When we think of survivalist preparatory activities, we often think of protecting our homes and physical bodies. However, it’s equally important to protect our personal and financial information online. Now that the world is at the end of our fingertips, we are all faced with more opportunities to become victims of theft. The same way you take extra precautions to make sure your house and all your belongings are safe and secure, keeping you and your family’s information safe online will require the right kind of security.
It’s fair to admit that the convenience of online shopping, banking, and entertainment makes our lives a little bit easier. Your kids also enjoy their time online — watching videos, chatting with friends, and personalizing their email account. That being said, this sense of ease are what most cybercriminals are banking on. In order to protect you and your family online, it’ll be important to implement a regimen that can help defend your computers and information from financial fraud, viruses, and malware.
Keeping your whole family protected from online scammers, or as New England College aptly calls them, modern financial fraudsters, is becoming quite the challenge as more and more kids begin engaging with the internet. They also point out that identity theft costs Americans an alarming $24.7 billion dollars, which is $10 billion more than all other types of theft combined. Undoubtedly, you want to protect your children from falling victim to anyone that might hurt them. Unfortunately, financial fraudsters and cyberthieves don’t care what age you are or where you’re from; they just want your information, and your children might not yet be aware of the dangers lurking online. That’s why online safety first begins by regularly having discussions with your children about good online practices.
Of course, you shouldn’t completely ban your children from ever picking up a smartphone or tablet again. Instead, taking the time to talk to them about the dangers that are hiding online can open the door to better communication between the whole family. Thoroughly explaining safe online practices to your kids can help prevent fraud or other damages befalling your family. As the experts at Panda Security explain, “the online world is just like the real world. Not talking to strangers at the park is just as important as not talking to strangers in chat rooms. Leaving your toys out for thieves to steal is just like telling someone too much information online.” Bridging that connection between real-world safety and online safety can help your kids better understand why it’s important to protect themselves.
You and your family should always be on the lookout for malware, phishing scams, and anything that might give your computer system a lethal virus. It’s also important to keep in mind that what might clearly look like a scam to you, might not look like a scam to your kids. Most phishing scams and malware act like chameleons — they blend into their online surroundings and appear as harmless spam or a friendly salesman. They’ll pop up in your child’s email or social media, acting as a family friend or local business. Your child might even run across a pop-up urging them to run a scan on your computer for viruses and malware. However, these scams are exactly how identities are stolen, credit card information hacked, and viruses infiltrate your (expensive!) computer.
Consumer Protect suggests that, “Facebook in particular is home to many different scams that could put your children’s identity at risk and that could infect your machines with malware. These threats are sometimes very difficult to recognize, so make a habit out of looking for new threats together. Also ensure that your children feel comfortable to come to you if they did accidentally fall for a scam. That way, you can work together to make sure that the effects do not spread any further than they need to.” By being open with your kids and helping them navigate the tricky online world, you’ll save a lot of time, money, and frustration.
You take all the necessary precautions to ensure your family and home are safe. In the digital age, it’s also crucial to educate yourself and your family about the dangers hiding behind the computer screen. By arming your family with awareness and knowledge, you can all better enjoy your time online.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.