Technological Rite of Passage
The first step into adulthood for me many years ago, was the purchase of my first car. Before that it was starting school – the first step away from home. I can still remember my mom taking me shopping for school clothes at the ripe age of 10! She probably made purchases before that, but at ten I had a voice in the look-style of what I would wear.
Today a major rite of passage is that first Internet device, whether smart phone or laptop. For a parent this rite of passage can be a bittersweet realization. Able to surf the internet?! That kind of independence comes packed with harmful distractions. What’s a parent to do?
Malwarebytes Labs has an excellent article, “Back to school cybersecurity tips for parents and kids.” Look at the bright side. A new laptop means fewer school supplies – we’re thinking pencils, erasers and lined paper packs. Or is that wishful thinking? I’ll have to check with my grand kids!
Here are the tips in brief.
- Watch out for too-good-to-be-true software and device sales. The promise turns malicious behind the click. Watch out!
- Ensure that they have security software and tools installed on their new device. Antivirus, anti-phishing, firewalls, script blockers, ad blockers, password managers, anti-theft apps, anti-malware and anti-ransomware. All are necessary today.
- Stress the importance of physical security. Shock-absorbent cases, shatterproof screen covers, locking cables and USB port blockers. Stop theft and unauthorized access.
- Instill in them the habit of locking computers when they have to move away from them for a while. Stop unauthorized snooping; no “hacked” social media posts. There is an app that will lock your computer for you automitcally. And log on too. All by proximity.
- Disable the autorun functionality of their OS. Malware can be stored in USB sticks. If the laptop automatically runs what’s inside it, this is a problem. There are ways to disable autorun.
- Introduce them to fulti-factor authentication (MFA). Demonstrate on your own phone and computer how it works. By educating your child on this security procedure they are prepared to pass the idea on.
- Discourage rooting/jailbreaking. These sophisticated modifications enable unofficial apps. But they also make the device more vulnerable to threats. Is your child capable? Maybe not. But a friend might introduce them to the concept.
- Update game console firmware. Games to a child are like honey to a bear. What won’t they do to spend hours gaming. Gaming software is not as likely to have malware, but the process of protection and the consistency of updating the game console’s firmware are great learning experiences.
Speaking of great learning experiences, why not introduce your child – at the appropriate age – to basic computer hygiene.
- Ask your children to familiarize themselves with the school’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Obviously, a set of rules the school enforces for the proper use of the Internet. Many schools do not even have such policies. A child asking would spur them to action.
- Talk to them about shoulder surfers. A common human response, to look at someone else’s screen “over the shoulder,” this present a serious security and privacy risk. Too much attention when keying in an account password should be a concern.
- Learn about encryption. The benefits of education are broad but not conclusive. If you know but don’t go, knowledge is of little use. So learn how to be proactive. Find an app to strengthen skills. Here’s a great article on encryption for kids.
You may be thinking, “My kids? I could benefit from these practices!” And you are right. There’s a lot of best practice thinking that anyone concerned about security can glean in these simple tips.
You do remember, don’t you? Kids learn best by example. Hard to export something you are not currently in the practice of doing. Dare I say it? The same is true from management to employee. Put it into practice. Then ask employees to do the same.