The Oxford English dictionary defines phishing as, “the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies, in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers”. It is when an attacker impersonates a trusted person, and dupes the victim into opening a digital message. This can be an email, social media message or even text message. The victim is then deceived into clicking a malicious link. This can lead to the installation of malware, the freezing of the system as part of a ransomware attack or the revealing of sensitive information that the victim has on their digital device. An attack can lead to identity theft and then the hacker can make unauthorised purchases, steal funds, and can have other devastating results.
There are two main types of phishing:
- ‘Phishing’ Mass emails sent out to thousands of people
- ‘Spear phishing’ – targeted emails sent to individuals where a criminal impersonates a client or someone the person knows at their firm.
Six point plan to prevent phishing…
Here are 6 points we’ve put together to reduce the chance of your child becoming the victim of a phishing scam;
- Think Before You Click! –Tell your child not click the links on random messages from people they do not know. If it is a message from someone they know, but it is an unusual way for them to contact your child, contact them directly to see if the message is from them. Ask your child to speak to you if something does not feel right to them online.
- Install and Anti-Phishing and/or anti pop up Toolbar – Most internet browsers can check the site you are about to visit to see if it has been identified as a phishing site.
- Use Firewalls and anti-virus software- Invest in high-quality firewalls and safety software. They can act as buffers between your child’s devices and outside intruders.
- Privacy and Parental settings should be switched on – Ensure privacy and parental settings are turned on, both on your devices and from your service providers to protect your family from phishing scams. Read our guide to parental controls and settings.
- Keep up to date about Phishing Techniques – New phishing scams are being created all the time. Without staying on top of these new phishing techniques, you or your child could unintentionally fall prey to one.
- Tell your child not to give out personal information: We suggest that when creating a password, you advise your child not to give out personal information, so a person cannot guess or access their information. There is more information about creating passwords below.
Creating the right password for your child is key…
- Mix it up! – Make the password a mix of numbers, letters and symbols, to make it harder to crack. According to Google, “an eight-character password with numbers, symbols and mixed-case letters is harder to guess because it has 30,000 times as many possible combinations than an eight-character password with only lower-case letters”.
- No personal passwords – Children shouldn’t base passwords around their personal life. We suggest that they do not include family names or birthdays, as this information is easily accessible for potential hackers.
- Be Unique – Have unique passwords for each account. As much as it may be a pain, have your children create a unique password for each of their important accounts, because if their password is obtained, it will only affect a single profile instead of the hacker having multi-platform access.
- Passphrase Password – Creating a passphrase and shorten it, like a little like an anagram, so that it’s easy to remember for your child.
- Two Step identification – Consider choosing a two-factor login, which requires users to use a second form of identification to successfully log into an account, such as a phone number or secondary email account.
- Security is Key – Ensure that your child’s passwords are kept secure. This can be kept written down in a safe place or perhaps use a password manager.
To help you generate a unique password with ease take a look at Dino Pass. You could even implement these tips yourself for your own cyber safety!
Who can you contact if your child has been a victim of or has been involved in a phishing scam?
If you feel like your child is in imediate danger, please dial 999 or the relevant professional body. To find out more information from the following organisations, click on the buttons below.