Internet Safety for Kids Episode 4 - Which security settings are important?

Internet Safety for Kids Episode 4 – Which security settings are important?

This episode of Internet Safety for Kids is offered to you by Netzpalaver. The best online source for independent technology news. Netzpalaver contributes to making sure that children learn how to use the internet responsibly so they can learn and explore all the benefits our connected world has to offer.

Hi, welcome to Internet Safety for Kids and thank you for joining our program!

As always with our program Internet Safety for Kids, please make sure to watch this episode together when possible, so you all learn and understand these important topics. Don’t allow the adults to say that they already know everything because there will be plenty to learn for them, too!

Do you know which security settings are important? It can be quite difficult to keep track of all of them when you have several devices and accounts and apps. Especially when you install new games and apps a lot, right? So let us have a look at the important settings and help you understand how you should take care of security settings to protect yourself and others on the internet.

We will explain why is it important, what does it mean, and what should you do. Are you with us?

Before we get started, let me remind you of a very important security setting we have discussed in our first episode. Make sure that you have automatic updates and patches activated so you will always have the latest version of all the apps and operating systems to keep yourself and your accounts as secure as possible. When you did not watch our first episode yet, I recommend that you do that. You can find all episodes on our website and on our YouTube channel.

OK, let’s get started. Maybe you are using three types of devices. A computer, a mobile device like a smart phone, a tablet or even a smartwatch, and a game console like a PlayStation or Xbox. On these devices, you will be using apps, right? But we also have to look at the operating systems of these devices. And of course the apps we have installed. This gives us a list of the things we will look at and where you have to take care of the security settings.

  • Computers
  • Mobile devices
  • Game consoles
  • Operating Systems
  • Apps

Let us start with computers. You definitely need a good anti-virus and anti-malware program to make sure that you are protected against files and links with viruses and other malicious things that will harm your system and accounts. But you also need to make sure that your anti-virus software is updated because there are new viruses and threats coming out every day. Whenever an app, person, or device asks you to deactivate the anti-virus software, you should not do that because that means there is something wrong. Normal apps and devices do not need you to deactivate the anti-virus software!

The next thing you need is a firewall that will block connections from the internet to your device. In most cases this is build into the operating system and all you have to do is two things. Make sure that the firewall is activated, and make sure that you do not allow everything that wants to connect to your device. When an app or other devices wants to get permission to connect, the firewall will show you a popup window. This is the moment to think. Is this really needed? Do I understand this? Why does this app or device want to connect to the internet or to my device? It is very important that you always read the description and not just press the OK button! And just like with the anti-virus software, when you are asked to deactivate the firewall, do not do that.

Most computers have a so-called Administrator account which is allowed to make all changes to the computer and the operating system. Normal user accounts do not have the permission to make changes and will always need the approval from the administrator. I know it will appear easier to use your account with administrator rights but that is in fact a big security risk. It is much better to make a separate normal user account for yourself, and of course also one for everyone else who is using your computer, and only use the administrator account when you are making changes to the computer. This will help prevent that when a hacker gets access to your account, they will automatically have administrator rights to your entire computer. When you use your normal user account and an app wants to make a change or you want to install a new app, the computer will ask you for approval by the administrator. This is again a good moment to think about the change and if it is what you want to do!

  • Important security settings for computers
  • Anti-virus software with activated updates
  • Firewall to block connections from and with the internet
  • Do not use the administrator account for normal use, make normal accounts for all users
  • Think before you allow a change or access!

Now let us have a look at the important security settings of our mobile devices. To make it easier, we will consider smartphones, tablets, and things like smartwatches all mobile devices. Some things are specific for the Android devices, some things are specific for the Apple products like iPhones and iPads, but most tips are for all devices. Allow me to remind you again that it is important that you update your devices and apps, and the smart thing to do is to activate automatic updates.

When you have activated Multi-Factor-Authentication for your accounts, as we recommended in Episode 3, your mobile device will become an important step in the security of your accounts and devices. So, you should make sure that nobody can access your device, right? In case you have not done that, make sure that your devices are protected by face recognition, your fingerprint, a complex pattern, or a good password. The options depend of course on the device but keep in mind that face recognition and fingerprints are more secure than patterns and passwords. When you use patterns or passwords, please make sure that you change them regularly.

