Kids and computers – what protection is needed?

When a computer is operated by a child, it should be protected against a whole new set of threats. Some popular security solutions fail to provide sufficient protection.

You may think your computer and data stored within are not valuable and deserve just a basic protection, e.g. OS-bundled security features. The whole game changes when a computer becomes a child’s tool and toy. From now on, it’s parents’ responsibility to protect not only the computer, but the child from various cyber threats. Here comes the paradox – kids are often more tech-savvy than their parents and it becomes tempting to trust the child with the selection of proper protection measures. However, kids often advocate for basic or no security, claiming that some free malware protection is all they need. This is a classic mistake, because malware is just one of many existing online threats and others are more dangerous for kids.

Not malware, still a major threat

Internet security type of products may provide better malware protection, but the main point is the protection from other online threats. Let’s forget about malware for a minute and think about various bad stuff your teenager might encounter while surfing the Net:

  • Fradulent offers to earn money or get free stuff;
  • Predators trying to earn a child’s trust online and then setup a real life meeting;
  • Fake (phishing) letters trying to swindle kid’s personal data or even parent’s financial data;
  • Sites with inappropriate content ranging from porn to hate speech;
  • And the last, but not least – classmates trying to find a target for bullying or even a mate to visit a drug dealer together.
    Internet security type of protection is crucial for kids surfing the Net by themselves.

All of these threats cannot be avoided by using an antivirus or a firewall. But if you use an Internet security product equipped with parental control tools, and you spent some time to set it up properly, you can prevent these things from happening. Phishing and porn sites will be blocked, while keyword control will alert parents if some dangerous online interaction happens, thus preventing damage from bullies, predators etc. Additionally, parents can block age-inappropriate games and limit the amount of time spent near a display.

Self-defence

Sometimes you discover an active malware on your computer despite functional antivirus solutions. Don’t be quick to blame developers! Very often it turns out AV was turned off by a child for some time. Why? Maybe to avoid a computer slowdown while gaming (in reality, AV won’t make games slow, but most kids are unaware of this fact). Or maybe AV was blocking an installation of some game add-on (and malware disguises itself as a game add-on). Or another important reason. However, a powerful security solution should defend itself from ‘killing’ both by malware or a tricked human. For example, Kaspersky Internet Security has a powerful self-defence mechanism and password protection which helps to prevent switching protection off by unauthorised persons. Free antiviruses typically lack this functionality. 

Advertising

Developers of free security software typically earn money participating in various advertising systems, e.g. by installing browser toolbars along with software. Such toolbars may provide a ‘secure search’ functionality, which means that search results are malware free, but full of ads. Children are more susceptible to advertisement influence, so brace yourself for multiple-month long argument over, let’s say, a new motorbike purchase. This type of scenario can easily be avoided by using a quite inexpensive, but totally ad-free, Internet security solution.

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