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How to be more cyber secure with your grandkid

At Get Cyber Safe, our goal is to make cyber security easy and simple for all Canadians. We believe that with the right advice and guidance, anyone can take control of their cyber safety. This blog post may be especially useful for older adults, who we define as Canadians over the age of 50, but we believe that the information could help anyone at any age, in any stage in their cyber security journey.

A child looks surprised, while a grandparent-aged adult in sunglasses looks satisfied in a box surrounded by tech images

Kids learn so much from the adults in their lives, like family recipes and how to give the best hugs. This style of learning is no different for cyber security. Here are some tips that your grandkids or the youngsters in your life could learn from you next time you’re online together.

Be cautious when they’re online

Online content travels so quickly that it can be hard to keep up with, even for the savviest social media experts. Cyber criminals take advantage of this to catch people off-guard and trap them in a cyber scam. Remind children to always be skeptical about the information they come across online. This is especially true of ads, pop-up messages or any messages coming from an unknown source. They should pause before clicking on any unknown and unsolicited links or attachments, tell a trusted adult and delete any suspicious emails they receive. Beware of the 7 red flags of phishing, which can appear on any platform online. If they don’t recognize the sender of a suspicious message, they should delete it!

Protect their accounts

To keep their accounts secure, advise them to follow these three simple steps:

  1. Ensure that multi-factor authentication (MFA) is enabled on all accounts where possible.
  2. Use strong and unique passwords or passphrases. You should never use the same password for more than one account. When creating passwords, suggest using passphrases which are safer, stronger and easier to remember. A password manager can help keep you and the children in your life to keep track of them all.
  3. Limit the amount of personal information that is shared online. All information shared online can be exploited by cyber criminals, but children may not know what information is safe to share and what isn’t. You should tell them what information should never be posted online, like their birthday or what school they go to. If they aren’t sure whether something is safe to share, advise them to ask a trusted adult.

Keep their guard up

While navigating content online, it’s important for children to keep a solid shield up to prevent them from getting caught off-guard. Some strong and effective ways of staying protected online include an anti-virus software, which can spot viruses on devices, and a firewall which adds additional security barriers. Using a virtual private network (VPN) when on an unsecured network keeps data encrypted and unreadable for cyber criminals. CIRA’s Canadian Shield, a free firewall service supported by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, is another great cyber security tool. Depending on the age of your grandkid, you may want to discuss these options with their parents or guardians.

Conclusion

By sharing these tips with the children or youth in your life (and by following them yourself), you can help yourself and them be more secure online. Remain vigilant and remember — if something looks too good to be true, it probably is!

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