Gather the family: It’s time to chat about cybersecurity.
Today’s cyber risks are all too common and unfortunately, constantly morphing. From attacks and extortion to bullying and more, your family and property are likely at risk if you are on the internet. Last year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received a total of 301,580 complaints with reported losses exceeding $1.4 Billion. The biggest group of victims was people over 60 (49,523 of them lost $342 million), but more than 9,000 cybercrimes were reported with victims under the age of 20. So whether it’s your parents or your teenager, it takes the whole family to keep cybercriminals away.
But in case the gang is coming over for Sunday dinner, and you want to have this discussion sooner rather than later, these are the key areas to cover over the cornbread.
Beware of (false) requests
- One of the fastest growing cybercrimes is called “social engineering” where crooks convince you to send them money by pretending to be someone you know. Often, they break into your email system to gather tidbits of personal information to make their appeals seem believable.
- Create a universally understood protocol before anyone in the family approves a money transfer, and make sure it involves face-to-face or voice verification. Don’t rely on email. Criminals can program automated responses from a hacked email account that seem realistic.
- Use unique passwords for each of your banks, investment companies and/or any account that could lead to a substantial loss. Similarly, consider using a separate email account just for communicating with your bank.
- Avoid conducting financial transactions on public Wi-Fi networks—while it’s getting harder to hack into data moving over Wi-Fi, it’s not impossible. Banking on your phone connected to cellular data is somewhat more secure.
- If anyone in your family is into Bitcoin or other crypto-currencies, they need to take extra security precautions. These systems turn money into unique code numbers and if they are stolen or lost, you can’t get them back. These losses are shockingly common.
Use new ways to protect your passwords
- Lots of money is stolen by crooks who fool people into revealing their passwords. Remind family members to watch out for phishing emails from a “bank” or other site requesting information. Even better, make sure to enable the service that require you to log in both with your password and a code sent to your cell phone.
- Make your passwords really long. Never mind the old advice to make funny looking pA$$w0rdz with symbols and numbers. Many crooks use computers to guess all the possible passwords until one works. Foil this scheme by using a phrase of five or six words that you can remember. Normal spelling is fine.
- Use software that assigns a different password to each site you use, such as 1Password and Dashlane. That way if someone steals one password, they can’t get into any of your other accounts.
Talk to your kids about their social interactions (and listen too)
- Watch for secret “ghost” apps that hide photos or videos in a calculator or enable private messaging.
- Listen carefully to your kids who are likely ahead of the trends! They may hear about other kinds of scams and technology problems that the whole family should be aware of.