Safe as a family on the net: Play with your kids!

Recent hacker attacks have unsettled many parents. How can you protect your family online? Safe passwords alone are not enough. It is important to be interested in the offspring.

How can you protect your family from hackers? How to make children knowingly familiar with IT security? In mid-January, the SZ She asks her readers what she thinks about IT security in the family. The digital experts of the editorial team answer the most interesting questions.

Which password should my child choose?

Do not set your child the password that you use. However, the basic rules for a strong password are the same for children as they are for adults: always change the default passwords on new devices. Do not use single words, especially common passwords such as "password" or "123456" are taboo. Those who replace some letters with special characters should know: such cheap tricks can be the algorithms of the hackers as well. From eight characters on, a password is reasonably safe, better are twelve or 16 characters. If a child has difficulty remembering, sentences of several words are easier to remember. Poor are however obvious phrases like "DuKommstNichtVorbei", because they can be easily guessed in this context.

How do I secure my home network from?

Home IT security starts with a secure home network. First step should be to change the default wifi password. You should also change the password for accessing your router as described in the instructions. You should deactivate the remote access to the router – if you need it professionally, you will know so well that these tips are superfluous for you. All passwords used for routers and wifi should comply with common password security rules. Also essential: Make sure that all devices use the latest software updates.

This applies to routers, operating systems and apps on mobile devices as well as any other devices connected to the Internet. In many households this includes everything from TVs to thermostats or toasters. Because attacks on your home network do not have to be made through your router, hackers can also invade other devices that are connected to the Internet. Therefore, when buying new equipment, you should always ask yourself if they really need to communicate with the Internet. Whether such devices are safe and offer regular updates, according to plans of the Federal Government according to an IT security certificate in the future. Until then, you should check with the dealer before buying the options to secure the product. On computers that also use children, you should set up an admin account that only you have access to. Children should only use a limited account that can not change any settings and may also have parental controls enabled. On mobile devices help special apps.

What good are youth protection apps on mobile phones and family accounts on large platforms?

Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Netflix: All major platforms now offer settings or extra programs for their parents who want to protect their children online. For example, with an extra Netflix account, kids can only access movies and TV shows that are approved for certain age groups. Parents can also share or block series or movies individually if they are not satisfied with the age ratings of the FSK. On the Amazon video sharing platform, with the parental control turned on, a PIN must be entered to view adult content.

Apps such as Microsoft Family Safety, Apple Parental Controls or Google Family Link offer the opportunity to limit Internet or gaming time for children's devices according to age. The major operating system vendors for PCs, smartphones and tablets also have a general-purpose browser filter (for example, iOS for the "screen time" feature or "Restricted Profile" for Android). However, these filters are only conditionally recommendable, as a test of the Magdeburg IT security institute AV-Test showed at the end of 2018. Thus, the system tools of Microsoft, Apple and Google block only pornographic content largely reliable. However, there are many other websites or apps that may be unsuitable for children and adolescents. These include violence, forense pages, open chats, and shopping and dating sites.

The AV test report shows: the youth protection filters of the large offerers have huge gaps. Only Amazon offers therefore extensive protection, but only because the parental control of Kindle devices blocked by default, a large part of the Internet sites.

It is better to cut out special child protection apps that some providers of IT security solutions sell. It also protects your child from sharing their address, phone number or other private details when registering in forums or social media. In addition, these apps provide a reporting feature that keeps parents up to date on children's attempted violations. Whether this is a good idea, but parents have to decide for themselves.

How much contact should children have with smartphones, computers or social media?

Smartphones, computers, tablets and televisions should only be dosed well and for a limited time into children's hands, advises the Federal Center for Health Education (here the brochure as PDF). Your recommendation for children under the age of three: complete electronic media abstinence. No more than 30 minutes a day for people under the age of five, no more than 45 to 60 minutes from the age of six. A cell phone or smartphone can be from nine years, unattended computer / Internet use not twelve years ago. But do such rigid rules empower children to learn how to use digital media properly? The media ethicist Ingrid Stapf calls for a change of perspective: Parents should often ask their children why they want to play a specific computer game or want to be on Youtube. Children often have good reasons, be it interest, entertainment or just boredom. The idea of ​​protection from the risks in the network is important, but he often dominates the discourse in Germany and underestimates children. The "Schau hin!" Initiative of the Family Ministry, ARD, ZDF and TV Spielfilm also recommends: "Children who use the media competently and carefully can thus exercise their right to education, leisure, play and recreation."

Should parents show off digital abstinence? Or should they be more interested in digital? Do you have to reinfuchsen now on Instagram, just because the children are traveling there?

The educator Friedrich Froebel is attributed to the Aphorimus: "Education is a role model and love and nothing else." The man died in the middle of the 19th century, but the advice continues today to help with questions on the use of digital techniques. An important orientation for children is the behavior of their own parents. So if you want your own children to handle the digital with confidence, you should start with yourself. That's not easy, but more effective than rules that are only meant for children. If you wish your children to wear a helmet while cycling, it is helpful to wear one yourself. And who wants the children to learn to put the smartphone down, that must live it. However, role models only work in areas where knowledge is available. Total abstinence is therefore a bad guide. On the contrary, it is even advisable to try out applications and programs yourself, play games together with the children and watch websites together. So you not only lay the foundation for a trusting relationship, you can also show the children that there are areas where they are better than you can teach yourself and something.

Should IT security also be an issue in school education?

Just this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized on the occasion of "Safer Internet Day" that it was important to familiarize children with IT security as well. This is an important part of the digital pact school, will flow over the five billion euros from the federal government to the countries. For this purpose, the Basic Law should be amended and the cooperation ban in education should be relaxed. At the moment, however, the digital pack is stuck in the mediation committee. So far, education is only a matter of the country – and they often have different approaches.

In Bavaria, for example, digital education with the new "Curriculum Plus" should be anchored more strongly than before in the classroom. At secondary schools, secondary schools and high schools, different aspects of IT security are to be taken up from the school year 2019/2020. Thus, the curriculum in the field of nature and technology provides a focus on "opportunities and risks of digital communication" in the seventh grade of the Gymnasium. Among other things, it should deal with the use of secure passwords, personal privacy and data protection, as well as potential threats from viruses or deliberately dispersed political news in just five lessons. At Realschulen and schools of a special kind in Munich, there is already the project "Netzgänger" in cooperation with the search help club Condrobs. The students learn how to handle their own data and protect it.

How does the state help citizens?

Here, too, there are many different approaches and plans in the 16 federal states, and the cities and municipalities also offer assistance to their inhabitants – from adult education courses to symposia or information websites. Bavaria's Digital Minister Judith Gerlach, for example, has announced an app that sends warnings in hacker attacks, and a state online password check. Especially online, there is a wide range to inform about IT security.

Caspar von Au, Jannis Bruehl, Dirk von Gehlen, Mirjam Hauck, Max Muth

"If your fingerprint lands on the net, it's burned forever"

The more smartphones, networked gadgets and web services we use, the more attack surface we provide. IT expert Christian Funk explains how to protect yourself on the Internet.Interview by Max Muth


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