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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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Stay Smart Online Week 2019

Stay Smart Online Week 2019

Let’s Reverse the Threat of Identity Theft!!

Our online identities are critical. In fact, you could argue that they are our single most unique asset. Whether we are applying for a job, a mortgage or even starting a new relationship, keeping our online identity protected, secure and authentic is essential.

This week is Stay Smart Online Week in Australia – an initiative by the Australian Government to encourage us all to all take a moment and rethink our online safety practices. This year the theme is ‘Reverse the Threat’ which is all about encouraging Aussies to take proactive steps to control their online identity and stop the threat of cybercrime.

What Actually Is My Online Identity?

On a simple level, your online identity is the reputation you have generated for yourself online – both intentionally or unintentionally. So, an accumulation of the pics you have posted, the pages you have liked and the comments you have shared. Some will often refer to this as your personal brand. Proactively managing this is critical for employments prospects and possibly even potential relationship opportunities.

However, there is another layer to your online identity that affects more than just your job or potential career opportunities. And that’s the transactional component. Your online identity also encompasses all your online movements since the day you ‘joined’ the internet. So, every time you have registered for an online account; given your email address to gain access or log in; joined a social media platform; undertaken a web search; or made a transaction, you have contributed to your digital identity.

What Are Aussies Doing to Protect Their Online Identities?

New research from McAfee shows Aussies have quite a relaxed attitude to managing their online identities. In fact, a whopping two thirds (67%) of Aussies admit to being embarrassed by the content that appears on their social media profiles. And just to make the picture even more complicated, 34% of Aussies admit to never increasing the privacy on their accounts from the default privacy settings despite knowing how to.

Why Does My Online Identity Really Matter?

As well as the potential to hurt career or future relationship prospects, a relaxed attitude to managing our online identities could be leaving the door open for cybercriminals. If you are posting about recent purchases, your upcoming holidays and ‘checking-in’ at your current location then you are making it very easy for cybercriminals to put together a picture of you and possibly steal your identity. And having none or even default privacy settings in place effectively means you are handing this information to cybercrims on a platter!!

Is Identity Theft Really Big Problem?

As at the end of June, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claims that Aussies have lost at least $16 million so far this year through banking scams and identity theft. And many experts believe that this statistic could represent the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as it often takes victims some time to realise that their details are being used by someone else.

Whether it’s phishing scams; texts impersonating banks; fake online quizzes; phoney job ads, or information skimmed from social media, cybercriminals have become very savvy at developing novel ways of stealing online identities.

What Can You Do to ‘Reverse the Threat’ and Protect Your Online Identity?

With so much at stake, securing your online identity is more important than ever. Here are my top tips on what you can do to give yourself every chance of securing your digital credentials:

  1. Passwords, Passwords, Passwords

As the average consumer manages a whopping 11 online accounts – social media, shopping, banking, entertainment, the list goes on – updating our passwords is an important ‘cyber hygiene’ practice that is often neglected.

Creating long and unique passwords using a variety of upper and lowercase numbers, letters and symbols is an essential way of protecting yourself and your digital assets online. And if that all feels too complicated, why not consider a password management solution? Password managers help you create, manage and organise your passwords. Some security software solutions include a password manager such as McAfee Total Protection.

  1. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication Wherever Possible!

Enabling two-factor authentication for your accounts will add an extra layer of defence against cybercriminals. Two-factor authentication is simply a security process in which the user provides 2 different authentication factors to verify themselves before gaining access to an online account. As one of the verification methods is usually an extra password or one-off code delivered through a separate personal device like a smartphone, it makes it much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to a person’s device or online accounts.

  1. Lock Down Privacy and Security Settings

Leaving your social media profiles on ‘public’ setting means anyone who has access to the internet can view your posts and photos whether you want them to or not. While you should treat everything you post online as public, turning your profiles to private will give you more control over who can see your content and what people can tag you in.

  1. Use Public Wi-Fi With Caution

If you are serious about managing your online identity, then you need to use public Wi-Fi sparingly. Unsecured public Wi-Fi is a very risky business. Anything you share could easily find its way into the hands of cybercriminals. So, avoid sharing any sensitive or personal information while using public Wi-Fi. If you travel regularly or spend the bulk of your time on the road then consider investing in a VPN such as McAfee Safe Connect. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your activity which means your login details and other sensitive information is protected. A great insurance policy!

