Kids can be more vulnerable online and as a parent you’d want to protect them. Let’s discuss some internet threats and what you can do about them.
The internet is a beautiful thing that provides us with virtually anything we could imagine; the entire knowledge of the world is within our reach and whatever you’re looking for can be usually found in just a few clicks. Unfortunately, this applies to harmful stuff as well and you can accidentally get yourself in trouble if you’re reckless. If you’re not a tech-savvy user, you may not even be aware of what’s safe and what’s not – there are numerous traps you need to learn to avoid, and that’s equally true for your children.
As a parent, you should take a responsible approach and provide your kids with sufficient security tools to make sure they’re safe online. We’ll be exploring the possibilities in just a moment, but let’s take a closer look at some of the common online threats first.
Common Internet Threats
The internet can be a treacherous place – one wrong click and the system, be it a PC or a smartphone, is flooded with malicious software without you even knowing. Hackers are working constantly to improve their methods, so if you’re not up to date with the latest IT trends, you may become their victim.
The most common threat when using the internet is all the viruses and malware programs that can cause all kinds of issues, from relatively harmless, such as changing the default home page in your internet browser, to more troublesome and destructive, such as the ones that lock the PC until you pay a ransom or the ones that leak sensitive data, allowing criminals to steal your money or even your identity.
Some may work silently in the background, using your PC to secretly mine cryptocurrencies for the hacker, or connect your PC to a botnet that can be later used at some point by the hacker to launch a massive, synchronous DDOS attack on a target server from all botnet devices.
It’s easy to get your system infected if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Downloading and opening files from unknown sources can infect your system. Opening attachments in suspicious emails can also lead to infection. Visiting suspicious websites or even clicking on certain ad banners – all of this can be harmful.
Another great threat is all kinds of attacks that involve social engineering. Hackers may try to disguise themselves as someone else in order to get to you. They may be claiming to be an employee from your bank, for example, informing you about some sort of critical security alert.
They’d be willing to help you solve the issue, but in reality, they’ll be trying to steal your banking data, such as login and password; never tell anyone your passwords. If someone provides you with a link to a website, triple-check it’s the correct one – it’s surprisingly easy to get tricked into visiting a fake website.
Antivirus Software for Basic Online Protection
Although the best protection is always the user who avoids taking unnecessary risks, accidents can happen; one moment of forgetfulness is all the hacker needs to get the better of you. Moreover, you may be thinking you’re well aware of the internet dangers, but can you, with full confidence, say the same about your children?
In both cases, it’s best to have some sort of antivirus that will serve as an extra layer of defense against threats you – or your children – might have missed. Modern operating systems are pretty good at handling most typical viruses on their own, but when dealing with more sophisticated malicious code, you may need some additional protection.
As such, a good piece of antivirus software can greatly improve children online safety by performing extra checks on downloaded files, visited websites, and clicked links to prevent harmful code from damaging the system or causing other kinds of problems.
Malware Scanners – Find Threats Hiding on the Computer
Sometimes even with an antivirus a piece of harmful code can find its way through system defenses. For example, if the virus is a freshly released one and it hasn’t been added to the database of your antivirus software yet, it may be difficult to detect, unless it follows a well-known pattern used by other, similar viruses.
To catch threats that manage to avoid detection, it’s recommended to occasionally run an extra system scan with the use of a more specialized, dedicated anti-malware software designed specifically to deal with files that are good at playing the game of hide and seek.
Online Virus Scanners – Scan Unknown Files Before Opening
It would be smart to teach your children to use online virus scanners to analyze a suspicious file before opening it. Make it a habit and it will greatly increase system security. No matter how good your antivirus is, if it’s not updated yet with the latest virus definitions, it may allow some novel viruses to get through.
However, there is a chance that another antivirus company already updated their database. Online services such as virustotal.com can help you scan the file by using dozens of popular antivirus engines at the same time, allowing you to determine how harmful the file really is, even if your own antivirus claims it’s safe.
Organize Account Passwords with Reliable Password Managers
It’s common for websites to lock certain content and features until you sign up and log in to your personal account. When creating passwords for new accounts, you should not only make difficult and long ones, but you should also avoid using the same password across multiple services. Otherwise, if there’s a data breach on one website, your login information could be used to access your other accounts.
It may be difficult to keep track of all the different passwords, though. That’s where password managers come in. Password managers can safely store your passwords and create complex ones automatically whenever you want to register a new account somewhere, ensuring all your passwords are difficult and unique. It’s a solid protection measure and an inherent part of internet safety software for middle school students.
Use VPN for Increased Privacy
When surfing the internet, it would be smart to use a reliable VPN in order to protect your privacy. VPN will hide your online identity and encrypt your connection, which can be especially useful when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Even a school network can be unsafe; all it takes is one malicious individual connected to the network, as he may be eavesdropping on all other connected devices and intercepting all traffic that goes through the network.
It would be best to not allow the child to use public networks at all, but if it’s necessary, a good VPN will be an irreplaceable piece of student software.
Adblockers – Block Harmful Ads while Surfing Online
Ads are everywhere and it’s increasingly annoying to surf the internet, but there’s another, more harmful side of ads you may not be aware of: they can lead to scam sites, inappropriate content, or, even worse, contain malware.
For this reason, using a good adblocker is a necessity these days, as it not only makes browsing the internet more comfortable but also more secure.
Adblockers such as the uBlock Origin extension for internet browsers can take the browsing experience to another level, completely removing all the ads and the risks that come with them.
The internet is full of traps and malicious intent, but there is a multitude of ways and precautionary measures you can take to make yourself – and your children – more secure online. Don’t let the hackers catch you or your kids off-guard; choose the best safety software and protect your data and privacy.