In the social network, trust is the currency, and there is always something new to learn about the latest social media apps, changes to the existing most popular apps, and the tactics of cyber thieves and criminals to gain our trust and then exploit us. And so it goes with viruses and malware which are scripts and codes and apps designed to exploit individuals by stealing identities from social media accounts and other personal data accounts including banking, and/or to torment through cyber bullying and stalking.
Learning how to think for yourself and seek wise counsel is a lesson first learned at home. James 1:5 tells us that when a person lacks wisdom and seeks it, God grants it generously without finding fault. So let us train ourselves to seek wise counsel, starting with sharing lessons learned about defending personal security in the use of social media, apps and devices. Below is a list of some of the best tips I have collected over the past decade for detecting and responding to viruses and malware:
Exercise restraint on sharing personal stuff
- Clarify private and secret. Private is the personal stuff you keep from the world because not everyone is trustworthy. While secrets tend to harbor risks. So keeping things from parents about your on-line world is potentially a secret harboring risk. Since there is no privacy in the cyber realm, transparency is a must at home. Parents as the guardians of personal security for their child, can be expected to respect but not grant privacy. This means that they will not share the personal stuff they learn without permission, and will refrain from commenting about everything they see. If parents notice something that needs to be addressed, do it off-line, and give your child a chance to make the corrections without condemnation.
- Train your family to be very mindful about posting photos and other information to social media that contains too much personal information. For example, do not take a photo of your child holding up a driver’s license, birth certificate or other official document that contains information about where you live, social security number, etc.
- Establish with your child that you are the guardian for their personal security and privacy. So your monitoring of social media is to ensure that they are not falling into risky traps, such as friending people they don’t know, or posting personal information that could be used against them. Your primary job is to educate them about defending their own liberty. For example, posting deeply personal thoughts on social media, can be used by predators who will use it to gain trust and then exploit.
- Do not search “google” to access your bank’s on-line tools. Enter the URL manually. One of the ways in which cyber criminals are tricking folks is setting up faux websites that can show up in an internet search and convince you to enter your information.
- Close your browser after completing an on-line banking session, so as to remove any possibility of malware capturing information left behind (digital trail).
- Avoid free wi-fi for banking and other websites that require you to enter and maintain personal data, such as social media. It is better to use wi-fi that has a password. Even with hotels, you may want to be circumspect about accessing websites that thieves could retrieve access to later. It will be important to know their policy for changing the password as a security precaution.
- Malware is what cyber criminals use to convince a user to give permission to download malicious code (that will spy on you and give them access to your personal data, such as a key logger).
- Pop ups. Pop ups can contain malware and viruses. Some of the viruses can look like very authentic sites for banking or even anti-viral services. You might get a pop-up that says, “We found a bug. Do you want to quarantine it?” And it looks very legitimate and compelling. To get rid of such a popup, go to the task manager of your operating system and hit “end task” for the routine of the pop up. For PCs it is holding down the Control/Alt/Delete buttons all at once.
- Make sure that you know the source of a link. If you don’t know the person forwarding it, then definitely don’t click on it. Sometimes the identities of friends in your social network are used as conduits to encourage you to download a link. So before you click on a link, take a look at the URL at the bottom of your screen. If the URL looks bizarre, probably better not click on it. Social media apps can harbor lots of malware, so be careful. Know the source. For example, if a friend wants to share a video on YouTube from an account you do not know, then check out the URL and go visit the site on your own – if you really want to be secure.
To learn more about building a family culture where it is possible to argue less, love more and build trust, go to: Fresh Start.
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).
Joanna Jullien is an educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. Trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, she is a mother of two grown sons, an author of books on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture, and produces the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com.
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Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.