Cybersecurity: How to keep your children safe!

The Internet is a great resource for you and your family. At the touch of a button, you have access to a world of knowledge and entertainment. Sadly, the internet is also a dangerous place to hang out – particularly for children. Nearly 60% of teens have received an email or instant message from a stranger – half of them have replied. With summer approaching, the potential for children to wind up on dangerous sites increases since kids have more free time and that usually means more screen time.

So what can you do? Just to get started, let’s list some things you can do almost immediately to help keep your kids safe while they’re online.

It won’t take a lot of time to try these suggestions, and while we’ll talk later on about setting up parental controls through your Race router, the following steps can give you some peace of mind until you can do so.

    1. Place computers in a common area of the house:
      Don’t allow kids to have a computer in their room. You’d be surprised by how much the mere presence of a parent who may or may not be looking over a child’s shoulder while they use the computer can keep a child in line. They have no way of knowing if your eyes are good enough to see across the room, now do they? Make sure the computer’s screen is visible from other parts of the room and isn’t turned toward a wall.
    2. Set reasonable time and usage limits:
      Set rules about what your child can and can’t do when on the internet. Set time limits on their computer use. If they say they’re researching homework, maybe you don’t include that in the time limits – but make sure they’re using it for homework.
    3. Discuss the dangers of the web with your child:
      Sit down and discuss the dangers of the internet. Talk openly and honestly about what’s out there and the kind of stuff they want to avoid. Forewarned is forearmed.
    4. Teach them to protect their privacy
      While they won’t fully understand the consequences of revealing personal information online, you should still make sure your children know:
      * Never to give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission
      * Not to open e-mail from people they don’t know
      * Not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages
      * Not to get together with anyone they “meet” online.
    5. Keep the youngsters out of online chat rooms, and do your best to reinforce the old rule, “never talk to strangers.”:
      Chat rooms are a popular place for sex offenders to meet their prey. If possible, keep your kids out of chat rooms altogether. Make sure your child knows that no matter how nice an online “friend” may seem to be, they are still a stranger, and may not be who they appear to be. ​
    6. Know Passwords:
      Be upfront with your children that you will need to have their passwords for all of their devices and for all of their social media sites. Once you have the passwords, check these sites regularly to see what your child is seeing and posting.
    7. NEVER let your child upload or download photos without your permission:
      Online predators will often send photos supposedly of themselves or request photos of the child.

Turn your ISP into your ally
Before buying any safety product, experts recommend that you work with what you’ve got, starting with your Internet service provider – hopefully that is us at Race Communications!

Your Gigafy Me router includes free parental controls that can limit children’s access to websites and communication features (e-mail, instant messaging, chat) by the time of day and other variables. If you don’t have a router rental through Race, give us a call to have that added or if you have any questions about these features.

“Phishing” – How to protect yourself.

Ads, ads, ads – the Internet is full of them!

Whether companies are vying for your attention through a flash sale or a targeted Facebook ad, digital advertising has taken the Internet by storm. Digital advertising has become more powerful than advertising because we consider it information rather than marketing.

But with every innovation, comes a dark side.

We’ve all seen the “WIN A FREE iPad” ad, but how many of those ads are actually real? And how many of those ads are a product of “Phishing”.

Phishing scams are typically fraudulent emails or ads appearing to come from legitimate enterprises. Once clicked, the ad is designed to direct you to a fake website to try and get you to enter personal information. If successful, the private information is usually used to charge your accounts for fraudulent payments, commit identity theft or worse, sold on the Black Market.

“Typically, people will use different means to present themselves as a source everyone knows. They use legitimate websites, logos and make every attempt for you to login with your personal information,” says Carlos Alcantar, Chief Technology Officer of Race Communications.

So think of it like this. You get an email or you see an ad from a notable establishment. The ad may state you’ve won a prize and that you must follow the link provided to redeem it. When you click the link or follow the ad, you have to enter your personal information to retrieve it. Don’t. Stop right there.

Once you enter your information, it becomes very hard, if not impossible, to retract.

We saw an example of phishing just last week, when hackers created a Google Doc phishing scam that affected millions of Gmail inboxes.  So what can you do to protect yourself?

“Never click on things that are suspicious,” says Alcantar. “If your gut tells you something isn’t right, listen to it.”

  • If you suspect something is a scam, go directly to the site and check for the promotion on the site. If it is legitimate, enter your information from there.
  • Never use links in an email to connect to a website unless you are absolutely sure they are authentic.
  • Always communicate personal information over the phone or through a secure website. (you can identify a secure site if https:// precedes the website address,
  • Never use email to share personal information such as credit card information or social security numbers. Even if you know the recipient of the email, unauthorized users maybe able to gain access to you or the recipient’s account.
  • If possible, avoid using your email on public computers. Information from an email is temporarily stored on a computer’s local disk and can be retrieved by another user if it is not deleted properly.
  • Do not click any buttons or links in pop-up windows. If your browser has a pop-up blocker, make sure it is enabled at all times. Don’t have a pop-up blocker? Get one!
  • Check your credit report and financial records regularly. This may not seem directly related, but checking your accounts for fraudulent activity will help you identify any changes immediately.