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Tech Savvy Kids Could Bring Malware Back Home From Public WiFi

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- What your kids do on their gadgets  when they're out of the house can have an effect on your devices at home.

As kids head back to school, a majority of parents surveyed say their kids will spend more time on devices this year, and AVG Security warns, kids are far more likely to jump on public WiFi networks and take other security risk.

"For this generation of children, the internet is like breathing, but they should be cautious," Tony Anscombe of AVG said.

Anscombe points out that kids are often quick to jump on any WiFi network they can find to help save their precious data which is often limited on family plans.  However, he warns that hackers can eaisly access whatever kids are doing on public WiFi. They may be unknowingly providing valuable information to potential ID thieves or other predators.

"Think about the info our kids are sharing," he pointed out.  "They're on social media, email, and suddenly on public WiFi somebody is sitting there sniffing that."

Anscombe explains that hackers can also download malware onto your kids device via un-encrypted networks. Once the malware is on a kid's device, it can follow them home, and infect their parents devices when kids plug into a home computer or network.

"That malware could replicate onto other devices in the home," Anscombe said.

So, how do you protect your kids when they're out, and your own devices when they come home?

  • First, Tony recommends anti-virus software on every device to protect the family from malware.
  • Next, education is key. Make sure kids know not to click on email or text links, and warn them about the risks associated with public WiFi.

While AVG sells anti-virus software, security experts commonly recommend anti-virus protection on your devices.

You may also consider a VPN - virtual private network - which will encrypt the data on public networks. VPN's are often recommended for people who use public WiFi on planes or in hotels.

However, while adding a VPN to your child's device may help hide their activity from bad guys, AVG warns that a VPN can also prevent parents from motoring  their kid's online activity.



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