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Guess my password game the 2014 edition

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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


Make 2015 The Year of Internet Safety

Sponsored Post

dig citizen allianceThis holiday season, I was fortunate to have a chance to meet up with many old friends. We spent hours updating each other on our families and work. When I share what I do, I always got lots of questions as well as a few sheepish looks. Most of the questions were about what the biggest threats were online for kids and what parents should to protect their families. Our kids are growing up in a digital world. Parents love the amazing opportunities for their families but our worried about what else this world may bring into their homes.

Internet safety is definitely an area parents are struggling with right now. I find it is a combination of finding the time in an already busy schedule as well as knowing what to say to about privacy and security. Thankfully, many organizations are focusing on how to help parents keep their families safe and secure in the digital world. The Digital Citizens Alliance is one of these organizations.

To help understand what information parents need, the Digital Citizens Alliance, as part of their Digital Families Project, asked advocates, parents and families what concerned them most about online safety and respect. These results offered valuable insight into what issues mattered for families. Some of the interesting survey results were that:

  • The number-one concern for most (55%) was malware, spyware, and viruses.
  • The second biggest concern (roughly 20%) was illegal, illicit, or stolen content.
  • About 30% of people with children had concerns about their children’s safety online.
  • More than 50% had similar concerns for seniors.
  • 75% felt that identity theft is “extremely important.

I was not surprised the number one concern is security. In my household, I was a victim of identity theft. This past year, we have received 4 new credit cards due to data breaches. Even our kids were not immune. Last year, we talked with our teens about the Snapchat hack as well as the risks of downloading pirated music and movies.

Fortunately, families can take steps to increase their personal security. In the real world, we teach our kids how to lock the door before they leave, what to do if someone knocks on the door and who to call in case of emergencies. In the same way, kids need to learn to take these same steps online. We need to teach our kids to stay secure by always logging out, setting a strong password and keeping software updated.

Families can only do so much. Overcoming some of these problems will require the help of technology companies, like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. One of the priorities of the Digital Family Project is to encourage these companies to provide more safeguards. More security and privacy controls are needed in our kid’s favorite apps and devices. The results of the Digital Citizens Alliance survey indicate many families agree:

  • 19% said companies should “ban bad actors from profiting off of illegal or stolen content.”
  • 18% said companies should “better police sites for stolen content.”
  • 16% said companies should “ensure legitimate advertising doesn’t end up” on illegal content sites.

Without positive action by all of us, crime and dangers will continue to spread online. However, by working together, we can make the digital world safer for all of us. With the New Year upon us, it is a fantastic time to get yourself and your family ready to be safer online.

Here are some ideas to make 2015 the year of internet safety from the Digital Families Project.

  • Sign the Digital Citizens petition, calling for greater security and content respect online.
  • Visit the Digital Citizens website for information on online threats and tips on how to avoid them.
  • Discover tips and tricks from other parents from the Digital Citizens Twitter chat on December 17 co-hosted with 5MinutesforMom.
  • Like Digital Citizens on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to keep up with the latest on the Digital Families Project.

This blog post was sponsored by the Digital Citizens Alliance.

Friday Rewind – Generation Like, It’s Complicated, Security Tips

rewindHappy Friday!

On Friday, I am answering your questions and sharing helpful blogs and resources. So, if you have a question about kids living life online or a specific app, go to ask KidsPrivacy and watch for your answer in my weekly Friday roundup.This week, I have a few recommendations and some security tips.

Generation Like

In 2001, Frontline produced the documentary The Merchants of Cool, about how companies collected and used teenage data to design irresistible marketing campaigns. Now in 2014, Frontline has updated this documentary with Generation Like. It is a fascinating look at how social media has changed the landscape of marketing. In Merchants of Cool companies were designing marketing campaigns based on what teens considered cool. In Generation Like, teens are the marketers with companies using them to promote their products through likes.

