The Top Five Cyber Risks for Children

At A-LIGN we help organizations of all sizes avoid cyber risks, but they’re not the ones who are a target – so are children. We teach children to not accept rides from strangers, but it’s also important to be aware of the cyber risks facing them whenever they’re online.

Teaching your child about online safety can feel like a never-ending process, but beginning the conversation is the first step. Many parents wait for the conversation to be brought up naturally, but it is important to remember that children are exposed to cybersecurity risks from a very young age.

Technology is everywhere, including inside of your child’s classroom. Arming your child with cybersecurity knowledge can help them make common-sense decisions when they are approached with unique situations. The goal isn’t to scare them by discussing every scam, security breach and cybersecurity concern that exists, but to give them the knowledge necessary to make smart decisions on their own. Teaching your child about these five cyber risks will help you start a foundation of cyberliteracy and cybersecurity with them.

Risk 1: Sharing Personal Information

Sharing personal information online can make your child subject to identity theft, bullying or online predators. “Child identity fraud or theft will affect 25% of kids before turning 18,” according to Michael Bruemmer, Vice President of Consumer Protection for Experian.

What you can do: Ensure your child knows the risks of sharing their name, address, passwords or other confidential information online. If you allow your child to talk in online chatrooms, help them come up with usernames that are appropriate and impersonal. Additionally, make sure your child is aware that any information they choose to share on the internet has the potential to circulate forever. If you allow your child to join social media platforms, make sure their profiles are private so strangers cannot see the content that they post. Explain to your child how data breaches work and why it is important for personal information to stay private.

Risk 2: Online Purchases

There are a million ways you would like to spend your money and our guess is none of them involve your child getting into an online scam. Your child can be easily tempted to buy the latest videogame, app, movie, music or more – without realizing they’re spending real money or potentially falling for a scam and opening your family up to credit card or identity theft.

What you can do: If your child has access to your credit and debit cards, it is essential they ask for permission before making an online purchase. Parental controls can also ensure that your child is not buying apps without your permission. For instance, Apple allows parents to set up their child’s iPhone so parental permission is required when the child attempts to purchase an app. Have a serious conversation about the consequences you will enforce if your child chooses to spend money online without receiving prior approval. If your child is adamant about wanting to buy something safe online, consider allowing them to purchase a prepaid card and monitor what they purchase.

Risk 3: Phishing Emails

With someone’s first email address comes someone’s first phishing email. Phishing attacks are typically crafty messages used to obtain personal information or financial information from someone. While we tend to think of organizations as targets of phishing emails and data breaches, kids can be easy targets as well.

What you can do: Teach your child to be wary of any emails asking for something. If the email has misspellings, offers a free coupon or asks you to confirm personal information, it may be a phishing email. Advise your child not to click on suspicious email links and to delete any suspected phishing emails immediately. Go through your personal email junk folder with your child to show them examples of email scams or phishing emails. Make sure your child knows that email servers are good at catching these emails, but that they are certainly not foolproof.

Risk 4: Shared computers

Shared computers can mean shared resources and shared logins. Search engines, such as Google, can save your personal information and use it to fill out forms in the future (provided you are logged in). While this feature saves a lot of time, it can also mean that your personal information could be shared with a stranger if you forget to log out. Automatic logins on a shared computer also mean that someone could potentially post embarrassing things on your social media accounts.

What you can do: Make sure that your child is aware of the cyber risks of not logging out of a computer, whether it’s at school, the library or a friend’s house. Instill the habit in your children to log out of any computer that is always not in their possession. If your child has a mobile device like a phone or tablet, make sure that never leave it unattended and make sure it’s always locked when not in use.

Risk for Children 5: Cyberbullying

Patchin reported that about 37% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have been bullied online and 30% have had it happen more than once. While completely avoiding unkind audiences online may be impossible, ensuring that your child knows how to deal with online bullies is important.

What you can do: In most situations, ignoring the bully and telling a trusted guardian about the incident is the best option for a child to deal with an online bully. Make sure you are supportive and kind towards your child if they come to you for help with a cyberbullying issue; overreacting or assigning fault may discourage them from being honest with you in the future. It also is very important to make sure your child is not the bully. A good rule of thumb is to teach your child to never say anything online they wouldn’t say in person. Social media sites revolving around photos can be an easy place for kids to bully each other on. Ditchthelabel.org reported that 42% of the young people surveyed experienced bullying on Instagram. Consider following your child on any platform they have a personal profile on to help monitor comments.

Growing up Cybersecure

While the cyber risks for children exist, the rewards can be much greater. The things your children will be able to do with computers is endless, so do not shelter them from cyber risks but arm them with the knowledge to protect themselves. Staying vigilant, being aware of current threats, talking to your children and protecting your family with the latest defense tactics are important. At A-LIGN, we take cybersecurity seriously, which is why we offer a comprehensive suite of services for protecting your business.

Do you own a business that needs cybersecurity help? Contact A-LIGN at 1-888-702-5446 to speak with one of our cybersecurity and compliance professionals.