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Category: Internet Filtering & Security

Important Safety Tips while Using Public WiFi

Safety Tips while using Public WiFi

You do not have very go far these days to access free public Wi-Fi. It is available in airports, libraries, cafes, hotels and government buildings. This is helpful but it is important for both adults and kids to make sure they do not trade safety and security for convenience. Just because the public building you are in is reputable, does not mean the Wi-Fi connection is secure.

When using your smart phone or computer in a public hotspot, you need to be careful to ensure the Wi-Fi network is encrypted. Otherwise, it opens you up to the risk of having your online accounts hacked. This could result in cyber thieves stealing your personal information.

Here are two basic safety tips to keep in mind to protect your information.  And then we will explore additional ways to stay safe while online in public.

1.  Check to see if the Public Wi-Fi Network is Secure.

As mentioned, we are not worried about the people who control the Wi-Fi network.  The risk is when others around us are in the business of hacking into the personal accounts using the network.  It could be the person sitting across from you in a coffee shop, or just outside on the street. 

If the public Wi-Fi network does not ask you to enter in a WPA or WPA2 password, the network is not secure. As you are probably thinking, this is most places.  The most common public Wi-Fi networks that require a password are internet providers with home you have an account.

2.  Make sure any website you are on has https at the beginning of URL.  

An example of this is https://youraccount.com or https://yourbank.com.  Secure websites will encrypt your information as you use the site.  Unsecured sites do not have the “s” in them, such as http:// (your information is not encrypted and kept safe if you don’t see the “s”)

Unsecured websites will also show a padlock that is unlocked.  Here is an example of what a secured website looks like.  Notice how with website URL with https also has a closed lock.

secure encrypted website

Clicking the lock will reveal more information about the secure site.  Now you can be sure you are on a secured website.

On a mobile website, it will look like this.

secure encrypted mobile website

If you are using a site that is not secure and locked, you open yourself up to hackers that can access your personal accounts and steal your data.  This could mean your name, address, phone number, address book and photos.

Hackers need see you on a public WiFi to be able to monitor our activity, so one sure fire way to to prevent this (regardless of being on an unsecured network) is to encrypt your data by using a trusted VPN. It can be turned on when you wish, such as when you are in public or traveling.

Here are ore ways to protect your personal information when using public Wi-Fi.

  • It is good idea to have different passwords for each of your online accounts. This way if a cyber thief gets a hold of your email and password on one of your accounts, they will be unable to log into other accounts using the same password.
  • Educate yourself on the various ways cyber attacks happen even when you are in the safety of your own home network, such as Phishing, Vishing and SMishing. Hacking through public WiFi is less common than these other methods used.
  • Do not email important information about yourself for any reason.  This includes credit card details, bank account information and your personal government ID number. You should never do this even if a network is secure, not even from home.
  • When accessing accounts in public, whether it is your own computer or a PC in a library, always log out when finished.
  • Take advantage of 2 step verification methods being offered within your personal accounts.  This will add further security because 2 step verification means you cannot log in until you enter a secret code that is sent to you by text or via the Google Authenticator App.

If you are in doubt about the security using any public Wi-Fi network or website, it is best to restrict your activity online to general use, such as searching Google while you are not logged into your Google account.

Do not log into any personal accounts and if you find it necessary to do so, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your personal cell data.  Even then, it is always important to ensure the websites on your account pages start with https in the URL.  Most major accounts websites are secure, but if you do not see https something may be wrong.

If you are in doubt about the security using any public Wi-Fi network or website, it’s best to restrict your activity online to general use, such as searching Google while you are not logged into your Google account.

Don’t log into any other personal accounts and if you find it necessary to do so, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your personal cell data.  Even then, it’s always important to ensure the websites on your account pages start with https in the url.  Most major accounts websites are secure, but if you don’t see https something may be wrong.   

You do not have very go far these days to access free public Wi-Fi. It is available in airports, libraries, cafes, hotels and government buildings. This is helpful but it is important for both adults and kids to make sure they do not trade safety and security for convenience. Just because the public building you are in is reputable, does not mean the Wi-Fi connection is secure.

When using your smart phone or computer in a public hotspot, you need to be careful to ensure the Wi-Fi network is encrypted. Otherwise, it opens you up to the risk of having your online accounts hacked. This could result in cyber thieves stealing your personal information.

Here are two basic safety tips to keep in mind to protect your information.  And then we will explore additional ways to stay safe while online in public.

1.  Check to see if the Public Wi-Fi Network is Secure.

As mentioned, we are not worried about the people who control the Wi-Fi network.  The risk is when others around us are in the business of hacking into the personal accounts using the network.  It could be the person sitting across from you in a coffee shop, or just outside on the street. 

If the public Wi-Fi network does not ask you to enter in a WPA or WPA2 password, the network is not secure. As you are probably thinking, this is most places.  The most common public Wi-Fi networks that require a password are internet providers with home you have an account.

