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Have you ever received an urgent request for money or personal information claiming to be from a trusted source? It’s likely you’ve been a target of phishing, and it’s more common than you think! Phishing is a common cybersecurity threat that is growing more widespread and harder to distinguish each year. So, what exactly is phishing, and how can you protect your tech-savvy kids who are online more than ever? We’re covering these important questions so you can protect your kids against cyber threats.

Kids Are Online More Than Ever Before!

Children are growing up with a phone in their hands and spending more time online than ever before. The digital shift that occurred in March 2020 had millions of Canadians working and learning from home online. COVID-19 restrictions have made digital learning the “new normal”, meaning children are consuming and creating data on a daily basis. Unfortunately, kids spending more time online means that cybercriminals are targeting them with common cyber threats like phishing.

By accessing the web daily, it is important to teach kids basic cybersecurity hygiene to keep them safe while learning, browsing, and socializing online.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a common method that hackers will use to steal valuable information from individuals and organizations. Phishing scams are often disguised as messages from people and organizations that you trust, making them easier to fall victim to.

What Should You Do If You Receive a Phishing Email?

If you encounter any of the seven red flags of phishing in an email, phone call, or text message (aka smishing), do not interact with it. Delete the email or text, do not answer the call (or hang up), and if relevant report it. Phishing attempts are becoming more sophisticated, so if you are unsure ask the “sender” about the message through a different channel.

For example, if your child receives an email from their teacher asking them to send them personal information- it is likely a phishing attempt as teachers, or the school would reach out to the parent. In this case, you or your child can ask their teacher directly in their next online or in-person class to confirm if the request was legitimate or not.

How You Can Prepare Your Child to be Cyber Safe

The best way that you can equip your child to be cyber safe is by equipping them with the knowledge of how to recognize a cyber threat (such as phishing) and what to do when they encounter it.

Show your child how to identify phishing scams and provide examples. Here are seven red flags to look out for:

  • Urgent or threatening language: Look out for threats of closing your account or taking legal action, and pressure to respond or act on something quickly.
  • Requests for sensitive information: Be on alert for links directing you to login pages, requests to update your credentials, and demands for your or your company’s financial information.
  • Anything too good to be true: Avoid actions on messages that claim winnings from contests you’ve never entered, prizes you must pay for to receive, and inheritance from long-lost relatives.
  • Unexpected emails: Disregard emails such as receipts for items you’ve never purchased and updates on deliveries for things you didn’t order.
  • Information mismatches: Look out for incorrect (but maybe similar) sender email addresses, links that don’t go to official websites, errors in spelling or grammar that a legitimate organization wouldn’t miss.
  • Suspicious attachments: Avoid attachments that you didn’t ask for that have weird file names or uncommon file types.
  • Unprofessional design: Be on alert for incorrect or blurry company logos, image-only emails, and company emails with little, poor, or no formatting.

Bonus tip: Set a Good Example with Your Own Cyber Hygiene

Even when your kids aren’t watching, practice your own cyber hygiene habits! Your kids will pick up your habits and even practice it on their own. The age-old saying “lead by example” is key here. Encourage regular family discussions of staying safe online, and habits such as regularly changing passwords and creating strong passphrases, among other tactics.

Keeping Your Kids Cyber Safe

The best way to prevent falling victim to a cyber-attack, such as phishing, is to know how to recognize and prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Educating your children about cyber security and cyber hygiene can work to keep them safe online and feel confident when using their devices for learning and fun.

Your Cybersecurity Partner

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at our post “Keeping Families and Businesses Safe Online”. For all your cybersecurity needs, trust AlphaKOR to equip you with the tools and resources you need. Contact us today to discuss how you can strengthen your cybersecurity!