I thought I might use this as a reminder to talk to your kids about computer security. We drill it regularly to our employees and readers, but honestly, kids need to be taught about this as well. First, talk to them about creating a strong password, one that can't be easily guessed. We blogged about the Top 20 you should never use here:
We also blogged about how to choose a more secure password:
Second, of course make sure the machine is patched with the latest operating system patches, and that the security software is up to date. This can pre-empt a lot of problems right away. But something that gets overlooked is making sure your child's account doesn't have admin rights. This way you can control what they download and install. This also cuts down on the amount of spyware and malware issues you'll have on that machine, simply because much of the malware written needs "escalated privileges" (admin or poweruser rights) to be executed. Yes, your kids may whine and fuss because they can't install some program that is the latest "GOTTA HAVE IT", but this give you the opportunity to research and even test the program out to make sure it's appropriate for your kids.
Another recommendation is to put the computer in a common area, such as the kitchen or the living room. You can monitor what your kids are seeing and doing, but it also means that you and your kids won't get sucked into hours online. It's hard to surf, chat, and game while you are around. This will also help with the above points of keeping the machine secure, since it's right there. Out of sight, out of mind, right? This is really an important recommendation, given what all we are seeing on the social media sites:
That's just a small sampling of what we are seeing here everyday in SophosLabs. So along with the new clothes, school supplies, and talks of safety, please include cyber-safety in list of things to get ready for the new school year.