Category: Internet Filtering & Security

How Can I Keep My Computer Virus-Free When My Kids Play Online?

Kids Playing Online Virus Protection

Picture this! The latest online game for kids has just come out, and all of your child’s friends are asking them to get it. After they download it, the computer starts running slower than molasses—you suspect that you have a virus. How can you keep your computer virus-free when your kids play online games?

These days, more children engage in the online world than ever before. Unfortunately, this puts your computer at an increased risk of getting a virus. You want your children to enjoy online social activities, but you don’t want them to slow down the computer in the process!

Try these tips to keep your desktop computer virus-free:

Educate Your Kid

How can your child avoid viruses if they don’t fully understand what they are? If your kid enjoys playing games online, try to sit them down and talk about how to play safely.

Depending on what games they like to play, certain ones may request permission to access your computer. This is often the case with online games, which may need to bypass your firewall. Let your child know that whenever these messages appear on the screen, it’s best to tell a parent first.

Some ads are targeted directly at children, promising them free in-game rewards. Just by visiting a website, malicious software can automatically download onto the computer. Your child may not even realize that they’ve just picked up a virus! Be sure to caution them about these misleading ads.

Teaching your child about viruses can only go so far. They may be able to spot obvious security threats, but many hackers go to great lengths to disguise malware. You’ll need to go the extra mile to keep your computer clean.

Monitor What They’re Doing Online

Your kids may not realize that the websites, games, and online platforms that they interact with can be dangerous.

People online can be incredibly persuasive, and may convince your child that clicking a link or downloading a file is perfectly safe—even if you’ve told them otherwise! Therefore, it’s important to monitor their activities regularly.

You can install various parental monitoring applications that allow you to survey what your child is doing online. This will ensure that they aren’t visiting websites that may damage the computer.

Boost Your Computer’s Defenses

You may have parental control applications on the computer, but most of these programs offer no protection against malware or viruses.

Did you know that up to 32% of computers around the world are infected with viruses? It’s a pretty shocking number! That means there’s almost a 1 in 3 chance that your computer has a virus. You need reliable anti-spyware and antivirus software to keep your desktop safe.

However, be wary of some free antivirus software—it may actually contain other viruses! Do your research when it comes to protective software.

Watch Out for Emails!

Almost everyone has an email address these days, even children. It’s an easy way for kids to connect with friends, get updates from their school, and keep up with new game releases.

Unfortunately, emails are also the most common way that viruses infect computers. This happens in various ways. Sometimes, the malicious person sends emails that appear to come from a close friend. The message might include a (.doc) or (.exe) file that contains a virus. Let your child know that if they receive an email from an unknown sender, they should not open it—instead, they should send it straight to the trash bin!

Make a Secure Password

The passwords that are the easiest to remember are often the least secure. If a hacker is targeting children’s accounts, they’ll start by trying all the most common passwords. You’ll need to get creative to boost your account security—rather than simple phrases, stick to complex strings of numbers and characters.

It can be easy to forget things when you’re a kid! Instead of trying to memorize a complicated password, have your child write it down on a piece of paper and place it next to the computer.

Be Proactive

Even if things are running smoothly, you never know when the next virus will cause a technology breakdown. You can install software that consistently monitors and scans your computer for viruses.

Try to notice when your computer is running slowly. If your kid uses the computer the most, let them know that they can always tell you if something is suspicious. Once you identify the virus, you can ask them where it might have come from. Working through the process with your child can teach them to avoid malicious websites.

The sooner you get rid of a virus, the better! Protect your computer against spyware, malware, and viruses by monitoring its performance.

Limit Their Screen Time

One of the best ways to avoid a virus is by spending less time on the computer. But you don’t need to eliminate their screen time entirely! Instead, work on cutting it down by a few minutes each day.

If you want to reduce screen time for families, it takes planning. Suddenly springing it on your child may result in a tantrum. Instead, aim to start the day by telling your kid that they will have a time limit today.

Next, plan fun activities to show your child that they can have fun without a computer! Plan things like puzzles, baking cookies, or going for a walk. The less time that your kid spends playing online games, the less likely it is that you’ll get a virus!

Children love all that computer games have to offer them, from social interaction with their friends to a break from schoolwork. Unfortunately, playing online carries a risk: viruses.

If you’ve dealt with a computer virus before, then you know how inconvenient, time-consuming, and unsettling they can be. Try these above tips to keep your computer virus-free and functional for the whole family.

VPN Explained for Dummies | Is a VPN Necessary?

