability to think critically about the messages you encounter.

Highlight: Technology has redefined media. Today, anyone can be a content creator and publisher online, which makes it difficult to discern the credibility of the information we encounter. The goal of media literacy curriculum in education is to equip kids to become critical thinkers, effective communicators, and responsible digital citizens.
Ask: Who created this content? Is it balanced or one-sided? What is the author’s motive behind it? Should I share this?  How might someone else see this differently?
Act: Use online resources such as Cyberwise to explore concepts such as clickbait, bias, psychographics, cyberethics, stereotypes, fake news, critical thinking/viewing, and digital citizenship. Also, download Google’s new Be Internet Awesome media literacy curriculum.

Empathy

Empathy is stepping into the shoes of another person to better understand and feel what they are going through.

5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids

Highlight: Empathy is a powerful skill in the online world. Empathy helps dissolve stereotypes, perceptions, and prejudices. According to Dr. Michelle Borba, empathetic children practice these nine habits that run contrary to today’s “selfie syndrome” culture. Empathy-building habits include moral courage, kindness, and emotional literacy. Without empathy, people can be “mean behind the screen” online. But remember: There is also a lot of people practicing empathy online who are genuine “helpers.” Be a helper.
Ask: How can you tell when someone “gets you” or understands what you are going through? How do they express that? Is it hard for you to stop and try to relate to what someone else is feeling or see a situation through their eyes? What thoughts or emotions get in your way?
Act:  Practice focusing outward when you are online. Is there anyone who seems lonely, excluded, or in distress? Offer a kind word, an encouragement, and ask questions to learn more about them. (Note: Empathy is an emotion/skill kids learn over time with practice and parental modeling).

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, shame, or target another person online.

Highlight: Not all kids understand the scope of cyberbullying, which can include spreading rumors, sending inappropriate photos, gossiping, subtweeting, and excessive messaging. Kids often mistake cyberbullying for digital drama and overlook abusive behavior. While kids are usually referenced in cyberbullying, the increase in adults involved in online shaming, unfortunately, is quickly changing that ratio.
Ask: Do you think words online can hurt someone in a way, more than words said face-to-face? Why? Have you ever experienced cyberbullying? Would you tell a parent or teacher about it? Why or why not?
Act: Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior and pay attention to his or her online communities. Encourage kids to report bullying (aimed at them or someone else). Talk about what it means to be an Upstander when bullied. If the situation is unresolvable and escalates to threats of violence, report it immediately to law enforcement.

We hope these five concepts spark some lively discussions around your dinner table this week. Depending on the age of your child, you can scale the conversation to fit. And don’t be scared off by eye rolls or sighs, parents. Press into the hard conversations and be consistent. Your voice matters in their noisy, digital world.

The post 5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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5 Hidden Hashtag Risks Every Parent Needs Know

5 Hidden Hashtag Risks Every Parent Needs Know

5 Hidden Hashtag Risks Every Parent Needs KnowAdding hashtags to a social post has become second nature. In fact, it’s so common, few of us stop to consider that as fun and useful as hashtags can be, they can also have consequences if we misuse them.

But hashtags are more than add-ons to a post, they are power tools. In fact, when we put the pound (#) sign in front of a word, we turn that word into a piece of metadata that tags the word, which allows a search engine to index and categorize the attached content so anyone can search it. Looking for advice parenting an autistic child? Then hashtags like #autism #spectrum, or #autismspeaks will connect you with endless content tagged the same way.

Hashtags have become part of our lexicon and are used by individuals, businesses, and celebrities to extend digital influence. Social movements — such as #bekind and #icebucketchallenge — also use hashtags to educate and rally people around a cause. However, the power hashtags possess also means it’s critical to use them with care. Here are several ways people are using hashtags in harmful ways.

