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Guess my password game the 2014 edition

door lock

Guess my Password Game” was one of the first blog posts I wrote on Kids Privacy. I just finished reading an article about the top 10 passwords and discovered my kid had #4. Following the game, we had a little discussion on how setting a strong password for every account and on their phone is one of the best ways to keep information safe and secure. I think of it as teaching kids how to lock the front door. Passwords are the same. This is a kid’s first line defense to keep out identity thieves as well as mischievous friends.

Below are a few more helpful hints on passwords. And, if you want to play the password game, I have included the list of top 10 passwords for 2014.

4 Passwords Tips

  • Chunk it

I am taking a cybersecurity class online. Before taking this class, I thought my inability to memorize passwords had to do with my advancing age as well as far too many things to remember. Turns out it is not. The way our short-term memory is designed, we can generally only remember 3 – 4 pieces of information. This goes for kids as well as adults. So how does one set a strong password of 8 or more characters? Chunk it. Chunking is organizing a long password into meaningful pieces. An example would be using a date or initials divided by symbols such as AP&25*CL&18. This may look like a random series of letters, numbers and symbols but it is actually 4 pieces of memorable information.

  • Not one password to rule them all

I see kids using the same usernames across Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Tumblr. Yes, it makes it easy for their friends and classmates to find their accounts but it also ties together a lot of information. If they are using one super password, they are also making it a lot easier for friends or former friends to log in as them. Kids should not share passwords, but some do. By having only one password, they may have giving their bff access to all their social networks. Kids should keep their apps protected by using different passwords for every account. Periodically, remind your kid to change their password. Kids should not have the same password from 6th grade to senior year.

  • Answering incorrect is correct

This is one time where giving the wrong answer is right. Someone may try to break into an account by attempting to reset the password. Often resetting requires answering a security question. Unfortunately, kids and adults frequently have the answers to many security questions, such as “name of your dog”, on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other networks. A good rule is to make the answer to the security question the incorrect answer. For example, kids can make the answer the opposite such as the name of their goldfish or a completely random word. The answer does not have to be right just something they will remember.

  • Don’t forget the Phone

When it comes to mobile devices, many of us leave our apps open all the time. There are several reasons for this: 1) It is a pain to log off and log in all the time and 2) it is usually near impossible to find a log out or sign off option on many apps. The only protection against someone picking up a kid’s phone and playing with all their apps is to set a password on the device. Even if it just a 4 digit pin code, kids can still make it difficult to guess their code by choosing 4 different numbers not in numerical order. Without a password, anyone who picks up their mobile phone or tablet can open up their Instagram or Twitter and pretend to be them.

For more Password Tips:

What are some good rules for screen names and passwords? by CommonSense Media

Password Safety & Security by iKeepSafe

Advice about Passwords by Kids & Media


2014 – Top 10 Most Common Passwords


Talking with Kids about Online Privacy Settings

CSID_cyberSAFEBlogSeries-Backtoschool-01Thank you to CSID for inviting KidsPrivacy to take part in their Back to School Campaign! In the rush to join a new social network, kids often don’t take the time to investigate settings. Many popular apps will allow kids to open private accounts or choose to make a post private. Below is a link to my article where I discuss the different privacy options available on popular apps. For more information on privacy settings, check out my page containing Parenting Guides for Popular Apps and Websites.

Need more tips? On Thursday at 11 am (PSD) log on to Twitter and follow #IDTheftChat where CSID and Private Wifi will be talking about wi-fi at school and how to protect your child’s personal information.


Talking with Kids about Online Privacy Settings

Backtoschool_082514This guest blog post is a part of our cyberSAFE blog series focusing on back-to-school security, privacy and identity topics. It comes from Anne Livingston, the founder of Kids Privacy, which provides parents with information and resources to teach kids to share smart and stay safe online. This fall, she is publishing her first book – Talking Digital: Tips and Scripts for Parents Raising Kids in a Digital World.

When I download a new app, I like to figure it all out first. I take my time, look through settings, and read reviews. My kids have a different approach. They just dive in. Often, this means moving as rapidly as they can, ignoring the settings to get to the fun part. But taking time to explore the settings is a critical piece to protecting privacy.

In the past, teens were able to rely on privacy through obscurity. With so much information online, most communications were lost in a sea of content. Technology is developing faster and better ways to search. Now, people can look for things online via an image or location. These public photos and posts are becoming easier to find. This visibility can lead to unintended audiences. Parents should talk with their kids and teens about the importance of limiting information.

Continue Reading….

baby girl 2

Are you sharing too much in your Baby Registry?

baby girl 3One of the first internet safety lesson kids learn is never post personal information online; this includes full name, location and birth date. This rule is to keep them safe from identity thieves as well as snooping strangers. But before their first birthday, a child’s personal information may already exist online. When parents register for baby gifts, they are often sharing more than their preference for baby bumpers and bobby pillows.