A very important step is to make sure that your device does not automatically join hotspots. On must devices you can find this under the Wi-Fi settings. You do not know if those hotspots are secure, and hackers like to use this trick to make your devices connect to their network without you knowing it. So, please make sure this feature is turned off! Normally we would also recommend switching off Bluetooth and only activate it when you are using it, but at the moment we need to keep Bluetooth active to make sure that the COVID Contact Tracing APP works. When you have not yet installed the Contact Tracing APP for your country, we really recommend that you do so. It helps us all to get out of this problematic situation!

When you use an Android device it is recommended to have an anti-virus app installed to protect you against viruses and malicious attachments. Please do not think that this means that you would not get a virus or malicious attachment when you use an Apple product because you can. It just is not possible to make anti-virus software for Apple devices. Most messaging apps can automatically download pictures and files that are sent to you. It is important to switch this off to make sure that malicious attachments do not automatically land on your device. And as bonus, it will save a lot of memory and you do not have to delete them afterwards. Unfortunately, it means you will have to through the settings of each app. This is also a good moment to remind you to delete apps you are no longer using so you do not have to take care of the security of them.

Encryption of your device is also very important. Encryption means that all information is secured by a secret code which only your device knows, and nobody can read the information without that secret code. Some devices will automatically encrypt your device which is great. Other devices do not do that automatically and you will have to tell them to do that in the settings. Do not be surprised when your device does not have an option for encryption because there are still devices on the market without that important function. Something to keep in mind to check next time you decide which device you want.

Another important security setting is that you only use apps from the official app store for your device and do not allow external apps to be installed. This is especially important for Android devices. But you also have to make sure that you do not install apps outside of the official app store yourself. Apps that come from the app store are checked and validated. There can still be some issues, but the chances are much smaller than with external apps.

  • Important settings for mobile devices
  • Protect your mobile devices with face recognition, fingerprints, patterns or passwords
  • Do not allow your devices to automatically connect to hotspots
  • Install anti-virus software on Android devices
  • Deactivate automatic downloading of files and pictures
  • Activate encryption of your devices
  • Only use apps from the official app store

OK, we have covered computers and mobile devices, so it is time to have a look at game consoles. The first thing that you have to keep in mind is that these consoles are in fact powerful computer systems. So that means it is important to make sure that you always have the latest updates installed. Even if you are in a hurry to start your favorite game it is better to get those updates first. The next thing we have to keep in mind is that most of us also use our game console for a lot of other things. Like for example watching Netflix or YouTube. And that means our login information is stored on the console. In addition to that, most consoles have the option to buy games and other things online, so it is important that we protect it, right?

The current versions of PlayStation and Xbox accounts offer Multi-Factor-Authentication, and it is important to activate that to protect your accounts and consoles. While you are at it, also make sure that you have a complex and unique password like we explained in episode 3. And just like with computers and mobile devices, make sure to only use games and apps from the official app store. We also recommend deleting apps and games you have not played for a long time.

All devices we use have some form of operating system. The operating system is basically the software that makes your device look and feel the way it does, and allows you to install apps, connect to the internet, etc. We have already explained that you need to have updates installed, and that you need anti-virus software and a firewall on computers. It is also important that you do not use a hacked operating system. When you do not want to spend money on an operating system for your computer, we recommend using Linux. There are a lot of variations of Linux and there will surely be a flavor that you like.

That brings us to the final point for today. The apps we install and use. Updates are important. Deleting apps, we no longer use, too. With the apps we use we have to keep a close eye on the permissions they ask. Not only after installing them but also before we install them. In most app stores you can already see which permissions the apps want. And you have to keep in mind that you are the boss over your devices. So, ask yourself if you want those apps to have access to for example your pictures. And does an app really need access to your GPS and location? The golden rule is that less permission is better. And when you are not sure it is always better to ask someone what it means. Asking questions is a great way to learn, and before you know it, your will become an expert yourself.

Wow! That was a long episode but there is so much to explain and take care of when we take our security serious. Please always keep in mind that making sure that your devices and accounts are protected is also important because it makes sure that your accounts and devices can not be used by hackers and cybercriminals to harm others. We all have to take care of our own security and that of others. Thanks for helping us all be safer on the internet.

What have we learned today?

All devices have operating systems and security settings we must take care of.

Updating is important for all devices and apps we use.

We must protect our accounts on all devices.

Only use original apps from the official app stores.

Think before we allow access or changes to our devices and accounts.

When we protect our accounts and devices, we also protect others.

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