Category: Internet Filtering & Security

Tips to Protect your Family from Identity Theft

protecting-your family from identity theft

In 2017 there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud in the United States – a record high, according to a study by Javelin researchers. Children fall among the most vulnerable targets for identity theft due to the existence of so many points of entry.

These access points include tablets, mobile phones, computers, and good old-fashioned home break-ins. As a result, protecting your family from a security breach can feel overwhelming.

However, there are ways to reduce risk and increase identity theft protection. Use the following tips to keep you and your family safe.

1.  Use long, random passphrases

Unless your password is a random set of letters, numbers, and characters, it’s easier to crack than you might think.

To reduce your chances of a security breach, keep the following tips in mind:

Create a long passphrase.

Don’t write passwords on notes near your computer.

Don’t use identical passwords across multiple accounts.

Don’t use words or numbers that are significant to you.

Fraudsters scan public profiles for personal information and identifying details to try to crack passwords. That’s why it’s important not to use things like birth dates, pet names, or details about your kids in your passwords. Especially for the most important online accounts, such as your bank, insurance, or home Wi-Fi.

The easiest way to create secure passwords is to use random (meaningless) phrases mixed with numbers and symbols (e.g., Fox8thegiAntsandwich!).

Because it’s difficult to keep track of multiple random passwords, consider using a dedicated password manager to generate and save secure passwords. That way all your passwords are truly random and saved in a secure location.

2. Be careful using smart speakers and other automated toys

The Internet of Things and smart tech have created a more connected world than ever before. In fact, even some children’s toys can now connect to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. However, not all smart tech is secure.

Several toy manufacturers have come under fire in the past few years for having inadequate security and, in some cases, data breaches that put millions of children’s personal information at risk.

If you decide to buy a smart toy, do your research ahead of time. One important thing to look for is where the data is stored. If data is stored directly on the toy, the risk should be relatively small. If the data is sent to a server, it could be stolen by hackers who eventually use the information for credit card fraud or identity theft. 

Play it safe by inputting only false info (e.g., fake birth dates and pseudonyms), or consider forgoing smart toys altogether.

3. Upgrade your home security

The digital world isn’t the only place your family is at risk. The home is often where identity theft begins. Burglars aren’t just looking for fancy jewelry or TVs—personal information can be much more valuable.

Always keep important documents such as passports, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and other sensitive records in a locked safe or file cabinet. And be extra cautious during high-risk periods when thieves are more active, such as over holidays—never share your vacation plans publicly until after you’ve returned home.

Also, think about investing in a home security system so you can keep tabs on your property while you’re away and protect your family 24/7.

4. Monitor and freeze your child’s credit

Children are likely targets for identity theft because they have clean credit and the theft is likely to go undetected for years until the child is older. By this time, the damage is done, making it difficult for the child to apply for credit, get school loans, and pursue job opportunities.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent credit fraud. One of the best ways is credit monitoring to keep tabs on your child’s credit. If you notice any bank loans, credit card applications, or other activity, your child’s identity has likely been compromised and you need to take immediate action and report the fraud.

You can also go one step further to prepare and freeze your child’s credit until they’re older. A credit freeze limits access to your child’s credit file, making it harder for would-be thieves to open accounts in your child’s name.

5. Talk to your kids about internet safety

Once your child can use their own digital devices, they’re at a greater risk of a security breach. Talk to your children early and often about how to stay safe on the internet. Teach them to avoid sharing personal information (such as full names, birth dates, addresses, or school names), talking to strangers online, and making online purchases without your permission.

By limiting how much information you share online, you can protect your family from child identity theft, credit fraud, or worse.

As the world becomes more connected, thieves and fraudsters have more opportunities to take advantage of you and your family. Follow these tips to protect yourself and your children for years to come.

By Andrea Harvey

Kids Search Engine – Safe Internet Filtering

Kids Search Engines

In many ways the internet is more safe today than it was in it’s infancy. Search engines are better at screening out websites that are harmful to children and teens when you activate their filtering features. There are also many search engines in existence that are specifically devoted to providing safe search for kids with a higher level of filtering.

While there are more tools available and a greater awareness about online safety, the internet continues to evolve at a rapid pace. This poses new challenges that need to be addressed. By no means is this a time to ease up on educating kids regarding safe internet use.   This includes keeping the lines of communication open between kids, parents an teachers.

To bookmark our individual search engine tools scroll to the very bottom of this page then select from the following pages; Google SafeSearch – Safe Images – Safe Wiki – Safe Videos.  Or set this page as your main search engine and have your kids or students click the appropriate tab above our main search bar.

Safe Internet Filtering

Parents and educators need to be vigilant in striving for the utmost in internet security for their kids, whether it be at home or in school. This is especially true regarding younger children who are not even aware of the dangers. It’s important to keep on top of new trends that may pose a risk. While kids search engines make the internet more safe, social media sites now pose a danger that was not even an issue a few years ago.

For the utmost in online safety for kids, it takes a combination of filtering tools, parental control software and maintaining an open dialogue about topics such as proper rules of social media. Predators are online and unsuspecting children can be tricked into giving out personal information.