Thinking it all sounds a little too hard? Don’t! Identity theft happens to Aussies every day with those affected experiencing real distress and financial damage. So, do your homework and take every step possible to protect yourself, for as Benjamin Franklin said: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

Alex xx

The post Stay Smart Online Week 2019 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.

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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.

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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.

The post 5 Hidden Hashtag Risks Every Parent Needs Know appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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3 Things You [Probably] Do Online Every Day that Jeopardize Your Family’s Privacy

3 Things You [Probably] Do Online Every Day that Jeopardize Your Family’s Privacy

3 Things You [Probably] Do Online Every Day that Jeopardize Your Family’s PrivacyEven though most of us are aware of the potential risks, we continue to journal and archive our daily lives online publically. It’s as if we just can’t help it. Our kids are just so darn cute, right? And, everyone else is doing it, so why not join the fun?

One example of this has become the digital tradition of parents sharing first-day back-to-school photos. The photos feature fresh-faced, excited kids holding signs to commemorate the big day. The signs often include the child’s name, age, grade, and school. Some back-to-school photos go as far as to include the child’s best friend’s name, favorite TV show, favorite food, their height, weight, and what they want to be when they grow up.

Are these kinds of photos adorable and share-worthy? Absolutely. Could they also be putting your child’s safety and your family’s privacy at risk? Absolutely.

1. Posting identifying family photos

Think about it. If you are a hacker combing social profiles to steal personal information, all those extra details hidden in photos can be quite helpful. For instance, a seemingly harmless back-to-school photo can expose a home address or a street sign in the background. Cyber thieves can zoom in on a photo to see the name on a pet collar, which could be a password clue, or grab details from a piece of mail or a post-it on the refrigerator to add to your identity theft file. On the safety side, a school uniform, team jersey, or backpack emblem could give away a child’s daily location to a predator.

Family Safety Tips
  • Share selectively. Facebook has a private sharing option that allows you to share a photo with specific friends. Instagram has a similar feature.
  • Private groups. Start a private Family & Friends Facebook group, phone text, or start a family chat on an app like GroupMe. This way, grandma and Aunt June feel included in important events, and your family’s personal life remains intact.
  • Photo albums. Go old school. Print and store photos in a family photo album at home away from the public spotlight.
  • Scrutinize your content. Think before you post. Ask yourself if the likes and comments are worth the privacy risk. Pay attention to what’s in the foreground or background of a photo.
  • Use children’s initials. Instead of using your child’s name online, use his or her initials or even a digital nickname when posting. Ask family members to do the same.

2. Using trendy apps, quizzes & challengesfamily privacy

It doesn’t take much to grab our attention or our data these days. A survey recently conducted by the Center for Data Innovation found that 58 percent of Americans are “willing to share their most sensitive personal data” (including medical and location data) in return for using apps and services.

If you love those trendy face-morphing apps, quizzes that reveal what celebrity you look like, and taking part in online challenges, you are likely part of the above statistic. As we learned just recently, people who downloaded the popular FaceApp to age their faces didn’t realize the privacy implications. Online quizzes and challenges (often circulated on Facebook) can open you up to similar risk.

Family Safety Tips

  • Slow down. Read an app’s privacy policy and terms. How will your content or data be used? Is this momentary fun worth exchanging my data?
  • Max privacy settings. If you download an app, adjust your device settings to control app permissions immediately.
  • Delete unused apps. An app you downloaded five years ago and forgot about can still be collecting data from your phone. Clean up and delete apps routinely.
  • Protect your devices. Apps, quizzes, and challenges online can be channels for malicious malware. Take the extra step to ensure your devices are protected.

3. Unintentionally posting personal details

Is it wrong to want an interesting Facebook or Instagram profile? Not at all. But be mindful you are painting a picture with each detail you share. For instance: It’s easy to show off your new dog Fergie and add your email address and phone number to your social profile so friends can easily stay in touch. It’s natural to feel pride in your hometown of Muskogee, to celebrate Katie Beth‘s scholarship and Justin‘s home run. It’s natural to want to post your 23rd anniversary to your beloved Michael (who everyone calls Mickey Dee) on December 15. It’s also common to post about a family reunion with the maternal side of your family, the VanDerhoots.

family privacyWhile it may be common to share this kind of information, it’s still unwise since this one paragraph just gave a hacker 10+ personal details to use in figuring out your passwords.

