Last Updated on 29th January 2021

In recent decades computers have become much more advanced. The average smartphone is now more powerful than the technology used to put the first human on the moon. But with this great power comes even greater responsibility.

Cybersecurity can seem like a daunting topic that requires a certain level of technical expertise. But there are simple steps you can take to support the children in your care to protect their information and devices.

Teaching children and young people about cybersecurity is central to building their digital resilience and supporting them to thrive in a digital world. 

“Digital resilience is a dynamic personality asset that grows from digital activation, i.e., through engaging with appropriate opportunities and challenges online, rather than through avoidance and safety behaviours.” – UK Council for Internet Safety.

In this article, our team of online safety experts explain two straightforward ways you can support young people in your care with cybersecurity.

Why is cybersecurity important?

As computers become increasingly more embedded in our lives, we store important personal information on several devices and computers, which is highly sought after by cybercriminals.   

 Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated, and in an increasingly connected world, it’s never been more important to be mindful about cyber security.  

  • A US study found that there is a hacking attempt online every 39 seconds 

  • In the UK, there are 65,000 daily attempts to hack small to medium-sized businesses  

  • 1 in 10 people in the UK have had their social media or email account hacked  

Empowering the children and young people in our care with cybersecurity skills supports them to understand the valuable importance of taking steps to secure their information and devices from hacking, malware, phishing and data leaks.  

Top Tips for Supporting Children and Young People with Cyber Security  

1. Secure Your Passwords  

When it comes to making passwords, longer is always strongerYoung people may have a lesser understanding of why using a strong password is important. The challenge of making a long password memorable can be tricky for children, young people and even adults.  

General principles of password security:  

  • Passwords should be changed four times a year, use a secure password manager rather than allowing browsers to ‘auto-save’.  
  • Use a different password for each online account  

  • When helping children create passwords, ensure they tell you but no-one else 

  • Use a selection of numbers, capital, and lowercase letters and characters when creating a password (avoid easily guessable information, e.g. name, address, pets, football teams etc.)  

  • Use a formula or recipe, for example, three random words followed by four numbers – pineapple-shoelace-buttercup1969 or replacing vowels in passwords with numbers or symbols – 1L0v3F0rtnIt£  

  • Use a password checker to test the strength of your password  

  • You can use our Password Creator Pack to support younger children, to understand password security. 

The best password is only as strong as the intent or skills of criminals to hack or guess them. There will be accounts a child or young person has that are particularly important to secure, and this is where 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) comes in.  

2. Lock Down Your Accounts with 2 FA 

  • 2 Factor Authentication sounds complicated, but if you use online banking, then you will likely already use it whether you realise it or not 

  • 2 Factor Authentication (2 FA) is when you need 2 passwords (factors) to authenticate your access to an account or platform 

  • This is when you log in and use two codes or passwords and sometimes, the platform will send one to your mobile phone or email 

  • This may be seen as extra hassle, but it’s an important way of securing our data in our most important accountswhile significantly reducing the chances of identity theft and fraud. The good news is that it quickly becomes second nature 

  • This additional layer of security can bring an extra sense of confidence in cybersecurity for children and young people. 

Young people can also enable 2FA on social media and email accounts to secure them. This means that even if a password is guessed, an unauthorised user should not be able to gain access. This is also useful if they are using a cloud-based storage system such as Google Drive or iCloud.  

Further Resources

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