Cybersecurity for the Whole Family. Here’s All that You Need to Know
Just about everyone is online nowadays. That includes children, teens, adults, and even seniors. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have taught everyone how to communicate, work, and shop online. But, as with pretty much everything in life, technology has its flipside — cybersecurity risks. If your family has been enjoying everything technology has to offer but wonders how to stay secure online, you’re at the right place. Today, we’re looking at cybersecurity as a family issue and provide ways to improve it simply and effectively.
As online activity increases, so does cybercrime
Due to the obvious, the year 2020 saw record highs in online activity. Unfortunately, it also saw a record number of cyber attacks and cybercriminal activity. This is not at all surprising. As more people flock online, more cybercriminals look for ways to capitalize on unsuspecting users. Phishing and social engineering attacks have been among the most popular. They are designed to trick users by mimicry, often using scam emails that look like those you’d expect to receive from legitimate senders. Unfortunately, such attacks are quite common and too often successful.
When it comes to cybersecurity, we rarely talk about it as a family issue. But it is. Today's cyber risks are common and constantly changing. With the internet being a constant in our daily lives, cybersecurity risks are a given. As we look to make our lives easier, we increasingly rely on smart, connected devices at home, which, unfortunately, pose a security risk to everyone using them. The threats come in many shapes and forms, and keeping track of them all is a challenge. Today, cybersecurity in a family setting should be as essential as home or car insurance. Safeguarding your whole family from digital risks might seem overwhelming, but the entire family can benefit.
Simple tips to boost your family's cybersecurity
Secure your home network
This is the very first step you can take to improve your family’s cybersecurity posture. Most households nowadays run networks composed of computers, smartphones, TVs, and other smart devices and home appliances. The internet access point for all the networks is the wireless router, which is also a potential attack vector for cybercrooks. So, it’s only natural that you must do everything to secure the router. Start by changing its default name and password. In the settings, enable WPA2 encryptions instead of WEP. Enable a firewall and keep your router’s firmware updated. These seemingly simple steps are essential to a safer cybersecurity in the household.
Use a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic
This goes hand in hand with the previous point. Once your internet access point is secure, the next thing to do is to encrypt your home’s internet traffic. Simply put, encryption keeps all your online activities private from any bad actors. The easiest way to encrypt your internet traffic is by using a VPN such as NordVPN.
A VPN service creates a secure tunnel for your data to travel so that it stays secure at all times. This makes it a lot harder for bad actors to intercept the connection or snoop around. Additionally, a VPN can hide your IP address and even help you view any geo-restricted content.
Use parental controls and filtering
In today’s world, it is important to define the boundaries of your kids’ digital freedom, since disregard for best security practices could expose them to digital threats such as cyberbullying. It’s been revealed by the Cyberbullying Research Center that 36.5% of teens have experienced cyberbullying.
While it’s true that today's youth is extremely tech-savvy, putting in some restrictions can also significantly improve your entire family’s security posture. Most of the popular operating systems have parental controls which prevent children from accessing inappropriate or otherwise dangerous content. Parental controls can also prevent your kids from sharing personal information with unknown parties.
Be aware of phishing
Phishing is an attack based on social engineering, where the attacker sends faux messages — most often via email — designed to trick the victim into revealing private and otherwise sensitive information. Phishing scams have become increasingly sophisticated. Thus, being on the lookout for phishing messages is critical. At home, you should try and teach your kids and older adults about phishing, educate them as much as possible about such attacks, and warn them not to click on any URLs in an email or social network message if it looks suspicious.
Be careful what information you share online
It’s essential for children, teens, and other family members to know and understand how much information is too much information. We often get carried away in the excitement to share milestones, vacations pics, and other information. But understanding that all that information could be used against you is key. Communicate with your kids and other family members about the importance of not sharing information such as student cards, driver’s license, travel itineraries, and other sensitive data.
Use a password manager
In a family setting, it’s more than likely that we share passwords. Whether it’s for a Netflix or Spotify account, password sharing should be taken seriously. After all, weak passwords are one of the main causes of data breaches. Take the time to talk to your family and explain that sharing passwords over email or messaging apps is inherently dangerous because emails and social media accounts can be hacked. The best way to ensure that all family-related passwords are securely stored is by using a password manager such as NordPass. Not only does it provide an encrypted vault, which is a single place for all your family’s passwords, but also a way to share passwords quickly and securely whenever someone needs them. The NordPass Family plan is specifically tailored to help with password security within a family setting. It comes with 6 unique accounts for each family member, as well as all the other NordPass Premium features.