5 tips for parents for a cyber-safe Halloween


What are some of the main dangers children face online and how can you protect them from the ghosts, ghouls and goblins that roam the internet?

Halloween, the spookiest day of the year, is upon us. It can only mean one thing: kids don the costumes of their heroes or the scariest thing they can think of, and go door to door trying to collect as much candy as possible from their neighbors. . However, while some of the ghosts and ghouls, wizards and witches on the streets are imaginary, those that can be found in cyberspace are all too real.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the top risks kids face online and share tips that will help you keep them safe this New Year’s Eve, both on and off the internet.

Give the device the heebie-jeebies

On Halloween, most people go all out – thoughtful costumes, decorated houses, spooky candy. And kids can take it a step further by decorating their smartphones with all kinds of Halloween joys – spooky ringtones, spooky themes, or even Halloween themed apps that make spooky noises or spooky games.

However, kids are unlikely to be ready to dive into their allowance to purchase these fun apps and instead look for workarounds or freebies. This can include finding products on unofficial app stores, clicking on potentially malicious ads, or downloading apps from questionable developers. Any of them could result in their devices being compromised with malware.

Beyond using a reputable security solution to keep their devices safe, you should probably have a discussion with your kids about good cybersecurity habits, such as following official sources, when downloading any type of media, be it ringtones, themes or apps.

Specters stalking cyberspace

While kids would rather pretend that monsters are just pretend and people in Halloween costumes, adults know that monsters can be way too real; especially in the digital domain. They too wear costumes, sometimes donning the disguise of a friendly stranger, other times hiding behind the mask of a peer, but always for nefarious reasons.

The monsters behind these made-up identities engage in the act of grooming – where they prey on the innocence of their victims and try to gain their trust and gradually try to lower their inhibitions. They do this by using a variety of techniques, including psychological manipulation and persuasion, with the ultimate goal being to mistreat their victims in various ways.

So how do you go about teaching your kids about the dangers lurking in the shadow of the internet? The first step is to have a frank and open conversation about it, make them feel safe and understand that they can trust you and come to you with any issues. The second advice has been repeated over and over again: “don’t talk to strangers”. Especially online! Finally, although attitudes towards parental controls differ, employ them to monitor your children’s internet activities and what they post on social media. However, it should be done with your children while teaching them the importance of privacy.

Steal a child’s can-dent

As in every holiday season, crooks will try to trick targets with specially themed phishing campaigns and thus separate them from their credentials. And while adults may be able to tell fake emails from real ones, children, who are more confident, can be fooled more easily.

Scammers can customize the phishing campaign to look like an email warning of unauthorized access to a social media account or big Halloween-themed discounts. Your kids might receive a message purportedly related to a coveted pair of heavily discounted sneakers, but by clicking on the link they either infest their devices with malware or get redirected to a phishing website. On this website they will be asked to log in with their social media credentials to start the claims process and at the end they will probably also have to enter their payment card details. And just like that, their identities and payment information were stolen by cybercriminals, in effect stealing candy from children.

While most phishing emails will be intercepted by spam filters, some still manage to sneak through the net; It is therefore important to teach your children how to protect themselves against phishing and to notice the signs that they are dealing with a scam. This includes misspellings, evoking a sense of urgency, asking for too much personal information, or email from a questionable domain. Using two-factor authentication can also add an additional layer of security.

Scare the IT out of you

Night has fallen, your kids are done making treats, and they’re about to get ready for a dreary, spooky, scary movie night with their friends. Usually this involves brainstorming and selecting from a list of spooky classics all the way to modern remakes.

Once they’ve chosen something, maybe Stephen King’s “It”, they’ll probably try to find a place to stream it online and optimally for free. However, pirate streaming sites open up a whole box of worms. First of all, most free streaming websites are borderline legal, which could put them in the hot water. And secondly, these websites typically spam users with pop-up ads or adware which in most cases is trying to generate revenue but sometimes can be infested with malware. Some of them even use scare tactics to convince people that their devices have been compromised. Children who can easily be fooled by these ads can then click on them and download the malware onto their devices, compromising them for real.

Most adware can be caught through the safety net of trusted ad blocking extensions that you can add to your browser. But the best effect is to teach your kids to avoid visiting questionable websites that use similar tactics. You can rent most movies online or use official streaming services.

Lose your way

Children are a curious bunch, and they love to explore and discover things. However, an Internet exploration trip is not always an entirely safe matter. And without at least some form of surveillance, they might see things inappropriate for their age or find themselves in a world of trouble.

For example, while searching for Halloween-themed content ranging from spooky urban legends to spooky games and images, they may come across bloody content or unsafe for work (NSFW) content that is more geared towards a person. adult audience. This can happen despite their best intentions, as not all websites are strict about moderating their content or have age restrictions in place. This is where parental controls can come in handy.

Parental Controls give kids a lot of freedom to browse the internet and use their devices as they please, but allows parents to set healthy limits and monitor their activities. This includes configuring filters for potentially malicious and age-inappropriate content and limiting search engines to safe and secure results. It’s also safe to have a chat with your kids about parental controls so they don’t get caught off guard.

Closing words

To sum up, the best way to keep your kids safe this Halloween season is to take a hands-on approach by educating them about the various risks and threats they may encounter on the internet. And while you’re at it, you shouldn’t let your guard down either; While adults may be more skilled at spotting and avoiding scams, cybercriminals will target you as well. Don’t keep your eyes wide closed and keep your cool.

To learn more about the dangers children face online as well as how technology can not only help, visit Safer Kids Online.

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