As technology continues to change, the tools available to your children increase and evolve in capabilities. Technology can be used to educate and inspire creativity in kids, but it also exposes them to a risky landscape. Adults can discuss with children how the digital world is a great resource, but we must remain cyber aware. Here are a few things we should all do to protect our kids and our home networks.
Keep Software Updated
Think of all the devices in your household that connect to the internet – phones, tablets, computers, gaming systems, smart appliances, even lightbulbs! One of the most important things you can do to keep your devices safe is to ensure they are up to date and using the latest software. When your devices notify you about a software update, install the update right away or set them to automatically update. Those updates contain security patches that close loopholes that attackers can use to gain entry and access your data like your passwords, payment information, and photos.
Monitor Your Kid’s Devices
Always make sure you know what applications are on your children’s devices. Know what those apps do and what type of information they monitor or collect. This can easily be done by checking the app settings and privacy disclosures. If you have children prone to installing anything that looks new and flashy, consider requiring a PIN or password only you know before allowing the installation of new applications.
Internet Domain Name System (DNS) Filtering
As we all know, surfing the web can be risky. While we can usually identify scams and malicious links, children may not catch on so quickly.
Implementing a Domain Name System, DNS, filtering prevents devices on your network from connecting to known bad websites. It is a free and easy way to help prevent everything from Phishing and Ransomware to spyware and viruses. This includes no sign-ups, tracking, or personal information saved by those providers. DNS filtering can even be set up on your home router with very little effort, which will help protect anyone or any device on your entire network. DNS filtering services can also be used to implement parental controls to deter kids from going to unwanted or inappropriate websites. Additionally, you can limit kids’ screen time and monitor their online surfing activity. By doing this, you can create a family-friendly online space in your home while also protecting your identity and blocking cyber-villains.
Free DNS filtering options for families –
- Quad9: When your computer performs any Internet transaction that uses the DNS (and most transactions do), Quad9 blocks lookups of malicious host names from an up-to-the-minute list of threats. Quad9 is also free to use, and no contract is required. It also doesn’t collect any personal information about you.
- Cleanbrowsing: A free DNS system that focuses on privacy for households with children. It provides three free filter options and blocks most adult sites.
- OpenDNS: Owned by Cisco, OpenDNS has two free options: Family Shield and Home. These are incredibly useful for monitoring and preventing adult site access as well as general internet safety and performance.
When You Return Home
Finally, make sure you talk to your kids about cybersecurity. Just like other issues that have the potential to harm our children, keeping an open line of communication regarding cybersecurity is vital to keeping them safe.
Outside of adjusting privacy settings and parental controls on devices your kids use, make sure they learn how to spot unusual behavior and encourage them to tell you about it. Teach your kids about proper online etiquette and encourage appropriate interactions.
Supervise their screen time and make sure you know who they talk to and interact with online. Talk to them about the importance of keeping some information private such as their name, home address, and phone number.
Check their apps and devices frequently to make sure your kids haven’t turned on location sharing or made their social media accounts public to anyone and everyone. As they get older, remind them that once information is online it can’t be taken back. It’s online forever.
Cybersecurity was not something past generations of parents had to worry about when raising their children, but it is a big part of all our lives now. And even though we may not like all that comes with these technologies, they’re here to stay, we must teach our children how to use them responsibly and safely use them. Let’s give our children the foundation they need to be able to safely and securely engage in today’s connected world.
The information provided in the MS-ISAC Monthly Cybersecurity Tips Newsletter is intended to increase the security awareness of an organization’s end users and to help them behave in a more secure manner within their work environment. While some of the tips may relate to maintaining a home computer, the increased awareness is intended to help improve the organization’s overall cyber security posture. This is especially critical if employees access their work network from their home computer. Organizations have permission and are encouraged to brand and redistribute this newsletter in whole for educational, non-commercial purposes.
Disclaimer: These links are provided because they have information that may be useful. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in the links and neither endorses nor intends to promote the advertising of the resources listed herein. The opinions and statements contained in such resources are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of CIS.