Please be advised that no safe search engine should replace the supervision of a parent or teacher when it comes to children browsing the internet. Bookmarking a kids search engine like ours for regular use is only the beginning to creating a safe environment online for children of all ages.

We also need to be reminded that the internet is now accessible on multiple devices and from many locations away from the watchful eyes of parents and guardians.

Google SafeSearch is automatically activated using our search tool. Apart form the web filtering tool at the top of this page, SafeSearch can also be implemented on any desk top browser or phone.  Learn More!

This website, Safe Search Kids, is not Google. We are not directly endorsed by them. Our affiliation with Google is strictly as a third party participating in their Custom Search Engine program.

Kids Search Engines vs Parental Control Software

A kids search engine like ours will filter results to keep kids from landing on bad websites. However, we do not stop a child from leaving our site and conducting a search from a search engine that may not have proper filtering.  Of course, you can activate proper filtering from within your browser, but you can’t block access to harmful websites if a child is determined to seek them out. This can only be done with internet filtering software.

When parental controls with complete internet filtering is installed, if a child clicks through to a website that has illicit or explicit content access is blocked instantly.

The level of blocking can be set according to the age of the child. Additional features include the ability to limit the time of day internet access will be allowed, as well as the number of hours per day.

Celebrate ‘Safer Internet Day’ for Greater Awareness

Education is key to online safety for kids. Safer Internet Day is an annual event that takes place on the 2nd Tuesday of the 2nd week of the 2nd month. The date will change from year to year, but it’s always on a Tuesday. The theme also changes each year to focus on specific topics that are relevant to online safety.

While the focus of Safer Internet Day is designed to protect kids online, it is good advice for anyone surfing the web, including the importance of being aware of malware which ultimately can make your computer vulnerable to unsafe material.

Of course, a safer internet for kids all year long is important using kids search engines that lock safe search on your computer. Safe Internet Day is an additional way to draw attention to this issue. It raises positive awareness to spread the word about how young people can use the internet safely and securely throughout the year. This includes respecting each other online.

Safe Search Filtering on Our Website

Individuals at home or kids in school classrooms can utilize our safe search tools on the top right corner of this website. They include:

And unlike most other websites that employ safe search engines, we feature articles on various subjects related to a healthy online behavior, as well as internet safety articles for parents, teachers and many geared just for kids.

About Our Kids’ Search Engine

Safe Search Kids first launched in 2009 to automatically turn on Google safe search while using any browser.  It offer little more than internet filtering and limited safety while searching images.  Over the years it has evolved in to a robust filtering API that aggressively block unwanted websites that prove to be a danger to children.  Search tools were expanded to provide a safe kids wiki and a video website that pulls only filtered videos from many educational website, as well as YouTube.  In this way it provides an alternative to mainstream video channels.

We have also become a resource for parents and educators who are seeking the latest information related to online safety, including cyberbullying prevention, social media monitoring, and parental controls. Our search partner also provides a free kids search engine in the form of an app download.

Educating Kids on Possible Dangers Online

Kids Discuss Computer Safety with Kids

The conversation around keeping your children safe has come a long way from not talking to strangers and being home before dark. Internet safety for kids has become one of the most challenging parental discussions to have. It’s turning out to be a required conversation at a very young age.

Children are interacting with the internet at higher rates than any other age group. The world wide web presents both a network of engaging content and opportunities for copious harmful interactions. It’s vital to have a comprehensive discussion about all the inherent dangers online.

Internet safety for kids is not as simple as limiting what websites they can access. The myriad forms of communication alone are almost impossible to keep track of in real time. Rather than attempting to chase down all the potential dangers, it is far more efficient to educate children about digital responsibility and good online behavior, so they know how to interact properly with the vast world of the internet.

Coaching children on the classic dangers online like communicating with strangers, accessing inappropriate content, and opening files or documents they are not sure about is vital. Children can often see the internet as an “imaginary realm,” where online friends only exist in the online world. Parents must make it plain to children that anything that happens online can lead to physical dangers.

While personal safety is paramount, it’s also vital to educate children on the impact their online presence can have. There is a plethora of examples of kids bullying or cyberstalking each other to the point of physical harm via online platforms. It’s just as essential to show the importance of being thoughtful of others online as it is to warn of other dangers.

Steps to Increase the Online Security Awareness

Children often confuse online security with unnecessary restrictions. It’s crucial to be honest with them about why security is so important. It can be difficult for the younger generation to understand such issues as stolen identities and hacking banking information. However, if you can teach them through certain behaviors and make them aware of potential danger zones, you will instill an appropriate view of online security.

Set Up Ground Rules

Limiting screen time or time on the internet has become a trendy way to handle children’s online behaviors. However, it’s getting increasingly difficult to achieve this lofty goal. School work, communication with friends, and gameplay have all been transported to the online world. Thus, it could be perceived as extremely limiting to simply say “only two hours of internet per day.”

However, some standard ground rules are reasonable and beneficial. For example, using the internet in a shared space like the dining or living room. It can help to limit inappropriate online activities. If you encourage children to share any messages or information they find offensive with you, it will help to discover bullying or cyberstalking before it becomes too impactful.