2.  Make sure any website you are on has https at the beginning of URL.  

An example of this is https://youraccount.com or https://yourbank.com.  Secure websites will encrypt your information as you use the site.  Unsecured sites do not have the “s” in them, such as http:// (your information is not encrypted and kept safe if you don’t see the “s”)

Unsecured websites will also show a padlock that is unlocked.  Here is an example of what a secured website looks like.  Notice how with website URL with https also has a closed lock.

secure encrypted website

Clicking the lock will reveal more information about the secure site.  Now you can be sure you are on a secured website.

On a mobile website, it will look like this.

secure encrypted mobile website

If you are using a site that is not secure and locked, you open yourself up to hackers that can access your personal accounts and steal your data.  This could mean your name, address, phone number, address book and photos.

Hackers need see you on a public WiFi to be able to monitor our activity, so one sure fire way to to prevent this (regardless of being on an unsecured network) is to encrypt your data by using a trusted VPN. It can be turned on when you wish, such as when you are in public or traveling.

Here are ore ways to protect your personal information when using public Wi-Fi.

  • It is good idea to have different passwords for each of your online accounts. This way if a cyber thief gets a hold of your email and password on one of your accounts, they will be unable to log into other accounts using the same password.
  • Educate yourself on the various ways cyber attacks happen even when you are in the safety of your own home network, such as Phishing, Vishing and SMishing. Hacking through public WiFi is less common than these other methods used.
  • Do not email important information about yourself for any reason.  This includes credit card details, bank account information and your personal government ID number. You should never do this even if a network is secure, not even from home.
  • When accessing accounts in public, whether it is your own computer or a PC in a library, always log out when finished.
  • Take advantage of 2 step verification methods being offered within your personal accounts.  This will add further security because 2 step verification means you cannot log in until you enter a secret code that is sent to you by text or via the Google Authenticator App.

If you are in doubt about the security using any public Wi-Fi network or website, it is best to restrict your activity online to general use, such as searching Google while you are not logged into your Google account.

Do not log into any personal accounts and if you find it necessary to do so, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your personal cell data.  Even then, it is always important to ensure the websites on your account pages start with https in the URL.  Most major accounts websites are secure, but if you do not see https something may be wrong.

If you are in doubt about the security using any public Wi-Fi network or website, it’s best to restrict your activity online to general use, such as searching Google while you are not logged into your Google account.

Don’t log into any other personal accounts and if you find it necessary to do so, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your personal cell data.  Even then, it’s always important to ensure the websites on your account pages start with https in the url.  Most major accounts websites are secure, but if you don’t see https something may be wrong.   

Parental Control Software – App & Desktop

Most parents seeking parental control software options have kids in their home using multiple computers and devices, all of which are connected to the Internet. Even a single child may have a phone as well as a computer or tablet. They also are often using their parents personal computer from time to time for school projects or simply to print something.

If that isn’t enough to manage, your family members are connecting to the Internet at school or at a friend’s house. With proper parental controls you can ensure the safety and security of your kids online. Otherwise, it’s difficult to know where to begin. It’s hard enough for a person who has some technical savvy, but what if you are technically challenged?

Let’s face it, a lack of technical knowledge is the case for most of us. We live in an ever changing world where the optimal “kid safety zone” is a moving target. This is where parental control software becomes an essential tool in managing the various needs of any family, according to a range of ages and responsibility.

The good news is, effective parental controls allows you to help keep your family safe in one software download, whether you want to access it on an app or your computer. At Safe Search Kids, we recommend complete parental control management to meet the needs of any family large or small.

Let’s explore what parental control means on every device in your home.

Parental Control is Internet Filtering

Internet filtering is certainly the first priority when thinking about protecting kids from harmful aspects of the Internet. This is the primary focus of our search tools on Safe Search Kids, but we are only a single access search engine. Parent control software takes it one step further by filtering the entire Internet, regardless of what search engine your kids may be using.

Quit simply, it allows you to completely control access to the Internet. The level of restriction can be customized by age. After all, the places your 16 years old can go online is much different than your 7 year old. This includes allowing or limiting access on apps and social media, some platforms of which are only appropriate for older kids.

Parental Control is Screen Time Management

Once you have the peace of mind of knowing all the bad areas of the Internet are completely blocked on every device in your home, you can think about controlling the time your kids spend online. Imagine having peace of mind going to sleep at night knowing your teenager is not able to access the internet past 10 or 11 pm.

These controls can easily be set within the dashboard of your account. Likewise, you can restrict access from your 7 year old so that they can not get online after 8 pm, for example. This screen time management control is at your fingertips for any day of the week from the Net Nanny App or desktop dashboard.

Parental Control Software Monitors Apps

The dangers of the Internet are not just through a website browser. With a software application you can monitor what apps your kids are downloading. You can choose to also block apps you don’t want your family to access at all. As with managing screen time, you can individually customize accessibility for every one in the house and on every one of their devices.

Install the most-trusted Parental Control Software Program serving families since 1998. See all the features.
View pricing options.

New apps are being developed and made available on the app store everyday. Whether the app is on an iPhone, Android or Kindle Fire device, you will be notified when a new app is downloaded and installed on any device.

