By Elaine Thompson
When you’re planning a trans-state move, cybersecurity is often low on the list of things to prioritize. But implementing cybersecurity in your home is more urgent than you think—especially if you have kids. Hackers attack someone every 39 seconds, and as criminals have become craftier, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to protect your kids online—and yourself.
With a new ZIP code comes new risks for you and your child: new IP addresses create new opportunities for hackers to steal data, new software can allow anti-viruses to fall through the cracks and it’s even difficult to find a babysitter you can trust. So, how do you armor up against digital danger, both for the sake of you and your kid?
Start with the right software. Make sure you have satisfactory anti-spyware and antivirus software in place, plus spam blockers and personal firewalls.
From there, it’s all about common sense digital safety, keeping your security up-to-date, and being cyber savvy. Here’s a checklist of six things to do to keep your family safe from digital dangers:
- Buy protective software
- Encrypt your home’s WiFi
- Invest in a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
- Consider nanny cams
- Get smart with your passwords
- Change your address with the post office
- Continually update your systems
Buy Protective Software
Damaging digital infections, or Malware, can affect computers and phones, so it’s crucial you fortify all your devices. Malware can come in the form of viruses and spyware, which is why you’ll want to invest in both antivirus and anti-spyware software.
Antivirus software, also known as anti-malware, is designed to protect your devices from worms, bugs and digital Trojan horses. The software works by first identifying the breach, squashing it, and then implementing safeguards in place to prevent future attacks. There is free antivirus software you can acquire, but sometimes, the best anti-malware may come at a small cost.
Encrypt Your WiFi
Step 1: Change your WiFi’s default network name as soon as you move in. Step 2: Chose a name that doesn’t reveal your family’s name or any personal information.
By changing the default name, it makes it more difficult for someone to access your network. Once you do change it, limit the number of people who have access to it. When visitors come over, share your WiFi with them through your phone, or type it in yourself—the fewer people who know your WiFi password, the more secure your home network.
Invest in a VPN
VPN, a.k.a. a Virtual Private Network, encrypts all internet traffic going to and from the devices on your WiFi. VPN offers a layer of added security to your home network by heavily encrypting all your data. Using a VPN allows you to use multiple IP addresses, concealing your digital footprint and preventing hackers from monitoring what you do online or stealing your information.
Consider Buying a Nanny Cam
Nanny cams probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you consider ramping up your home’s security, but when you move to a new place and need to lean on babysitters for help, it’s important you thoughtfully pick a new babysitter and monitor them through nanny cameras.
When choosing a babysitter, start with your coworkers and neighbors. Ask around about the babysitters they use to get a feel for potential candidates. If you don’t have nearby neighbors you’ve built a rapport with yet, try Care.com or download the Bambino app. They’re online listings of babysitters that include bios, ratings and upvotes from fellow parents.
Before you invite someone into your home, be sure to interview them first. Once you make a choice, don’t be afraid to use a nanny cam to observe their behaviors and ensure that your kid is in good hands.
Get Smart With Your Passwords
Moving is an excellent chance to refresh your passwords. You should change them every thirty days regardless, but moving gives new opportunities to create unique passwords (e.g., setting up internet or utilities).
Here are some top tips for creating a secure password:
- Create a password at least 8 characters long
- Never use the same password on multiple accounts
- Include numbers, letters, and symbols
- Use both uppercase and lowercase letters
- Don’t tie it to any personal information (e.g., your address, name of your first dog)
- Avoid storing all your passwords in one place
If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords, try password managing apps. Check out our Tools page: https://savvycyberkids.org/tools/
Change Your Address With the Post Office
Changing your address through the US Post Office may not seem related to cybersecurity, but the two work in tandem. If you don’t officially change your address when you move, it will send mail to your old address. And if your mail gets in the wrong hands, you can be at risk of identity theft.
Online data breaches are one of the most common ways hackers commit identity theft. Once a criminal has one or two pieces of important personal information (like a social security number, for instance), they can open new accounts, access your bank account, and file false tax returns—to name a few.
If you want to be extra safe, you can pay a small fee for redirecting services, which will reroute any mail headed for your old address to your new one for a time.
Your Post-Move To-Do List
Once you move into your new home, make sure you review online safety information with your kids. Teach them how to protect themselves from cyber predators, cyberbullies and hackers. Encourage them to use private social media and gaming accounts and explain to them the difference between safe and dangerous online exchanges.
Also, don’t be afraid to lean into parental control software: it’ll keep your kids safer and help you stay aware of potential threats.
Above all, be on guard: online scams can dupe even the most careful internet users, so stay up to date on current scamming trends, continually update your protection software and buy from only known retailers when you shop online.
Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for our free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics. See more cyber safety and cyber ethics blogs produced exclusively for EarthLink. Looking for a social media parental control? Try a 30-day free trial of Bark. If you sign up after your trial, Bark donates 25% of your monthly fee to Savvy Cyber Kids.
Thank you to the Savvy Cyber Kid’s sponsors!
Interested in becoming a Savvy Cyber Kids sponsor? Email Ben Halpert.