8 essentials when teaching your kids good password hygiene.

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Children now live in a world that is heavily influenced by digital devices and social media platforms. With 82% of teens now online, and 88% of teen internet users going online more than once a day, the dangers and risks of using the internet and social networks are more prevalent than ever.Furthermore, a lack of understanding and implementation of cyber-security best practices among younger generations is leading teenagers and millennials to make the age-old mistake of using the same password for multiple accounts. This can be very dangerous if the password falls into the wrong hands. For example, if a hacker finds out your child’s “favourite password” such as the name of their best friend or pet, their social media, email, banking and other accounts could be left wide-open for complete access to sensitive information and the whole family’s network.  Parents can be playing a key role in teaching their kids best practices when creating passwords and protecting their online social media channels. ESET recommends the following eight essentials when teaching their children good password hygiene:

  1. Make sure your children create unique passwords for each account and don’t share them with anyone, except for yourself.
  2. When creating a password, ensure it is long and contains numbers, and lower and upper case letters. The general rule is the longer the password, the safer it will be. Start with at least eight characters, but extend the code if it’s protecting highly valuable data or accounts. If you are having trouble remembering a complex password, you can also opt for a passphrase or use a password manager (more on this below).
  3. Avoid dictionary words (i.e. common words, names, dates, numbers) or obvious choices such as 12345678, password or qwerty.
  4. Add a bit of “digital spice”, such as numbers and special characters (e.g. @, #, !), or use them as a substitute for some of the letters in your password.
  5. If you choose the substitution option, don’t go for common “misspellings”, such as replacing “a” with “@” or “i” with “1” or “!”.
  6. Change your passwords regularly. The more important the data it protects, the shorter the interval should be.
  7. One of the most important rules is to never re-use the same password across different accounts. That way, if stolen, only one account is affected. We know we’ve already said the same thing in the first point, but it is worth repeating since it is one of the most important rules for the creation of strong passwords.
  8. Paraphrases are significantly easier to remember for teenagers than long, convoluted passwords. Paraphrases must be at least nineteen characters long. The longer your paraphrase, the harder it is to crack. For example: SpaceCampMashedPotatoes4 – your child’s favorite childhood memory and food combined.

It is essential for parents to start talking about cyber-education with their children from a young age, to limit the risks of identity and personal information theft. Understanding cyber-security best practices and proper password protection measures will significantly lower these risk factors and help keep information safe.For more information on how to protect your family, take a look at ESET’s Parental Control solutions for parents.