Don't "Get Caught" on the Internet: Tips for Kids
26 October 2018
This article was adapted from ‘Don’t “get caught” on the Internet: tips for kids’ by Kaspersky Lab, a member of the Cyber Security Awareness Alliance.
So you think that hackers and cyber spies are something you only see in the movies? Think again! The Internet is crawling with cybercriminals who are looking for a chance to take over your Facebook page, infect your smartphone with a virus or steal your gaming account. They don’t really care who they steal from –no one is safe from malware. So when you’re on the Internet, keep your eyes open! And, while you’re here, check out these tips for you to go safe online.
Beware of viruses
- Make sure you have an antivirus software installed on your device to safeguard you against most Internet threats.
- Don't download files from any source. If you need something, download it from the official sources. If you download files from any source you find, you could easily get an unpleasant surprise.
- If someone sends you a program and you don’t know what it does, don’t just run it without thinking. Beware of viruses! They can do all sorts of nasty things, like stealing passwords, deleting files or sending adverts from your account. Use an anti-virus software to scam unknown files and programs.
- Even if you get a program in a message sent by your friend or family member, make sure that person really sent it. Hackers sometimes pretend to be someone else when they send out dangerous programs. That’s why you should never click on a link just because someone you know sent it to you.
- Don't tell anyone your passwords for social networks (e.g., Facebook) or online games – not even your best friend. If someone finds out your password, they can steal your game items or make it look like you are sending bad things to your friends on social networks. Your friends wouldn’t be happy about that…
- Never send your password in an email or IM (e.g, WhatsApp, Skype, etc.), even if you think somebody working for a social network or online game is asking for it. Don’t forget – someone who really works for a web service will never ask for your password.
- Try to use a long and random password. That means using a phrase containing at least five different words, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Your pet’s name, your brother’s birthday or a simple list like ‘12345’ won’t do. They are too simple to guess, and they can be easily cracked using special programs. Learn how you can create a strong password here!
- Don't write your passwords on a piece of paper, or save it in a file on your device – that’s exactly where a cyber criminal will start looking for them. It’s better to memorise them.
- Before you type in your password, make sure you really are on the site you want to visit. Look again at the address bar, make sure that the URL is correct. Cyber criminals often use fake versions of popular sites to trick you into giving up your passwords.
- Do not reveal personal information online. Cyber criminals may use this information to impersonate you. Don’t tell strangers any details of your life, even if you don’t think you will ever see them again. The Internet never forgets – and anything you say might come back to hurt you.
- Don't send sensitive information online. Anything you send online could potentially be intercepted by hackers or troublemakers.
- Don't let strangers see everything that’s on your social network pages – you don’t know who might be looking at you. Anyway, you don’t need everyone to be able to see everything you do. Limit the amount of people who are able to view your social network profile. Use the site’s settings to make sure your page is visible for ‘just friends’.
- Don't accept every friend request without question. It’s better to have a smaller group of friends whom you know and you like talking to, rather than a huge crowd of strangers – some of whom might even be dangerous.
Watch your mobile
- Don't forget to put a password on your mobile so other people can’t access your stuff.
- Avoid unknown Wi-Fi connections – especially free ones – because they could easily be used to collect the information you send. If there isn’t a password to get online, that’s one sign that it might be a dangerous network.
- You can look after your device even if it is lost or stolen. Enable the ‘remote management’ and ‘backup copying’ functions, either by using the features built into the phone (such as the ‘Find iPhone’ setting on Apple devices, and ‘Find My Device’ function on Android devices) or by using a suitable mobile security software with these features.
- Don't forget your phone is also at risk from viruses. Only download from the official app store. Even when using the official app store, don’t download unknown apps. Always check what permissions an app asks for – such as access to your contacts or photos.
Don’t get caught up in online fights
- If you feel like people online are trying to bully, threaten, mock or upset you, it’s time to step away. Don’t stoop to their level. You’re smart – report bullies to the site administrators and let them deal with it.
- If these online fights keep happening, or if someone tries to take it too far, make sure you tell your parents or a trusted adult – it doesn’t matter who else is involved, even if they are people you know from school. It’s not telling tales, it’s what a normal grown-up would do. It’s important to stop bullies before anyone gets hurt.
- If someone starts spreading things about your personal life – such as photos taken without your knowledge or stolen from you – tell your parents immediately and notify the site administrator so they can stop this.
Be cautious on the Internet
- Not all Internet users are who they say they are. That “cool programmer” might just be a kid who can’t do his homework. A “girl from a nearby school” could be a bored, bearded man. Trust, but check!
- When you go online to get help with your homework or some other important activity, remember that not all sites are reliable. Some of them might display deliberately false information for various reasons. Always check the facts on several sources, preferably well-known, reliable ones. Don’t be afraid to ask your parents for advice if you’re not sure.