Kids have just headed back to school after the summer break, and AVG (AU/NZ) reminds us that ‘back to school’ lists have expanded beyond new shoes and exercise books. They now cover preparation of home computers, school laptops and mobile devices for the upcoming academic year.
Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG (AU/NZ), said: "Back to School presents an ideal opportunity to engage with your children about their online activities and to look at updating systems, software versions and the passwords on every device used by every family member.”
AVG Technologies’ recent instalment of its Digital Diaries revealed that only two-thirds of Australian and New Zealand parents know their kids’ passwords. McKinnon said: "While there is a fine line between what your children see as caring and snooping, it is vital that ground rules are established to ensure parents can take the necessary responsibility over their children’s online practices and essential communications equipment - for the safety of the whole family.”
Here are some important tips for preparing your computers and devices for the new academic year:
Cleaning up the home computer
During the holidays the home PC will have had a good workout by the kids, and probably their friends. It’s time to clean it up and remove anything that may be slowing it down.
- Do a full anti-virus scan to see if any nasties have been introduced to the household. Check that all computers are configured correctly to automatically perform at least one full scan every week.
- Update, update, update. Most malicious software is designed to take advantage of poorly maintained computers. Mitigate your risks by keeping your applications and your Operating System up to date at all times.
- Optimise your PC to peak performance with a PC Tuneup product.
Protecting mobile devices
- Mobile devices - iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets are
easily lost or stolen. Mobile security solutions allow devices to be
remotely wiped and even tracked using GPS location technology. Devices
should also be secured with a PIN so they can’t be used without
- USB memory sticks are highly convenient for students to transport
files but if lost or stolen, private data and assignments may end up in
the wrong hands. Investing in a memory stick that allows you to put a
lock/PIN or encrypt data to restrict access is worthwhile. Put all
your sticks through regular anti-virus scans. Keep backups of all files
to avoid getting caught by stick corruption. Attach memory sticks to
brightly coloured, individual lanyards, along with your kid’s name and
school, so they are not so easy to misplace or forget.
- Labelling or marking equipment. Many parents take great pride in
labelling school clothing, lunchboxes and bags but often forget to label
technical gadgets. Doing this can make returning misplaced items
easier and avoid confusion when classmates arrive with identical looking
Community awareness is vital. If you see something that isn’t
right, discuss it and bring awareness to it, and this way you will raise
the online safety standards of your community as a whole.
- Make yourself aware of the IT security and codes of practice used at your children’s schools and reinforce them at home.
- Unfortunately, cyber bullying is a growing threat to the positives
of online social networking. With new classmates and new relationships
developing from the start of the school year, you and your children
should be aware of the recommended tactics to combat any nasty
- Reputations can last a life time in cyberspace. With the
combination of school antics and social media, a great narrative can
form online that may not be well received by future employers, so
students need to be made aware of the long lasting effects that may