Could your children be helping hackers?

Parents advised to check on children's online activities

By Tony Statz - Producer

DETROIT - Many children spend a lot of time playing on tablets, smartphones and computers, but if you're handing your personal phone or tablet to your children, you could give them an opportunity to accidentally help hackers steal your personal information.

You've probably seen parents lend a smartphone to a child. "I know it's probably not a good idea, but I have let them play with my phone, especially like when we're in a restaurant and they're getting a little antsy," said Ester Passon, a grandmother from Rochester.

Security risk

Here's why that simple routine can become a security risk. If you're not paying attention, your child could open an email or download an app that contains malware. That's all a hacker needs to get access to your personal information. In addition, if you have personal banking, health, or other information that children shouldn't see, you will want to make sure your children can't nose around on any of your electronic devices.

Here are five steps you can take to limit your children's access, which will also help keep hackers out of your business.

  1. Always monitor how your children use your devices and don't give them unfettered access to the internet to avoid dangerous downloads. On a shared computer, you can set up different user accounts for each family member.
  2. Make sure your children, especially older children, don't know your login information or passwords. If you had a family safe, would you give your children the combination? Probably not, and the same principle applies here.
  3. Use encrypted data storage for personal information that you don't want your children, or anyone else, to see. You should also consider storing that information on a flash drive or external drive, so that it's not connected to the internet.
  4. Keep your PINs away from your children. Create PINs that your children cannot easily guess.
  5. On the same note, make sure the answers to any security questions are something that your children cannot easily guess.

Curiosity helps the hacker

Children are naturally curious and they've been known to snoop around the house while Mom or Dad is away. Just as you try to keep certain items away from your children, you should also make sure they can't get access to your digital secrets.

The best-case scenario is that your children see something private. In the worst case, they somehow create an opening for a hacker.

A Help Me Hank safety alert could change some family routines.

"I will think about it more, and I will probably, with my 4-year-old, be more careful when I give her my phone," said Kareen Donegan of Bloomfield.

Copyright 2016 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.