Family Safety Tips

  • Use, refresh strong passwords. Change your passwords often and be sure to use a robust and unique password or passphrase (i.e., grannymakesmoonshine or glutenfreeformeplease) and make sure you vary passwords between different logins. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Become more mysterious. Make your social accounts private, use selective sharing options, and keep your profile information as minimal as possible.
  • Reduce your friend lists. Do you know the people who can daily view your information? To boost your security, consider curating your friend lists every few months.
  • Fib on security questions. Ethical hacker Stephanie Carruthers advises people who want extra protection online to lie on security questions. So, when asked for your mother’s maiden name, your birthplace, or your childhood friend, answer with Nutella, Disneyland, or Dora the Explorer.

We’ve all unwittingly uploaded content, used apps, or clicked buttons that may have compromised our privacy. That’s okay, don’t beat yourself up. Just take a few hours and clean up, lockdown, and streamline your social content. With new knowledge comes new power to close the security gaps and create new digital habits.

The post 3 Things You [Probably] Do Online Every Day that Jeopardize Your Family’s Privacy appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

With winter almost gone, now is the perfect time to start planning your annual spring clean. When we think about our yearly sort out, most of us think about decluttering our chaotic linen cupboards or the wardrobes that we can’t close. But if you want to minimise the opportunities for a hacker to get their hands on your private online information then a clean-up of your digital house (aka your online life) is absolutely essential.

How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

Not Glamourous but Necessary

I totally accept that cleaning up your online life isn’t exciting but let me assure you it is a must if you want to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

Think about how much digital clutter we have accumulated over the years? Many of us have multiple social media, messaging and email accounts. And don’t forget about all the online newsletters and ‘accounts’ we have signed up for with stores and online sites? Then there are the apps and programs we no longer use.

Well, all of this can be a liability. Holding onto accounts and files you don’t need exposes you to all sorts of risks. Your devices could be stolen or hacked or, a data breach could mean that your private details are exposed quite possibly on the Dark Web. In short, the less information that there is about you online, the better off you are.

Digital clutter can be distracting, exhausting to manage and most importantly, detrimental to your online safety. A thorough digital spring clean will help to protect your important, online personal information from cybercriminals.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for its victims. It occurs when a person’s personal information is stolen to be used primarily for financial gain. A detailed set of personal details is often all a hacker needs to access bank accounts, apply for loans or credit cards and basically destroy your credit rating and reputation.

How To Do a Digital Spring Clean

The good news is that digital spring cleaning doesn’t require nearly as much elbow grease as scrubbing down the microwave! Here are my top tips to add to your spring-cleaning list this year:

  1. Weed Out Your Old Devices

Gather together every laptop, desktop computer, tablet and smartphone that lives in your house. Now, you need to be strong – work out which devices are past their use-by date and which need to be spring cleaned.

If it is finally time to part ways with your first iPad or the old family desktop, make sure any important documents or holiday photos are backed up in a few places (on another computer, an external hard drive AND in cloud storage program such as Dropbox and or iCloud) so you can erase all remaining data and recycle the device with peace of mind. Careful not to get ‘deleting’ confused with ‘erasing,’ which means permanently clearing data from a device. Deleted files can often linger in a device’s recycling folder.

  1. Ensure Your Machines Are Clean!

It is not uncommon for viruses or malware to find their way onto your devices through outdated software so ensure all your internet-connected devices have the latest software updates including operating systems and browsers. Ideally, you should ensure that you are running the latest version of apps too. Most software packages do auto-update but please take the time to ensure this is happening on all your devices.

  1. Review and Consolidate Files, Applications and Services

Our devices play such a huge part in our day to day lives so it is inevitable that they become very cluttered. Your kids’ old school assignments, outdated apps and programs, online subscriptions and unused accounts are likely lingering on your devices.

The big problem with old accounts is that they get hacked! And they can often lead hackers to your current accounts so it’s a no-brainer to ensure the number of accounts you are using is kept to a minimum.

Once you have decided which apps and accounts you are keeping, take some time to review the latest privacy agreements and settings so you understand what data they are collecting and when they are collecting it. You might also discover that some of your apps are using far more of your data than you realised! Might be time to opt-out!

