Cyber attacks are growing more and more common, and ordinary American families are in the crosshairs. Cybercriminals pose a threat to everyone in the family – even your children. Hackers are writing malicious code to break into your family’s devices or steal your child’s personal information from his or her school records. Hackers can even take over smart devices on your home network – as one did when he terrorized a little girl using the family’s own home security camera.
You have to keep your family safe. Mostly, doing so is a matter of implementing commonsense protections when it comes to your data, your network, and your devices. Teach your children to do the same. Check everyone’s credit reports regularly, and back up your data, just in case.
Protect Your Kids’ Identities
You wouldn’t think that young children would have anything worth stealing – but you’d be very, very wrong because they do have something very valuable to steal: their identity.
Kids are increasingly being targeted by identity thieves because they tend to have blissfully empty credit histories that they won’t be checking up on for years and years. A criminal that steals your child’s identity when he or she is a baby could potentially have up to 18 years or more of living high on the hog off your child’s social security number. The subterfuge won’t be discovered until your kid is old enough to apply for college loans or a first credit card.
Often, hackers get their hands on kids’ personal information by breaking into school records, and many schools aren’t doing enough to stop it. It might be worth calling up your children’s schools and asking what they’re doing to protect your kids’ personal information. While you may make little headway with the school, a comprehensive home internet security software provides dark web monitoring for personal information, so you can be alerted if your or your children’s personal information appears on dark web marketplaces. Check your and your kids’ credit reports regularly, too.
Keep an Eye on Grandma and Grandpa, Too
At the very least, try to educate your older family members about phishing scams and social engineering so they don’t fall, victim. If you maintain an active interest in the lives of your elderly family members and don’t let them get isolated, you can keep them from falling for scams or at least mitigate the damage if they do. Be concerned if they suddenly have a new friend (especially if they’re giving this person money), if they seem isolated or difficult to get ahold of, or if a caregiver seems to have undue influence over them.
Segregate Your IoT Devices
Internet of Things (IoT) devices have a lot of security issues – and while it can be fun to connect all of your appliances to the internet and control them from a smart speaker or a smartphone, it might not be worth riddling your home network with backdoors that hackers can use to gain access. Once hackers gain access to your network, they can see everything you do on the internet, right down to which numbers you’re entering in when you buy something with a credit card. And IoT devices typically have very shoddy firmware that has little or no protection against malware, viruses, and hacking. They don’t receive security updates or, often, any updates at all.
If you must run your IoT menagerie, sequester it on a guest network away from your smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices that contain your financial information and other valuable data. That way, if hackers get in, they still won’t be able to get to the good stuff.
No one expects to be a victim of cybercrime, but it’s worthwhile to plan for that eventually anyway. Chances are good that you or someone in your family will be victimized at some point. Taking a few precautionary steps now could prevent years of hassle down the road.