With the lockdown imposed in most states, kids have literally been under house arrest to keep them safe from COVID-19. In this digital age, their obvious way to kill boredom is through using smartphones or computers or tablets – all connected to the internet. And with malware attacks growing at the time of the outbreak of COVID-19, it is important as a parent to oversee that a child is made aware of cybersecurity and how they can be vulnerable to online frauds.
Voice&Data approached two cybersecurity experts to share a few guidelines on the essentials of protecting kids while they surf online.
Nilesh Jain, Vice President, Southeast Asia and India, Trend Micro
- If children have their own computers or mobile devices, control their use through an administrative account and security software with password-protected parental controls.
- Establish time limits for children to use their computers, this includes both the times when they can use their personal devices and how along they can use them each day or week.
- Talk with your kids about what sites they can and can’t visit. Explain why you care and what consequences they could face if they don’t follow family rules, which you’ll enforce with parental controls.
- Know who’s connecting with your children via social media and what they’re doing on the site.
- Don’t download anything without getting parents’ permission.
- No matter what, it’s important to keep an open dialog about ongoing online use while still giving your children the space to express themselves safely online.
Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India & SAARC, Fortinet.
Fortinet’s shares a few best practices to incorporate into every child’s internet usage to ensure they are safe, secure and maintain their privacy online:
- Talk to your kids about your expectations for them online – Consider setting boundaries that may include rules about how long they are allowed to be on the computer, what sites they are allowed to visit, what software programs can be used, and what tasks or activities they are allowed to do based on age appropriateness, knowledge, and maturity.
- Teach them the importance of keeping information private – Posting personal information and photos on the Internet can be dangerous, as it can be leveraged by those who want to do harm. In addition, once information is posted, it can have haunting effects later, as it can be hard to remove once it’s in the public domain. Be sure to also check their privacy settings on social media sites to prevent strangers from accessing personal information. These settings may not always be set up properly by default. Ensure that your kids understand to:
- Never give their name, phone number, email address, password, address, school name, or picture without your permission.
- Don’t respond to malicious or hurtful posts.
- Don’t open emails or attachments from people they don’t know.
- Don’t get together with anyone they “meet” online.
- Let them know that if they see something, say something – You should also talk to children about the dangers of the Internet so that they recognize suspicious behaviour or activity. Let your kids know that if they see something on a website, in an email, or a chat room that doesn’t seem right or makes them uncomfortable, that they can come to you with their questions and concerns.
- Be aware of their computer activities – Know what your child is doing on the computer, including which websites they’re visiting. If they are using email, instant messaging, or chat rooms, make sure you have a sense of who they are communicating with and that your child actually knows the people they are talking to.
- Keep computers in a common area – If your computer is in a common area, you will be able to easily monitor computer activity. This can help prevent kids from doing things they shouldn’t do and it also gives you the opportunity to intervene if you notice a behavior that could have negative consequences.
- Leverage your Internet Service Provider (ISP) – Some ISPs offer services specifically designed to protect children online by restricting access to websites and communications features, such as email, chat, and instant messaging, by age, content, time, and other categories. Contact your ISP to see if any of these services are available.
- Consider implementing parental controls – You may be able to set some parental controls within your web browser. Some browsers enable you to restrict or allow only certain websites to be viewed on your computer, a process known as whitelisting, and you can protect these settings with a password. While no technology is fool-proof, there are also commercial software applications available that you can install to add an additional layer of protection by monitoring, filtering, and restricting access to dangerous content.