How can you make the internet a safer place for your children? It’s a common concern as all parents want their kids to be protected and happy whenever they go online. It’s relatively easy to supervise and monitor the very young ones as they stare delightedly at the Disney Jnr site, but the risks increase greatly as kids get older and more independent.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘cyber safety’ before, but safe internet usage goes beyond reminding them not to talk to strangers. With the evolution of the internet and the way it’s now woven seamlessly into our lives, the focus needs to be on ingrained habits. That means ensuring your children have the tools and predefined responses to online events so that no matter what happens, they’re not placing themselves (or your family) at risk. Setting up these habits is easy, and begins with three basic understandings:
Downloads are a no-go
Most kids can’t tell the difference between a legitimate download and a scam/malicious link. It’s not their fault, the online world is full of things that will trick even the most savvy adult. The difference is that kids tend not to take that extra moment to check exactly where that link is pointing, question whether it’s too good to be true, or even read what they’re agreeing to. They want to get back to what they were doing, and if something pops up, their first instinct is to click ‘yes’ – purely so it goes away. Unfortunately, that single ‘yes’ may have just opened the doors to malware and viruses that will ruin their computer. Set a family rule that they need to ask permission for all downloads (and an adult will check it first), and to never click a popup. When you’re called over to give download permission or check a popup, talk through exactly what you’re checking and why. As your child matures, get them involved in this process so their safe habits extend outside the home.
Critical thinking is a must
Most youngsters think the internet is a magical place and can’t imagine their life without it. To them, the internet is on the same level as oxygen! With that acceptance though, comes unwavering trust that the internet would never lie to them, never trick them and never hurt them. While we adults know better, it’s only because we already view the internet with a certain level of distrust. The best way to keep kids safe is to teach them to approach every aspect of the internet with critical thinking. That includes teaching them to question the motives of other people online. Is that person really a kid? What do they really want? Unfortunately, all kids do need to be aware that predators use the internet to target and lure children. Ensure your children tell you immediately if a stranger makes contact. Along with this stranger danger, teach them to identify what marks something as suspicious, and what they should avoid. If they come across anything inappropriate, they should shut down the computer and come straight to you.
The internet is forever
Kids have an overwhelming drive to contribute to the internet, they don’t think twice about recording a video, jumping in a chat room or onto social media. The world really is their playground! But what they don’t understand until they’ve been burned, is that anything they upload, write or say is on the internet forever. Even if they delete it or use a platform where content self-erases, someone can still screenshot and send it right back out. Many cyber-bullying cases are based around this exact type of blow-back. Once your kids know that everything they post is permanent, they’ll be more likely to pause and think.
For more tips and for all of your Internet Marketing needs – give us a call at 561-693-1978.
What to Do If Your Data Is Included in a Leak
Data breaches are now daily occurrences and can happen to any business. The April 2021 leak of 533 million Facebook records was one of the largest known data leaks, but even if you weren’t affected by that one, you may still be at risk.
There is no easy way to know if your information has been leaked. When a business is hacked, it typically sends a notification letting you know, but this isn’t guaranteed. And you can’t go in and check the Dark Web. It is difficult to find and dangerous to access, and that is why the bad guys like it.
It’s a good idea to navigate to https://haveibeenpwned.com to see if your email address or phone number is on any data breach files. This isn’t conclusive, but it can help.
Even, if you’re not sure if you’ve been a victim of a data leak, you’ll want to take action.
There are several smart strategies to follow immediately.
#1 Limit your social sharing
It is simple to share on social media – that is part of the fun. You share the pictures of your wedding day or anniversary, or your new house with its address. You’re filling in family and friends in your life, right?
Well, if you are using any of that information to create access credentials, you are sharing too much. Someone with a beloved cat called “Petunia” in every photo who uses the feline’s name as a password gives hackers an edge.
You might think you are sharing harmless information, but those birthday party photos posted on the big day are a clue to your identity that hackers can exploit.
