This year, the school supplies list might be more about the right technology and devices than backpacks and pencils, and this focus can unleash a new world of risks. Because kids who are curious and impulsive may be exposed to potential dangers online, now is a good time for parents to review and share some cybersecurity basics.
Kids may be connecting with teachers, peers, and academic groups through a variety of online sites and video chat platforms. Parents should make sure they are up to date with the features of those platforms, and how their safety and privacy settings work. This is a great time to teach young kids online safety basics, set boundaries on appropriate tech use, and teach older kids the importance of maintaining a positive digital footprint (especially when using social media).
Just as we don’t give everyone in the neighborhood a house key, we shouldn’t share passwords and other information when it comes to online accounts. It’s important to teach kids to use strong passwords – they are the virtual keys to their accounts. And like real keys, they shouldn’t be shared with anyone but a parent and shouldn’t be easy to find or figure out.
Certain browser plugins, such as Flash Player, have been a popular target for malware and viruses, due to the universal nature and tendency to run content automatically when you open a web page. A favorite way of exploiting this is by inserting malicious advertisements into ad networks used by well-known businesses. If certain apps or programs still require the use of Flash or other plugins, you can adjust the settings to require an intentional click before running content.
Mobile apps can (mostly) only do what you allow them to do. Take the time to read the permissions an app requests before installing them. Read the permissions requested by an app update as well – you might decide to remove a once-satisfactory app because an update expanded the permissions unnecessarily. In addition, stick to the major app stores. While the major app markets (such as the Apple App Store or , Google Play) can be compromised, they are still far safer than sources off the beaten path.
Outdated apps and operating systems can sometime pose an additional security risk. Make sure you are running the most current version and have automatic updates turned on where available.
While many users are familiar with the concept of security software, there are more basic ways to protect unwary surfers from phishing sites, botnets, intrusive advertising and other unwanted visitors: Domain Name System (DNS) services. Since DNS servers are the middlemen between your browser and website content, there are many third-party DNS services that offer additional functionality for both users and network administrators. Many offer a simple free service for personal use that is preconfigured to block harmful websites, such as those containing malware, spyware and phishing attempts.
What if a child posts rumors about other teens online that implied negative information that could damage that person’s reputation? A standard homeowners or renters policy would not cover these instances. In order to cover claims from that kind of situation, homeowners and renters policies must have what is called an endorsement – extra language that is inserted into the policy to expand coverage – in order to have liability protection extended to cover “personal injury.” Read more about this coverage in our article Back to school for parents: Social media risks and liabilities.
As insurance professionals, we will be able to tell you if your current insurance policy already has this personal injury endorsement by reviewing it, and if it doesn’t, we would be able to help you get one. You may be surprised to find that this expanded coverage may not cost you much in additional premium. A personal injury endorsement will pay the costs up to the limits of your policy to defend you, pay a judgment or settle a case when legal action is brought against you or your children for defamation.
Make sure that if you’re a parent, you talk to your children about social media, how they use it and what’s expected of them regarding personal responsibility. It’s critical that they understand how their use of social media not only has the potential to hurt others, but that it could impact your family as well. For information about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the upcoming school year and emergency paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), see our recent article Back to school 2020 style.
As a Personal Insurance Consultant, Scott helps clients meet their personal insurance goals by thoroughly reviewing their current risk exposures and advising them on gaps in coverage.
As a Personal Insurance Consultant, Scott helps clients meet their personal insurance goals by thoroughly reviewing their current risk exposures and advising them on gaps in coverage. Once these potential short falls in coverage are identified, Scott will recommend solutions through a consultative approach, helping clients not only cover these risk exposures, but help them gain a broad understanding of what their insurance coverage can do for them. He has helped clients with personal insurance needs for 10 years, in all 50 states, and specializes in working with the complex situations of affluent clients.
It’s easy to see the advantages of co-owning real property with family or friends. Maybe it would be difficult to swing the mortgage on that cabin by yourself, but adding a couple close friends or relatives could cut the payments. Or, maybe and your siblings inherited the lake house your parents bought years ago. It’s great to be able to share the maintenance costs and time spent in upkeep among siblings. Besides, one family can’t possibly use the lake house enough to justify the expense.
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