5 hidden hashtag risks

Hashtags can put children at risk. Unfortunately, innocent hashtags commonly used by proud parents such as #BackToSchool, #DaddysGirl, or #BabyGirl can be magnets for a pedophile. According to the Child Rescue Coalition, predators troll social media looking for hashtags like #bathtimefun, #cleanbaby, and #pottytrain, to collect images of children. CRC has compiled a list of hashtags parents should avoid using.

Hashtags can compromise privacy. Connecting a hashtag to personal information such as your hometown, your child’s name, or even #HappyBirthdayToMe can give away valuable pieces of your family’s info to a cybercriminal on the hunt to steal identities.

Hashtags can be used in scams. Scammers can use popular hashtags they know people will search to execute several scams. According to NBC News, one popular scam on Instagram is scammers who use luxury brand hashtags like #Gucci or #Dior or coded hashtags such as #mirrorquality #replica and #replicashoes to sell counterfeit goods. Cybercriminals will also search hashtags such as #WaitingToAdopt to target and run scams on hopeful parents.

5 Hidden Hashtag Risks Every Parent Needs Know

Hashtags can have hidden meanings. Teens use code or abbreviation hashtags to reference drugs, suicide, mental health, and eating disorders. By searching the hashtag, teens band together with others on the same topic. Some coded hashtags include: #anas (anorexics) #mias (bulimics) #sue (suicide), #cuts (self-harm), #kush and #420 (marijuana).

Hashtags can be used to cyberbully. Posting a picture on a social network and adding mean hashtags is a common way for kids to bully one another. They use hashtags such as #whatnottowear, #losr, #yousuck, #extra, #getalife, #tbh (to be honest) and #peoplewhoshouldoffthemselves on photo captions bully or harass peers. Kids also cyberbully by making up hashtags like #jackieisacow and asking others to use it too. Another hashtag is #roastme in which kids post a photo of themselves and invite others to respond with funny comments only the humor can turn mean very quickly.

When it comes to understanding the online culture, taking the time to stay informed, pausing before you post, and trusting your instincts are critical. Also, being intentional to monitor your child’s social media (including reviewing hashtags) can help you spot potential issues such as bullying, mental health problems, or drug abuse.

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Are Cash Transfer Apps Safe to Use? Here’s What Your Family Needs to Know

Are Cash Transfer Apps Safe to Use? Here’s What Your Family Needs to Know

cash appsI can’t recall the last time I gave my teenage daughter cash for anything. If she needs money for gas, I Venmo it. A Taco Bell study break with the roommates? No problem. With one click, I transfer money from my Venmo account to hers. She uses a Venmo credit card to make her purchase. To this mom, cash apps may be the best thing to happen to parenting since location tracking became possible. But as convenient as these apps may be, are they safe for your family to use?

How do they work?

The research company, eMarketer, estimates that 96.0 million people used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payment services this year (that’s 40.4% of all mobile phone users), up from an estimated 82.5 million last year.

P2P technology allows you to create a profile on a transfer app and link your bank account or credit card to it. Once your banking information is set up, you can locate another person’s account on the app (or invite someone to the app) and transfer funds instantly into their P2P account (without the hassle of getting a bank account number, email, or phone number). That person can leave the money in their app account, move it into his or her bank account, or use a debit card issued by the P2P app to use the funds immediately. If the app offers a credit card (like Venmo does), the recipient can use the Venmo card like a credit card at retailers most anywhere. 

Some of the more popular P2P apps include Venmo, Cash App, Zelle, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal.me, Facebook Messenger, and Snapcash, among others. Because of the P2P platform’s rapid growth, more and more investors are entering the market each day to introduce new cash apps, which is causing many analysts to speculate on need for paper check transactions in the future.

Are they safe?

While sending your hard-earned money back and forth through cyberspace on an app doesn’t sound safe, in general, it is. Are there some exceptions? Always. 

