5 minute read
We’re all connected – whether on our phones and other devices, at school or at work. A large majority of Americans own a smartphone (81%) and nearly half of all Americans own a tablet of some kind – meaning we have more access to the internet than ever before.1
Our connected devices help us keep in touch with others and fill our free time with learning, sharing memes and TikTok videos, playing online games, and laughing at cats. But any time we get online, we need to watch for bad actors who want to steal our information, money and security.
That’s why June is Internet Safety Month. As kids finish up their schoolwork and you look forward to warmer days, use these tips to protect your devices, your family and yourself while you enjoy the benefits of being online.
Passwords: There’s strength in numbers (and special characters).
You’ve heard it before – but there’s a reason it’s still important. Secure passwords help safeguard valuable information and help you avoid damaging your device, reputation and relationships. From having a social media account hacked to someone gaining access to your home network’s Wi-Fi, having strong passwords helps you avoid a lot of problems.
Create a strong password.
- Make it memorable to you, but avoid personal information (like names and birthdays).
- Replace letters with symbols and numbers so it’s still readable to you. (Example: R3pl@ce wit# sYm6ol$ 1ike Th1$.)
- Don’t use the same password on multiple sites. Think about it: if someone figures out your password, they can then access everything else, too.
- Regularly update your passwords – including your home Wi-Fi password.
See how to find and edit your Wi-Fi password
Fake sites and scams: Not everything is what it seems.
We all know that people and situations aren’t always truthful or accurate. From fake profile pictures to completely faked websites, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake.
Know how to ID potential scams.
- Trust your intuition. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Anything that asks you to give personal information deserves a closer look to make sure it’s real.
- Real businesses should never ask for your credit card information, social security numbers, account numbers or other sensitive information over email or text. If you get an email asking for this and don’t think it’s real, look up the company online (not using the links in the email) and contact them separately asking if an email is legitimate.
- Verify that a site, charity or business is authentic before you give them any information. If you get an email, go to their site by typing their website URL in your browser or searching them online.
- Check that a site is secure before giving it too much information. Many browsers will show a padlock symbol or some other icon to show you if a site is secure or not. Look for https at the front of a website’s URL to verify that it’s a secure connection.
- Watch for phishing attempts – people trying to steal your login information or account details by pretending to be someone you know. If something feels off, check the email address the message was sent from to make sure it’s right.
See more online security tips
Rules: Get everyone on the same page.
Security and safety is teamwork. If you have multiple people in your home, or kids who use your internet, you should make sure everyone knows why it’s important and know what the rules are.
Set internet safety rules.
- Make sure your kids know not to download anything (including apps) without knowing what it is. You can set a device to need a passcode or face identification before downloading anything (including free apps).
- Always check what information an app asks for when you download it. You can talk to your kids about knowing what information is not ok to let apps access.
- Talk openly about fake messages and how to identify them, as well as the importance of privacy and online reputation.
- Have your kids ask before giving out your Wi-Fi password for a friend or visitor’s device. You can also create a guest Wi-Fi network to keep your main network information secure. (You can log in to your router to create one, or use a Wi-Fi app, like the Midco Wi-Fi app.)
StaySafeOnline.org from the National Cybersecurity Alliance:
Be Internet Awesome with Google
Internet Safety 101: A program of Enough is Enough®