Parental Control is a Location Tracker

Within the parent dashboard, you can also track the location of each family member in real-time from your computer or smart phone. There’s no need to login to an iCloud account and no additional tracking software is needed. The location tracking feature also allows you to check the past history of where your kids have been.

You can coincide their location with whether or not they’ve been online during that time. Let’s say you agree that it’s OK for your child to go to a friend’s house but you just want them to play. You don’t want them spending time surfing the web or going on social media. This is a way to check up on their activity while out of the house.

Alerts and Reports

With all these parental control features working in the background to filter, block, and monitor online activity there is an additional feature that will help you keep track of things. Firstly, only need to initially set up controls and restrictions for each family member one time. From there it’s easy to fine tune controls as needed. With built in alerts and reports you will then receive emails or texts that keep you up to date with each users online activity.

You decide how often you want to be informed. This may include being emailed when specific search terms are entered or when an app is downloaded. What your kids are searching for online is also an insight into struggles they may be having, including bullying or feelings of alienation with friends or at school.

Safe Search Kids recommends Net Nanny parental control software, which has an App for Android and iOS (iPhone) users, as well as dashboard access on computers and lap tops. Features can be applied on multiple platforms, including Android and iOS smart phones, Kindle Fire, Windows and Mac computers.

Net Nanny is provided by Content Watch, an innovative company focused on delivering Internet protection solutions for the consumer, library, education, government, and business markets. They are the #1 rated provider of Internet Protection tools specifically designed for the non-technical user.

Teaching Internet Accountability and Responsibility

Monitoring and Controlling online activity should always be coupled with showing kids how to be responsible on their own. We all know putting kids in a cocoon will not prepare them properly for life in the read world. Setting up boundaries for kids is of course important, but some of those boundaries can be more lenient for older aged kids while allowing them to learn online responsibility. An internet blocking software can protect kids while they learn how to be responsible with the level of freedom you give them. The older they get and the more responsibly they use that freedom, the more trust we extend.

Download the new and improved Net Nanny 10 Parental Control Software!

Ask yourself these questions about your kids’ activities:

1. What exactly are my children doing online or on their mobile phones?

  • Are they chatting with social network sites like Facebook, Snapchat?
  • Are they visiting pornographic or other inappropriate sites?
  • Are they being bombarded with inappropriate ads on pages for guns, cigarettes, drugs or other illegal activity?

2. How much overall time is really spent on a daily basis on their phone and computer talking to friends or other socializing?

Now Here are Some Facts That May Surprise You

  1. One in 5 kids between 11-18 have been solicited online.
  2. 60% of kids are exposed to porn before age 12.
  3. Over 65% of kids have accidentally visited an inappropriate site online.
  4. More than 25% of kids have been cyber bullied, but only 10% of these incidents were told to parents.

We trust our kids to do what is right, but there is so much filth lurking on all corners of the internet and as parents, we should be very concerned – even for the innocent child who is 100% aware of all the dangers involved, it is next to impossible for our children to be 100% protected. In addition to our lack of time, it is an impossible task to manually monitor our children’s online activities. The latest internet and mobile technology supersedes make it impossible.

Why Every Parent Should be Using Parental Controls on Every Device in their Home

Even with the most strict guidelines in place, it is nearly impossible to monitor your children’s activity online doing it manually. In the past several years, a new niche of software has been developed to help families monitor overall online and computer activity.

Parental Control Software is a must.

While there are several in this field, what they all have in common is that the specific monitoring is automated. This does not mean that you can rely on the system 100% of the time to monitor what your kids are doing – parental supervision is essential, whether they are using a laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

Parental Control Software provides an integrated time management and internet blocking & monitoring solution with the following key features:

  • Restrict Internet & Computer Usage based on a customizable schedule or time limits.
  • Monitors chatting/instant messaging based on a time limit or schedule.
  • Award-winning automated filter of porn, illegal, vulgar and other inappropriate websites.
  • Ability of parent to create White “Trusted” list and Black “Restricted” lists.
  • Dynamic Content Blocker – blocks inappropriate banner ads on webpages.
  • Automatic notification via email when a suspect phrase or word is written in a chat.

Download the most-trusted parental control software since 1998.

Most parents seeking parental control software options have kids in their home using multiple computers and devices, all of which are connected to the Internet. Even a single child may have a phone as well as a computer or tablet. They also are often using their parents personal computer from time to time for school projects or simply to print something.

If that isn’t enough to manage, your family members are connecting to the Internet at school or at a friend’s house. With proper parental controls you can ensure the safety and security of your kids online. Otherwise, it’s difficult to know where to begin. It’s hard enough for a person who has some technical savvy, but what if you are technically challenged?

Let’s face it, a lack of technical knowledge is the case for most of us. We live in an ever changing world where the optimal “kid safety zone” is a moving target. This is where parental control software becomes an essential tool in managing the various needs of any family, according to a range of ages and responsibility.

