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Online Safety Tips for Data Privacy Day

January 19, 2010 - 60 Comments

The Internet is empowering people today in ways that were unthinkable only a few short years ago. Web 2.0 technologies such as Facebook and Twitter, instant access to information and intelligent services, and the explosion of connected mobile devices are helping people communicate in dynamic new ways, be more productive and perform everyday tasks like shopping and banking more conveniently.

But for all the benefits of this brave new networked world, the downside is exposure to a variety of online risks – from computer viruses and other malware to misuse or theft of your personal information. Kids face additional threats, such as exposure to inappropriate content and online predators, so parents need to be aware of their children’s online habits and usage patterns, and guide them to be safe online and to act appropriately.

With this in mind, January 28, 2010 has been designated Data Privacy Day with a focus on keeping kids safe. The United States and 27 European countries will participate in an education and awareness-raising effort designed to promote understanding of privacy best practices and rights. Educational events will focus on informing teens about the importance of protecting the privacy of their personal information online, on social networking sites and in other Internet activities.

Here are a few tips to help you and your family stay safe online:

Internet Access: Inventory all the devices that your kids use to access the Internet. That means not just computers and laptops, but also gaming consoles, smart phones and friends’ devices. Establish appropriate rules and boundaries for each environment.

Privacy Controls: Familiarize yourself with the privacy controls for each device and set the appropriate protections. For example, set up your Instant Messenger application so that only your children’s buddies – not strangers – can see and interact with them. Similarly, in Facebook and MySpace, set the privacy controls to ensure that your kids can’t be tagged in photos.

Administrator Control: Who has control of your computer? Take control by making yourself the administrator. Set a unique password so that you, and you alone, can change the computer settings.

Chat Rooms: Make sure your kids understand that they need your permission before joining chat rooms. Take the time to review and observe the chat room before giving the go ahead. Also, have your kids choose user IDs that are age and gender neutral, since the first thing online predators do to identify potential victims is gather user IDs.

Online Friends: Talk to your children about the need to discuss with you before meeting any online friends face-to-face.

Browser History: Check your browser history to find out where your children are spending time online. If the history does not exist or has been selectively deleted, that’s a red flag. You should also review the SMS and browser logs on smart phones from time to time.

Information Sharing: Teach your children not to share any personal information over the Internet without your permission.

E-mail: To avoid phishing scams, teach your family never to reply or click on links within e-mails asking for personal or financial information. If a retailer or vendor asks you to e-mail your credit or debit card details, absolutely do not do it.

Passwords: Use strong passwords that incorporate symbols, numbers and letters – never a word from a dictionary of any language. Do not share your passwords with others and change them often (every 90–120 days or when they are exposed).

Protecting Your Computer: Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Keep them automatically updated and do not ignore warnings. Guide your family to alert you when a warning presents itself.

These are just a few basics for online safety. Above all, keep the communication lines open and help your kids understand the potential dangers on the Internet so they feel comfortable reporting unusual activity. In addition, you can turn to technology products such as Linksys by Cisco’s Home Network Defender, which can block preset sites and report Internet activities to network administrators.

Useful Links:

Facebook Page for Data Privacy Day

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  1. Im impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a site thats both informative and entertaining. I will be sharing this info on my facebook page with my friend and relatives. Thanks.

  2. In my experience the last thing kids think about when creating a user ID is to be age and gender neutral, unless a parent actually points out the necessity for it. Good advice!

  3. This is all good advice. Use of parental controls is a must to prevent access to sites where kids shouldn't go. Common sense should be used when it comes to computers and kids.

  4. Van, this is a great article. Families need to communicate more about online safety. I really like the part about taking an inventory of all of the internet enabled devices. There are too many times that a computer sits in the back room, left on and without updates giving an attacker an easy in.

  5. It's kinda shocking just what people are willing to part with online that they wouldn't on the phone. It's only going to get worse too.

  6. Very understandable post about online safety! It’s extremely important indeed to protect our kids from the dangers of the internet. But this is getting harder and harder for us, as the villains of the internet becomes more and more clever. I completely agree with M.Keller, you simply have to use your brain.

  7. Tips you provided here is very helpful for those who are new and for the reason vulnerable to such fraudulent attacks over their privacy. People should be aware of hacking and all sorts of frauds on internet to save their privacy. Beyond these there could be more technical details that should be known to the internet users to prevent themselves from being reprieved of their data.