The key to the ground rules is being open and honest about why said rules exist. Clearly explaining what is good and bad on the internet will go a lot further than dictating what is off limits.

Utilize Built-In Security Settings and Features

Most operating systems take young family members into account with certain family-friendly features. Fortunately, these features go a lot further now than restricting certain websites or content.

For example, parents can allot funds to the kid’s online account to use them in the app store. This can remove the temptation for children to spend unbeknownst to parents. Additionally, parents can limit the time spent online with timers, restrict internet content or certain apps, and block the adjustment of specific system settings.

Be Mindful About Online Gaming

Online gaming has become more social than ever. Almost every game has some form of chat component, with many utilizing actual voice chat. Encouraging children to be wary of what information they divulge online is essential. While games are virtual and can always be reset, real information can put your family in danger.

Consider utilizing a VPN while gaming. A VPN can hide the IP address from other users. An IP address could be used to locate your home, even if the child doesn’t give away your exact location.

Be the Example

Internet safety for kids has become one of the most challenging aspects of parenting in modern times. Being honest about the dangers of online interactions is crucial. This, along with supplying legitimate reasons for online restrictions can ease the tension caused by discussions about the internet. Model good internet behaviors for children by adhering to the same ground rules as you ask them to follow.

Teen’s Online Privacy and Cyber Security

teenagers onlines privacys and cyber security

Cyber security and online privacy are perhaps the most important considerations for any generation alive today, but especially for teenagers. Maintaining privacy when it comes to their personal identifying information, location and even family member identities will help to thwart efforts at identity theft and even traffickers trying to track down at-risk teenagers.

Statistics

According to Stay Safe Online, 1/3 of a child’s life is spent online, 77% of children go to online school and 94% of teens do online research. Furthermore, 91% of 18-24 year-olds say they network online with people they don’t really know. 46% of the same age group uses file-sharing apps that offer access to their personal PCs and files. The most common password used in America is “password,” so further education on the importance of maintaining cybersecurity should be the number one goal of parents and teachers.

Personal safety isn’t the only thing at risk, either. Your teen may suffer from or witness cyberbullying through online messaging and social media, too. Bullying Statistics says that almost half of young people have received threatening messages online. 42% of youths experience bullying on Instagram, 37% on Facebook and 31% on Snapchat. 25% have been bullied through their cell phone.

In addition, the Cyberbullying Research Center says that 33.8% of students ages 12 to 17 have been victims of cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime. Yet, only 1 in 10 teens will tell a parent. This can result in widespread rumors as well as mental health issues in the victims.

Cyberbullying doesn’t only happen to younger children and teens.  41% of adults in the US report having personally experienced online harassment.

It Starts At Home

Stressing the importance of maintaining anonymity online and keeping accounts and files secured should start with parental guidance at home. Establishing trust between you and your teenager is the most vital step in making sure they’re using the Internet appropriately and protecting themselves. As a parent, you must keep tabs on the apps your teen is using and who they’re interacting with online.

This becomes more difficult the older your teen gets with the more privileges they earn. But gradually increasing their exposure to online games or social media can help you ensure they’re listening to your guidance as well as prepare them for adulthood, when you won’t be there to advise them.

If you and your teen have a trusting relationship, it should be rather easy for you to communicate about what’s happening with their accounts and activity online. As your teen matures, this may decrease, but they should be armed with the knowledge necessary to maintain their cybersecurity.

Also make sure you discuss with them the importance of avoiding cyberbullying and how it can affect others, and encourage them to bring any evidence of it to your attention. Reporting the bullying messages or comments and protecting your teen from any attacks can help avoid any future mental health effects it may have.

Talking Points

Ask them frequently about who they’re talking to in social apps, and explain why they shouldn’t accept requests or messages from people they don’t know in real life. Encourage them to immediately notify you if anything seems out of the ordinary with their accounts, teach them about the risk of session hijacking attacks, and to always change passwords at least every 90 days.

If your teen is new to using the Internet, frequently check their accounts and activity to keep tabs on the information they’re sharing and who they’re interacting with. Also keep in mind that many teens will have multiple social media accounts to try to confuse their parents.

The most important thing when trying to maintain transparency is explaining the reasons why you’re concerned about their cyber security. Traffickers will find victims on social media; pedophiles will pretend to be someone they’re not and strike up a relationship with teens online; gaming and other apps can share your teen’s location with strangers; pornographers may try to gain your teen’s trust so they can eventually request graphic images or video from them to disperse online; and hackers can gain access to accounts and cause everything from financial hardship to ruined reputations.

Cyber security has never before been such an important subject to discuss with your teenagers. Past generations had less access and sometimes no access, but today it’s an everyday occurrence for school work and extra-curricular activity. Ensuring they understand the importance of maintaining their privacy and not interacting with or sharing their location and other information with people they don’t know in real life is vitally important, too. As a parent, the best thing you can do is build a strong foundation of trust with your teen and gauge their maturity level and readiness for more freedom when working or playing online before giving them permission to utilize games and social media apps.

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