  1. Update Passwords and Enable Two-Factor Authentication

As the average consumer manages a whopping 11 online accounts – social media, shopping, banking, entertainment, the list goes on – updating our passwords is an important ‘cyber hygiene’ practice that is often neglected. Why not use your digital spring cleaning as an excuse to update and strengthen your credentials?

Creating long and unique passwords using a variety of upper and lowercase numbers, letters and symbols is an essential way of protecting yourself and your digital assets online. And if that all feels too complicated, why not consider a password management solution? Password managers help you create, manage and organise your passwords. Some security software solutions include a password manager such as McAfee Total Protection.

Finally, wherever possible, you should enable two-factor authentication for your accounts to add an extra layer of defense against cyber criminals. Two-factor authentication is where a user is verified by opt-out password or one-off code through a separate personal device like a smart phone.

Still not convinced? If you use social media, shop online, subscribe to specialist newsletters then your existence is scattered across the internet. By failing to clean up your ‘digital junk’ you are effectively giving a set of front door keys to hackers and risking having your identity stolen. Not a great scenario at all. So, make yourself a cuppa and get to work!

Til Next Time

Alex xx

 

 

 

 

The post How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Clicks & Cliques: How to Help Your Daughter Deal with Mean Girls Online

Clicks & Cliques: How to Help Your Daughter Deal with Mean Girls Online

Clicks & Cliques: How to Help Your Daughter Deal with Mean Girls OnlineAccording to a new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), mean girls are out in force online. Data shows that girls report three times as much harassment online (21%) as boys (less than 7%). While the new data does not specify the gender of the aggressors, experts say most girls are bullied by other girls.

With school back in full swing, it’s a great time to talk with your kids — especially girls — about how to deal with cyberbullies. Doing so could mean the difference between a smooth school year and a tumultuous one.

The mean girl phenomenon, brought into the spotlight by the 2004 movie of the same name, isn’t new. Only today, mean girls use social media to dish the dirt, which can be devastating to those targeted. Mean girls are known to use cruel digital tactics such as exclusion, cliques, spreading rumors online, name-calling, physical threats, sharing explicit images of others, shaming, sharing secrets, and recruiting others to join the harassment effort.

How parents can help

Show empathy. If your daughter is the target of mean girls online, she needs your ears and your empathy. The simple, powerful phrase, “I understand,” can be an instant bridge builder. Parents may have trouble comprehending the devastating effects of cyberbullying because they, unlike their child, did not grow up under the threat of being electronically attacked or humiliated. This lack of understanding, or empathy gap, can be closed by a parent making every effort empathize with a child’s pain.

Encourage confidence and assertiveness. Mean girls target people they consider weak or vulnerable. If they know they can exploit another person publicly and get away with it, it’s game on. Even if your daughter is timid, confidence and assertiveness can be practiced and learned. Find teachable moments at home and challenge your daughter to boldly express her opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Her ability to stand up for herself will grow over time, so get started role-playing and brainstorming various ways to respond to mean girls with confidence.

Ask for help. Kids often keep bullying a secret to keep a situation from getting worse. Unfortunately, this thinking can backfire. Encourage your daughter to reach out for help if a mean girl situation escalates. She can reach out to a teacher, a parent, or a trusted adult. She can also reach out to peers. There’s power in numbers, so asking friends to come alongside during a conflict can curb a cyberbully’s efforts.Clicks & Cliques: How to Help Your Daughter Deal with Mean Girls Online

Exercise self-control. When it comes to her behavior, mean girls habitually go low, so encourage your daughter always to go high.  Regardless of the cruelty dished out, it’s important to maintain a higher standard. Staying calm, using respectful, non-aggressive language, and speaking in a confident voice, can discourage a mean girl’s actions faster than retribution.

Build a healthy perspective. Remind your daughter that even though bullying feels extremely personal, it’s not. A mean girl’s behavior reflects her own pain and character deficits, which has nothing to do with her target. As much as possible, help your daughter separate herself from the rumors or lies being falsely attached to her. Remind her of her strengths and the bigger picture that exists beyond the halls of middle school and high school.

Teach and prioritize self-care. In this context, self-care is about balance and intention. It includes spending more time doing what builds you up emotionally and physically — such as sleep and exercise — and less time doing things that deplete you (like mindlessly scrolling through Instagram).