  8. thank you for the realy good article

  9. Indeed this is useful information as Data security is becoming important day by day.Below are main points of security classification. These points have sub-point classification, which gives idea about various level security threats to an application/software.1)Authentication2)Authorization3)Client-side Attacks4)Command Execution5)Information Disclosure6)Logical Attacks

  10. Some good points you mention. I would also point out that data has been collected by the likes of Google recently. How do we stop the likes of that huge company from doing so? It is very difficult as Im sure you understand.

  11. Good tips but it's not 100% safe. If you want 100% safety then unplug Ethernet cable. Good way to gain safety is useing browser to configure pages what can be seen and block all other. There is some software's that can help too.

  12. Thanks for the tips. It is more imperative that people are aware these days of phishing sites, chat rooms and scam emails. Identity theft is on the increase so think twice before entering any information into a website. Always check the security certificates and if in doubt don't enter.

  13. Online Friends: Talk to your children about the need to discuss with you before meeting any online friends face-to-face.""That is a useful tip, especially with the gruesome incidents going on nowadays."

  14. I like point no 5, Online friend.Teenagers like to see their online buddies. As a parent its really important to monitor and give some guide on meeting stranger online. Especially in Facebook, a lot of criminal cases nowadays that started from meeting online.

  15. virus is the most terrible bad to everyone, my desktop was infected a lots of them, and I used both Norton AV, Avira, AVG but they're still alivenow I'm formatting all partitions for new setups, too bad

  16. Great tips. Another issue is the firefox saved passwords. Anyone can access them if he has access to your computer. I prefer not to save this data.

  17. I think keeping children safe at home is becoming harder and harder. Kids are getting smarter about getting around parental controls and there will never be a 100% full proof plan besides actually sitting in the same room and monitoring your child. I know we can't always do that, but keeping the computer in a high traffic area in the house could be the best solution!

  18. Never meet someone you have met online and keep your parents or friends informed of who you are chatting to. Because you cannot always see who you are chatting to you could get hurt if you were to meet someone offline.

  19. I have noticed a recent increase in the amount of phishing scams via email. A lot of them are getting through the spam filters too. You can't trust anything in your inbox.A little tip, if you ever suspect an email to be fishy, asking you to follow a link to logon then just go to the address bar and type in the URL yourself.

  20. As more data is moving online and consumers are more concerned about the privacy and security of their data, it is imperative that companies focus their efforts on safeguarding this data but the most important tip is always have a little common sense.

  21. Problem is most kids don't know much about privacy, and honestly it should be a growing concern. You can google anyones name and find them within seconds, with information on where they live and how they are. Heck, even personal information can be a click away. Education in the US should take a more firm stand on educating children on internet privacy and what information they give out.

  22. Another tip is to not use the same username for email, forums, social networks, paypal, ebay, amazon, etc.If someone figures out a password for one site, they may be able to get access to everything you do on the web.

  23. Wonderful post!However, I think that responsible social behavior is the key to information security.

  24. Thanks for the post. There's actually some meat to this article rather than the quick summary that most people post. My kids are starting to get online so their safety is a concern for me. Thanks again.

  25. In my experience the last thing kids think about when creating a user ID is to be age and gender neutral, unless a parent actually points out the necessity for it. Good advice!

  26. What I am mostly aware of is emails.There are lots of variations to ask for private information and even get you to install a virus/trojan without your awareness/notice.

  27. I think using Cisco's Home Network Defender is a great idea, since it will block most of the dangerous"" sites. As other comments say, it will be a great idea to not share any private data, such as name, address, age, photos on social networks."

  28. Great tips.. Think of your technology in the same way you think of your physical stuff; you wouldn't leave your keys in the ignition of your car, so don't leave the door open to the secrets of your hard drive, either

  29. Very comprehensive post about online safety! It's very important indeed to defend children from the dangers of the internet. But this task is harder and harder for parents, as the ad guys"" of the internet becomes cleverer. They'll always be ahead of us with one step, I'm afraid :( I fully agree with M.Keller, you always have to use your brain."

  30. Online security is the main problem nowadays, even with good protection you're not 100% safe ! thanks for this good article

  31. Thanks for the tips. It's really important that we keep our online property safe.

  32. Internet has now became a medium for terrorists to get information from.But there has been very little awareness about the seriousness of data security.Nice article this!

  33. Hello,As it is hard to remember a password which doesn't have any meaning, I would recommend to use a leet speech version of a real word.Regards,Levente

  34. These are nice tips.. People links could lead you to a phishing site. Instead, sort the institution’s Net address directly into your browser yourself.

  35. Yes, online saftey is a big issue these days, now that so many people have access to the web, especially young children.

