Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Nov. 13, 2013

Locking Down Your Online Security

Blogger, Internet Keep Safe Coalition
Many of the tasks we perform daily have been outsourced to the Internet. Bid adieu to the days of waiting in lengthy lines at the bank just to deposit a check and collect your Dum-Dum, or sifting through never-ending racks of clearance shirts at department stores, or even driving down to Blockbuster to grab a movie for the evening. Nope—we’ve gone digital. However, by digitizing our lives, we run the risk of trading in our security online for convenience. Be diligent when it comes to protecting your personal information online. Here are 5 tips to make sure that you’re protected.

1. Passwords (P@$$w0rD5!)
Passwords are your first line of defense against cyber criminals. Protect sensitive and private information by using strong passwords that contain a combination of uppercase/lowercase letters, numerals, symbols, and punctuation. Robust passwords are also usually 10-14 characters long. Be sure to avoid ones that can be easily guessed, such as “password” or your birthdate. It can be a hassle to remember all of your passwords, but it’s important to use different ones for different websites. Because many sites are connected with one another, if you have the same password for all of your profiles, once your password is compromised, intruders can then easily access all your information and wreak havoc. If you have difficulty memorizing, consider a password manager to organize your various passwords. Remember to keep passwords private and change them frequently.

2. Privacy Settings
Adjust the privacy settings of the search engines and social platforms you frequent. Often, the default settings for these sites are completely open, allowing others, including people outside your circles, to view information you post such as your birthdate. Adjust these settings so that sensitive information is blocked to viewers.

3. Protect your Wi-Fi
Protect your Wi-Fi from mooching users by encrypting your network, enabling WPA2 security protocols, and changing router default admin and login. Check also to make sure that your computer’s firewall is on. Securing your wireless connection will allow you to monitor the activity that goes on in your network and protect yourself from uninvited users who are perhaps illegally downloading music or video files. If you are using public Wi-Fi, keep in mind that these sites are not always secure and protected. While on these networks, avoid banking or other activities that involve divulging sensitive information.

4. Anti-virus Software
Install anti-virus software to detect and prevent viruses and other malware from creeping onto your computer. Make sure that these programs are performing automatic updates too. Back up data often to ensure that your files aren’t deleted.

5. Look for Fraud
Be vigilant in your search for fraud. If you come across something that you believe might be spam, remember to:
  • Slow down: Think before you click.
  • Set your spam filters to high.
  • Look for errors: Often, scams will have typos or layout flaws. If you come across obvious errors, it’s likely illegitimate.
  • Delete requests for financial information or passwords: Credible companies will not come knocking at your door for personal information.
  • Avoid links and downloads in suspicious emails: If you want to check a site out, type the website into your search engine rather than clicking on the link. Don’t download files unless you know the sender personally and are expecting it.
  • There’s no such thing as free lunch: All offers have a catch. By accepting, you may obligate yourself to buy something else, or allow your personal information to be collected. Either way, you are giving something up.

In addition to these tips, there is an array of resources to help you and your family stay safe online. iKeepSafe Solutions offers a range of online-security products to help protect your home. Just last week, iKeepSafe released its Parent Safety Index, which identifies six critical concepts to keep children safe online (Balance, Ethics, Privacy, Reputation, Relationships, and Online Security). Along with the index, iKeepSafe released the BEaPRO™ Parent app to provide parents with the online-safety advice and resources needed to improve their children’s technology health and safety. As online security is one of the pillars for successful digital citizenship, parents are encouraged to access the app and complete the questions to gauge their understanding of how best to keep their personal information safe online.

Your online security is in your hands! Be diligent and follow these tips to keep yourself protected online.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.