Keeping Kids Safe Online Part 6

| October 11, 2010 | 1 Comment

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Protect Your Computers

The security of your computer can affect the safety of your online experience — and your kid’s. Malware is software that monitors or controls your computer use, can install viruses, or can be used to send unwanted pop-up ads, redirect your computer to websites you’re not looking for, or record your keystrokes. Malware on your computer could allow someone to steal your family’s personal information.

What can you do?

Use security software, and update it regularly.

Anti-virus and anti-spyware software scan incoming communications for troublesome files; a firewall blocks communications from unauthorized sources. Look for software that can reverse the damage and that updates automatically.

Keep your operating system and web browser up-to-date, and learn about their security features.

Hackers take advantage of operating system software and browsers that don’t have the latest security updates. Increase the security of your computer by changing the built-in security and privacy settings in your operating system or browser. Check the “Tools” or “Options” menus to learn how to upgrade from the default settings.

Watch out for “free” stuff.

Free games, ring tones, or other downloads can hide malware. Tell your kids not to download anything unless they trust the source and they’ve scanned it with security software.

P2P FILE SHARING

Some kids share music, games, or software online. Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing allows people to share these kinds of files through an informal network of computers running the same software. If your kids download copyrighted material, you could get mired in legal issues. Sometimes spyware, malware, or pornography can be hidden in a shared file. Some tips to help your kids share files safely:

  • Install file-sharing software properly. Activate the proper default settings so that nothing private is shared. By default, almost all P2P file- sharing applications will share downloads in your “save” or “download” folder. That’s why it’s important to set it not to. If you don’t set the defaults properly, other P2P users may access files you never meant to share, including personal documents on your hard drive, like your tax returns or other financial documents.

Before your kids open or play any downloaded file, advise them to use security software to scan it. Make sure the security software is up-to-date and running when the computer is connected to the internet.

View previous segment–Mobile phones: Socializing and communicating on the go

View next segment–Parental controls

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