Internet has become a necessary tool for the family. Home computers or mobiles are often shared with every member of the family, including children and teenagers. Internet can connect you and your family to all types of resources, wherein you can read the latest news, look up for the required information, do online shopping, do online booking of household items, listen to music, play games, buy things, or e-mail friends. The possibilities for learning and exploring on the internet are endless. However, not all information and resources are safe and reliable.
How to make sure you and your family's experience on the internet is safe? Both online shopping and the downloading of software or files needs to be discussed with all members or supervised by adults to make sure your personal and financial information remains safe and secure.
The very nature of the internet helps to connect to people and resources but at the same time has some risk of people intruding into your system and also other types of threats, such as companies that track what you do on the internet. While there is no guarantee that you will be safe on internet, but there are many things you can do to protect yourself and your family members while using the internet. Though internet can be a helpful source of information and advice, but you and your family members can't trust everything you read. Anyone can put any information on the internet, and not all of it is reliable. Although some people and organizations take the necessary steps about the accuracy of the information what they post, but in parallel, some may give false information intentionally.
Important things to keep in mind while you and your family surf the web
- Online information is usually not private.
- People online are not always who they say they are.
- Anyone can put information online.
- You can't trust everything you read online.
- You and your family may unexpectedly and unintentionally find material on the web that is offensive, pornographic (including child pornography), obscene, violent, or racist.
So ISEA-Awareness Program always provides tips and suggestions for the whole family members. To stay safe online, please follow the below given steps before chatting, participating in social networks, shopping online, downloading files, games or other softwares.
Step 1 : Secure your home Wi-Fi network.
Your home with Wi-Fi connection allows your family to access the internet from all over your house, which makes it harder for you to control the internet activity and sharing information. If it's not secured properly, intruders might use your bandwidth, or compromise your internet security by infecting your devices with malware. Further they may use your devices or systems, as bots for sending the attacks from your systems to other's systems or infrastructure.
- Change the default admin password with a secured one.
- Make sure your Wi-Fi device is highly secured
- Make use of a strong password for accessing your router.
- Enable wireless encryption to prevent strangers from "seeing" your network and restrict access to it.
- Allow only specific devices to access your wireless network. Every device that is able to communicate with a network is assigned a unique Media Access Control (MAC) address, so use them.
- Use filtering options to avoid unnecessary websites with inappropriate content.
Step 2 : Make a common place to use computer for Children and Family
To use a family computer safely, one important thing to do is place it in a common room where all the family members gather. By doing so you can help and monitor them carefully so that they are always safe over internet. It also helps you to control the number of hours of usage of computer by your children and useful for the aged to continue learning with latest technologies through internet.
Step 3 : Set family rules for accessing internet
One way to help family members is to frame Do’s and Dont's for accessing internet. Set clear rules and standards for using computers and other electronic devices like smart phones, tablet, smart TVs etc..
- Instruct your children to ask for your permission before they access the internet.
- Set a particular time in a day and also time limit per day or per week to use computer and other electronic devices at home under your observations.
- Limit your child to social networking sites that you approve, if you decide to allow them to use these kinds of sites.
- Joining social networking sites that your child uses, so you can monitor what they share.
Remind Family Members that people met online may be strangers.
No matter how often you chat with online "friends," no matter how long you've been chatting, and no matter how well you think you know them, people you meet online are strangers.
It is easy to lie and pretend you are someone else when you are online. Children especially need to know that a new "friend" may really be a 40-year-old man rather than someone their own age. So please remind your family members that people met online may be strangers
Step 4 : Understand the need and set boundaries for online safety
Members of the family might use computer for different purposes. So, according to the needs agree upon some family rules to access computer and also set boundaries to remain safe online. Inform your family members to:
- access only those websites that are appropriate to visit,
- use chat rooms and forums which can be monitored,
- create usernames that never reveal true identity or that provocative,
- create strong, unique and easy to remember passwords for online account,
- never meet face to face with strangers who met online without informing the family,
- be careful of activities such as cyber stalking, bullying, etc., and strange behavior of computer and applications.
