AVG Technologies has some advice for families preparing for the 2015 school year. Beyond putting children at ease about new schools and new classes, there are technology issues to confront. And it’s not just playground politics that must be negotiated, but their socially networked lives too.
Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG Technologies, says that there are three actions that parents can take to simplify this process:
1. Choosing the right technologies and keeping them safe
Before you buy any new device, check the school’s standards and specifications for 2015. In the absence of a national approach to technology and its funding in our education system, what your children will be required to use at school – or be allowed to bring to school – is determined by each institution. As educators grapple with the ever changing technology landscape, don’t presume school usage policies or leasing and insurance regimes from 2014 will remain the same.
Just as the kids will bring home the latest tummy bug in the first weeks back at school, they are just as likely to bring home the latest malware as they share files with friends in the playground. Every mobile, tablet, laptop, Mac and PC – every device that connects to your network - should be protected using all the latest security and anti-theft features provided by a trusted supplier such as AVG Technologies.
2. Winning the password game
I know, passwords are a pain. But there’s simply no better way of protecting devices, data and privacy. Passwords have never been more important. Help your kids to create and learn new, separate passwords for every device and every site they use.
Actually, it’s not that tricky – it’s length rather than complexity that makes passwords harder to crack. Try these three steps:
- Choose 3 random words that total 12 or more letters, eg: lightning, anchor, planet
- Add a few symbols, numbers or capitalisations, eg: lightning3Anchorplanet!
- Then devise your own method for slightly altering your password to make it unique for each site, eg: lightning3Anchorplanet!FB (the FB for your FaceBook login – just don’t make it this obvious)
Remember, they should never use predictable PINs – no postcodes, no 1234, no keypad patterns using, say, the numbers down the middle (2580). Make it a family mind game to find ways of remembering number, letter and symbol sequences.
3. Sharing with friends
With moves to new schools or a different group of friends in a new class, it’s a good time to encourage the kids to ‘unfriend’ those that they don’t need to share everything with anymore.
Will your teenager be looking for part-time work this year? Then they very much need to consider their online profiles. AVG Digital Diaries research released in October last year has found that a quarter of Australian teens say they regret posting something online. The research also found 29 per cent have had to ask someone to remove content posted online about them, because they didn’t like it (66 per cent) or it was too personal (21 per cent).
And it’s not always about removing unacceptable posts and photos. Sometimes it’s about strategically adding content. You can now upload a photo and backdate its placement. You could suggest to your child that they put up photos of their team sport achievements, of their Yr 10 community service activities, or any other proofs of them being good citizens - all to impress potential employers.
If your children use the convenient shared cloud facilities such as Dropbox or Evernote to save their school work and assignments, check that they’re using two step verification - or two factor authentication. They’ll receive a text or have an app which generates a one-use code at log in. This technology makes it virtually impossible for someone to access an account even if they have the password.
In the old days “the dog ate my homework!” worked as an excuse. Today, kids may be able to claim “someone hacked my Dropbox!”. But the potential problems are real and they need to protect their work - not necessarily from hackers but more likely from ‘friends’ wanting to plagiarise their efforts.
AVG Technologies AU
About AVG Technologies N.V. (NYSE: AVG)
AVG is the leading provider of software services to secure devices, data and people. AVG’s award-winning consumer portfolio includes internet security, performance optimization, location services, data controls and insights, and privacy and identity protection, for mobile devices and desktops. The AVG Business portfolio, delivered through a global partner network, provides cloud security and remote monitoring and management (RMM) solutions that protect small and medium businesses around the world. For more information visit www.avg.com.
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