Digitally walk away. When mean girls attack online, they are looking for a fight. However, if their audience disengages, a bully can quickly lose power and interest. Walk away digitally by not responding, unfollowing, blocking, flagging, or reporting an abusive account. Parents can also help by monitoring social activity with comprehensive software. Knowing where your child spends time online and with whom, is one way to spot the signs of cyberbullying.

Parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier as our kids get older and social media only adds another layer of complexity and concern. Even so, with consistent family conversation and connection, parents can equip kids to handle any situation that comes at them online.

The post Clicks & Cliques: How to Help Your Daughter Deal with Mean Girls Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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Digital Parenting: How to Keep the Peace with Your Kids Online

Digital Parenting: How to Keep the Peace with Your Kids Online

Digital Parenting: How to Keep the Peace with Your Kids OnlineSimply by downloading the right combination of apps, parents can now track their child’s location 24/7, monitor their same social conversations, and inject their thoughts into their lives in a split second. To a parent, that’s called safety. To kids, it’s considered maddening.

Kids are making it clear that parents armed with apps are overstepping their roles in many ways. And, parents, concerned about the risks online are making it clear they aren’t about to let their kids run wild.

I recently watched the relationship of a mother and her 16-year-old daughter fall apart over the course of a year. When the daughter got her driver’s license (along with her first boyfriend), the mother started tracking her daughter’s location with the Life360 app to ease her mind. However, the more she tracked, the more the confrontations escalated. Eventually, the daughter, feeling penned in, waged a full-blown rebellion that is still going strong.

There’s no perfect way to parent, especially in the digital space. There are, however, a few ways that might help us drive our digital lanes more efficiently and keep the peace. But first, we may need to curb (or ‘chill out on’ as my kids put it) some annoying behaviors we may have picked up along the way.

Here are just a few ways to keep the peace and avoid colliding with your kids online:

Interact with care on their social media. It’s not personal. It’s human nature. Kids (tweens and teens) don’t want to hang out with their parents in public — that especially applies online. They also usually aren’t too crazy about you connecting with their friends online. And tagging your tween or teen in photos? Yeah, that’s taboo. Tip: If you need to comment on a photo (be it positive or negative) do it in person or with a direct message, not under the floodlights of social media. This is simply respecting your child’s social boundaries. 

Ask before you share pictures. Most parents think posting pictures of their kids online is a simple expression of love or pride, but to kids, it can be extremely embarrassing, and even an invasion of privacy. Tip: Be discerning about how much you post about your kids online and what you post. Junior may not think a baby picture of him potty training is so cute. Go the extra step and ask your child’s permission before posting a photo of them. Digital Parenting: How to Keep the Peace with Your Kids Online

Keep tracking and monitoring in check. Just because you have the means to monitor your kids 24/7 doesn’t mean you should. It’s wise to know where your child goes online (and off) but when that action slips into a preoccupation, it can wreck a relationship (it’s also exhausting). The fact that some kids make poor digital choices doesn’t mean your child will. If your fears about the online world and assumptions about your child’s behavior have led you to obsessively track their location, monitor their conversations, and hover online, it may be time to re-engineer your approach. Tip: Put the relationship with your child first. Invest as much time into talking to your kids and spending one-one time with them as you do tracking them. Put conversation before control so that you can parent from confidence, rather than fear.

Avoid interfering in conflicts. Kids will be bullied, meet people who don’t like them and go through tough situations. Keeping kids safe online can be done with wise, respectful monitoring. However, that monitoring can slip into lawnmower parenting (mowing over any obstacle that gets in a child’s path) as described in this viral essay. Tip: Don’t block your child’s path to becoming a capable adult. Unless there’s a serious issue to your child’s health and safety, try to stay out of his or her online conflicts. Keep it on your radar but let it play out. Allow your child to deal with peers, feel pain, and find solutions. 

As parents, we’re all trying to find the balance between allowing kids to have their space online and still keep them safe. Too much tracking can cause serious family strife while too little can be inattentive in light of the risks. Parenting today is a difficult road that’s always a work-in-progress so give yourself permission to keep learning and improving your process along the way

The post Digital Parenting: How to Keep the Peace with Your Kids Online appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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How To Help Your Kids Manage Our ‘Culture of Likes’

How To Help Your Kids Manage Our ‘Culture of Likes’

As a mum of 4 sons, my biggest concerns about the era of social media is the impact of the ‘like culture’ on our children’s mental health. The need to generate likes online has become a biological compulsion for many teens and let’s be honest – adults too! The rush of dopamine that surges through one’s body when a new like has been received can make this like culture understandably addictive.

