Cyber Crime graphic that reads "Online Security"

Cybercrime: Online Security for Families

20 Aug 2015 by Scott Sterling

It seems as if we hear about a new, vast cybercrime every week. Millions of peoples’ passwords stolen from social networks. Social security numbers lifted from government servers. Children are just as susceptible to these intrusions as adults — but with an added challenge. Today’s digital natives are just as much at home online as they are at…home.

Which is exactly why it’s so important to make their home Internet usage as secure as possible. That security comes in two forms: technical skills and education.

Technical skills

The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your children from cybercrime is to get serious about password security. In a 2012 study of (anonymized) Yahoo! Passwords, researchers found that only 75% of 500,000 passwords were unique. Out of those passwords, the most common were “123456,” “password” and “welcome.” Despite this, people didn't learn. In the recent  Ashley Madison hack, the most used password was, you guessed it, "123456." 

“Guessed or stolen passwords are still one of the leading causes of data breaches for both home computers, as well as corporate environments,” says Dennis Spalding, chief information security officer at Insight.

The table below shows how simply increasing the complexity in a password increases its strength and effectiveness in protecting access to sensitive information and critical systems.

No. of characters Numbers only All uppercase or lowercase Mixed case Numbers & mixed case Numbers & mixed case & symbols
8 Instantly 13 minutes 3 hours 10 days 57 days
9 4 seconds 6 hours 4 days 1 year 12 years
10 40 seconds 6 days 169 days 106 years 928 years
11 6 minutes 169 days 16 years 6,000 years 71,000 years
12 1 hour 12 years 600 years 108,000 years 5 million years

Most people know to stay away from such obvious passwords, but what makes a good one? A mix of letters, numbers, characters and capitalization is a start. Your safety increases as the password gets longer. If you’re worried about keeping complicated passwords safe, invest in a password solution like 1password or Dashlane, which suggests secure passwords for you on every website you visit. The major Web browsers are also starting their own suggest-and-manage platforms. These programs have the added benefit of helping to keep your child’s passwords available to you.

Don’t forget about the home router. Even though its access password (the one you need to connect) might be complicated, many people don’t think to change the password on their administrator access. With a simple IP address and a guess (most manufacturers set their administrator password to “password”), someone can gain access to the gateway from which all of your traffic originates.

Education

The best security solution when it comes to child safety — online or off — is always an open dialogue, and parents’ willingness to educate their children about acceptable use and the dark side of the Internet.

Spend some time surfing the Web together, instructing your child on what’s legitimate and what isn’t. Links are very tricky, especially if they are cleverly disguised as normal buttons or commands. Don’t forget about email as well; spend some time exploring spam.

Learn more tips and information on Internet safety, cybercrime and cyberbullying.