I recently said that better online safety is a goal of the 10th Anniversary National Cyber Security Awareness Month being observed now during October. It was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safe online. So what better time to repeat some of the topics I have visited in past blogs about how we, as parents, can work with our kids to keep them safe online and to avoid id theft.
If you read some of the materials that have been gathered by Staysafeonline.org, you quickly come to the understanding that, as the site says, "Cybersecurity is Our Shared Responsibility." It is a shared responsibility between government and the private sector, between social media sites and its users, between the education system and its students, and between parents and their children. The organization has detailed ways that everyone can get involved and make a difference this October and thereafter.
To repeat what I have often said - your kids' online safety is a shared responsibility with you as parents having the greater responsibility when they are young and just starting their online activities, with the children themselves taking a progressively greater responsibility as they approach and then enter their teen years. But you as parents have a responsibility to try to get their buy-in to recognize those dangers and work to avoid them.
There are many resources you can use both to educate yourselves about the dangers young people face on the internet, and there are many resources you can use to convince your kids these dangers are real and what they, themselves, can do to reduce their risk.
Staysafeonline.org has come up with a quiz that you can take with your kids, or they can take by themselves, designed to teach about the dangers of the online world and what precautions they should take. Questions are multiple choice, with each question followed by the correct answer and explanation why.
1) Kristina is on Facebook and receives a friend request from a boy she doesn't know. What should she do?
A. Accept the friend request. It's rude to ignore him.
B. Deny the friend request.
C. Send him a message and ask him how he knows her.
B. A friend is someone you know and trust and have interacted with over time.
2) You don't have to worry when you visit your favorite sites, like Facebook and gaming sites, because they are safe from spyware, malware and other online threats. (True or False)
FALSE. Trusted sites can be safer. However, what you do on those sites - such as clicking on posts with links or using apps - can put you at risk. The best security step you can take is to keep a clean machine. Keeping a Clean Machine means having the latest operating system, software, web browser, anti-virus protection and apps on your computer and mobile devices. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
As we have discussed here often, for many kids, especially teens, Facebook has become the center of their online lives. I've talked about Facebook safety and the dangers of identity theft from the over-sharing of personal data. Facebook itself has extensive materials on privacy and many ways to safeguard your account and what materials you post on your Facebook page.
But one problem is how much material Facebook has gathered on the subject. As Dennis O’Reilly, writing on cNet puts it: "Altogether you’re expected to work your way through 40 entries for managing Facebook privacy, many of which list multistep instructions for changing a single setting." But then he makes it much easier for both you and your kids, boiling everything down into six steps to make your Facebook account more secure.
New and better ways to stay safe online, and for our kids to stay safe online, are constantly being developed. We owe it to ourselves, and to them, to lean, understand and utilize these ways.