The good news is, effective parental controls allows you to help keep your family safe in one software download, whether you want to access it on an app or your computer. At Safe Search Kids, we recommend complete parental control management to meet the needs of any family large or small.

Let’s explore what parental control means on every device in your home.

Parental Control is Internet Filtering

Internet filtering is certainly the first priority when thinking about protecting kids from harmful aspects of the Internet. This is the primary focus of our search tools on Safe Search Kids, but we are only a single access search engine. Parent control software takes it one step further by filtering the entire Internet, regardless of what search engine your kids may be using.

Quit simply, it allows you to completely control access to the Internet. The level of restriction can be customized by age. After all, the places your 16 years old can go online is much different than your 7 year old. This includes allowing or limiting access on apps and social media, some platforms of which are only appropriate for older kids.

Parental Control is Screen Time Management

Once you have the peace of mind of knowing all the bad areas of the Internet are completely blocked on every device in your home, you can think about controlling the time your kids spend online. Imagine having peace of mind going to sleep at night knowing your teenager is not able to access the internet past 10 or 11 pm.

These controls can easily be set within the dashboard of your account. Likewise, you can restrict access from your 7 year old so that they can not get online after 8 pm, for example. This screen time management control is at your fingertips for any day of the week from the Net Nanny App or desktop dashboard.

Parental Control Software Monitors Apps

The dangers of the Internet are not just through a website browser. With a software application you can monitor what apps your kids are downloading. You can choose to also block apps you don’t want your family to access at all. As with managing screen time, you can individually customize accessibility for every one in the house and on every one of their devices.

Install the most-trusted Parental Control Software Program serving families since 1998. See all the features.
View pricing options.

New apps are being developed and made available on the app store everyday. Whether the app is on an iPhone, Android or Kindle Fire device, you will be notified when a new app is downloaded and installed on any device.

Parental Control is a Location Tracker

Within the parent dashboard, you can also track the location of each family member in real-time from your computer or smart phone. There’s no need to login to an iCloud account and no additional tracking software is needed. The location tracking feature also allows you to check the past history of where your kids have been.

You can coincide their location with whether or not they’ve been online during that time. Let’s say you agree that it’s OK for your child to go to a friend’s house but you just want them to play. You don’t want them spending time surfing the web or going on social media. This is a way to check up on their activity while out of the house.

Alerts and Reports

With all these parental control features working in the background to filter, block, and monitor online activity there is an additional feature that will help you keep track of things. Firstly, only need to initially set up controls and restrictions for each family member one time. From there it’s easy to fine tune controls as needed. With built in alerts and reports you will then receive emails or texts that keep you up to date with each users online activity.

You decide how often you want to be informed. This may include being emailed when specific search terms are entered or when an app is downloaded. What your kids are searching for online is also an insight into struggles they may be having, including bullying or feelings of alienation with friends or at school.

Safe Search Kids recommends Net Nanny parental control software, which has an App for Android and iOS (iPhone) users, as well as dashboard access on computers and lap tops. Features can be applied on multiple platforms, including Android and iOS smart phones, Kindle Fire, Windows and Mac computers.

Net Nanny is provided by Content Watch, an innovative company focused on delivering Internet protection solutions for the consumer, library, education, government, and business markets. They are the #1 rated provider of Internet Protection tools specifically designed for the non-technical user.

Teaching Internet Accountability and Responsibility

Monitoring and Controlling online activity should always be coupled with showing kids how to be responsible on their own. We all know putting kids in a cocoon will not prepare them properly for life in the read world. Setting up boundaries for kids is of course important, but some of those boundaries can be more lenient for older aged kids while allowing them to learn online responsibility. An internet blocking software can protect kids while they learn how to be responsible with the level of freedom you give them. The older they get and the more responsibly they use that freedom, the more trust we extend.

Download the new and improved Net Nanny 10 Parental Control Software!

Ask yourself these questions about your kids’ activities:

1. What exactly are my children doing online or on their mobile phones?

  • Are they chatting with social network sites like Facebook, Snapchat?
  • Are they visiting pornographic or other inappropriate sites?
  • Are they being bombarded with inappropriate ads on pages for guns, cigarettes, drugs or other illegal activity?

2. How much overall time is really spent on a daily basis on their phone and computer talking to friends or other socializing?

Now Here are Some Facts That May Surprise You

  1. One in 5 kids between 11-18 have been solicited online.
  2. 60% of kids are exposed to porn before age 12.
  3. Over 65% of kids have accidentally visited an inappropriate site online.
  4. More than 25% of kids have been cyber bullied, but only 10% of these incidents were told to parents.

We trust our kids to do what is right, but there is so much filth lurking on all corners of the internet and as parents, we should be very concerned – even for the innocent child who is 100% aware of all the dangers involved, it is next to impossible for our children to be 100% protected. In addition to our lack of time, it is an impossible task to manually monitor our children’s online activities. The latest internet and mobile technology supersedes make it impossible.

Why Every Parent Should be Using Parental Controls on Every Device in their Home

Even with the most strict guidelines in place, it is nearly impossible to monitor your children’s activity online doing it manually. In the past several years, a new niche of software has been developed to help families monitor overall online and computer activity.

