Can your kids be a cybersecurity risk at home?

So far, the new normal for many of us means working remotely. Our homes have become offices, schools and even summer camps, making the Internet more widely used than ever.

This increases the perimeter of attack threats in several directions. Now is the time to improve online home security practices and ensure that cybercriminals do not compromise our activities. Next, check out some common scenarios in the home office, including the fact that children may be endangering devices.

This laptop is not a toy

With children at home, parents need to work their way between work and possible “vacant” schedules whenever they can. It would be ideal to perform important tasks behind closed doors in the home office, but this is not always an option. Most likely, your laptop may be moving around the house, so you can send emails from the kitchen or check information about your projects in the room.

But what happens when you leave the room for five minutes and your 8-year-old opens the device, logs in and accesses the laptop? This is a vulnerability, which can happen. Perhaps the child is curious to know what is on the laptop screen and starts to click on other tabs of a project. Perhaps, the child shares something internally, which should not be shared. So, this can be a good time to:

  • Update cyber security fundamentals, such as automatic screen lock;
  • Establish ground rules for all technologies at home;
  • Have separate profiles on each device, for each family member.

Beware of downloads

Let’s admit it: computer games are very welcome these days. Children are agitated and miss the activities they used to have before the pandemic and time with friends. Sometimes it is important to give them access to a new game to distract them while you work or do other household chores.

But be careful. A common scam is the insertion of malware in programs that can be downloaded and promoted, such as games. As a result, malware can enter the family computer, making it difficult to remove. So don’t forget to:

  • Implement controls on the network, to ensure that software is downloaded only with permission;
  • Consider a strong antivirus solution that works across multiple platforms. The Avast Antivirus portfolio includes freeware and paid versions, which protect against phishings, firewall breaches, spam and virus intrusions.

Beware of fake social media apps

As we spend more time at home, we turn to social media apps to connect with the outside world. Adults have used Zoom and other videoconferencing apps to chat with friends and family. Children participate in some calls with the family, but the social network is much wider. There are several types of online chat channels available for children, from video games to other platforms.

Be careful with the social media apps that children use and the permissions granted to the apps. Cybercriminals are promoting fake social media apps, offering easy channels for connecting with friends. Thus, children can be attracted and cybercriminals can commercialize personal data: both yours and those of children. For this, it is recommended:

  • Regularly monitor all activity on mobile devices and implement parental control from an app dedicated to it. One recommendation is Avast Family Space;
  • Use this opportunity to teach safe navigation practices and critical thinking;
  • Monitor signs of security theft, even from your 5-year-old son.

Protect your home Wi-Fi network

The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought many important innovations to the residential environment. From toys connected to the internet to automated refrigerators, which let you know when it’s time to replace an item. But IoT at home can also bring problems, especially in today’s times. Every new connection at home offers yet another way for cybercriminals to get past your security “wall”.

  • It is important to ensure that users are protected from these threats. At a minimum, do not use passwords like “12345” to connect the IoT to the home Wi-Fi network. You can also:
  • Change the default passwords as soon as you start using the device;
  • Set alerts to be notified if a new user or device connects to your network;

The period of isolation at home opened our eyes to new ways of using technology, dealing with basic tasks and connecting with the outside world. Working from home will continue to be a popular option, at least in a few days, as countries reopen their economies. This is a good time to take a closer look at your tools and practices, ensuring that your children don’t put everyone at risk.

***

Luis Corrons, biweekly columnist of TecMundo, is Avast Security Evangelist. Always attentive to the latest news on cybersecurity, malware and darknet, Luis is a veteran of the security industry and an industry speaker. He is also a reporter for WildList, a member of the Board of Directors of AMTSO (Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization) and a member of the Board of Directors of MUTE (Malicious URLs Tracking and Exchange).

So far, the new normal for many of us means working remotely. Our homes have become offices, schools and even summer camps, making the Internet more widely used than ever.

This increases the perimeter of attack threats in several directions. Now is the time to improve online home security practices and ensure that cybercriminals do not compromise our activities. Next, check out some common scenarios in the home office, including the fact that children may be endangering devices.

This laptop is not a toy

With children at home, parents need to work their way between work and possible “vacant” schedules whenever they can. It would be ideal to perform important tasks behind closed doors in the home office, but this is not always an option. Your laptop is probably being carried around the house, so you can send emails from the kitchen or check information about your projects in the living room.

But what happens when you leave the room for five minutes and your 8-year-old opens the device, logs in and accesses the laptop? This is a vulnerability, which can happen. Perhaps the child is curious to know what is on the laptop screen and starts to click on other tabs of a project. Perhaps, the child shares something internally, which should not be shared. So, this can be a good time to:

Update cyber security fundamentals, such as automatic screen lock;

Establish ground rules for all technologies at home;

Have separate profiles on each device, for each family member.

Beware of downloads

Let’s admit it: computer games are very welcome these days. Children are agitated and miss the activities they used to have before the pandemic and time with friends. Sometimes it is important to give them access to a new game to distract them while you work or do other household chores.

But be careful. A common scam is the insertion of malware in programs that can be downloaded and promoted, such as games. As a result, malware can enter the family computer, making it difficult to remove. So don’t forget to:

Implement controls on the network, to ensure that software is downloaded only with permission;

Consider a strong antivirus solution that works across multiple platforms. The Avast Antivirus portfolio includes freeware and paid versions, which protect against phishings, firewall breaches, spam and virus intrusions.

Beware of fake social media apps

As we spend more time at home, we turn to social media apps to connect with the outside world. Adults have used Zoom and other videoconferencing apps to chat with friends and family. Children participate in some calls with the family, but the social network is much wider. There are several types of online chat channels available for children, from video games to other platforms.

Be careful with the social media apps that children use and the permissions granted to the apps. Cybercriminals are promoting fake social media apps, offering easy channels for connecting with friends. Thus, children can be attracted and cybercriminals can commercialize personal data: both yours and those of children. For this, it is recommended:

Regularly monitor all activities on mobile devices and implement parental controls from an app, such as Avast Family Space;

Use this opportunity to teach safe navigation practices and critical thinking;

Monitor signs of security theft, even from your 5-year-old son.

Protect your home Wi-Fi network

The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought many important innovations to the residential environment. From toys connected to the internet to automated refrigerators, which let you know when it’s time to replace an item. But IoT at home can also bring problems, especially in today’s times. Every new connection at home offers yet another way for cybercriminals to get past your security “wall”.

It is important to ensure that users are protected from these threats. At a minimum, do not use passwords like “12345” to connect the IoT to the home Wi-Fi network. You can also:

Change the default passwords as soon as you start using the device;

Set alerts to be notified if a new user or device connects to your network;

The period of isolation at home opened our eyes to new ways of using technology, dealing with basic tasks and connecting with the outside world. Working from home will continue to be a popular option, at least in a few days, as countries reopen their economies. This is a good time to take a closer look at your tools and practices, ensuring that your children don’t put everyone at risk.

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