It might still feel like summer, but school season is right around the corner. Young people are easy targets for both digital and physical theft, so it’s important to ensure your data and devices are secure at school and at home.
Protecting Devices at School
Whether you or your child is using a desktop, laptop or smartphone at home or in public, the top two security concerns are physical theft and information theft. Here are a few things you can do to minimize the odds of both types of theft and mitigate the damage if either does occur.
Lost and found
It’s a fact of life that kids lose things. Kids who are not old enough to be expected to take reasonable care of devices are not old enough to be using them unattended. Kids who are old enough should be taught never to leave devices unlocked and unattended. To help with this, you can provide your child with a carrying device that doesn’t advertise what’s inside; laptop sleeves or computer-vendor branded carriers let people know exactly what they’re carrying. These days, many backpacks and messenger bags are designed to cradle devices stealthily in a separate padded section.
If and when a child does lose a phone or laptop, if you’ve installed an antitheft app, it can help you track down the device, or remotely wipe it so that the contacts and data don’t fall into someone else’s hands. And most devices now offer the option to automatically backup contacts and media files, which can make replacing the lost device a reasonably painless process.
Simplify password hygiene
Lots of websites and applications use passwords to protect access to private information. Rather than trying to explain good password complexity to kids, there are a few easier types of authentication options you can start them off with instead. One possibility is installing a password manager. These apps will create strong and unique passwords for them, which can be regularly updated. A side benefit of having an app create passwords is that having a password which they never have to remember or manually enter can help protect them from phishing attacks.
For their master password on the password manager, suggest that they use a passphrase rather than a password. The concept of a passphrase is easy to explain and remember, while being harder for a potential attacker to crack: A passphrase is a series of words, even as long as a sentence.
A second option for easier authentication is to choose devices that can use fingerprint scanners, so kids can easily lock and unlock their devices.
Avoid sketchy apps
To protect your child from installing malware and data-leaking apps, you can set their machine to install only apps that are from reputable app stores, or you can set it to require your permission before installing any apps. It’s also important to scan those apps with an anti-malware product before installing.
Securing your child’s data at home
It’s not just when we’re out and about that data can get lost, so it’s important to protect your child’s data at home as well.
- If you keep records which contain your child’s social security number on your machines, it is important to encrypt those files as you would your own sensitive data.
- When children’s identities are stolen, it can often go undetected for years. You can periodically check your child’s credit history as you would your own, to detect any unexpected activity.
- Use a firewall and anti-malware suite to help protect your home machine from unwanted intruders who would try to steal your child’s data, as well as yours.
We may feel that the information of kids is of lesser value than that of adults, because kids may not yet have juicy financial data like credit card numbers or banking credentials. Ultimately, your age doesn’t matter – your data and identity are valuable to cybercriminals, and correcting the problems caused by loss and theft is a huge pain. Protecting your family’s data now will help you avoid those headaches down the road. There are many back to school tech offerings from devices to software, like this one from ESET to help protect your kids’ devices. Plus, for how-to tips, videos and infographics visit www.enjoysaferinternet.com.