Fun apps, photo sharing, instant messaging, Facebook – you can have all these at your fingertips every moment of the day, thanks to your smartphone. You may not have the time to make the most of them, but surely your kids do. And they do seem pretty savvy when it comes to new gadgets and web novelties, don’t they? But do they know that:
- thieves are just around the corner waiting to snatch their smartphone?
- hackers are waiting in line at public wi-fi networks to get into “open” phones?
- cyberstalkers can track their whereabouts, if they share their location on social media or post photos geo-tagging their location?
- some links and messages are malicious and ill-intended?
- some apps are infected with viruses and Trojans that once they get on their smartphone, they start sending text messages to premium numbers racking up their bill?
Did YOU know all these things? Mobile security is not something you can take for granted, especially not when you don’t have a mobile antivirus and/or antitheft and antispyware tools on your device. Or your kids’ device. The even more worrying fact is that every day, cybercrooks devise new scams to abuse people’s mobile devices.
The talk about mobile security
So if your kids own smartphones, make sure they pick up some smart mobile habits. Talk to them about mobile security and privacy threats and how they can protect themselves. Not sure where to begin?
Here are 11 starting points:
1. Password-locking. Think of passwords as door keys. The same way you teach your kids to lock the door when they leave the house, their smartphone needs to be locked up, especially if they leave it unsupervised in the classroom or in the school library. Prying eyes can look into their phone and maybe use the details on it to cyberbully them.
Mobile Security Rule: Advise them to set up either passcode locks, passwords or PINs from the settings menu, depending on the phone they use. And to never leave their smartphone unsupervised in public places.
2. Fun but mean apps. All those apps are all fun and games, up until the moment your kid downloads one that is infected with some sort of malware, which goes undetected if your kid’s phone doesn’t have proper mobile antivirus protection. If his/her phone bill is a lot higher than usual, that might be the work of an SMS Trojan taking over the phone.
Mobile Security Rules: Teach your kid to download apps only from reputable app stores; to read the reviews from other users and only pick the apps that seem safe; not to install apps that require permissions to use their personal details, contact list and Facebook account credentials.
3. Malicious QR codes. You never know where a QR code actually leads to. It may advertise some cool gadget, but in fact, lead to a malicious phishing website.
Mobile security rules: Talk to your kid about the risks posed by scanning malicious QR codes and teach them not to scan QR codes placed randomly on walls.
4. Location-sharing apps. That cool Facebook check-in app is great for showing others your social side and what cool places you go to. But for your kids, checking into every location might prove dangerous. If they check in to their school, or a friend’s house, cyberstalkers may use that information to harm them.
Mobile Privacy Rule: Discuss location-sharing apps with your kids and the risks they pose, when and if your kids use them carelessly. Establish rules on when to use those apps.
5. Geo-tagging. Based on GPS technology, this smartphone feature is great when you want to record exciting moments. When it’s turned on, every photo you take is marked with the exact latitude and longitude of your location, and the time and date it was taken. In other words, the geographic location is tagged in the photo. If you publish the photo on Facebook, or any other place on the web, the location can be easily tracked by everyone. Even cyber-stalkers looking for easy preys. And your kid can be one of them.
Mobile Privacy Rule: Talk to your kids about the potential risks of geo-tagging and teach them when it’s sensible to turn on the geo-tagging feature. Otherwise, make sure they have it turned off all the time.
6. Loose sharing. On the same note, if your kid shares on Facebook and other social media his/her phone number, e-mail address, full birthdays, personal thoughts and details, this may result in cyberstalkers and cyberbullies (even bullies at their school) picking up the information and use it to compromise your kid’s security – both online and physical.
Mobile Privacy Rule: Talk to your kids about the risks of loose sharing and teach them a sense of privacy.
7. Friendly strangers. While you can figure out a cyberstalker on social networks or instant messaging, your kid may be too naïve to recognize them. If a stranger picks up your kid’s phone number or IM ID and starts calling him, or chatting about personal issues, that’s certainly an alarm signal for child predator.
Mobile Security Rules: the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ rule applies everywhere. Teach your kid not to answer to strangers and come to you if a stranger contacts him for personal chats.
8. Cyberbullying. Just like bullying may happen in school, cyberbullying can happen online. However, the online world makes 24-hour harassment possible. Cyberbullying can go as far as making threats and sexual remarks, insulting, ridiculing or lying about the victim on forums, websites and social media. Some cyber-bullies can harass their victims by calling, e-mailing or instant messaging them – all ways enabled by a smartphone.
Mobile Security Rules: Talk to your kids about cyberbullying as soon as they get their smartphone. Even if they have one already, it’s not too late to have the cyberbullying talk with them. Make it clear that they should always come to you for help, if and whenever such worrying situations arise.
9. Cheesy tabloid news. Malicious links are spread all over the web, especially on social media where thousands of kids are present. They are usually disguised as links to outraging news about teen celebrities like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. What they actually link to are phishing and compromised websites, which might trick kids into downloading malware or giving details about themselves, to be allowed to access the enticing content.
Mobile Security Rules: if the subject interests them, teach them to look it up on official news sites. If the news is valid, it most certainly is debated on reputable news sites, as well. Also provide their smartphones with proper mobile antivirus protection to defend them against malware.
10. Fake freebies. All that glitters is not gold. A “get a FREE Amazon gift card” offer on Facebook that asks you to complete a survey in order to benefit from it, is most probably a Facebook survey scam. If you complete the survey, “Facecrooks” your personal details, while you get nothing.
Mobile Security Rules: Teach your kids a bit of scepticism when it comes to offers that are too good to be true, especially on Facebook – even if the offers seem like coming from legit companies. Talk to them about survey scams, and urge them not to hand over personal information, like passwords and usernames.
11. Wi-fi hot spots. You can go online from any hot spot. But are they all safe? A cybercrook can watch your online activity and access your private information (passwords, usernames), or even install malware on your device if you don’t have proper mobile antivirus protection. Also, your Bluetooth connection can be an open door to viruses.
Mobile Security Rules: Teach your kids never to log in to a social media account from a public wireless network, and turn off Bluetooth and other types of connections when they don’t use them.
While these rules are mandatory for your kid to have a safe mobile experience, make sure you install on their smartphone – and while we’re at it, your smartphone as well:
- a mobile antivirus app, to spot and remove all those Trojanized apps, viruses and spyware trying to sneak into the smartphone system;
- Parental controls to monitor your kid’s online activity, block their access to inappropriate websites and other type of content, and know their whereabouts.
- Mobile antitheft features to lock, wipe and track down the device in case it gets lost or stolen.
BullGuard Mobile Security 10 comes with all these mobile security features and more: backup space to safeguard all the photos showcasing your kid’s creative genius.
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