Why parents must keep kids cyber safe

(NC) Connecting over social networks, in-game chats or text messaging can be valuable ways for people to communicate. But sharing information like birthdates, addresses or other personal details online, especially publicly, can leave you vulnerable to scams like phishing. And kids especially may have a hard time recognizing some of these concerns – even if they are usually the family tech whiz.

Phishing is when someone tries to lure you into providing personal information so they can steal or sell your identity, your money or other private data. Many scammers make use of details you’ve shared online – such as likes and dislikes, anniversaries or vacation destinations – to make their messages more personalized and therefore more enticing.

There are several red flags for phishing attacks that you and your kids can watch out for, including urgent or threatening requests, appeals for sensitive information or anything too good to be true or unexpected.

Anyone can fall prey to these scams, but due to their age, inexperience and excitement, kids may not connect the dots of something odd like winning a contest they didn’t enter – especially if it’s for something they really like.

As well, some of the most common red flags for phishing may be extra tricky for younger kids to spot, such as typos, incorrect logos, unprofessional word choice and improper sender information.

Make your kids aware of all the red flags anyway so they can be on the lookout and ask them to share any message they aren’t sure of with you before acting on it. Be sure teach them to take their time and think things through before they click or download anything.

Here’s what else you can do:

• Teach kids to create secure and unique passwords and passphrases and how to manage them.
• Teach them to think about if a message makes sense. Is it suspicious?
• Have kids ask parents for permission before opening links, attachments or downloads.
• Explain the threats to their identity, money and information. Include consequences relevant to their day-to-day lives such as loss of in-game progress or account access.
• Discuss what is appropriate to share online and why.
• Install anti-virus software to monitor your devices for malware or other cyber threats
• Enable ad-blockers and parental controls for your internet service.

Find more resources and information at GetCyberSafe.ca.

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