Cybersecurity tips for the household CIO

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    ALMOST everyone is working or studying from home. This now normal activity has opened new territory for hackers and online hoodwinks to attack.

    The situation has also created a new role—that of the household chief information officer. Adapting to the new technology platforms and navigating school in a virtual environment is overwhelming. Aside from managing work, or studying from home, the household CIO must be cognizant to spot and thwart cybercriminals.

    But, according to Unit 42, the global threat intelligence team at Palo Alto Networks, cybersecurity doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult at all.

    “As students enter this school year in a new virtual learning environment, it may seem like there’s a lot to remember when keeping kids secure online. While this information may be new for some parents or a helpful reminder for others, taking these few simple precautions can help keep your whole family protected,” Jen Miller-Osborn, Deputy Director of Threat Intelligence for Unit 42 at Palo Alto Networks said.

    Osborn shared a few simple and helpful best practices that the household CIO can look into. By following these, they can help protect the home network from cybercrime and also preserve online privacy.

    For students, parents should understand what their children are doing online. If using a personal device, setting up parental controls on your child’s device is a must. Get permission before downloading anything or making purchases is necessary to avoid malware or predators. Most games have the option to block in-game chats this is highly recommended for open platform games where kids and adults are a mixed audience.

    It is crucial to know and understand a child’s social media account. Knowing their contacts and what conversations they’re having are not beyond a parent’s domain. Thus, it is important that parents talk to their children about the openness of the Internet, the ability for anyone to post anything online, as well as how to recognize misinformation. This can be taught to even a young child.

    Equally important (and challenging) is keeping an eye on kids are doing online. Position your child’s screen to monitor their activity. If possible, use a virtual background (or an actual curtain or cover) when on camera for distance learning. It can help protect privacy and keep the focus on learning.

    For older children and work from home applications, be aware of suspicious behavior with video conferencing applications. The rule “stranger danger” applies to the virtual world as it does in the physical. Setting of boundaries about what your child can post online, such as no pictures of faces, no easily identifiable locations and no personal information.

    Talk to your kids about the dangers of clicking links with too-good-to-be-true offers. Children should ask a parent before clicking. Also instruct leaving a meeting if there’s suspicious behavior that wouldn’t be acceptable in real life, such as unknown and unannounced participants joining is a must.

    Using strong passwords is encouraged. And just like different keys open different doors, you should use different passwords for different personal devices and accounts that require you to choose your own passwords. A password manager is like the key chain, an app that keeps passwords together and easy to use. Parents should have access to their child’s passwords/manager.

    Applicable to both study at home and work at home environments is the changing of the device setting to turn off metadata on camera apps. This helps ensure strangers can’t get this location or equipment-based information.  Also, by keeping systems current–with the latest security updates—will keep your home network safe.

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