Should You Have a VPN

Ok, you’re not a dummy.  This is simply an article that explains VPNs in simple terms.  VPN services are not well known to the average person. For those who are aware of what they do, VPN services are often given a bad rap. We’ll explore and answer questions and concerns. We’ll also define what a VPN does and look at the online safety benefits.

VPN is short for Virtual Private Network.  It’s main security function is privacy protection. The privacy obtained through this private network is one of the reasons VPN’s get a bad name. However, when it comes to cyber security, personal privacy protection is a cornerstone of Internet safety. The need for effective solutions is growing.

How Does a VPN Protect your Privacy?

A VPN hides your location and makes it look like you are located somewhere other than your actual location.  You can choose the country and available locations within that country that you want it to appear you are accessing the Internet from.  One of the most practical places you would want to hide you location is when surfing public WiFi.  There are security risks regarding your personal information when logging on to public WiFi.  Firstly, never log on to a public WiFi unless there is an official verification of you as a user.   For example, when logging on to WiFi, such as an airport’s official free WiFi service, it will ask you to agree to certain terms.  This identifies yourself to the airport WiFi providers as well.  It also identifies others using the service.

This still won’t stop hackers from being able to anonymously spy on your lap top of phone.  Using a VPN will hide you from potential hackers who may be sitting just a few feet away from you.  The same is true for public Wifi in libraries and hotels. Most hotels require a password, which make it a little more secure but it’s still no match for a hacker who wants to hijack your laptop or mobile device.  If you are using public WiFi without a VPN, you should restrict your internet usage to activity that does not involve logging into personal accounts, such as banking.

Why Do VPN’s Get a Bad Rap?

If a VPN hides your location, then the assumption is that you are going to do something illegal.  True, VPN’s may be used by criminals who do not want authorities to see what they are doing online.  There are other activities that VPN’s are used for that are not necessarily illegal or have drastic legal ramifications, but many deem them as unethical.  These include streaming services such as NetFlix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime.  Streaming services only have the rights to show certain movies and TV shows in particular countries according to agreements with the copyright owners of that material.  If you pretend to be from a different country, would would gain access to entertainment that normally is not allowed in your country.

Additional Uses of a VPN

There are other legitimate reasons people want to sign up for a VPN on their computer, lap top or mobile phone.  We mentioned protection while using public WiFi already.  Here are a few more.

VPN Protection in Countries that Limit Personal Freedoms

If you live in a fully democratic country, you will be enjoying freedom to speak your mind or write about thoughts and ideas without suppression or persecution from your government.  There are countries that limit this in different ways.  These include; totalitarian regimes and communist countries that are highly restrictive, failed states and countries of great political unrest, as well as seudo democracies that suppress political opposition and limit access to information to control it’s citizens.

These countries also block legitimate websites to keep people from reading ‘fact based’ news, as opposed to state propaganda. They censor information online and there can be great consequences for journalists and bloggers who seek to expose government injustice and stand up a free and open society.  Even a regular citizen in a restrictive country can go to jail for posting a protest message on social media.  For these reasons, a VPN can protect individuals from being located and charged with doing something that is illegal in their own country, but is highly regarded as noble and just in a democratic country.

VPN’s Prevent Swatting for Gamers

This is a scary one.  Swatting is when a fellow gamer online reports your to local police in your area and commits a most horrendous prank.  Or they may do it to get back at you for beating them at a game or just to be mean.  They will call the SWAT team to your home claiming there is hostage taking or that someone has a gun and threatening people.  The unbeknownst gamer in your family and anyone else at home is shocked when SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) shows up and hauls everyone out of your home in handcuffs.  Sometimes the outcomes of a swatting call are much worse.

The FBI reports that there are over 400 cases of swatting in the USA every year.  New technology has evolved that has expanded swatting from the home to public areas.  A VPN protects gamers at home and anyone out in public.  Video game players with a VPN turned on can rest easy.  If they get on the bad side of another gamer half way around the world, those bad eggs won’t be able to detect where you live.

VPN Protection from ISP Tracking

Your internet service provider (ISP) collects your data and can often sell your personal information for advertising purposes.  This is legal but many protest that this is an invasion of privacy.  Most people are not concerned about it because internet service providers are not out to hurt you.  Though the threat does not appear imminent, your private information is still exposed to third parties.  Opening a new private window in your browser, also known as incognito mode, is not as secure as you think.  It does not hide your personal information from your IPS.  It merely blocks cookies from being saved and prevents websites from collecting your data as a user.  This can help you save money while shopping (more about that in our next point) but it does not provide full privacy.