Parental Control Software is a must.

While there are several in this field, what they all have in common is that the specific monitoring is automated. This does not mean that you can rely on the system 100% of the time to monitor what your kids are doing – parental supervision is essential, whether they are using a laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

Parental Control Software provides an integrated time management and internet blocking & monitoring solution with the following key features:

  • Restrict Internet & Computer Usage based on a customizable schedule or time limits.
  • Monitors chatting/instant messaging based on a time limit or schedule.
  • Award-winning automated filter of porn, illegal, vulgar and other inappropriate websites.
  • Ability of parent to create White “Trusted” list and Black “Restricted” lists.
  • Dynamic Content Blocker – blocks inappropriate banner ads on webpages.
  • Automatic notification via email when a suspect phrase or word is written in a chat.

Download the most-trusted parental control software since 1998.

Protecting Yourself Against Email Phishing

email phishing

I will be the first person to tell you to never click a link in an email from a bank or what you think is a legitimate link to any online account you may have.  Whether it be Netflix, Amazon, Fed Ex, PayPal, Capital One or Spotify, the list of companies used by scam artists is endless.

Those sending out phishing emails use trust in these companies to fool us when we least expect it. This is how I came to click on one of those lines, even though I know better.  It happened to me when I had my guard down. More about that in a moment and how you can protect your online accounts and identity.

My story in a moment, but first let’s define exactly what I am talking about.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a malicious attempt to steal your personal information and gain access to an online account you have with a reputable company. The scammer will send you a fake email that links to a fake login of that company.

The word phishing is is pronounced like ‘fishing’ and just like when commercial fisherman casts a wide net to catch fish, scammers and hackers send out millions of emails in hopes to catch easy prey who unwittingly click on the links in those emails.

First of all, most online services will never send you a link asking you to sign into your account for any reason. If they do, I’ll explain why you should still not click it and how to access your account safety to see if the email actually came from a legitimate company. In most cases, these malicious emails contain alarming news about your account being compromised, hacked or suspended.

We’ve all seem these emails. They come from hackers and scammers that state “Your Account Has Been Locked” or the message I recently received from Netflix:

“Thanks for choosing Netflix membership! due latest security issues we need you to upgrade your account details in order to continue your membership.”

Notice how there was even a grammatical error in the message, but yes – I still clicked it. I knew full well that if our account had needed changing or was compromised, Netflix is one of those companies that would have emailed a notice and then instructed me to go to their website via usual methods (such as Googling Netflix or using a trusted bookmark you made in your browser). They won’t put the link in the email.

I Knew Better, but Still Clicked a Phishing Link

In my case, I had just made changes to the WiFi password in our home and this of course would effect Netflix’s ability to connect via the devices that were previously set up using the old password.  Even though I know about phishing and to be careful when receiving these emails, my wife had just mentioned to me that she was unable to connect to Netflix.

At the same time the fake Netflix email arrived in my inbox. I was annoyed that Netflix may not be working so I clicked the link. Fortunately, I realized immediately what I’d done so I closed my browser before any harm was done.

Upon further investigation, I noticed that the link actually was going to a different website than Netflix, but in that moment of frustration it made sense in my mind to be receiving an email from Netflix.

Cyberthieves count on catching people off guard. Those taking extra precautions to be safe online, such as using only secure public networks or secure websites, can easily be stolen from if not paying attention.   For example, if you don’t have a Chase bank account, then chances are you won’t pay much attention to the email. You know it’s probably fraudulent. But if I do have an account related to the email, it makes sense to be receiving an email about a problem with your account. Especially when you’ve recently logged in your this account and made changes.

For example, imagine that you just shipped a package via FedEx, and later that day a FedEx email comes in stating that your package can’t be shipped. You immediately get stressed… “What?” If you’re not thinking, you will click the link to see what the problem is.

It’s a ‘game of chance’ as hackers send out millions of these emails. They know they will trick some people because by coincidence alone these same people will not only have an account related to the email, some of them will have recently made changes to their account, or shipped a package with UPS, or applied for a loan at a bank.

If there is a legitimate problem with your online account, there will be a notice posted about it after you log in. If all is normal, then you know the email you received is a scam.

Phishing, also known as Spoofing, is very common. If you click the link in a plishing email and you attempt to log into your account, thieves gain access to your user name and password. Once inside the account, they have access to all of your personal information.

Beware of Viruses Coming as Email Attachments

Protecting yourself against phishing is as easy as never clicking a link to an online account from within the email. Always go to your account by typing in the website url in a browser directly.  Or use the bookmark you’ve set up.  Computer infections caused by viruses in email attachments however, are a different story. This is why Anti-Virus software is important to stop spyware, Trojan horses, adware and computer worms. But there are new email virus schemes that employ the same methods as phishing.

You may have see them. These emails contain attachments in the form of a seemingly innocent Word doc or a zip file. The email may say, “Your loan has been approved!” Or “Attached is Your Out Standing Invoice”. If you happened to have just applied for a loan or are curious about if you owe money, you will be more likely to open the attachment.

