One of the bigger potential risks to your personal security and privacy isn’t lurking somewhere in the shadows, it’s that teenager sprawled across your sofa, texting and posting selfies on social media.
Computer magnate Michael Dell discovered that the hard way when his daughter posted revealing snapshots of the family jet, vacation details and location information of a graduation party-despite the $2.7 million he spends annually for security. From reality TV series “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” to sites such as Tumblr’s Rich Kids of Instagram, teens are routinely and very publicly flaunting their every move, as well as their wealth.
To keep you and your family safe and minimize embarrassing or risky online posts, here’s what you need to know:
Control Access: Before you give kids permission to have social media accounts, make it a requirement that you have their passwords. “Leave no other deal on the table,” said Robert Siciliano, an online safety expert with Intel Security.
Explain the Exposure of Sharing: “When you talk to kids, you have to be really concrete. Don’t say, ‘There is no privacy on the Internet.’ Instead, tell them, ‘When you send a photo, I want you to imagine that your grandparents are looking at it,’” said Linda Perlman Gordon, a Maryland psychotherapist and author of “How to Connect with Your iTeen.” Emphasize that online and offline behavior must be equally conscientious.
Do a Little Reconnaissance. “Grab a glass of wine and Google yourself, and your kids,” said April Rudin of the Rudin Group, a wealth marketing firm that specializes in communications between high net worth individuals and advisors. Public information may include real estate and public stock sales, charitable and political contributions and details of marriage, death and divorce. Rudin suggests strategic counter-programming. “Put out positive information about yourself on LinkedIn or Facebook. Talk about your philanthropic passions,” she said. The high ranking of top social media sites in search results deflects many from more personal information.
Discuss Perceptions: Adolescents may use social media to try out new personas-or show off their new convertible. Pop culture and peers may encourage displays of lavish parties or gifts, but teens may not understand the nuances of how to smartly share some of these experiences online, and may court unwanted attention.
Keep Your Location and Your Information Private: Establish a comprehensive policy about what information is public and what’s not. No one, adults included, should post vacation or other photos when you’re away from home. And beware of postings and check-ins that reveal your location. “Go into your device settings and look for specific apps that ask for geolocation information and turn it off,” said Brendon Macaraeg, senior product marketing manager for Norton Consumer Products. A McAfee study, “Teens and Screens,” found that only 61 percent of youth had enabled the privacy setting on their social networking sites to protect their photos and other content. Only half turned off the GPS that could share their location with strangers.
Talk About Download Danger: Risky apps are often the ones that look most enticing— those that offer something free in exchange for personal details or contacts. A 2015 Symantec study found that nearly 1 million Android apps were actually malware. Experts suggest installing antivirus protection on all devices, installing parental control software and activating programs to remotely locate and wipe lost devices, so thieves can’t access your sensitive information.
Surf and Shop Safely: Avoid unsecured Internet connections, such as free public Wi-Fi connections in coffee shops, hotels and airports, especially when you’re banking or shopping. Hackers can create fake access points that detour your data to theirs, said Macaraeg. Either buy a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot or set up a virtual private network (VPN) that encrypts data before it reaches a public access point. For additional privacy at home, hide your network name: Go into your router’s settings and turn off SSID broadcasting. “That way, your access point won’t show up in the list of networks when people browse,” Macaraeg said. If your teens bank or shop online, teach them that secure sites are indicated by https and or a lock visible in the address bar or in the lower right corner of your web browser window, according to the California attorney general.
A little discussion about online risks and expectations can go a long way in keeping your family, its privacy and security intact.