Proactive Parenting: Protect Your Family From Hackers

Protecting private information is sure to be an even hotter topic in 2013, with the recent conviction of hacker Christopher Chaney.

Chaney hacked into the online accounts of celebrities Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera and other women and posted revealing photos on the Internet. A judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison for his crime.

Such vicious hacking—which can leave deep emotional wounds and wreck reputations—isn’t reserved for celebrities. Your family’s sensitive information such as passwords, photos, credit card numbers, and private email, is just as much a target. With a steady stream of photo, video, and information sharing among teens, privacy is a topic parents can’t ignore.

The start of a new year is a great time to re-commit to protecting your family’s data from hackers and thieves.

What can you do to protect your family’s privacy? McAfee’s Gary Davis gets specific:

• Rethink Your “Forgot Password” Secret Question

Choose something that has never (and will never) cross paths with the Internet. For instance, go with the obscure question that no one but you could answer. Your high school, pet’s name, or maiden name isn’t a good choice.

• Triple Check Your Email Settings

One way hackers like Chaney gain access to email accounts is to set up email forwarding to their personal account. While a password change will help in most cases, it does nothing to disable an email forwarding service. Check your email settings to make sure messages are not being sent to an unauthorized account.

• Check Before You Send Sensitive Information

If you are intent on sending private photos via email (a practice we do not recommend) then be sure to speak over the phone with the person who made the request before sending private photos. In Christina Aguilera’s case, Chaney sent an email from the hacked account of her personal stylist to request photos. Had Aguilera called and confirmed the request with her stylist first, she could have prevented the pictures from falling into the hands of a hacker.

• Protect All Your Devices

Install a trusted security solution—now. Products like McAfee All Access can secure information across all devices in your home—from smart phones to personal PCs. This service offers remote data wipes if a device is lost or stolen, management of multiple complex passwords for accounts, and protection of photos and information shared on social networking sites.

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