While phishing emails gain access a single account to access your personal information, viruses via email will activate malware that infects your entire computer. In both cases, your personal information is compromised.

If you have accidentally given access to one of your online accounts for any reason or are not sure, log in and change your password as soon as possible.

If you think your computer has been infected by a virus, read more about how to scan and remove malware – as well as protect yourself from attacks.

What Can You Do to Help Stop Hackers Who Send Phishing email?

Virtually every online account service you use will have security departments that investigate phishing. As such, many have email addresses that you can forward these bad emails to for further investigation. When you get a suspicious email, simply Google the company name with the word phishing (i.e. ‘Report PayPal Phishing’ or ‘Report Chase Phishing’) and you will often find information about where to send phishing emails and perhaps help these companies catch the cyberthieves.

If you land on a url that appears to impersonating a legitimate website in order to steal personal account information, you can report the phishing website to the Google Safe Browsing team.

I will be the first person to tell you to never click a link in an email from a bank or what you think is a legitimate link to any online account you may have.  Whether it be Netflix, Amazon, Fed Ex, PayPal, Capital One or Spotify, the list of companies used by scam artists is endless.

Those sending out phishing emails use trust in these companies to fool us when we least expect it. This is how I came to click on one of those lines, even though I know better.  It happened to me when I had my guard down. More about that in a moment and how you can protect your online accounts and identity.

My story in a moment, but first let’s define exactly what I am talking about.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a malicious attempt to steal your personal information and gain access to an online account you have with a reputable company. The scammer will send you a fake email that links to a fake login of that company.

The word phishing is is pronounced like ‘fishing’ and just like when commercial fisherman casts a wide net to catch fish, scammers and hackers send out millions of emails in hopes to catch easy prey who unwittingly click on the links in those emails.

First of all, most online services will never send you a link asking you to sign into your account for any reason. If they do, I’ll explain why you should still not click it and how to access your account safety to see if the email actually came from a legitimate company. In most cases, these malicious emails contain alarming news about your account being compromised, hacked or suspended.

We’ve all seem these emails. They come from hackers and scammers that state “Your Account Has Been Locked” or the message I recently received from Netflix:

“Thanks for choosing Netflix membership! due latest security issues we need you to upgrade your account details in order to continue your membership.”

Notice how there was even a grammatical error in the message, but yes – I still clicked it. I knew full well that if our account had needed changing or was compromised, Netflix is one of those companies that would have emailed a notice and then instructed me to go to their website via usual methods (such as Googling Netflix or using a trusted bookmark you made in your browser). They won’t put the link in the email.

I Knew Better, but Still Clicked a Phishing Link

In my case, I had just made changes to the WiFi password in our home and this of course would effect Netflix’s ability to connect via the devices that were previously set up using the old password.  Even though I know about phishing and to be careful when receiving these emails, my wife had just mentioned to me that she was unable to connect to Netflix.

At the same time the fake Netflix email arrived in my inbox. I was annoyed that Netflix may not be working so I clicked the link. Fortunately, I realized immediately what I’d done so I closed my browser before any harm was done.

Upon further investigation, I noticed that the link actually was going to a different website than Netflix, but in that moment of frustration it made sense in my mind to be receiving an email from Netflix.

Cyberthieves count on catching people off guard. Those taking extra precautions to be safe online, such as using only secure public networks or secure websites, can easily be stolen from if not paying attention.   For example, if you don’t have a Chase bank account, then chances are you won’t pay much attention to the email. You know it’s probably fraudulent. But if I do have an account related to the email, it makes sense to be receiving an email about a problem with your account. Especially when you’ve recently logged in your this account and made changes.

For example, imagine that you just shipped a package via FedEx, and later that day a FedEx email comes in stating that your package can’t be shipped. You immediately get stressed… “What?” If you’re not thinking, you will click the link to see what the problem is.

It’s a ‘game of chance’ as hackers send out millions of these emails. They know they will trick some people because by coincidence alone these same people will not only have an account related to the email, some of them will have recently made changes to their account, or shipped a package with UPS, or applied for a loan at a bank.

If there is a legitimate problem with your online account, there will be a notice posted about it after you log in. If all is normal, then you know the email you received is a scam.

Phishing, also known as Spoofing, is very common. If you click the link in a plishing email and you attempt to log into your account, thieves gain access to your user name and password. Once inside the account, they have access to all of your personal information.

Beware of Viruses Coming as Email Attachments

Protecting yourself against phishing is as easy as never clicking a link to an online account from within the email. Always go to your account by typing in the website url in a browser directly.  Or use the bookmark you’ve set up.  Computer infections caused by viruses in email attachments however, are a different story. This is why Anti-Virus software is important to stop spyware, Trojan horses, adware and computer worms. But there are new email virus schemes that employ the same methods as phishing.

You may have see them. These emails contain attachments in the form of a seemingly innocent Word doc or a zip file. The email may say, “Your loan has been approved!” Or “Attached is Your Out Standing Invoice”. If you happened to have just applied for a loan or are curious about if you owe money, you will be more likely to open the attachment.