Follow Privacy Rules
Step 5 : Pledge among family members for appropriate online behavior
It is recommended that the members of the family make a pledge to use computer and internet safely as follows:
- I will not share or post any sensitive information like phone numbers, names of family members, etc., that reveals family members identity.
- I will not post inappropriate photos, videos or other things that may reveal our identity (for example: city or school names on shirts)
- I will not respond to e-mails and attachments from strangers.
- I will never meet in person with people I met online. In case if required I only meet along with my family members.
- If I find myself in an situation where I am uncomfortable, unsafe or abnormal behavior of any device, I promise to let my family members (my parent/guardian/teacher) know so that they can assist me.
- As your parent/guardian/teacher, I promise to make myself available to you when you ask for assistance and will help you resolve any problems that may arise in any way that I can.
- I commit to this pledge and help in my safety, my family safety and also to my country safety to enable cyber safe India.
Step 6 : Secure your computer by updating your operating system and software regularly.
Crackers, hackers, and identity thieves are looking to steal your personal information and your money. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself, and also from the latest threats by keeping your computer software up-to-date right from operating system to applications because attackers constantly develop new ways to attack your computer.
Operating System updates: Today's operating systems are more sophisticated and feature-rich than ever before, which makes them substantially more useful to the enterprise and also adds to security vulnerabilities. The first important step is to check if you have the latest security updates and patches available for your Windows, Linux, MAC and any other operating system, which you are using.
After you have installed your security updates for your operating system, make sure you have created a Restore Point for your installation. You can create the restore point as soon as your operating system installation is ready and name it clean installation and then you can continue installing drivers and applications. In case one of the drivers causes issues on the system, you can always go back to the clean installation restore point.
Software updates: It is not only important that your operating system is up-to date, but also the software you are using should be up-to-date. It is a well-known fact that hackers try to exploit popular software, such as Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Shock Wave, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Quick time or popular web browsers like Chrome, Mozilla, Firefox or Internet Explorer etc.. Therefore make sure you have the latest updates and security patches for your main programs and applications. Since these pieces of software are always under threat from criminal minds, don't just rely on your memory to manually update every program or application you have installed.
- Make sure you have security software that protects your computer against viruses, hackers, and spyware.
- The software should be updated frequently, as new threats are emerging daily. Ideally, security that updates automatically.
Step 7 : Install antivirus, desktop firewall solutions against malware and unauthorized access.
Install antivirus, desktop firewall solutions from a popular vendor as it is very important to have a reliable security solution on your computer system that should include real-time scanning, automatic update and also firewall functionality, which can control malware and unauthorized activity.
Assure that the security software you are using to protect your computer and your data is having minimum three components anti-virus, anti-spyware, and a firewall.
Use parental controls
Most of the vendor based tools provide parental control based tools. Use such tools and enable parental controls to filter and block inappropriate material and protect children from online attacks, exposing to risks, strangers, inappropriate content and other threats. These tools may not be sufficient to secure all threats, so you have to monitor and observe the member’s behavior while they are accessing internet.
Step 8 : Back up your system
Though you updated the operating system, system applications, installed additional security products for your system safety and follow the above steps, they just keep you safe from malicious software and online threats. But you may still encounter hardware issues that could endanger your private information. To make sure your data stays safe, you should be using a twofold strategy, which should include combining an external hard drive usage with an online backup service.
You need to emphasize the importance of having a back-up solution which provides stability so that you won't have any problems, allows you to synchronize your files with the online backup servers and provides some sort of security, such as encryption capabilities.
Step 10 : Use separate standard user accounts for family members
Modern operating systems grants a certain level of rights and privileges depending on what kind of user account you have. You may have a standard user account or an administrator user account.
It is recommended to use standard accounts for your family members to access computer to prevent users from making changes that affect everyone who uses the computer, such as deleting important files necessary for the system.
In case you want to install an application or make security changes, operating system will ask you to provide the credentials for an administrator or root account.
