Heartbleed; Explaining Internet Safety to Children

Heartbleed; Explaining Internet Safety to Children

There’s has been lot of news recently about Internet vulnerability called Heartbleed which was recently discovered. Without delving too much into the technical details, this vulnerability caused many sties to possibly expose vital personal information that people submitted to those websites. This includes social networks, shopping sites, email services, gaming sites, and music streaming services, because more than 68 percent of world’s websites use the same technology that was impacted.

The Heartbeat Bug has emerged as a serious vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This serious weakness allows hackers to steal protected information. SSL/TLS provides communication privacy and security over the Internet for various applications such as email, web, virtual private networks (VPNs) and even instant messaging.

The Heartbleed bug allows everybody online to ready the memory of systems that are protected with vulnerable versions of OpenSSL software. This seriously compromises on the secret keys used for identifying service providers and also to encrypt the traffic, the passwords and names of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to steal data directly from the users and services and to eavesdrop on communications and to impersonate users and services.

Whenever a serious even like this happens, it’s the best time to talk to your kids about sharing and guarding their personal information online. First it is important to find out more about yourself. Then you should share it with kids and tell them all the risks of their personal information getting into someone’s hands because they did something or it was not protected as much as possible. Train them to be proactive when it comes to safeguarding their personal information.

Some Important Facts

What we must understand is that this vulnerability was there since past two years, 68 percent of the websites that use the technology were impacted due to this bug, but not all these sites were vulnerable. Many companies and organizations have been checking the servers hosting their sites and all those who’ve been hit by the bug have been fixing it. If your website was affected but has now been fixed, it’s ok to use it.

What many users don’t know is how long a particular website was exposing the personal information, such as passwords, user names, phone and credit card numbers and home addresses. We’re also not sure how may hackers have gotten access to that information using the window open to them through that bug.

The first arrest related to hearbleed bug was made recently in Canada. A person was accused of hacking a government site and stealing large number of social security numbers. Maybe we’re just beginning to discover how far and wide the impact of this Heartbleed bug is.

What are the good online habits for kids?

  • Use strong passwords and change them often
  • Use only few websites that you can easily manage and also check them often. Dealing with too many sites means there will be too many places where their passwords, addresses and other personal information will be scattered on the web.
  • Be a minimalist. Only share things that you need to share
  • Avoid suspicious webistes
  • Assume everything kids to online is public and is never anonymous or private
  • Use strongest possible privacy settings

It’s Important to be safe on social media as well

Teens use social networks to connect with their friends and family on almost daily basis. So what’s the way they can keep themselves safe on social networks?

Use a code name or a nick name

Kids should avoid using their real names or names that are sexually offensive or suggestive to others. This will reduces instances of harassment online.

Set your social profiles to private.

Social network sites are best for connecting with others and best way to remain safe online is to set your profile to private. This way, only the people you invite can see your post.

Keep all your personal information to yourself.

Don’t share phone number, address or other personal information with strangers. Also don’t reveal your exact location.

Keep your security software up-to-date.

Cyber criminal are everywhere and they are there on social media too. So, ensure that computer you are using to access social media is well protected by a good anti-virus system or a firewall.

Avoid all in-person meetings.

The only way any person can harm you is if you’re both at one and the same location. So be 100 percent safe, and don’t meet anyone in person. If there’s really a get-together, inform your parents about it and meet at some public place.

Be smart when using a cell phone

Give your numbers only to the people you know. Also be careful on how you use your GPS and other kind of technologies that can pinpoint your exact physical location.

Dealing with Heartbleed Bug

Here are few important things you and your kids can do to reduce risk of having your personal information exposed due to Heartbleed vulnerability:

  • Check the website you use each time against the Trend Micro Heartbleed Detector. You canyou can easily download this tool from many websites, including Google Chrome webstore. Install the tool and hit the App launcher icon to open the Heartbleed Detector tool. Enter your URL and hit “Check Now”to see if the website is ok.
  • If the website is ok, you can go to your account and change your password and other information that you feel might be at risk.
  • Change your passwords on regular basis
  • Check all your bank statements regularly to detect unusual purchases
  • On social media sites, check yoru sent to boxes to ensure nobody is sending emails from your account without your knowledge. You should report any malicious behavior to the service.
  • If you have a mobile device or an Android phone, you can also check if all apps that connect to websites are Heartbleed safe. You can easily download the Trend Micro Heartbleed Detector tool from the Google Play store.

Security breaches like Heartbleed are always great opportunities to talk to your kids about responsible, safe Internet use. Try to use every chance you get to keep the communication going. Also try to set a good example yourself to help kids be the best and responsible digital citizens they can be.