Create and Manage Secure Passwords

Create and Manage Secure Passwords

Family Tech

Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.

As the key to the proverbial kingdom with regards to protecting your family’s custom safety restrictions and personal information online, the importance of passwords can’t be overstated. The damage done should they fall in the wrong hands can take weeks or even years to potentially repair.

With online services requiring more and more strength requirements and even periodic changing of passwords, every househould have a clear password policy in place, and should institute individualized passcodes to protect all safety settings, personal accounts and parental controls configurations. Here are favorite tips for managing and creating passwords.

Creating Passwords – Here are some basic tips, courtesy of our friends at eBay, who recommend as follows: 

  • Don’t use personal information that others can easily obtain or guess (example: your name, phone number, or birth date). 
  • The longer and more complex your password is, the harder it will be to guess. 
  • Create a password that’s secure, but still easy for you to remember. To help you remember your password, consider using a phrase or song title as your password. For example, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” can become “Sw0tR8nBo.” 
  • After creating your password, protect it. Don’t share your password with others. 
  • Don’t use the same password for your other online accounts, such as email, bank, and social networking accounts.

Common Sense Media points out that it can actually be fun to develop really good passwords, especially if you’re converting phrases that are hard to guess for others, but easy for your family to remember, into a mixture of letters and numbers. In the end, a good password should be at least 8 characters in length; involve a variety of numerals, letters and/or punctuation marks; and not be a word found in your average, everyday dictionary. Many computer programs that hackers use can easily be configured to search for common terms in a variety of forms, including textual (e.g. “ModernParents”) and numeric (i.e. “M0dernP4rents”).

Keep a Password Log Experts are split on the best way to keep password logs. Although some experts say real-world versions are unreliable, it often makes more sense to keep such lists as separate from the computer as possible. The downside here is that if you misplace or lose this list you could be giving someone easy access to all of your online accounts, so if you do decide to do this, keep it safe and secret. Likewise, should you choose to store a master list somewhere on your computer – never advised – it should be encrypted and password-protected itself. Ultimately, one thing everyone can agree on though is that you must take simple steps to make your passwords impossible for hackers to guess.

Know Your Kids’ Passwords – While you absolutely should be aware of kids’ passwords when they first dabble in the online world, you may wish to treat this practice like training wheels, and relax or remove it from your household policies as children get older and become more responsible technology users. Should you request access to children’s passcodes though, be sure to remind them that the reason you need this information isn’t to spy on them or tarnish their online image – rather, to simply monitor and keep them safe.  One tip for families who don’t choose to freely share passwords is to set up a regular time with children to access kids’ accounts so you can monitor privacy filters and change settings.

Log Out Of Accounts – Guarding passwords is useless if you stay logged in.  Remembering to log out of active accounts when finished using them is just as important as not sharing your password – especially on public computers or networks. If you or your kids leave their Facebook account open on a computer and someone else accesses their profile, the results can range from a harmless spoofed status update to a serious breach of privacy and even potential identity theft.

10 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy

10 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy

Family Tech

Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.

We recently read an estimate that every month, Internet users worldwide spend the equivalent of nearly 4 million years online. US users are at the forefront, with the average American spending 32 hours online every month, or more than an hour every day.

And at the top of many of these users concerns about their time line is a worry about a lack of privacy and sharing of personal information.  Many are fearful of companies like Google or Facebook compiling and selling their data.  Concerns like Identity Theft and Reputation Management are legitimate scares that could come from sharing too much or the wrong kind of information online.

So for kids, parents and grandparents looking for tips to help manage their online footprint, here are 10 ways to protect your online privacy.

Take Charge – Don’t assume privacy settings are automatically configured the way you’d like them to be.  In fact, you should assume that default settings are probably wrong for you.  Take the time to configure any social network, e-mail or other accounts to make sure you understand who can see the information you share.

Use The Tools You Are Given – Computers, web browsers and even search engines all have some degree of privacy protection functionality built-in, many under the heading of “Parental Controls.”  Activate SafeSearch on Google, use Private Browing on your cell phone, and regulate site access and cookies on Internet Explorer 9. 

Create a Password Policy – Come up with a system for generating and remembering password, whether it’s through an encrypted service such as offered by Norton, or a real-life document and log of all your site passwords.  Be creative and unique with passwords, such as creating a phrase like “We Spent Our Honeymoon in Hawaii” and turning it into WS0H1H.