 

How To Help Your Kids Manage Our ‘Culture of Likes’

Research Shows Likes Can Make You Feel As Good As Chocolate!

The reason why our offspring (and even us) just can’t give up social media is because it can make us feel just so damn good! In fact, the dopamine surges we get from the likes we collect can give us a true psychological high and create a reward loop that is almost impossible to break. Research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, shows the brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are also activated when teens see large numbers of ‘likes’ on their own photos or photos of peers in a social network.

Likes and Self Worth

Approval and validation by our peers has, unfortunately, always had an impact on our sense of self-worth. Before the era of social media, teens may have measured this approval by the number of invitations they received to parties or the number of cards they received on their birthday. But in the digital world of the 21st  century, this is measured very publicly through the number of followers we have or the number of likes we receive on our posts.

But this is dangerous territory. Living our lives purely for the approval of others is a perilous game. If our self-worth is reliant on the amount of likes we receive then we are living very fragile existences.

Instagram’s Big Move

In recognition of the competition social media has become for many, Instagram has decided to trial hiding the likes tally on posts. Instagram believes this move, which is also being trialled in six other countries including Canada and New Zealand, will improve the well-being of users and allow them to focus more on ‘telling their story’ and less on their likes tally.

But the move has been met with criticism. Some believe Instagram is ‘mollycoddling’ the more fragile members of our community whilst others believe it is threatening the livelihood of ‘Insta influencers’ whose income is reliant on public displays of likes.

Does Instagram’s Move Really Solve Address our Likes Culture?

While I applaud Instagram for taking a step to address the wellbeing and mental health of users, I believe that it won’t be long before users simply find another method of social validation to replace our likes stats. Whether it’s follower numbers or the amount of comments or shares, many of us have been wired to view social media platforms like Instagram as a digital popularity contest so will adjust accordingly. Preparing our kids for the harshness of this competitive digital environment needs to be a priority for all parents.

What Can Parents Do?

Before your child joins social media, it is imperative that you do your prep work with your child. There are several things that need to be discussed:

  1. Your Kids Are So Much More Than Their Likes Tally

It is not uncommon for tweens and teens to judge their worth by the number of followers or likes they receive on their social media posts. Clearly, this is crazy but a common trend/ So, please discuss the irrationality of the likes culture and online popularity contest that has become a feature of almost all social media platforms. Make sure they understand that social media platforms play on the ‘reward loop’ that keep us coming back for more. Likes on our posts and validating comments from our followers provide hits of dopamine that means we find it hard to step away. While many tweens and teens view likes as a measure of social acceptance, it is essential that you continue to tell them that this is not a true measure of a person.

  1. Encourage Off-Line Activities

Help your kids develop skills and relationships that are not dependent on screens. Fill their time with activities that build face-to-face friendships and develop their individual talents. Whether it’s sport, music, drama, volunteering or even a part time job – ensuring your child has a life away from screens is essential to creating balance.

  1. Education is Key

Teaching your kids to be cyber safe and good digital citizens will minimise the chances of them experiencing any issues online. Reminding them about the perils of oversharing online, the importance of proactively managing their digital reputation and the harsh reality of online predators will prepare them for the inevitable challenges they will have to navigate.

  1. Keep the Communication Channels Open – Always!

Ensuring your kids really understand that they can speak to you about ANYTHING that is worrying them online is one of the best digital parenting insurance policies available. If they do come to you with an issue, it is essential that you remain calm and do not threaten to disconnect them from their online life. Whether it’s cyberbullying, inappropriate texting or a leak of their personal information, working with them to troubleshoot and solve problems and challenges they face is a must for all digital parents.

Like many parents, I wish I could wave a magic wand and get rid of the competition the likes culture has created online for many of our teens. But that is not possible. So, instead let’s work with our kids to educate them about its futility and help them develop a genuine sense of self-worth that will buffer them from harshness this likes culture has created.

Alex xx

The post How To Help Your Kids Manage Our ‘Culture of Likes’ appeared first on McAfee Blogs.

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