Holidays are here – Be CyberSafe

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Holidays are here – Be CyberSafe

Holidays are upon us and with it comes the kids nagging about how bored they are 1.5 seconds after they just finished the previous activity. The online and gaming world are a great way to pass time but the modern age also brings modern age challenges.

To make sure you and your family have a CyberSafe holidays, here are some basic steps you can take that will greatly improve their safety. Obviously these are not a comprehensive list but a good guide to get you going.

Passwords – we really can’t emphasise this enough and is the most common way for accounts to be compromised. Pick a good strong password or better yet a small phrase. The beauty of a phrase is that it is much easier to remember and results in a nice long password making it much safer. Also make sure it is nothing obvious and a basic rule is I shouldn’t be able to find it in your social media. Yes that means dont use pet names or birth days 😉

Keep it simple and fun, something like NedisaGreatGuy gives you a 14 character password and easy to remember. Now change some letters into characters and you have Ned!5@GreatGuy which gives you length and complexity. Get in the habit of using passphrases and teach your kids … but don’t use this password 🙂

Two-factor authentication – where available, turn it on. Yes it can be inconvenient, but so is having your bank account emptied. Where possible, use an authenticator app instead of SMS based authentication. This allows you to log in even if you have no reception or are overseas and not able to receive SMS.

Apps and cracks – Kids love to trawl through the app store and check out the free games but be careful of pitfalls and dodgy operators. Firstly, dont have your credit card attached to the account without security, otherwise your child will be happy with all their diamonds in their favourite game but your credit card may send you into cardiac arrest.

The best thing is to look at the reviews, they usually call out poor games or dodgy operators so can save you time.

Youngsters also love to find “crack” programs which give them cheat codes and advantages in their games. Criminals love to exploit these to gain access to devices because they know that its usually younger and less security savvy victims who download them.

Personal information and location – Very important that kids are made aware of bad actors on the internet. While they might not need to know specific details, it is important that children are made aware that there are bad people out there and to let you know when they encounter them. Build the trust and avoid overreacting to any incidents to build that trust and use it as an opportunity to educate.

Also make sure they understand the need to not share personal information, especially mobile apps where the precise location can easily be shared unwittingly by a child. By default, have locations services turned off unless you do need it on. Also review what apps have access to the location data. A common occurrence we encounter is people sharing photos and not realising that the precise location is embedded in the photo. Between family and friends it may not be an issue but dating and strangers in general could be problematic. Exercise caution.

Areas to watch are games which allow chatting and discussion forums that children may visit, as well as the usual social media sites. Games such as Robolox have had issues in the past with predators, not a fault of the game just predators are always on the look out for opportunities. Some simple things that can help is kids playing on the main TV instead of their rooms or computers with the screen visible from where the parents are such as kitchen and lounge room. Little things like that help parents keep a watchful eye from a distance and also keeps the kids on their toes and discourages misadventures.

We will be releasing short blog posts over the coming months digging deeper into specific issues to assist people navigate this ever changing world and give them confidence to deal with what may come their way.

Should you need further resources, the government has some resources here :

For anything serious please reach out or contact police.

The main advice we like to give is not to be draconian with the rules as it just creates enforcement issues. The better way is through education, making sure that family members are aware of incidents and events (appropriate for their age) as they happen followed with a discussion of what would have been an appropriate way to deal with it, who they can talk to and if they have ever encountered it.

Keep it natural and matter-of-fact, no matter your urge to drop your jaw in shock horror, probe and discuss and let them talk. Most importantly let them ask and dont be afraid to say, “Good question, I don’t know but I will find out”. Let us know issues you would like to see covered, chances are others are in the same boat.