SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and I’ve just finished writing a guide for parents on this very issue.

Tips for Strong, Secure Passwords” is posted on, the nonprofit Internet safety organization where I serve as co-director.

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I stress that cyber security starts at home. It’s everyone’s responsibility; the parents and the kids. You can talk to kids about it and from my own experience in talking to groups at schools I find that they’re the ones who get it. Kids don’t want to be bombarded by spam or exploited.

You need to protect your family’s devices. Not just their smart phones, but if your child goes on your shared computer and watches a YouTube video or goes to a fan site and contacts malware, that could affect the parent or even their business.

Obviously you should never share passwords, not even with best friends, because that best friend could become an ex-friend and that’s where a lot of kids get in trouble.

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Phishing is an old trick, but the scam has become more sophisticated. You could get an email that looks like it’s from your bank, but when you click it, it’s actually a rogue site that is harvesting information from the unsuspecting victim. I tell people that if they get a suspicious email that they should type in the URL rather than clicking on the link. These types of scams are tricky, because many of them look like they’re legitimately being sent from your bank.

As far as social networks go, I feel like parents are less afraid of Facebook because they’re on it. I’ve included a bit on that in my parent’s guide to make them more relaxed.

The bottom line is big institutions like the New York Times, major banks and even the U.S. Government have been hacked, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to make sure that that doesn’t happen to ourselves.

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