Macbook laptop with stickers on saying online security, this blog post on the screen. Beside a cup of tea in a white cup, a black and white pencil case and a black pencil

Connected devices and online security

We all know that familiar sinking feeling. When the laptop that doubles as a lifeline starts to play up. Slowing down, becoming unreliable. It starts to crash frequently and then one day, nothing. You can’t switch it on, a virus has wiped the data and thrown you out. Sometimes it’s reversible, but not always.

Macbook laptop with stickers on saying online security, this blog post on the screen. Beside a cup of tea in a white cup, a black and white pencil case and a black pencil

Online security of connected devices

Did you know that, just like computers, connected devices are vulnerable to security attacks? According to a recent survey by McAffee, 45% of people in the UK will be gifting tech gadgets this Christmas. 22% will buy a connected toy, which is a 7% increase on last year. And yet, only 1/3 of parents talk to their children about what they do online.

In our house, both children have limited use of the iPad, and they only watch television on it. They have no idea how to access YouTube or any online games. But I know that they will want to eventually and I intend to speak to them about the risks from the outset. Thankfully, school seem to be doing a great job too. Libby is already aware that people are not always who they say they are online and that she mustn’t tell people her personal details.

Keeping personal information safe online

The way I see it, there are two strands to online security. The first is keeping your personal information safe. If people gain access to your details including address and date of birth, they can use those details to your detriment. This may be by buying things using your money, cloning your identity or even targeting you personally at your home address.

This could happen to anyone. You might be chatting to someone online and reveal your personal details. But in reality, people aren’t always who they say they are online. Pop-ups are also a risk – you’re told you’ve won something – but to claim it, you need to give your details. Viruses are able to glean your personal details too.

These are often spread by clicking on a malicious link. All these things could happen to children and adults alike, but it seems our children are more clued up to it than we are. In fact, 36% of adults would happily give personal information online – including their date of birth and home address. And yet, the children in this video put the adults to shame. They all seem to know not to share personal information.

Keeping yourself safe online

The second strand of online security is the one that worries me the most. Keeping yourself and your children safe. As you can see from the video, whilst children know not to give out their personal details, they seem to have no issues with talking to strangers online. Yet, just 40% of British parents monitor their children’s use of devices, with one in five having no concerns about the chance of them chatting to a cybercriminal or social predator.

This is particularly pertinent at Christmas. Nick Viney from McAfee commented:

“The excitement to start using gadgets and apps straightaway often means people will hand over information without even thinking about it.

“After ripping open the presents this Christmas, Brits need to take a moment to consider whether they’re adequately protected.”

It is impossible to know whether people are who they say they are online. Children and adults alike should not add people they don’t know as Facebook friends. If children talk to people online during games, it is important to monitor those conversations. Where possible, make sure they only talk to people they know in real life.

What devices need to be protected?

Connected devices need to be protected as well as computers. McAfee have produced a list of the most hackable gadgets, with number one being the most hackable. This was a bit of an eye opener to me, did you know that a drone could be hacked? Here’s the list:

  1. Laptops/Smartphones/Tablets
  2. Drones
  3. Digital Assistants
  4. Connected Toys
  5. Connected Appliances

How to protect yourself, your children and your devices online

Whilst this information can be a little sobering if you weren’t aware of it, don’t start panicking just yet. McAfee have put together a helpful list of tips to keep everyone safe over the festive period.

  • Think before you click – never click on a link unless you totally trust it. Always be sceptical if you weren’t expecting it to be sent.
  • Stay up to date – Keep your software updated. Any security holes that compromise the software will be plugged by device updates.
  • If you’re unsure of a public WiFi hotspot, don’t use it. When you need to use pubic WiFi, never do your banking or shopping. If it’s essential to do this on public WiFi, encrypt your network using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) such as McAfee Safe Connect.
  • Research before you buy – Check whether there have been any security breaches or vulnerabilities reported on a device you intend to purchase.
  • Protect your entire network – you can protect both your home internet and all connected devices with McAfee Secure Home Platform. This also shows you what devices are on your network.
Online security | if you have a desktop or laptop computer, iPad or other tablet, smartphone, home hub, drone or other connected device, you need to take steps to keep it safe online. This post explains why you need to stay safe online, what the safety and security concerns are, what devices are impacted and how to keep all your devices and your family safe online.

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  1. It’s so scary what is out there and so important to keep kids safe online. Us parents really have to keep up to date with things which are always progressing and changing. Kids get all the messages from school and they do know how to stay safe, but once they hit their teens they can be tempted to break the rules just because ‘everybody else does it’ and it can be uncool to have all sorts of locks on what they can and can’t access.

  2. It is such a worry isn’t it. We have bought my eldest daughter a laptop for Christmas and I will definitely be checking out these tips to stay safe.

  3. Lots of good information on risks. My kids don’t tend to use the internet without supervision, but my eldest is probably going to start using it more over the next year. I need to use some of these tips, perhaps discuss why we don’t share information etc online and not to click on just anything!