Know what your kids are up to?

It’s funny (not really) how some parents have no idea what they’re kids are up to on the internet. Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram (selfies anyone?). Sure no problem. Some parents might walk by to double check that everything on the monitor looks legit (alt+tab) and some might even check their kids’ browser history just to make sure. Wow, no bad sites are showing up, that must mean my child’s doing all their homework. All smiles, right?

NO.

Incognito, Tor, VPN, Proxies… Woah. Who knows what else these kids are up to these days. I know that parents want to trust their children and believe that their little angel is using the internet for it’s intended purpose – access to an abundant amount of knowledge and information. Unfortunately, the internet can be a dark and scary place full of so many unknowns and risks that being an ignorant guardian will not cut it.

What are the risks?

  • Identity theft
  • Personal information leaked
  • Infected computers
  • De-sensitivity
  • Mental trauma
  • Distractions, distractions, distractions

My experience in the industry has led me to believe that there are too many people carelessly “sharing” information. Have you ever seen a friend setup a Facebook event requesting for “new numbers because they lost their phone”? Sometimes they forget to put their event on private *shakes head* and woop-dee-doo, their mobile number is now exposed as well as other numbers your friends may have posted. How about derm kids that unknowingly thrive on likes, hearts, retweets. I’ve seen too many instances where these same people are subjects of abuse and are prone to depression/anxiety because they seek to attain approval from anonymous “friends”. Hashtagging every #instagood possible word to reach all types of people around the world to accumulate the MOST LIKES POSSIBLE is what defines you in Generation “i“!

Some questions you should really consider before sharing anything online

  • How many people can see your Facebook profile picture, twitter posts, youtube videos?
  • What type of people can see these posts? Employers, Corporations, Paedophiles, Family, Workmates?
  • What can these people do with this information? Right click, save picture as, photoshop, post…
  • You probably think, who the heck would care anyway? Believe me, there are people out there that do care.

The information is no longer yours once it’s on the internet. As soon as it’s online, it’s there for the taking.

Do you really need a strong password?

HELL YES! Anyone that does not use strong passwords are pretty much leaving their keys outside their front door with a sign saying “no trespassers”.

To give you a real life scenario that I’ve encountered, I managed the IT infrastructure for a new customer. One employee decided to use a super, awesome password (password1) and his account was compromised. His user account was used to send thousands of spam emails originating from the organisation’s mail server. The organisation’s mail server was blacklisted and other companies (customers) would no longer accept email from this organisation. They were not able to invoice orders and lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of revenue because one users password was easily compromised.

Why do you need to use a strong password?

  • People post so much information about themselves online that interests, friends, parents, birthplace, email addresses are easily attainable if you search hard enough.
  • There are machines capable of cycling through 6.2 billion password combinations every second.
  • If you use the same password for multiple accounts, don’t! It might be easier to remember but if it’s compromised, consider these other accounts gone.

I can’t enforce this enough: always use strong passwords. Strong passwords should be comprised of a combination of numbers, letters (upper and lower case), symbols etc. You can get creative and use some common words but substitute letters for numbers or symbols. Here are examples of strong and weak passwords:

  • Strong: Th!5IS@$t0ngPW,S0!$thisOne%
  • Weak: password, password123, 123456, hello

Where possible, try use a random password generator such as this, this, or this.

Protect your information 🙂