Online Safety

How to Stay Safe While Working or Going to School Online

Whether you’re working from home or helping kids login for distance learning, these important reminders can help you and your family stay safe online at home:

Beware of email phishing scams. News coverage surrounding the novel coronavirus has resulted in a rash of online scams. Fake emails from the CDC and other health organizations have been reported. The email messages might ask you to open an attachment or click a link to see the latest statistics. If you click on the attachment or embedded link, you risk downloading malicious software (malware) onto your device.

To avoid this and other phishing scams:

  • Beware of online requests for personal information.
  • Watch for spelling or grammatical mistakes in the message.
  • Always check the email address before downloading content or clicking any links.
  • Regularly update security software on all home devices.

Use strong passwords. Do you use the same (or similar) password for different online accounts? If stolen, that single password could potentially unlock dozens of accounts with your protected and personal information. Change passwords regularly and avoid using the same password for more than one account.

Here are a few tips for making better passwords:

  • Avoid single-word passwords in any language. Hackers have dictionary-based systems to crack these types of passwords.
  • Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers.
  • Make sure user passwords are at least eight characters long.
  • Whenever possible, set up multi-factor authentication on your accounts. This requires you to provide at least two proofs of identity before you can access protected data.

Talk to children and teens about online safety. With family members often sharing devices at home, it’s important to teach these lessons to young people—because it’s too easy for a child to accidentally click a bad link and inadvertently share personal data.

These talking points can help start the conversation:

  • Talk with your children about the online risks of interacting with strangers.
  • Help your children understand that any information they share online can easily be copied and is almost impossible to take back.
  • Make checking the URL of websites a common practice. This might be the most obvious way to spot a fake or malicious website. Look for things such as dashes, underscores or extra words in places where they normally would not be.
You and your family can avoid online threats by being proactive about online safety.
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