While it is usually individuals within businesses who are being lectured on the dos and dont's of cybersecurity, the government as well as the industry itself is asking if there is merit in getting children up to speed with cybersecurity and giving them do's and dont's from an early age.
In fact, Robert Hannigan, the former director of Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, wrote in the Telegraph recently saying that:" The assumption that time online or in front of a screen is life wasted needs challenging." He advocates letting children discover, make and break things online, so that, like in real life, they understand it better and eventually help plug the giant skills gap that currently exists in STEM careers.
"Your poor parenting may be helping them and saving the country," Hannigan added.
As cybersecurity professionals whose day job is to be paranoid about security and look over shoulders virtually, what advice do you give children? Do you monitor their activity online?
If you are guilty of not keeping a beady eye on them on the world wide web, this is the time to get on the case. From Slender Man to Blue Whale, the internet and especially the app store on both Android and Apple are teeming with some weird and disturbing games that need to be kept away from children.
Additionally, here are basics you can start their understanding of cybersecurity with...
- You wouldn't let them cross the street alone, why would you let them browse alone? Make sure to keep all online interactions in a public area of the home and look through not just their internet search history but also YouTube browsing history atlas once every few days
- Instil in them the importance of passwords. That they shouldn't know or try to find out what your password is or use it anywhere that they are not allowed to access. They need to know passwords are important. Not just for their privacy but also yours. Online transactions cannot be made without your explicit consent. Enable touch ID so they need your fingerprint to sanction payments towards apps. Children can learn passwords and use them to download apps or make in-app purchases without your knowledge.
- Make sure you 'friend' them on social media so they know you'll be looking at their newsfeed and friends list for their safety. Children tend to behave more appropriately when they know their parents are around
- There isn't enough cyber etiquette around. Teach them the virtues of never doing/saying anything online that they wouldn't face-to-face'
- Put parental controls on your Wifi, Youtube, BBC iPlayer, Netflix... everywhere. In fact, download Youtube for Kids and breathe easy
- Children need to be taught to never talk to strangers. Never tell anyone your age/sex/location and definitely never send each other photos.
- Children should never be allowed to download anything. Parents should be consulted for each download and also when it comes to adding people as friends online. Every addition to a child's network or to the device needs to be closely monitored.
While the need for safety can never be stressed enough, getting them started young can help remedy the situation a great deal.