5 Information Security Tips for Parents and Children


The life of a modern person, including even the smallest ones, already largely depends on the Internet: most services and facilities, not to mention communication, are concentrated online. A huge amount of information and data is stored digitally, and this can become a big threat to its owners if they do not know how to ensure their cybersecurity.

The issue has already been raised at the state level: the Concept of Information Security for Children has been approved, which provides for the conduct of lessons in information security and digital literacy in schools.

However, it is impossible to do without the participation of parents. In this article, we will analyze the main phenomena of our time that can ruin the lives of adults and children, and tell you how to protect yourself and your child.
Social engineering
It sounds complicated even for adults, but this is one of the most pressing threats in cybersecurity, which is very important to get to know yourself and tell your children about it.

Fraudsters master the techniques of psychological influence and the art of manipulation in order to take over user data (logins and passwords, two-factor authentication or bank card data, codes from SMS) and make money from it. They always act as prepared as possible, playing on the feelings and personal qualities of the victim, for example, inattention, greed, sympathy, fear or curiosity. The most popular tricks of scammers: winning a competition, big discounts, or raising money to support friends, acquaintances or relatives.

Absolutely anyone can become a victim of social engineering, so it is important to learn to critically evaluate any information from the Internet. Got an unexpected message from an unknown contact? Do they want something from you, in particular money, and press you with an answer? Do they evoke emotion (sympathy, fear, excitement)? At this moment, you should take a break and not rush into an answer. If, for example, the message came on behalf of a friend, do not hesitate to call him and clarify, because very often scammers hack or clone people’s accounts in order to swindle money or confidential information on their behalf.

One of the most insidious types of cybercrime is phishing. Fraudsters disguise websites, letters or messages as popular companies and resources: social networks, online stores, banks, streaming services or government agencies. The purpose of phishing attacks is to fraudulently obtain passwords, card numbers, bank accounts or other confidential information. In other words, hackers count on the fact that users in a hurry or through inattention will not notice the fake and, for example, will follow the specified link, enter their personal data, or download a malicious file with a program to steal data on the device.

How to recognize phishing? Most often, fake websites are distributed via email or instant messengers. These messages imitate the design of the pages of real organizations or accounts of friends, colleagues or relatives of the victim. Remember that phishing uses the same social engineering techniques, so a person will be lured with gifts and bonuses, intimidated by urgency and authority, put pressure on a patient or arouse curiosity. If you receive an unexpected letter from an organization, online store, or real person, contact them and find out if they sent messages of similar content. Never click on links or open attachments until you are sure they are legitimate. It is especially worthwhile to be attentive during the period of some mass events that cause excitement and general interest.

Even if you have not received a letter with suspicious content, you can also encounter a fake site in a search engine, for example, when entering very popular queries for goods or services. Use only trusted resources and do not follow links with dubious addresses. It is also worth carefully analyzing links and email addresses: in most cases of phishing, they differ from the original domain by one sign.
In the era of Internet addiction, most children, teenagers and even adults are susceptible to oversharing (from the English overshare - sharing too much) - the thoughtless posting of personal information about themselves or other people in public sources (chats, blogs, social networks, video hosting, etc.). d.). People tend to tell others about themselves, often going overboard with frankness and forgetting about privacy. And there are many reasons for this, especially among children and adolescents.

Firstly, here lies an attempt to attract attention and a desire to be liked, to demonstrate your openness and healthy self-esteem. Age-related characteristics, for example, the desire to express oneself and the reluctance to stand out from the group, also contribute to active self-expression on the Internet, but sometimes personal or family psychological problems can also be behind this. Secondly, the trend for oversharing is set by popular bloggers who live in reality mode. In addition, the availability of media also affects

means and ways to express themselves: now even small children can record videos and post them on the Internet. Thus, fashion, coupled with technology, promotes oversharing.

In this matter, it is important to remember that the Internet remembers everything, and the task of parents is to tell their children about possible risks. A few examples of the dangerous consequences that can result from being too open on the Internet. Geolocations and mentions of the exact addresses of a school, apartment or cottage can result in persecution, kidnapping or robbery. Talking too openly about gifts, new appliances, or home interiors can lead to fraud or robbery.

Another aspect of oversharing is open messages on the Internet: you should be careful about emotional comments in chats or on walls on social networks. They can cause both psychological attacks (grooming, blackmail, abuse, stalking) on the part of an ill-wisher, and lead to criminal or administrative liability. The same thing works in the opposite direction: some posts or messages are initially created for provocation, which should not be taken into account.

Children and especially adolescents are susceptible to such social phenomena as aggression and bullying from peers. According to the study, 58% of Russian Internet users have encountered cyberbullying (from the English word cyberbullying) and every fourth person has been the target of such behavior.

Harassment, spreading rumors, intimidation and hostile comments can lead to severe mental trauma and even suicide, so it is important for parents not to devalue the child’s emotions and provide timely support. Moreover, turning off the Internet and other prohibitions will not help: here it is important to show empathy and try to provide the child with comfortable communication online. For example, select a special set of privacy settings in social network accounts that will protect your child from unwanted interlocutors.

Online Games
One of the most common hobbies of modern children and teenagers is gaming. They are ready to spend hours online, spending not only time, but also money. Send a donation to a player, update the hero’s functions, disable advertising or download a new cool game - it’s impossible to stop. Fraudsters take advantage of this by using phishing and social engineering (cloning websites, sending tempting bonuses and offers, messages on behalf of friends and players).

In order not to fall for the bait of criminals, parents must first of all explain to their children that they can easily be deceived and lose personal and parental money. Ask them not to transfer money to someone in a hurry, not to participate in bonus lotteries, not to use personal bank cards for online payments (it’s better to have a separate one for these purposes) and to always carefully check applications before downloading.

How to help your child stay safe on the Internet?
Based on the threats described, five recommendations can be identified:

About money. Explain to your children that they should not make an advance payment on unverified sites - this could turn out to be a tool for scammers. Get your child a separate card (for example, digital) to pay for purchases online and do not allow all funds to be stored on it at all times.

About personal information. Make it clear to children that personal data is very important, and its transfer to third parties or accidental disclosure is a big risk. Remind them that under no circumstances should they give out bank card numbers or passport information. It is also important to take care of your profile privacy settings on social networks, for example, close the page, limit access to photos, personal information and the list of friends. This will help protect your account and protect your loved ones from scammers.

About behavior. Critical thinking is the main tool against scammers (and not just online). Explain that not everything children see on the Internet is true, and many things need to be double-checked. If, for example, a dubious message arrived on behalf of a person you know, then you should not hesitate to call him and verify the information received.

About safety. From time to time, it is worth having a confidential conversation with children, including talking about the basic rules of cybersecurity and types of cybercrimes. Knowing what phishing is, social engineering, or what oversharing can lead to, it is much easier to warn yourself and not make certain mistakes that scammers are counting on.

About personal things. Explain to your child the principle of building personal boundaries when communicating on the Internet. For example, you shouldn’t indiscriminately add everyone as a friend, write to strangers, share a lot of information about yourself and your family, or get caught up in provocations. Take care of the child’s self-esteem: explain that on the Internet people can be more unrestrained, harsh and cruel - you should not take to heart everything that may be written on the Internet, even if it is addressed to the child himself.

The main recommendation is to build trusting relationships with children, hso that they can ask for help themselves or share something that confused or worried them. Children and teenagers should not be embarrassed to report suspicious behavior, threats and blackmail. Only with such a connection will an adult be able to help. Otherwise, the parent will have to deal with the consequences.

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