By using a standard account you make sure that a piece of malware which infects a limited-user account won't do much damage as the one infecting a root or an administrator account. It also helps you to monitor the activity of users and control the software access to family members.
Step 10 : Create strong and easy remembering passwords for your accounts.
Any hacker who wants to breach your online accounts to steal precious information or your identity can easily crack with a weak password of your's. A basic internet security rule is to create a strong, unique and easy to remember password for each online account and change it regularly: make it long (at least eight characters), mix letters, numbers and symbols, and opt for security questions (whenever the possibility is provided) to which only you know the answer. Teach your family members to do the same.
To create passwords that are strong unique and easy to remember
- Start by using at least 8 characters minimum
- Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols (all variety of keys in a key board including Capital and Small letters).
- Passwords should be changed periodically to reduce the likelihood of a particular password being compromised over time.
Techniques for easy and strong passwords :
- For easy to remember, Use a Passphrase: "I love my child who always invites me with her great smile" - Ilmcwaimwhgs" (key : all first letters of words in passphrase)
- Change small letters to Capital letters of even position letters - ILmCwAiMwHgS (key becoming stronger password)
- Now change wherever i=!, g=9, s=$, (personal keys you have to remembers for all your password) so that your password becomes more stronger than before. ?IlmCwA!MwH9$
- For making unique passwords, create as many as pass phrases and words for different passwords to different accounts. For example
- shopping - $h0pp!n9 (S =$, i=!, g=9, o=0)
- banking - bank!n99 (one more 9 is added as "banking" is with 7 letters)
- Social Network - $0c!alNetw0rK
- Windows -w!nD0W$9
- GNULinux - 9NuL!NuX
- Do not share your personal keys and type of passphrases to any body.
- Also remember that do not share your usernames with strangers because knowing your passwords without user IDs makes them helpless.
- Create your IDs which cannot reveal your identity, for example: your name is Mr Ch A S Murty, The user ID chasmurty always gives his identity. Instead of chasmurty, murch9 user ID may not reveal the same.
Step 11 : Secure your web browser before accessing internet
Internet browser is the main interface in computer between you and your access to internet so it is very important to secure web browser before accessing internet.
Even though, you secured your operating system and other applications except your browser, it may give open invitation to the attackers as the browsers help them to take your private information from your computer. To stay safe while accessing internet through browsers, make sure you follow and respect the following
- Always choose a latest or up-to-date version of browsers.
- In "browser settings", always consider the right settings for security.
- Always block pop-ups and allow only for trusted websites depending on the requirement or temporarily.
- Choose a private browsing session about a website, which you are not sure about.
Ensure safe browsing for everyone, even for grand parents!
Web browsing is probably the one thing everybody's good at in the online world. But remember that cyber crooks know and use this fact to their advantage. They can push up fake web addresses in your search results to make you visit their malicious websites and trick you into giving up personal details or downloading spyware and malware. This is why you need to install an effective safe browsing tool.
Step 12 : Be careful online and don't click suspicious links
To make sure that clicking on dangerous links won't affect you and your family, check as you hover the mouse over the link to see if you are directed to a legitimate location or not. If you were supposed to reach your favorite news website, such as "www.india.com", but the link indicates "2wffer21.net", then you should resist the urge of clicking the link.
Most of us use shortening services for their links, such as goo.gl or tinyurl. But in some cases an unknown link may send you to a malicious site that can install malware on the system.
Step 13 : Download and install software from trusted sources only.
Free games, music, movies etc. are available for download all over the Internet. They are also very tempting and may attract children and other family members. But some of them contain spyware and other types of malware that can compromise your whole family's internet security.
Make a list of trusted downloading sources and have your whole family stick to it. Also, read carefully the license agreement before installing a new piece of software and make sure your kids ask for your permission before they download or install something.
Look for https:// in the URLs of the websites you make online transactions from.
"S" in "https" stands for "secure" and should appear in every bank or online shop address. If any of your family member is a keen online shopper, advise them to always look for this internet security sign and shop from trusted sources. If they find a new cool online shop, have them research it. Also along with https, lock symbol, valid client certificate is also important to proceed further.