Six Tips to Keep Families Safe Online
With kids returning to school - many of them remotely - the Federal Trade Commission offered tips for parents to better secure their families online.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reset established norms worldwide, it’s an understatement to say that parents have a lot on their plates.
As parents continue to deal with hybrid school set ups, colleges pumping the brakes on opening up in person, and unruly toddlers chomping at the bit, one thing that’s almost sure not to change is having more family members online at the same time.
While families have no doubt been in this situation since the onset of COVID-19, it doesn’t hurt to reiterate some best practices around securing home internet setups.
With that in mind, the Federal Trade Commission’s Jennifer Leach, the Associate Director of agency’s Consumer & Business Education division, offered the public some tips this past week. While some of them may sound obvious and may already be in place, if followed, they can still help form the foundation of a safe, secure home.
The FTC regularly offers advice and suggestions around staying safe online; last week's recommendations follow up tips on dodging fake COVID-19 money offers on Facebook and WhatsApp and a scam that tricked people into buying expensive computer repair.
Here are the FTC's tips:
- Change your router’s default username and password. Ensure that remote management - an option that can essentially let anyone access your router with the username admin and the default password password – is turned off. While you’re at it, it's important to double check that your WiFi is just as secured as your router.
- Keep your software, including browsers, operating systems, and apps updated. Ensure they stay updated by setting them to update automatically.
- Use strong passwords and two factor authentication when possible. Educate your children on strong passwords, encouraging them not to share them with their friends. While not mentioned, the use of a password manager can greatly aid families trying to juggle multiple logins securely.
- Keep phones updated with the latest updates, ensure data, wherever it's located, on a phone or on your laptop, is backed up.
- Pirated content can be an avenue for hackers to spread malware. Identify potentially suspicious streaming sites and apps, learn what attackers leveraging these sites are after, and ways to prevent getting duped.
- Learn about the privacy options of each platform you use. If you use Zoom or another video conferencing app, don't open unknown invitations or click on links unless you're certain they've come from a known sender. Use passcodes to protect meetings, secure meetings with encryption, require invitees to have a certain email domain before being allowed to join.
While the FTC didn't get into specific types of threats, it wouldn't hurt for families to keep up to date with evolving cybersecurity threats, like ransomware and phishing attacks. Being able to identify and mitigate attacks like this can also be critical to preserving your computer's integrity.