10 Easy Ways to Build Up Your Family’s Online Security

The events of 2020 didn’t just set significant lifestyle changes in motion. According to a recent study, it also influenced our mindset about our online security.

McAfee’s 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Report highlights our collective shift to a Digital-First mindset and the increased risks that come with it.

This study is essential to families for several reasons. First, it gives us a snapshot of reality, and when we understand reality, we can take steps to improve it. Second, it’s a reminder to us as parents that helping our kids build their digital skills is a process subject to cultural shifts that will require continuous recalibration.

Our Reality

In short, the study reveals that we’re online more and, for convenience’s sake, we’re taking more chances with our security. In step with this increase in digital activity, online scams are on the rise. And, while most of us admit to being worried about our online security and, many still don’t have the digital habits they need to protect themselves.

How do we respond to this new and seemingly ongoing reality? We can say we need better cyber safety skills, or we can implement them.

To help you do just that, here are ten easy peasy steps your family can take today to strengthen the protective circle around your digital life. Note: You don’t have to be tech savvy to do these things. They are easy, effective ways to build up your family’s digital defenses. Here we go!

10 Ways to Boost Digital Security

  1. Stay on top of scams. Phishing scams are at an all-time high. Discuss the precautions with kids — don’t open strange emails, click random downloads, connect with strangers online, or purchase from sketchy sources or websites.
  2. Zip it online. Oversharing personal information online is low-hanging fruit for hackers. They can piece together details in surprising ways to steal your identity — or worse. Encourage kids to keep private information and keep real names, city, address, school name, extracurricular activities, and pet names under wraps online.
  3. Create a family challenge. Find and fix your family’s security gaps. Inventory your technology, including IoT devices, smartphones, game systems, tablets, and toys. Rank device security 1-10 based on security best practices (see #8). Create an official 30-Day Family Security Challenge. Make it fun. Sit and change passwords together, review privacy settings, reduce friend lists. Come up with a reward system that tallies and recognizes each positive security step.
  4. Layer up your protection. Use multi-factor authentication to double-check digital users’ authenticity and add a layer of security to protect personal data and information.
  5. Connect with caution. If you must conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection, use a virtual private network (VPN) like McAfee® Safe Connect to help keep you safe while you’re online.
  6. Follow safe browsing habits. Browse with added security using a tool like McAfee WebAdvisor to block malware and phishing sites if you click on a malicious link. In addition to checking web sites, put your browser in private or incognito mode to reduce some tracking and auto-filling.
  7. Lock up your identity.  Protect your identity and important personal information using McAfee Identity Theft Protection, which also helps you recover your information if your identity is compromised.
  8. Take control of your digital footprint. Limit information online by a) setting social media profiles to private b) regularly editing friends lists, c) deleting personal information on social profiles, d) limiting app permissions someone and browser extensions
  9. Purge old, unused apps and data. To strengthen security, regularly delete old data, photos, apps, emails, and unused accounts.
  10. Update devices asap. Those updates you’re putting off? They may be annoying but most of them are security-related, so it’s wise to install them as they come out.
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