While phishing emails gain access a single account to access your personal information, viruses via email will activate malware that infects your entire computer. In both cases, your personal information is compromised.

If you have accidentally given access to one of your online accounts for any reason or are not sure, log in and change your password as soon as possible.

If you think your computer has been infected by a virus, read more about how to scan and remove malware – as well as protect yourself from attacks.

What Can You Do to Help Stop Hackers Who Send Phishing email?

Virtually every online account service you use will have security departments that investigate phishing. As such, many have email addresses that you can forward these bad emails to for further investigation. When you get a suspicious email, simply Google the company name with the word phishing (i.e. ‘Report PayPal Phishing’ or ‘Report Chase Phishing’) and you will often find information about where to send phishing emails and perhaps help these companies catch the cyberthieves.

If you land on a url that appears to impersonating a legitimate website in order to steal personal account information, you can report the phishing website to the Google Safe Browsing team.

How to Develop Good Password Management Habits

Teaching kids about passwords

Selecting an easy to remember password seems like a simple enough thing to do. But when it comes to protecting your online accounts, there are a few important things to consider before you lock in that special password that is all your own and unique to you.

Is your password secure enough? Are you using the same password across multiple accounts? What if someone hacks into a database and learns your password and email address?

Whether it be on social media, cloud backup or a password to your bank account, keeping track of passwords is a hassle. Still, passwords remain to be out first defense against an invasion of privacy that can affect our safety both on and offline. Until fingerprint technology or facial recognition becomes the norm, we all need to learn and develop good password management habits.

Learning Password Management at School

Password management can be an excellent point of discussion that is catered to students of any age that are already choosing their own passwords for their various social media accounts. Here are a few guidelines and tips that can also be used for parents at home, who in many cases are already helping their kids choose passwords for transparency at home and for online protection.

1. The importance of forming a strong password comes before anything else

Make sure your password contains capital letters, numbers, as well as special symbols. Also, do your best to make sure passwords are at least a certain length. These types of passwords may be difficult to remember immediately, so write them down and keep it on a piece of paper at home. Many online accounts save the password on your computer or smart phone app and it may be a while before you have to enter it in again.

If you fail to memorize your password and you didn’t write it down, you can create a new by clicking “forget password”, which will send a password resent link to your email.

2. The dangers of entering one’s password on a public computer

The problem with public computers is that you never know what might be lurking in the shadows. Unless you happen to be the administrator, which you probably aren’t. There might be all sorts of malware hidden in there, including the one that can spy on keystrokes.

Even assuming the computer is clean, there’s always a danger. After all, humans are on the forgetful side of the scale. In other words, your can easily forget to log out of your account and grant full control to the next random person who comes by. Not an ideal situation. Plus, you never know who’s standing behind your back when you enter your password in public.

When using your own phone or computer in a public place, be wary of logging into an account when connected to a public Wi-Fi that does not require users to identity themselves.

3. The problem of trading security for convenience and the reasons why it’s discouraged

Too many people fall into the convenience trap. They start reusing the same password across different websites for the sake of keeping things easy to remember. An additional way to increase security is to learn more about the importance of using a password manager. Thanks to its functionality, users keep the convenience of not having to remember too much. They enable creating different passwords for each account while only having to memorize the master password to access the rest.

Learning Password Management at Home

Often, kids can be more tech-savvy than their parents. But even as a parent you can take the initiative to protect your family with security basics, and beyond, that are often overlooked by those who feel they are already up-to-date on the latest in online safety.

Let’s also not forget that technology is always evolving. Hackers are continually coming up with new ways to gain unlawful access to private databases and accounts. What was good practice for protecting privacy two years ago may not be the best way to go about it today.

1. Remote data wiping technology

Even if you do everything right cybersecurity-wise, what’s stopping you from misplacing or losing your device? Many people tend to be forgetful. So, if you’re not sure where your phone is (especially if you suspect someone has snatched it right out of your pocket), deleting your data before it gets into the wrong hands is a wise course of action. Remote data wiping technology is an insurance policy in this regard.

If you have important information you want to save, you’ll want to set up some sort of online back-up to a cloud account. This way you can easily restore your device if you wipe it clean. Of course, make sure your online back-up account also has a strong password.

2. Two-factor authentication

Malware programs can steal your passwords right from under your nose. With two-factor authentication you can greatly increase protection of your accounts. Two-factor authentication asks anyone logging in to perform an extra step (like entering a PIN from a confirmation SMS) before granting access an account. It can restrict access in case of a data breach or stolen password.

3. Password variations that use the same core are a terrible idea

Never underestimate the creative mind of a hacker. If they can get close to guessing your second password based on another, it won’t take long before they succeed. Randomly generated passwords are a much better idea than different variations of the same password.

4. Personally identifiable information is a no-no

Let’s put it this way. The street where you live, as well as your birthday, are all facts that can be available to anyone. Anyone willing to go to great lengths to get them, that is. Therefore, you should avoid constructing passwords around publicly identifiable information.

