Hackers and malware: How to protect your kids

At Yomojo we recently supported Privacy Awareness Week 2019, helping families across Australia stay safe online. After all, what speaks more volumes of safety than privacy, along with protection against hackers?

This year’s theme was ‘Don’t be in the dark’ – We’re here to tell you the basics of online intrusions and how to know if something is fishy or not. That’s right: viruses, malware, hackers, you name it! All in the spirit of keeping your families private online.

The words ‘malware’ and ‘hacker’ can bring fear to any family in the digital age. Our entire lives are stored on our phones and computers, and with that digital reliance comes the risk of hackers and online invasions. Most of us have accidentally stumbled onto a dodgy website – and the truth is, our kids probably have, too. We’ve discussed a few of the more dangerous online hangouts, so now it’s time to look at the threats to our desktop’s privacy.

Even though our kids are being raised with technology, there are still a surprising amount of people who don’t know how to properly protect themselves against viruses or hackers. With three year-olds today being able to use tablets and iPads for their own entertainment, making sure an accidental tap doesn’t cost you your bank account details is essential.

It’s important to teach kids what to do when they encounter a sketchy website and how to act. Australians especially tend to fall victim to online scammers, with our population losing half a billion dollars to them in 2018.

How can you empower your children if you’re not sure what to do yourself? Here’s a look at the common online dangers and some of the ways to take action.


📧 Phishing Scams

Email hacks are something you’re probably aware of, and if your older kids have email accounts, they’ll know too. Everyone’s received an email from a random sender before. You know, telling you a long lost relative from overseas has died, leaving their will to you? Or a company claiming you’ve won a large sum of money? Yep, unfortunately that wasn’t true.

These are called phishing scams, where hackers infiltrate under the guise of a legitimate company such as Apple, Microsoft or Telstra. They often require you to press a link where you’ll be directed to fill out your personal details, such as bank account, name and address. What’s more, they don’t always have to be sent out by email – they can be sent via text, social media or even via phone calls.

An example of a phishing email. Note the grammatical errors, sense of urgency and sender address. (Source)

Never click on the links in these emails!! These emails are always a scam and giving them your details can lead to identity theft. The messages usually say the company needs to verify the details on your account – and although the emails might look genuine, they’re probably not.

Teaching your kids to know what to do is super important. Some of the warning signs of these emails include:

  • Grammatical/spelling errors
  • Does not address you by your proper name
  • The email address is different/unusual from regular company emails
  • It asks you to verify/update your personal details

 

🖱️ Malware and Ransomware

A common way to install a virus on your computer is to download fake software. Downloading a program or game from the wrong website and installing it on your computer is a surefire way to infect your desktop. Informing teens and children who use and share computers for their schoolwork and entertainment is key to prevent this from happening. When unauthorised software is installed, hackers can get access to your computer remotely. This gives them the ability to do what they want with your files and monitor your computer activity. This is called Malware.

(Source)

Sometimes downloading a false program can have different consequence, like suddenly locking your computer down and demanding you to make a payment to access your files again. This is called ransomware.

These can both be spread through email and social media messages. Teaching your kids to block messages from people they aren’t sure of or telling them to show you before pressing any links or responding is a good strategy to maintain. Also ensure you’re only downloading programs from the official website offering the software, as other websites might not always lead to downloading the actual program or computer game.

And of course, make sure you or your kids never click on any pop up ads offering anything. Think of it like this ➡️ If it pops up out of nowhere, it’s probably bad.

These are the common types of computer infections, but there are still dozens more. If you want to see some of the more niche online dangers, check out ScamWatch for a full list complete with warnings and tips on what to do if you’ve been attacked.


👣 Taking the right steps

Open the conversation

As we like to say at Yomojo, opening up the conversation with your children is an essential aspect of both parenting and online safety. Teach your kids about the risks that come with social media and being online. A little advice can go a long way, especially for children who are going to be using computers and technology well into their futures. Knowing how to act in the right situation can be informative and help keep your accounts safe at the same time.

Install antivirus software

This is a must for anyone who wants to avoid accidentally downloading a virus. There are a number of Antivirus programs available for both Mac and PC, which are able to scan the computer for viruses and delete infectious files before they can attack your computer.

There’s a variety of decent free programs available – for both PC and Mac, there’s AVG Antivirus and Malwarebytes. And of course, there are dozens of paid options too. Some of these include Norton, Kaspersky and Avast. Many of these antivirus apps are also available for iOS and Android devices too – just search for them on the App Store or Google Play!

Setting time limits

Setting time limits on the computer or iPad can help assist with maintaining children’s mobile usage while keeping them away from threatening online links. The less time they spend online, the less likely they might be to download a dodgy app. Some examples of boundaries might be ‘No using the iPad after 6:00pm’ or ‘No Nintendo Switch on weekdays’.

Think before clicking a link

Simply taking a moment to consider before clicking on a text from a random number or before downloading an email attachment can save you a lot of stress and time. Consider if the sender is someone you know and hover over the link if using a computer to see where the website is taking you.

Stronger Passwords

Having stronger passwords is incredibly important, especially today since our whole lives are stored online through our accounts. While using Password123 for your emails is easy to remember, it’s also easy for hackers to guess. Why use a password so general when it makes you so easy to compromise?

Try making your password as diverse as possible. Use a range of lower case and upper case letters, as well as numbers and symbols like @ ! or $ for the best protection.

Parental Control

Ensure your children aren’t visiting any malicious websites, a little parental control can go a long way. With our Parental Control app, FamilyEye, you can monitor internet activity and app downloads, as well as restricting access to inappropriate websites. You can try it for free here!

Yomojo is always hoping to help, so we hope you learned something useful today.

Happy browsing, and stay safe! 🌐

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