Don’t Use Indentifying Information – If you’re trying to stay as anonymous as possible on the Internet, it obviously helps if you don’t provide things like, say, your street address or name of your kids’ school. The only way you can ensure information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is not to share it at all.

Turn Off Geolocation Services – With GPS’ built into nearly every portable device, it’s easy to unwillingly provide the exact location of a picture or status update.  Turn off geolocation services on your smart phone and within each sharing service to ensure that location information isn’t being shared, even if only in the data of your pictures.

Use Nicknames for Family & Friends – Want to share information about loved ones but maintain a level of privacy?  Come up with nicknames for your kids or spouses, like “The Beastie Boy” or “Buddy.” Your friends will know who you’re talking about, and you won’t be unwittingly giving that info away.

Use Separate E-mail Accounts – When setting up services, don’t use your primary e-mail account for signing up or providing notifications. Often, these can and will be used and sold.  Instead, create a social network e-mail account, or one used for making online purchases, while keeping the one you use to stay in touch with everyone completely out of the equation.

Google Yourself Regularly – You may as well see what’s posted online about you, because other people certainly will.  From prospective employers to potential romantic interests, everyone Googles everyone else these days, and the best way to make sure you’re on top of the information out there is to know what’s there.

Be Leery of Public Wi-Fi – Logging on to the network at the library or McDonald’s may be convenient and save your data plan, but you need to alter your browsing habits when there and make sure you’re not visiting any sites asking with personal or sensitive info.

Respect Others’ Privacy  – As hard as you work to maintain your own low online profile, it can all be undone without the help of others. So don’t be the one that exposes information about your friends that they’re trying to control. Follow the golden rule online and treat their privacy as you’d like to have yours.

How to Teach Kids Digital Citizenship

How to Teach Kids Digital Citizenship

Modern Dad

News, reviews & trends for fathers – a contemporary parent’s perspective.

Digital Citizenship is a concept pioneered by organizations like the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) in which parents, schools and other technology leaders recommend focusing energy on preparing students and kids for a tech-centric society by teaching them about appropriate and positive ways to use technology, as opposed to focusing on the potential negative outcomes of technology.

So instead of spending all of our time teaching kids about cyberbullies and online predators, we should focus on teaching a curriculum of digital citizenship in which kids learn the right ways to act online and use the Internet for positive causes, such as charity.

For some issues, such as drugs or smoking, it’s easy to see the clear goal and message for kids.  Telling kids not do drugs or smoke cigarettes are very tangible, measurable and attainable goals.  But with Digital Citizenship, saying that you need to be good online is a bit more ephemeral.

For those looking for advice on how to teach kids digital citizenship or immediately apply its principles, here are a five tips to help the next generation learn to thrive online.

Do Unto Others… – Remember the golden rule, and apply it to your online interactions, especially on social networking sites.  Treat others the way you’d like to be treated, with respect, dignity and extra attention to how thoughts and actions will affect others.  Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is a great way to make sure you’re practicing positive digital citizenship.

The Grandma Rule – Before any post, message, or share, consider whether or not you’d want your grandma to see it.  Because essentially, when you post something to a social network or send it directly to a friend, you’ve lost all control and it’s theoretically possible it could make it into grandma’s hands.  So make sure everything you do or think passes the grandma test and it will likely keep kids from sharing or doing activities they otherwise shouldn’t be.

Spread Heart, Not Hurt – With a hat tip to Yahoo! Safely and Common Sense for the perfect turn of a phrase, we love the idea of a simple way for kids to remember to spread and embrace positive messages, and avoid engaging in negative behavior.  Spread positive messages and watch your social network connections and online enjoyment grow, and learn how to appropriately deal with any negative behavior you do see online.

Respect Creativity – Even though it’s easy to cut and paste, don’t claim other’s creativity as your own.  Give credit where do if you are borrowing information or spreading someone else’s message.  Don’t plagiarize works or take credit things for which you had no part of it.  Respecting the intellectual property of others is a key tenet of digital citizenship.

Remember the Three Ps of Information – All the information you share is permanent, public and powerful. Information is permanent because once you post it, it can live forever, even if you delete it off your profile.  It’s public because everyone can potentially see it.  And it’s powerful, words and online actions can have a deep and lasting impact, so use them for good.