Follow these simple house rules to keep your family safe:
Set strong and unique passwords on all your home devices and online accounts.
Remember, when you first buy a new device, change the factory-set password on it straight away, including any networked devices (router/modem) that also have a factory-set password.
Tip – Turn on a second step of protection with two-factor authentication wherever you can.
Secure your devices and online accounts.
Turn on automatic software updates to ensure your devices are covered by the latest security protection.
Install antivirus software where possible and backup devices to protect important information, photos and data.
Always download apps from an official app store such as Apple’s App Store or Google Play for Android. Turn on automatic app updates for the latest security protection.
Tip – Consider disconnecting devices from the internet if you’re not using the ‘smart’ features or if they don’t have security options, like the ability to set a password.
Search and socialise safely.
Choose what information you want to share. In settings do a privacy check on your devices, browsers, social media and other apps.
Think about the information you share online like birthdays, age, address, or school. It can be used to crack passwords or steal your identity.
Never click on suspicious or unknown links in emails, SMS or social media messages.
Tip – You can use a nickname and an alternative profile pic to help protect your identity when online gaming or on social media.
1. I often click ‘remind me later’ when I get software update notifications. What’s the risk of putting off software and operating system updates?
Updates include security improvements to fix bugs on your computers, mobiles and even app. Installing software updates will give you the latest security. You can even set them to happen automatically.
2. I use my pet’s name as my password. Why isn’t this secure?
If any of your social feeds mention your dog’s name, chances are your dog’s name is common knowledge. Cybercriminals collect information you reveal about yourself online and use this to try and crack your passwords or answers to security questions. It’s best not to use common passwords like your family members’ names, date of birth or any other easy-to-guess personal details. A strong password is a 14-character passphrase. For added security, turn on a second layer of security with two factor authentication whenever possible.
Check your email addresses at haveibeenpwned.com to see if your accounts have been caught in a data breach. If so, change your passwords straight away.
3. My Wi-Fi router/modem and devices came with default (factory-set) passwords. Why do I need to change them?
Most new devices, like Wi-Fi modem/routers, come with a default or factory-set password. These default passwords are usually available on manufacturers’ websites or in blogs. So if you don’t change the password, they’re only a Google search away for cybercriminals!
4. How can I protect my kids when they’re browsing and downloading online?
Malicious software and viruses can easily download onto your device if you click on untrustworthy links or visit fake websites. Protect your family by installing and automating antivirus and browser software updates, so you’re always running on the latest versions. Talk to your children about not clicking on suspicious websites or links. And make sure your kids are only downloading mobile apps from an official app store.
5. How can I protect my family’s privacy online?
Always read policies for websites and apps on how your information will be used. If you’re not comfortable with the type of information being asked of you, consider if you really want to sign up. You should also review privacy and security settings to decide what personal information you want to share.
Generally, the less personal information you and your family share online, the better. Encourage your kids to use a different name and pic to their own when signing up for online social media or gaming accounts. Teach kids about what they’re potentially giving away online. And lastly, think twice about what you share about your family members; always consider who else is seeing this information.
6. How safe are ‘smart’ toys and devices?
Anything that can be connected to the internet is an attractive target for cybercriminals, including your smart fridge or teddy! If one device is compromised, then a hacker could gain access to your other devices and accounts. Protect your smart devices with strong and unique passwords, and software updates. Check the privacy settings to make sure you’re comfortable with the information that is being collected and how it’s being used. If smart devices don’t have security features or options, like the ability to set a password, or if you’re not using ‘smart’ features, it’s safer to disconnect them from the internet.
7. How can I know and control what my children are doing online?
Parental controls are software tools that allow you to monitor and limit what your child sees and does online. As your child grows older, however, it’s best to equip them with the skills and knowledge to protect themselves online, like warning signs for inappropriate content or malicious websites.
8. Why should I backup my family’s computers and devices?
Backups help you avoid losing your precious family photos, videos, personal and financial information, and even your kids’ school assignments! Data loss can happen from computer malfunctions, accidental deletion and ransomware attacks. If you’ve got a recent backup (either stored in the cloud or an external drive that you disconnect from your computer), you can easily restore your data. You can set up automatic backup for added peace of mind.
9. How do I protect my family when connecting online outside of the home?
You can use your settings to disable location sharing on mobile devices. Be careful when sharing your location online or geosharing. While location sharing may appeal to many users, it allows social media followers (or anyone, if profiles are public) to see exactly where they are. This can present physical and online risks. Similarly, it’s best to turn off Bluetooth on your device when you’re not using it.
Also, be smart about using public Wi-Fi. Avoid sending or receiving sensitive information when connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots. The information being sent between your device and the public Wi-Fi network can be intercepted by cybercriminals.
10. Where do I go for help if my family or I have been a victim of an online scam or cybercrime?
If you think you’ve been the victim of an online nasty, act quickly.