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Information for Parents

  1. 7 steps to improve your family's web security
  2. What you need to look out for
  3. How do you know your child might be at risk?
  4. Your IP address
  5. Online Privacy threats
  6. How to protect your privacy online
  7. Block known spyware sites
  8. How anti-virus software works
  9. Which anti-virus?

Children are easy targets for people who want to infect your computer with malicious software. It is wise to have two separate computers in your home, one for your own
use with internet access and one that your children would use with no internet access
but only running the education programmes that are needed.
If you wish your child to have some internet access then there are several products
that allow for safe browsing like the following:
Crayon Crawler
Kidsafe Explorer

Visit Safeline, our hotline for safer internet.
NetSmartz, Educational resource for children and teens
Team Cymru 10 Golden Rules
EU eyes safer cyberspace for young


7 steps to improve your family's web security

  1. Do some research yourself on kid safe websites that your child would find interesting and education and check them out yourself so that you add them to the favourites list.
  2. Use some kind of safe browsing tools that allow access only to kids safe websites.
  3. Create different accounts for yourself and for your children so that each one
    of you works on a suitable environment. Block any unsafe content or dowloading sites.
  4. Adjust your web browser security settings to put it in maximum security when
    your child is browsing the internet.
  5. With the browser's History option you can check where you child has been,
    all the sites that he/she has visited.
  6. Educate your children about the threats online. Educate them not to talk to strangers online and not to give any personal information out before consulting with you.
  7. Teach them to tell you when they see anything out of the ordinary.
    When someone is asking them personal questions or makes them feel uncomfortable online.
    Read more

What you need to look out for
Malicious content, hidden content can steal your personal data. You need to be cautious what you download and the pages you visit.
There are fake websites that can trick you into giving out your personal data like bank details, postal address etc.
Those fake websites are used to extract people's information so that they can use them to do all sorts of frauds. Those sites at first glance look legitimate but there are a few things that can give them away.

More about phishing
Fake email are another popular threat. Legitimate emails coming from banks never ask you to reply giving your date of birth, or bank number in an email. You will never
get an email warning about a virus infection if you have not subscribed to such an alert service yourself. Those emails usually have attachments with fixes that supposedly cure you from the infection. Many fake email messages pretend to be offering a solution
to a problem and they usually ask for immediate action. So be wary of such emails.

Practice safe browsing
Block pop-up windows and avoid clicking on web banners to reduce the risk of getting spyware into your system.

Tighten your security settings
Check your browser settings and set it to higher security so that it automatically blocks pop-up windows, asks you for confirmation before any plug in or programme is downloaded into your system.
Regularly check your system for security upgrades. If it is not done automatically
then you will have to do it manually yourself by visiting the vendor's websites.
For example if you are running windows you can visit Microsoft's
web page at: Microsoft Security
If you are running Macintosh you can visit Apple's website at: Apple Security
You could also run a systems scan free from Microsoft when you visit
the following page: OneCare
The results it gives are on Protection, it looks for spyware and viruses, on Performance and on Network Safety. It only runs with Internet Explorer.

Other possible dangers
accessing inappropriate websites: pornography, hate groups, drugs, commiting violent acts.
contact with secual predators: through chat rooms, email.
bullying, harassment, character defamation: through email, instant messaging.
sales: apart from ethical e-commerce websites, there are other fraudelent websites
that are used to collect credit card information aimed at young consumers.

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How do you know your child might be at risk?
Your child spends a lot of time online, especially at night.
Most children spend a lot of time in chatrooms. Sex offenders use chatrooms to lure children or seek pornography.
Your child turns the computer off quickly when you enter the room.
Your child might be looking at pornographic images that does not want you to see.

You find pornography on the computer.
Pornography is used by sex offenders as a means to attract children so that they open sexual discussions with them.
Your child receives phonecalls from men you do not know, or is making calls to numbers you do not recognize.
Many sex offenders like to talk to the children on the phone.
Your child receives mail or gifts from people you do not know.
As part of the seduction process, it is common for offenders to send gifts to potential victims. They know that they are dealing with children who always love to have presents.
As a parent, once you see those signs you need to contact your local authorities and report your suspicions.

Your IP address
When accessing the Internet, your IP address is used to identify your PC.
If you use a modem with a dial-up connection, you get a new IP address each time
you connect to the Internet. If you use a fixed Internet connection (broadband, cable),
your IP address stays the same. Having a static IP address can be a security risk
as its address can be used to access your computer from the outside world.
Hackers can have all the time they need to search your PC and use it as they want.
What you could do is disconnect your PC from the Internet when you do not use it, and have antivirus and anti-spyware software to protect it.

Online Privacy threats
Identity theft is a major privacy problem. Cookies and spyware are ways of collecting information online. They record the sites that you visit and they use it to connect
it with your personal information and they build a picture of your online habits.
What has been lately on target is insurance companies that try to find out your medical records to see the level of risk that you are.

How to protect your privacy online
First of all be aware of the threats and their consequences.
Be on guard against spyware, have an up-to-date antivirus software.
Be careful to who you give personal information. Do they really need it? What do you think they are going to use it for? Read the privacy policy of the sites that you intend to give
out personal information.
Use strong passwords and different passwords for sensitive accounts.
This way you minimise the chance of someone breaking into one of your accounts
and being able to break into all.
Consider using encryption to protect sensitive information, files or folders on your hard drive.
Avoid sending sensitive or critical information online through email. Email can be quite easy to intercept. You can use encryption when sending and receiving email messages. Pretty Good Privacy is a well known email encryption software. You can also use
its free version GNUPG. Thunderbird email service supports encryption.
Avoid sending sensitive information online unless you are connected to a secure website. Those start with https instead of http and they also have a closed padlock sign
on the screen.
Completely wipe out your hard drive if you intend to sell your computer.
By simply erasing your data or formating your disc will not completely remove them.

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Block known spyware sites
Spyware can be a huge nuisance and threaten your privacy. There is a programme
that is used in conjuction with Windows Explorer that puts web sites into a restricted high security zone. It does not block them from appearing but it disables any malicious ActiveX controls from running. It also blocks the websites from storing cookies.
The programme is called IE_SpyAd and you can find it here.

How anti-virus software works
There are many different software packages, and all vary in functionality, but some basic tasks they do is that they scan files in your computer's memory and they look for certain patterns that could mean that there is an infection. Those patterns are called signatures. Each virus has a unique signature or definition and the anti-virus programme needs
to be updated so that definition exists in its database.
Depending on the software you have chosen, most anti-virus products do an automatic scan on your system while you work. It is also a good idea to do a virus check
when you receive files from sources you are not sure of. For instance, you can scan
an email attachment before you open it for any infected programmes.
If the software finds a virus, depending on the vendor it would alert you that it has found a virus and is asking you to 'clean' the file from where its been located. Other software put the virus in quarantine until you decide what to do with it.

Which anti-virus?
Choosing the best anti-virus programme for your needs its not an easy task as there
is a great variety on the market, some for free and some costly. In order to choos
e the right anti-virus for your business, you need to think through a few things beforehand. These are the budget, what you want to protect, how you want it to be handled.
A friendly interface is very important for some people who want the anti-virus programme to do its work at its best transparently or with the least user interaction.
Free against payed programmes:
Free anti-virus software are better than no protection at all. But over time they pose
some limitations over through tests over the years.

The most important thing to remember is that whatever software you purchase or freely download from the internet, make sure you keep it up to date as new threats emerge almost daily.
A few anti-virus products:


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