Online scam trends often follow consumer purchasing trends and, right now, the hot transaction spot is P2P platforms. Because P2P money is transferred instantly (and irreversibly), scammers exploit this and are figuring out how to take people’s money. After getting a P2P payment, scammers then delete their accounts and disappear — instantly

In 2018 Consumer Reports (CR) compared the potential financial and privacy risks of five mobile P2P services with a focus on payment authentication and data privacy. CR found all the apps had acceptable encryption but some were dinged for not clearly explaining how they protected user data. The consumer advocacy group ranked app safety strength in this order: Apple Pay, Venmo, Cash App, Facebook Messenger, and Zelle. CR also noted they “found nothing to suggest that using these products would threaten the security of your financial and personal data.”

While any app’s architecture may be deemed safe, no app user is immune from scams, which is where app safety can make every difference. If your family uses P2P apps regularly, confirm each user understands the potential risks. Here are just a few of the schemes that have been connected to P2P apps.

cash apps

Potential scams

Fraudulent sellers. This scam targets an unassuming buyer who sends money through a P2P app to purchase an item from someone they met online. The friendly seller casually suggests the buyer “just Venmo or Cash App me.” The buyer sends the money, but the item is never received, and the seller vanishes. This scam has been known to happen in online marketplaces and other trading sites and apps.

Malicious emails. Another scam is sending people an email telling them that someone has deposited money in their P2P account. They are prompted to click a link to go directly to the app, but instead, the malicious link downloads malware onto the person’s phone or computer. The scammer can then glean personal information from the person’s devices. To avoid a malware attack, consider installing comprehensive security software on your family’s computers and devices.

Ticket scams. Beware of anyone selling concert or sporting event tickets online. Buyers can get caught up in the excitement of scoring tickets for their favorite events, send the money via a P2P app, but the seller leaves them empty-handed.

Puppy and romance scams. In this cruel scam, a pet lover falls in love with a photo of a puppy online, uses a P2P app to pay for it, and the seller deletes his or her account and disappears. Likewise, catfish scammers gain someone’s trust. As the romantic relationship grows, the fraudulent person eventually asks to borrow money. The victim sends money using a P2P app only to have their love interest end all communication and vanish.  

P2P safety: Talking points for families

Only connect with family and friends. When using cash apps, only exchange money with people you know. Unlike an insured bank, P2P apps do not refund the money you’ve paid out accidentally or in a scam scenario. P2P apps hold users 100% responsible for transfers. 

Verify details of each transfer. The sender is responsible for funds, even in the case of an accidental transfer. So, if you are paying Joe Smith your half of the rent, be sure you select the correct Joe Smith, (not Joe Smith_1, or Joe Smithe) before you hit send. There could be dozens of name variations to choose from in an app’s directory. Also, verify with your bank that each P2P transaction registers.

Avoid public Wi-Fi transfers. Public Wi-Fi is susceptible to hackers trying to access valuable financial and personal information. For this reason, only use a secure, private Wi-Fi network when using a P2P payment app. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

cash apps

Don’t use P2P apps for business. P2P apps are designed to be used between friends and include no-commercial-use clauses in their policies. For larger business transactions such as buying and selling goods or services use apps like PayPal. 

Lock your app. When you have a P2P app on your phone, it’s like carrying cash. If someone steals your phone, they can go into an unlocked P2P app and send themselves money from your bank account. Set up extra security on your app. Most apps offer PINs, fingerprint IDs, and two-factor authentication. Also, always lock your device home screen.

Adjust privacy settings. Venmo includes a feed that auto shares when users exchange funds, much like a social media feed. To avoid a stranger seeing that you paid a friend for Ed Sheeran tickets (and won’t be home that night), be sure to adjust your privacy settings. 

Read disclosures. One way to assess an app’s safety is to read its disclosures. How does the app protect your privacy and security? How does the app use your data? What is the app’s error-resolution policy? Feel secure with the app you choose.

We’ve learned that the most significant factor in determining an app’s safety comes back to the person using it. If your family loves using P2P apps, be sure to take the time to discuss the responsibility that comes with exchanging cash through apps. 

The post Are Cash Transfer Apps Safe to Use? Here’s What Your Family Needs to Know appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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