  36. I believe that you should change the password even more often... 90 days is alot!I change them every month. It only takes an hour for all my sites :)

  37. I would add that is very important to use a backup software, just not to lose your important data. I use Norton Ghost, but there are few good free tools too available on web.

  38. Nice article, you should also have mentionned the fake Virus"" anylise popups which lead to malware and spyware software..."

  39. Thanks for the great tips Van webmasters we have to think about security always..

  40. Thanks for the tips!There are many online fraud out there and still many people try to steal information. It is good to be aware of the internet scammer and nowadays users should me more concern about the information data privacy. No matter how advanced the internet security technology, there are still people out there try to break it.

  41. thanks for sharing this useful article. I totally agree with M. Keller, brain is the most important, to protect our data policy, we need to have a good habit of surfing online, such as not to disclose password on public computer, etc.

  42. I would this is one of those articles which all the parents around the world should go through, especially who have kids from 10 to 20 age group. You have very well explained in detail the precautions we need to take so that our kids dont go haywire.I agree here with Mike too, that we should not save or enter any of the passwords except our own computers. Infact internet cafes do have lot of malicious softwares installed.

  43. Great guide for online safety tips. I'll definitely show my kids this since they play a lot of games with chatrooms and they use msn a lot.I would also like to add another tip which I believe is important in protecting your pc... Always have warranty for that pc... trust me... a lot of people will be victims of viruses which antiviruses can't fully remove and there are also other factors which will lead to the destruction of a pc. No-one wants to buy another one and lose all their data...

  44. Thank you for the tip.But people should try to limit the number of unknowing website they visit each day.make a list of helpful websites and use them only.

  45. The most important is facebook information or other social networking.Btw, nice thanks for sharing

  46. I think we have reached the era where more and more people will become aware of the online safety importance. What I mean is that the parents of children age up to 12-14 are already much more aware of online dangers than their parents were and they can give their children the advice they probably didn't receive from their own parents.

  47. I am completely satisfied with the tips provided in the post above. People generally don't consider it an important part but it is. I really agree with the change of password often. I also agree with avoiding talking with unknown people online"". It has very bad effects on someone's life.:)"

  48. I must say I do worry about the safety of my kids when they surf on the internet sometimes. I regularly check out the best websites for my kids online by using Also, check out this interesting blog post I found last night, it has lots of advice for parents including info on kids websites, roads safety, schools, health and lots more."

  49. Thanks for the tips.No matter what, internet users should be careful where and how they use they internet.

  50. Nice article. Tips you provided here is very helpful for those who are new and for the reason vulnerable to such fraudulent attacks over their privacy. People should be aware of hacking and all sorts of frauds on internet to save their privacy. Beyond these there could be more technical details that should be known to the internet users to prevent themselves from being reprieved of their data. Key logging software are a great threat when you are on a shared network. I guess there is more to it.

  51. Great information for anyone looking to beef up their security. As an added note, it's important not to run more than one firewall program or anti-virus program at once as they tend to interfere with each other and cause errors. Pick from one of the top 5 best products on the market (there are some great free ones, such as AVG).

  52. security for websites is a very big issue, With more and more websites holding credit card data for auctions and shoppers. Makes you feel a little uneasy, So an excellent security system on servers and pc's is now highly recommended.

  53. Only one issue : some kids are really smart. Even smarter then their parents when it comes to computers. I think beyond the technical restrictions, it will be better to do some information and education to the kids :)

  54. Teh most important thing is: be carefull and save your privace by using your brain. Just my 2 ct

  55. These are great tips. Considering that this is a networking based site I would also say that implementing a secure firewall and/or hardware proxy is a valuable safety decision.

  56. I would add another tip for E-mail:Safeguard yourself from phishers, cybercriminals who try to steal your personal data by luring you to illegitimate sites. It's risky to click on links sent via e-mail from financial institutions. Those links could lead you to a phishing site. Instead, type the institution’s Web address directly into your browser yourself.

  57. Online security will always remain a problem until some major step is taken and some strong laws are made for it. AM already tired of changing the anti virus and firewalls.

  58. Nice tips, on the topic of passwords a manager software could help a lot these days that is common to have various logins to keep track.

  59. I would add another tip: Check where are you accessing the Internet"". Try not submit passwords or any personal information into computers that are not yours. Many internet cafes for instance, have malicious softwares installed in them that collect passwords and other info submitted in them."

  60. Thanks for this post!But you forgot one of the most important parts:Use your brain! Many people do not think enough about stuff they expose to the internet. Either Photos, PINs or Creditcard Numbers. Many people pay for stuff they could get for free. I personally think everyone should do some kind of drivers"" license to be allowed to go online."