As I watched this documentary, sometimes it seemed like teens were in on it and sometimes if felt more insidious. Some teens appeared to have mastered marketing with the rise of the teenage YouTube star. But, seeing how the movie studio strategically promoted the Hunger Games, teens looked more like pawns in an orchestrated marketing campaign. The studio strategically pushed content to create the feel of a grassroots campaign with teens doing the work of promoting the movie with their likes, tweets, posts and videos.

Parents were not immune to the pursuit of likes. One mother initially encouraged her daughter to show case her musical talent by posting YouTube videos of her singing. What started as a way to promote her talent became a chase for more and more likes. In the end, the music was pushed a side and the mother was encouraging “pool” shots because they generated more attention.

By the end of this show you will never look at liking something the same again.


It’s Complicated


After watching Generation Like, click on danah boy’s interview “the kids are alright“. danah is a Microsoft researcher who has spent the last 10 years talking with teens about living life online. If you have ever thrown your hands up wondering why your teen is doing this online, chances are danah has the answer. If you like her interview she has a new book out “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.”

Security Tips

This week, security companies and professionals gathered in San Francisco for the RSA Conference. During the conference, Stop Think Connect hosted a tweet chat to share security tips for individuals and families.  If you want to learn more on running a secure device and protecting information, check out these organizations.


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10 Tips from Data Privacy Day Champions

data privacyData Privacy Day is January 28. Every year, governments, businesses, nonprofits and individuals come together to share how people can protect their privacy and control their digital footprint online. Over 200 organizations have signed on as Data Privacy Champions including KidsPrivacy.

To kick off Data Privacy Day, I have 10 privacy tips from some of these great people and organizations. Growing up in a digital world, we must teach our kids how to maintain their privacy and stay secure online.  To learn more about talking with kids about managing their digital footprint, head over to National Cyber Security Alliance,who is taking the lead on organizing Data Privacy Day in the US.

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Talking to your Teen about the Snapchat Hack

snapchat ghostAlthough you may have lost sleep over the Target breach, chances are it barely registered with your teen. The breach that should concern them is Snapchat. One of the reasons teens flock to Snapchat is privacy. Here, they can send funny photos and silly messages to their friends that disappear. Teens can have fun without leaving a digital trail. But, one cannot have privacy without security.

Snapchat became less private this New Years Eve. A website posted 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and their corresponding phone numbers. They attained this information by exploiting Snapchat’s “Find My Friends” feature. This feature allows users to look up their friends by uploading the phone numbers in their device’s contact list and searching for accounts that match those numbers. What the hackers did was upload a phone book. Snapchat searched through all these numbers and sent the corresponding usernames.

Fortunately, the published information was limited. It did not contain photos or messages. Also, the published phone numbers had the last two numbers redacted. Although some security sites mentioned the ability for people to request the original list with the entire number.

Gibson Security, who identified this potential security flaw four months before the attack, has set up a website where teens can look up their username. The site will tell them if their information appeared in this breach. If so, there is not a lot they can do. Snapchat does not allow you to change your username and it is a pain to change your phone number. Concerned teens can delete their account and start over. They may want to go this route especially if their username is their real name.

Even if your teens information is not on public display, there are still a few lessons here.

  • Mobile Spam

Data has value. Adaptive Technology has an excellent piece on how hackers could use this information. Active mobile phone numbers are worth money within the spam industry. Couple a phone number with a name and hackers can send a personal phishing message. Teens should know how to identify potential security scams.

  • Unique Usernames

Many teens use the same username for their Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts. Yes, this makes it easier to connect with friends but it also ties together a lot of personal information. If your friends can easily find you so can others. Keep information separate by creating unique usernames for each account and different passwords.

  • Update apps

Snapchat is working to eliminate this security hole and improve find of friend. To receive these security updates, teens need to download the latest version. They should always keep their apps updated.

Privacy does not exist without security. Sit down with your teen and look up their username. While looking up their name talk to them about security. They are growing up in world where breaches are becoming more common. The best security you can give them is teaching them how to spot potential trouble