#2 Use Unique Passwords
Would you believe people still use “12345678” and “password” as their passwords? If you are one of them, stop now. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again and again: use unique passwords for every one of your accounts. Yes, it is more to remember, but it helps cut the risk of a data breach at one site snowballing to disastrous consequences for you.
You might use a password keeper such as 1Password or LastPass to manage your many passwords. This is more secure than the password manager offered by your Web browser, although those are better than revising passwords or trying (hopelessly) to memorize them.
#3 Add Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) makes it more challenging for the bad actor. Now, they will need to obtain access not only to log in credentials but also to your personal device. However, since phone numbers are often included in a data leak, this isn’t the best solution. If the hacker has your name, address, and birthdate from the Dark Web, they can take over your phone number, too. They call the company and say, “I lost my phone. Can I get another SIM card.” Then, they are the ones to get those verification codes via message, not you.
Better still, use a 2FA app to confirm your identity. Authy or LastPass are good authenticator apps. After you attempt to log in, you will need to enter a time-sensitive code generated by the app to complete access.
#4 Stop Signing into Other Sites Using Social
Sure, it is convenient to use your Facebook or other social media account to sign in to connected applications, because you have fewer passwords to remember. Some of your data is automatically transferred, so signup is streamlined, too. Yet you are increasing the risk of account compromise.
The hacker may access the third-party application and use that as a stepping stone to get into your social account. That’s where the trove of data is.
#5 Develop an Alternate Ego
It all sounds super spy, but you might have one email account you open to be a burner account for social media. You could also use a fake birth date, a fake alma mater, and other alternative facts to fill out the social profile.
Don’t fabricate personal details for an employer, or a financial or educational institution. But you might use a fake identity for entertainment, gaming, and social sites that bad guys may mine for personal data.
Need help securing your social media or other online activity? Our experts can help. Contact us today at 561.693.1978!
Most small businesses rely on email as their preferred form of communication. Either internally or externally to clients, customers and suppliers, email is the go-to format we’d be lost without. Our love affair with it is no surprise – it’s quick, simple and provides a paper trail. But its convenience doesn’t always mean relaxed. In fact, poor email communication can hurt your reputation and cost you customers. Here’s how to be smart with your business email:
Manage your inbox: Your inbox is only for items you still need to access. Once you’re finished with an email, you should delete it or archive it. If you were to imagine your inbox as physical letters, you’d never let it grow to a 6-foot high stack of chaos. Instead, you’d either throw them out or do the filing. It’s not hard to identify which ones to keep for reference, so create inbox folders to sort them accordingly. As emails arrive and are actioned, move them to the relevant folder or the delete bin.
Write professional messages: Stepping across the line from casual to careless is easy if you skip the basic elements of good business writing. Grammar will always be important and the sentence structure of your language hasn’t changed. All email programs include a spell-checker, many of which draw attention to errors immediately, so there’s really no excuse. Typing in all CAPS is seen as yelling, and breaking your text into paragraphs makes your message so much more readable. One last thing before you click send, quickly glance over your email to make sure your tone is appropriate and no mistakes have snuck through.
Embrace the subject line: Many emails are missed because the subject line was empty or meant nothing to the receiver. Writing these attention-grabbing nuggets can be tricky, but if you simply summarize the message, you’ll do fine. Just remember to keep them under 5-8 words so they fit on mobile displays.
Be smart with attachments: Keep attachments small – under 2MB – as they can clog up the email server. For larger attachments, share the file location as a link using cloud storage. When you’re sent an attachment you’d like to keep, save the file and then delete the email. And as always, be careful with unexpected attachments, especially from unknown senders. It’s more important than ever to scan all attachments with an antivirus before opening.
Keep your CC/BCC under control: The carbon copy (CC) and blind carbon copy (BCC) let you send the email to additional stakeholders, more as an FYI than anything else. As a rule, use BCC if you’re using an email list or privacy is an issue. But before you add extra people to the email, make sure the email IS relevant to them. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a pointless email chain!
Call us at 561-693-1978 for help with your business email.