Brian Krebs, over at the blog Krebs on Security, has posted 3 Basic Rules for Online Security. From his perspective, and I agree, just about everything can be distilled into these three guidelines. To read the more detailed explanations, head on over to his post. Keep these three rules in mind, day in and day out, as you work on your computer and your kids work on their devices.
If you didn’t go looking for it, don’t install it
If you installed it, update it.
If you no longer need it, remove it.
For those of us who wish we possessed a bit more of the “geekiness” factor (a term I use affectionately), these three rules, especially numbers one and two, should be household digital policy. While Krebs’ three precepts are broad, they will, if followed, prevent lots of computer trouble.
I will add a fourth rule for families. Digital parents, not their digital children, should administer the computers in a household, at least until a child has demonstrated a fair understanding about potential security problems. In my household, this included the ability to explain the basics of avoiding virus, spyware, malware, digital citizenship and digital footprint issues (also see rules one and two) and the ability to appreciate potential consequences. A child can learn a lot while administering a computer, however, before taking on the task, he or she needs to possess a strong sense of responsibility and the knowledge of what can go wrong.
The bad guys in our digital equipment world are mini-programs of all sorts — often called viruses — that invade, infect, and incapacitate our computers. The medical metaphor is apt because digital viruses replicate and multiply just like those that infect the human body.
Different types of intrusive programs exist, though sometimes all are generically referred to as viruses. Another term, malware (short for malicious software), is often the umbrella term for the entire category.
To Install or Not to Install — That is the Question!
When people ask me whether a family should install protection or filtering software at home, I always have one response. Protective software programs are fine, but limited. Yes, they keep a certain amount of inappropriate content away from children, but the problem of access to inappropriate content is not solved by simply protecting home computers and networks with software. Over the course of a day or week a child encounters many other connections to the world wide web — on laptops, smartphones, iPads, computers, in other people’s homes, and maybe even at a parent’s office. And many children simply figure out how to work around or even outwit the software.
Protecting children from bad content is critical, but they also need to know what to do and what strategies to use when confronted by the bad stuff. Does your child remember your expectations? Will he or she know what to do?
Use these web sites to verify strange stories that you receive via e-mail or view on web sites. Verify before you forward these stories to others — always — even if a story feels like it has to be true. Most of the time these stories are false, and sometimes they carry malicious code.
These sites cover the real story behind urban legends, hoaxes, myths or rumors.
Snopes.com for a wide range of explanations organized by category, 25 hottest, newest, and more. Read the handy FAQ.