(WSPA) – No matter how safe you are online, there could be someone under your roof who puts your entire network at risk.
In this 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive, we looked into what every household needs to do to safeguard your connected family.
Parents, if the battle to keep kids off screens is lost, one fight families can’t afford to lose is the one against cyberattacks.
USC Upstate Vice Chancelor Adam Long is the university’s chief information officer, and his knowledge is put to the test by his two children, ages 11 and 13.
“My daughter woke up in the morning at 4 a.m., really early in the morning, she couldn’t go back to sleep, and she started using her computer and we didn’t know it, and that was an ah-ha moment for us,” said Long.
That’s when Long sought out a program that would track usage on devices like Microsoft 365 Family.
“For the kids, we can say how long they are allowed to use the computer, it tracks their usage,” said Long.
Unmonitored video games, especially ones that interact with other players, can also put a family network at risk.
“When I saw him downloading modifications, I had to work with him to say let me see the website, I need to vet the website. I need to make sure you’re safe and not putting the network at risk,” said Long.
There’s a solution for that one, too; software like Microsoft Xbox Family.
“You don’t have to be an IT expert to use these controls,” said Long.
But if you don’t use these tools, you could increase the chances of a compromise.
The most recent FBI report on cybercrime shows of the top five most pervasive types, phishing remains the most prevalent with just a click of the link that gains access to private accounts.
WHO IS FALLING VICTIM
But what has changed, said Rick Floyd with Internet Safety at Greenville County Schools, is the growing number of young adults now falling victim.
“It used to be older people clicking on unknown sites and being a victim, now the biggest victims, largest number of victims are 18-24,” said Floyd.
Floyd said social media scams that sell alluring products to get you to click or attract users with promises of influencer fame are fooling an age group that isn’t used to verifying legitimacy.
Hari Ravichandran has pulled from his own experiences as both a victim and Founder and CEO of the Digital Security company Aura to write a book on keeping connected families safe called “Intelligent Safety.”
It covers everything from “the secret lives and risks of connected teens” to “scammers versus your aging parents.”
“The cost of digital crime outpaces the cost of home burglaries,” said Ravichandran. “So even though we are thinking a lot about physical safety and physical theft, there is a lot more loss that happens online than somebody coming to take your goods.”
The FBI cites a spike in cyber crime losses over the last 5 years with $10.3 billion for 2022 alone.
To safeguard your accounts:
- don’t reuse passwords across platforms
- set up automatic downloads of software updates
- and use multi-factor (two-factor) authentication
And to protect your youngest family members, consider freezing their credit. More than a million children fall victim to identity theft each year. You can do that by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
You can also consider a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which runs in the background to encrypt what you and your family members are doing online from banking to shopping.
Long is quick to point out, it’s not just family members who can make networks vulnerable.
“Sometimes we have friends come over from the neighborhood and they want to join our Wi-Fi, and one time my son allowed that not knowing what that could mean, so I immediately had to address that, and we had to change the Wi-Fi in our home,” said Long.
Malware on one device can infiltrate the whole network. So set up a guest network so your connection is not compromised.