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Here are ways parents can protect kids from cybersecurity risks

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and there are various ways parents can protect their children from technological risks.

Nowadays, many toys and even some educational technologies used in schools can connect to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and that has some cybersecurity experts concerned.

“A lot of these toys or devices for kids weren’t really built with security in mind,” said Jamie Winterton, director of strategy at Arizona State University’s Global Security Initiative.

That means some of these toys and technologies aren’t encrypting information so that only authorized individuals can access it. Also, some are collecting personal information from kids, such as their name, age and grade level.

“All of this is information that could be used for nefarious purposes if it were leaked or breached,” Winterton said.

She said one way parents can protect their kids is by having them refrain from sharing their personal information. Instead, kids can create a secret online identity and invent a character – something Winterton said she and her husband already have their kids do when they get new devices.

“We tell our kids we don’t want it to have your exact birthday,” she said. “It shouldn’t know who your friends are or the names of our pets, because those things could be used to target you.”

Winterton said she has similar advice for the use of social media. She said parents should tell their kids to be skeptical of people they don’t know in person.

“If you don’t know who that person is, then don’t connect with them because you don’t know why they want to connect with you,” she said.

When it comes to baby monitors and other smart home devices that also connect to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, Winterton said she recommends changing the default password. Also, she recommends changing the settings to control which data can be collected and shared.

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