Recently, a friend asked me to take a look at these popular online baby registries. He was buying a gift for a friend and was surprised by the amount of information posted. He found registries that contained a child’s full name, birth date, location, the parents’ full name and often the grandparents’ full name. All this information was public and easy to find. Last week, I spent some time investigating online baby registries.

Public Baby Registries

First, I checked out Babies”R”Us. Signing up requires a parent to enter their full name, location and their child’s arrival date. Parents can also add a maiden name, grandparents’ names as well as a personal message. Parents often use the personal message to announce their baby’s arrival by posting their child’s full name and actual birth date. These registries remain online for a year after the arrival date unless the parent calls Babies”R”Us to delete the registry.

Searching the Babies”R”Us registry, I could find an entry containing all of this information within a few clicks. Anyone can search the registry by just entering the first two letters of a last name. Enter “PA” and you can see 200 entries across the US. You can narrow a search by entering a city or first name. Within 2 searches, I had a registry with a child’s full name, birth date, city, state, parent’s name, maiden name and grandparent’s names.

babies r us full name

Other baby registries – including Amazon, Walmart and Target – displayed less information. Usually, the public fields were limited to parent’s names, location and the child’s arrival date. Again, parents could post additional information in a public message. This is where parents often added their child’s full name. Target and Amazon were the only ones I found that allowed for a private registry where only invited friends and family could view it.

target privacy


amazon privacy settings

“Why should it be private?”

I saw this question quite a few times on baby forums. When you are preparing for a new arrival, the last thing on your mind is child identity theft. With identity theft on the rise, parents should be cautious about sharing their child’s personal information. Recently I co-hosted a tweet chat with CSID and Lookout Social. One of the topics was how criminals mine social media accounts for personal information. I asked Joe Ross, President of CSID about the rise in child identity theft.

“Children today can have a digital footprint before they are even born. When parents post sonogram pictures to Facebook, cyber criminals become aware of a fresh identity on which to prey. In a poll by Posterista, it takes parents 57.9 minutes on average to share their newborns’ first photo on a social media site. Identity thieves are increasingly taking advantage of children, as most children’s Social Security numbers and personal information remain unused until they turn 18, leaving years for thieves to do serious damage. In this day and age, it is more important than ever for parents to be aware of the risks associated with child identity theft. CSID surveyed parents last year, and even though parents are aware and concerned about this issue, more than half are not currently taking measures to prevent misuse of their child’s information.”

It is more than identity theft. Cybercriminals can use this information for targeted phishing attacks. The information provided here, such as grandparents names, are also the answers to popular security questions. Most parents don’t realize how valuable this data is to a criminal.

If you are registering online for baby gifts, keep your information to a minimum. Your friends and family can probably find the registry using just your initials. Do not include your child’s full name. Remember, after the gifts are open delete the baby registry. If possible, use the available privacy settings. If the company you want to register with doesn’t allow for private accounts, send them an email.  New parents have enough to worry about without having to fret about someone stealing their child’s information.

For more information on Child Identity Theft, check out:


child id theft

10 tips for Protecting Kids from Identity Theft

child id theftLast week, I co-hosted a chat on Twitter with Clay Nichols from LookOut Social and CSID.  We spent an hour chatting with security experts, teachers and parents about how to protect children’s identity online. We shared how identity thieves are targeting kids by searching their social media accounts for personal information. With their information, thieves can often impersonate them for years without being detected. Everyone had lots of great tips for how to safeguard children. If you want to see them all CSID created a page on Storify for the #cyberSAFEchat tweets.

As promised, here are 10 tips from our chat.


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Need more information on Child Identity Theft:

Child Identity Theft and Privacy Chat on April 7

child id theftIn 2011, a report from Carnegie Mellon Cylab discovered children were 51 times more likely than adults to have their identity stolen. The reasons for this is children have an unblemished credit record and thieves can use their social security numbers for years before being discovered. Since 2011, the concern over child identity theft has only grown. Now, several states are proposing laws to allow parents to freeze their children’s social security number until they are 18.

To shed light on what parents and kids can do to protect their identity, CSID is hosting a tweet chat and a webinar next week. On April 7, I am co-hosting the tweet chat with CSID and Lookout Social. We will discuss child identity theft including how thieves target kids, how social media impact kid’s identities and what parents and kids can do to keep their information safe. If you are on Twitter, I hope you can join us.

If you are not on Twitter, you may want take this opportunity to check it out. This is a popular site for teens and a following a chat is a great way to see how Twitter works. A tweet chat is a live discussion around a certain topic on Twitter. To take part in the chat, log in to Twitter at the set time (in this case April 7 at 11 am PT) and click on the designated hashtag (in this case #cyberSAFEchat). Everyone participating in this conversation will use this hashtag. So, when you click on #cyberSAFEchat, you can see everyone’s questions and comments. If you want to comment just add this hashtag to your tweet. If you miss the chat, I will have a follow up post with the top 10 tweets.


Mark your calendars!

Join CSID, LookOutSocial and KidsPrivacy

for the Twitter Chat on Child Identify Theft and Privacy

Monday, April 7 at 11 AM – 12 PM PT #cyberSAFEchat.