5. The importance of changing your passwords often

Changing your passwords regularly is a good cybersecurity practice. But it also tends to be forgotten, especially when many accounts do not require changing your password regularly. Again, with a password manager, having to remember a whole new batch of passwords becomes a non-issue.

No matter your age or expertise, the creation of a good strong password is often taken for granted. Whether it’s a social media account, a website for online shopping, your online banking access – or an app on your phone, each one of your accounts is an online profile of you that’s worth protecting in as many ways that are available.

Selecting an easy to remember password seems like a simple enough thing to do. But when it comes to protecting your online accounts, there are a few important things to consider before you lock in that special password that is all your own and unique to you.

Is your password secure enough? Are you using the same password across multiple accounts? What if someone hacks into a database and learns your password and email address?

Whether it be on social media, cloud backup or a password to your bank account, keeping track of passwords is a hassle. Still, passwords remain to be out first defense against an invasion of privacy that can affect our safety both on and offline. Until fingerprint technology or facial recognition becomes the norm, we all need to learn and develop good password management habits.

Learning Password Management at School

Password management can be an excellent point of discussion that is catered to students of any age that are already choosing their own passwords for their various social media accounts. Here are a few guidelines and tips that can also be used for parents at home, who in many cases are already helping their kids choose passwords for transparency at home and for online protection.

1. The importance of forming a strong password comes before anything else

Make sure your password contains capital letters, numbers, as well as special symbols. Also, do your best to make sure passwords are at least a certain length. These types of passwords may be difficult to remember immediately, so write them down and keep it on a piece of paper at home. Many online accounts save the password on your computer or smart phone app and it may be a while before you have to enter it in again.

If you fail to memorize your password and you didn’t write it down, you can create a new by clicking “forget password”, which will send a password resent link to your email.

2. The dangers of entering one’s password on a public computer

The problem with public computers is that you never know what might be lurking in the shadows. Unless you happen to be the administrator, which you probably aren’t. There might be all sorts of malware hidden in there, including the one that can spy on keystrokes.

Even assuming the computer is clean, there’s always a danger. After all, humans are on the forgetful side of the scale. In other words, your can easily forget to log out of your account and grant full control to the next random person who comes by. Not an ideal situation. Plus, you never know who’s standing behind your back when you enter your password in public.

When using your own phone or computer in a public place, be wary of logging into an account when connected to a public Wi-Fi that does not require users to identity themselves.

3. The problem of trading security for convenience and the reasons why it’s discouraged

Too many people fall into the convenience trap. They start reusing the same password across different websites for the sake of keeping things easy to remember. An additional way to increase security is to learn more about the importance of using a password manager. Thanks to its functionality, users keep the convenience of not having to remember too much. They enable creating different passwords for each account while only having to memorize the master password to access the rest.

Learning Password Management at Home

Often, kids can be more tech-savvy than their parents. But even as a parent you can take the initiative to protect your family with security basics, and beyond, that are often overlooked by those who feel they are already up-to-date on the latest in online safety.

Let’s also not forget that technology is always evolving. Hackers are continually coming up with new ways to gain unlawful access to private databases and accounts. What was good practice for protecting privacy two years ago may not be the best way to go about it today.

1. Remote data wiping technology

Even if you do everything right cybersecurity-wise, what’s stopping you from misplacing or losing your device? Many people tend to be forgetful. So, if you’re not sure where your phone is (especially if you suspect someone has snatched it right out of your pocket), deleting your data before it gets into the wrong hands is a wise course of action. Remote data wiping technology is an insurance policy in this regard.

If you have important information you want to save, you’ll want to set up some sort of online back-up to a cloud account. This way you can easily restore your device if you wipe it clean. Of course, make sure your online back-up account also has a strong password.

2. Two-factor authentication

Malware programs can steal your passwords right from under your nose. With two-factor authentication you can greatly increase protection of your accounts. Two-factor authentication asks anyone logging in to perform an extra step (like entering a PIN from a confirmation SMS) before granting access an account. It can restrict access in case of a data breach or stolen password.

3. Password variations that use the same core are a terrible idea

Never underestimate the creative mind of a hacker. If they can get close to guessing your second password based on another, it won’t take long before they succeed. Randomly generated passwords are a much better idea than different variations of the same password.

4. Personally identifiable information is a no-no

Let’s put it this way. The street where you live, as well as your birthday, are all facts that can be available to anyone. Anyone willing to go to great lengths to get them, that is. Therefore, you should avoid constructing passwords around publicly identifiable information.

5. The importance of changing your passwords often

Changing your passwords regularly is a good cybersecurity practice. But it also tends to be forgotten, especially when many accounts do not require changing your password regularly. Again, with a password manager, having to remember a whole new batch of passwords becomes a non-issue.

No matter your age or expertise, the creation of a good strong password is often taken for granted. Whether it’s a social media account, a website for online shopping, your online banking access – or an app on your phone, each one of your accounts is an online profile of you that’s worth protecting in as many ways that are available.