Using VPN’s for Online Shopping Freedom

As alluded to in the previous paragraph, you can activate privacy mode in your browser to ensure you are not overpaying for products. This is especially true for airlines.  They want air travelers to pay the highest price possible for a plane ticket.  They will increase prices for customers they think will pay more and also reduce prices for those who are only willing to pay less.  Hiding your location and private information results keeps these websites in the dark about browsing history and buying habits.  For this reason, using a VPN for online shopping does a much better job of protecting you from over paying for products and services.

It also allows you to shop more easily while away from home.  Let’s say you are in another country and want to buy a product to be shipped to you by the time you return home.  Setting your location to your home country will allow you to shop as if you were there and not be subjected to different prices or shipping restrictions because the website thinks you are a foreigner.

Protection from Hackers

Apart from the legal and seemingly innocent tracking that websites and internet service providers do while you are surfing the web, we can’t forget about the risk of being hacked.  Every home should have a proper firewall set up and every computer should be running proper Internet security.  Regardless of these protections however, hacking of your computer and the stealing of your private information can still occur at home.  A VPN hides your location so a hacker can’t find you.

Protection Against Cyberbullying:

We would not say that getting a VPN is a primary solution if a child is being cyberbullied. If you are having a serious problem and threats are involved, call your local police.  In extreme cases, having a VPN even for a short time can prevent bullies from finding out where you live until bullying issues are resolved.  The same is true for online predators.  Proper guidance and parental controls go a long way to protect kids online, but if you are dealing with a situation where a predictor may be attempting to stalk your child at home or at school, a VPN will stop that.

Business Protection

Most businesses do not have a lot of extra dollars to hire full time IT personal to protect their data.  A monthly subscription to a VPN is relatively affordable and manageable within a companies budget.  Businesses big and small will have 24/7 privacy protection that anti-virus and malware programs can’t provide.  Hackers need an IP address to hack any home or office.  This is cludes hacking Microsoft 365 accounts.  Also, consider all your employees traveling the world and putting company data a risk.  Another benefit while traveling is the ability to access company files in countries where the internet is restricted.  Businesses can connect their VPN to the good router where all employees can use the service with only one account.

Is a VPN Necessary?

Unfortunately, even though human rights have grown in democratic countries in many ways, a lack of privacy seems to be diminishing.  Or at least we are just become more are of the need to deal with these privacy issues since it has been in the news a lot lately.  The fight is on in developed nations to push back against the invasion of privacy that Internet companies, various websites and even social media platforms use to influence users and increase profits.  Laws need to be strengthened to make protection universal.

What is discouraging however, is the increased restrictions in old regimes.  While social media networks have been accused lately of neglecting the privacy of it’s users, no one can deny what a great tool it has been for people in corrupt countries to band together and oppose their governments for freedom that many of us take for granted.  This was first seen with the Arab Spring.  Today, oppressive countries are clamping down even harder to restrict their citizens from the having the freedom of ideas and communication that the growing power the Internet brings.

Even with proper laws in place for privacy protection, the world will always need Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as long as there are hackers, predators and corrupt governments in power. Software companies and computer hardware manufactures will continue to improve security to make your personal data more secure.  Using an SSL proxy is another solution, but it is much more complicated to implement.  Subscribing to a VPN that hides your location is the best user friendly option to complete protection from everything we’ve mentioned in this article.

Is a VPN is right for you?  Explore Download Options for Your Device.

Does my Family Need Parental Control Software?

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 including and blocking websites no matter what device is being used.  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 also 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 our Recommended Parental Control Software Program serving families of all sizes. View family download 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 location 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.

Download FamiSafe – Our #1 Trusted Parental Control Software

Alerts and Activity 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. 

Get instant alerts when suspicious photos or texts are detected on your child’s phone. Be notified when specific search terms are entered or when an app is being 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. Read about how this app even encourages good driving habits with driving history reports.

Safe Search Kids recommends software solutions, which is also a parental control App for Android, iOS and Kindle Fire 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.

FamiSafe is a parental control software and app download created by Wondershare, an innovative company focused on delivering a variety of user friendly tools for individual consumers, education, government, and business markets. They are a reputable and top 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 for Free Now

 

Parental Controls answer 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 cyberbullied, 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 make it impossible with software working in the background.  This includes cyberbullying prevention made possible by monitoring.

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.

If you have a gamer in the house, parental control software will allow you to control time spent online.  But it’s not an anti-virus program that protects from outsize threats while gaming.  For that explore Gamer Security

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.
  • Access phone activity reports including what apps they install or uninstall.
  • 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.

Download our Recommended Parental Control Software

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.   

In Search of a Teaching Job? Discover Educational Companies that Hire for Online Teaching Jobs