Kids today start using the Internet from an early age. About 80% of children have access to a computer at home. By the time they’re in their teens, many of them have their own smartphones or laptops. If they aren’t careful how they use them, they face significant risks of giving up personal information and access to their online lives, or letting malware onto their devices which can lead to the same problems.
Online safety requires good habits
No one is born knowing how to stay safe online. Schools can and should play a major role in teaching them good cybersecurity habits. The word “habits” is important. Mere “cybersecurity awareness” isn’t enough, if it’s only abstract knowledge. Children need to develop the right reflexes to avoid dangerous situations. Just as they learn to look before crossing the street every time, they need to develop habits of online caution. These habits should come into play every time they access the Internet.
When schools teach computer usage, they need to make security a major part of the curriculum. It’s harder than teaching them to open a browser or compose an email message. Legitimate, well-known applications aren’t out to trick them. Learning cybersecurity means learning when not to do as they’re told.
No one is too obscure
Children and teens have trouble imagining why anyone would bother with their phones and computers. The reality is that everyone is a target. Criminals spread their attacks as widely as they can. Every stolen password and every infected device is worth something to them. Any subverted device can become part of a botnet for launching attacks on bigger targets. The device’s owner may not notice until it gets blacklisted by mail filters or the account gets suspended for misuse.
Cybersecurity isn’t just for the pros
Some people think that the services they use are responsible for

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