(BPT) - Today, Americans lose more money to digital crime than to home burglary. About 80% of U.S. adults say they are not doing enough to protect their personal information online, according to a survey by Harris Poll and Aura, a consumer digital safety company. However, most don't know where to start conversations with their families about internet safety.
Safer Internet Day, held this year on Feb. 8, encourages the creation of a better internet that empowers everyone to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. In honor of their own mission to create a safer internet for everyone, Aura is sharing six tips you and your family can follow to stay safe online.
1. Get creative with passwords
Many people use weak or recycled passwords on multiple accounts. While it's easier to remember a few passwords for many accounts, especially if they're shared family accounts, you are leaving your family open to identity theft and other cyberattacks.
Explain to your children the importance of keeping passwords a secret for just you and them. For older students, discuss how using the same password for all accounts and apps makes it easier for bad actors to access personal information. Update your passwords to consist of a random combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
To make things easier on your family members, Aura has a password manager to create, store and remember account login information. Also, set up two-factor authentication for your accounts and, when possible, opt to use an authentication app over text verification codes.
2. Tighten up your social media privacy
Most people provide personal information like their name, birthday, job and hometown on social media without a second thought. If a bad actor wants to collect information about you, social media will be their first stop.
Children under 18 are often the target of identity theft because their credit score is entirely unmarked, and their SSN is often unmonitored. Posting your child's full name and birthday on your social media can be just as dangerous as posting your own.
To help prevent identity theft, sit down and discuss what information you and your family share and who might be in the audience each time you post on social media. Also, review the privacy settings for some of your most visited websites and social media platforms.
3. Don't ignore updates
Don't ignore system and browser updates as they provide critical updates that protect against bad actors and fix any critical issues in software. Explain to your children and older family members that these notifications are there to help keep us safe online. When possible, enroll in automatic updates and use antivirus software, antispyware and a firewall on your computer.
4. Avoid suspicious websites
When shopping online, it's crucial to know what makes a website safe to explore. Check to see if "https" appears in the URL. The "S" indicates the website is secure and that the website is safeguarding the sensitive data that passes from you to the retailer.
While looking at the address, verify that the brand is not in a subdomain. For example, be sure you're shopping from retailer.com and not retailer.buy.com. Also, review the site for misspellings, grammar mistakes and low-quality images. Make sure to look for an email or phone number on the contact page and verify the validity.
5. Stay alert for phishing scams
Phishing attacks are emails, phone calls and texts that appear to come from a reputable source but attempt to instill fear and urgency in the recipient. Phishing scams offer too-good-to-be-true deals, urgent notification to reset an account login or contain an attachment or hyperlinks. The goal may be to install malware, steal credit card data or access login information.
To protect your family against phishing, teach your loved ones to:
- Review all emails closely.
- Never share credit card details or sensitive personal information like your Social Security number via email or phone.
- Don't open any attachments or click embedded links.
- Don't download software from unknown email addresses.
6. Adopt parental controls
Creating healthy internet habits is essential for the entire family, especially kids. With parental control technology like Circle Parental Controls, you can limit screen time, monitor your children's online activity, block inappropriate content across all devices and set boundaries that make sense for your individual family's needs.
In honor of Safer Internet Day, Aura is offering a free trial for families to its easy-to-use, all-in-one digital safety platform that can keep you and your family's personal information, devices and finances safe from online threats. To learn more, visit www.aura.com/saferinternetday.