7 Essentials for Securing Your Family’s Internet Safety

Most professionals in the IT industry are counted on by their friends and family members to assist them with their technology challenges. And security is no exception.

People want to know if their social media accounts were hacked or if their personal information has been compromised. Children do not realize the daily threats not only from cyber bullies but also cyber predators. Internet-connected home electronics or The Internet of Things, as it is often referred to, doesn’t make this any easier—and it certainly isn’t going away.So, how do we secure our homes? Here is a simple, basic start.

1. Secure your devices

While securing all your devices might seem obvious, it requires multiple steps. The first step is most important: Register your devices with the manufacturer. When you first open a device (thermostat, wireless doorbell, Hello Barbie, etc.) there is typically a postcard with a web address for registration. Completing this online form not only helps you keep up-to-date on new features but also notifies you when there is a security update.

The manufacturer will usually email detailed instructions on how to update your device. Even if you aren’t tech savvy, you need to teach yourself how to update the devices you own to help us all have a safer internet.

2. Device management software

Have you set up free device management software for your devices? Consider using programs such as Find my iPhone, Lookout for Android or preyproject.com. These will help you find lost devices or reset the passcode if you or your child forgets it.

If you are concerned about cyber bullies, install apps such as mymobilewatchdog or Teensafe. These will help you monitor the threats against your children via text or social media.

3. Secure your wireless

Most internet service providers provide routers that offer a guest wireless network along with your primary network. Connect all your Internet of Things devices to your guest wireless instead of your primary wireless. The data on your laptops and printers will then be separated from your other devices. This will help isolate what can be attacked.

Make sure to use strong passwords on both your primary and guest networks. In addition, you can customize the DNS on your routers. Translation: Using a free service such as OpenDNS will filter all of the internet traffic before it comes into your house and block bad content. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know what DNS means or how to change it on your router. Visit YouTube and watch a few of the free videos on how to change the DNS on your devices.

4. Surviving a cyberattack

What if you are hacked? The best way to prevent identity theft is to login to each of the credit bureaus and lock your credit. This usually involves a one-time $10 fee to lock and then another $10 fee to temporarily unlock if you need to apply for a new loan, etc.

Visit each of the credit bureau websites (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion) to lock your credit.

5. Backing up your data

What about backups? For photos, take advantage of services like Amazon Prime. If you are already a member, they offer free unlimited photo storage. For non-photo data, there are many options, but none are free. Services such as SugarSync, CrashPlan and Carbonite are popular and cost around $60 per year. While that may seem expensive, what would you do if you lost all of your documents?

6. Password protection

This one is quick: Use a password vault. I prefer Dashlane. Make sure you set up two-step logins on all of the websites you use. This means that even if the bad guys phish your password, they still won’t be able to login because the website will send a text message each time you login with a unique code. For a list of websites that offer two-step and how to set them up, visit twofactorauth.org.

Vendors are getting better at automatically updating their software when the bad guys find vulnerabilities, but it’s still best to use free software such as Flexera Personal Software Inspector (flexerasoftware.com) to scan your entire computer for programs that need updating. And, while we all know that anti-virus software doesn’t solve all problems, it’s best to have something installed just to catch the annoying stuff. Many good free options such as BitDefender will do the trick.

7. Help your children understand the risks

Last and most important: No technology can replace having a good two-way relationship with your children. They may not immediately appreciate the healthy boundaries you place around them but without these, we will continue to see rising rates of cyber bullying, sexting, cyber stalking and cyber predation.