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Online Safety Tips During COVID-19 Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2020

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE OFFERS ONLINE SAFETY TIPS
Parents and Children Should Keep Safety in Mind During COVID-19 Crisis

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office is offering tips to everyone who is concerned about online safety during the COVID-19 crisis. As schools closed and moved to an online setting, children are accessing the internet even more than normal. In addition to online classrooms, children are using the internet on phones, tablets, and gaming platforms to keep in touch with friends as communities adjust to staying indoors. While convenient for connecting with friends and family, these devices are also pathways for predators to reach our children. These predators are aware of the fact that children are spending more time online and unfortunately, may try to exploit that. Below are some items to raise your awareness of internet safety and provide tips on how you can protect your children: 

  • Talk to your children about being safe when using the internet.  Keeping an open dialogue with your children will help them know that they can come to you for help if they have a problem online. Teach them about using the internet safely and help them learn what to look out for when it comes to cyberbullying, predators, and suspicious activity.
  • Educate yourself.  The first step to helping your children practice internet safety is understanding it yourself first. Get to know how online and phone apps and online schooling work. Always keep you and your security software up to date.
  • Be aware of online activity.  Predators can gain access to kids through online chats, through popular apps, and through gaming networks. Keep internet-accessible devices in a high-trafficked area such as the living room. Find out what apps your children use the most and learn how they work. Consider using parental controls on your children’s devices to help filter or block certain content online.
  • Set boundaries.  Talk to your children about what they should not post, such as personal photos, their location, and personal information about them. Consider creating an online safety agreement together so you can both agree on ways that personal devices and technology can be used, and how to use it safely.
  • Always use security and a secure internet connection.  Make sure all online accounts are set to private and always use secure passwords on those accounts. Make sure your security software is up to date and that you are using a secure internet connection.
  • Look out for changes in your children’s behavior.  Below are several examples of behavioral changes that you should look out for in your children. If your child exhibits these behaviors, it could be an indicator of abuse or grooming by a predator.
    • Being secretive about sites they visit or who they are talking to online.
    • Clicking off the page they’re viewing when a parent enters the room.
    • Being online constantly and not being able to get off.
    • Pulling away from friends and family.
    • Using behavior or sexual language that is not appropriate for their age.
    • Possessing new items or gifts.
    • Volatile emotions, such as jumping from highs and lows within a matter of seconds.
  • Be aware of apps that can hide other apps. There are a number of apps that allow you to hide content or apps from parents. One such app conceals another app behind a calculator interface.
  • Know who your children are talking to online or on the phone.  Make sure you know who is on their friend list online and who they talk to on the phone, through messaging apps, texting, and online chat forums. Make sure they know that if they are uncomfortable with someone who is messaging them, they can come to you for help.

“The online risk for kids has multiplied now that they’re at home and on computers for school instruction,” Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “I realize some homes have five or six kids online at the same time. It’s going to take extra vigilance when parents are already stressed out, but it needs to be done. I urge everyone to look at the tips our office is sending out. Don’t hesitate to report suspicious activity. This is all part of staying healthy and safe as a family at this difficult time.”

“While gaming and social media can be safe and fun diversions with proper supervision, parents need to be aware and proactive about their children online,” Attorney General Reyes added. “Young people are often exposed to mature content without even seeking it out. And many serious crimes victimizing children start with predators on the Internet.”

For more information and tips, visit Common Sense Media and Respons-ability.net.

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National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October 29, 2019

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the Utah Attorney General’s Office is urging Utahns to stay safe online by using this year’s theme: Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.

With the internet integrated into almost every facet of our lives, from apps, smartwatches, smart home hubs and controllers, computers, and smartphones, it’s imperative to practice cybersecurity, no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Own IT

Update Privacy Settings

Your personal information is valuable, and you can control who and where you are sharing it. Make sure your update your privacy settings to your comfort level including geotagging, which allows anyone to see where you are at any given time.  

Be Careful What You Click & Share

Seemingly random information, such as places you frequent, where you work, and where you live, can be everything a criminal needs to know in order to target you and your belongings – both in the real world and online. Always keep your Social Security number, birthday, address, full name, and passwords private.

Keep Tabs on Your Apps

Always get rid of apps you no longer use and review what permissions your apps have. Make sure you only download apps from trusted sources and enable automatic app updates so you can stay protected from cyber threats.

Secure IT

Double Your Login Protection with Secure Passwords

Having a strong password is imperative to keeping you and your information protected online. Be creative. Use a long password and don’t make passwords that would be easy to guess. Use a mixture of upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols. Lastly, enable multi-factor authentication. Learn more about this security process here.

How to Spot and Avoid Phishing

Scammers use email or text to trick you into giving up your personal information. These emails may appear as if they are coming from a legitimate company, website, or app. The email and text messages may tell you they’ve noticed suspicious activity on your account, claim there’s a problem with your billing information, include a fake invoice, or want you to click on a link to make a payment. Always double check the information by looking up the business entity and their information online.

Protect IT

Secure Your Wi-Fi Network

Before you make that purchase or send sensitive information, make sure you are connected to a secure network. Public, unsecured networks provide little security and allows people access to your files and information. Either use a virtual private network (VPN) or use your phone as a hotspot.

Stay Protected While Connected

Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Maintaining your security settings will keep your information secure and safe. You can enable automatic updates to run and enable your security software to run regular scans.

For more tips to protect your personal information, go here.

Dept. of Justice hosts discussion on tech companies with state AGs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2018

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES JOINS U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL TO DISCUSS TECH COMPANIES
State attorneys general share consumer protection concerns on tech company platforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, eight other state attorneys general, and representatives from five state attorneys general offices at the Department of Justice to discuss competition, free exchange of ideas, and consumer protection surrounding tech company platforms.

AG Reyes shared the following statement after the meeting concluded:

Today’s meeting was part of a critical, ongoing dialogue on protecting consumers and competition in the technology sector without unnecessarily burdening innovation or investment. State AGs have grappled with these issues for years. Having a federal perspective was welcome. The meeting was bipartisan. It was productive. We compared notes with our federal partners about a range of issues including cybersecurity, privacy, data gathering, and monetization of personal information by members of the tech community.

We shared ideas and concerns about the impact of dominant market players on competition and how they may be unfairly leveraging their position for competitive advantage. We agreed that at the federal and state level, we are both seeking robust protection of consumers and markets through responsible regulation and disciplined enforcement.

Utah is a rapidly expanding innovation hub. As such, consumer protection, privacy, and a level playing field in the tech ecosystem are of utmost concern to me and the Utah AG Office. I want to thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his team at the U.S. Department of Justice for inviting us to collaborate in addressing issues crucial to the future of our nation.

Utah joined attorneys general from Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia, as well as representatives from the Office of the Attorney General in Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, Texas, and Washington.

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Photo by Marvin Meyer

#TBT: Stay Safe Online

As more and more of our lives take place online, guarding your safety and privacy is even more crucial.  Today’s #TBT is a public service video AG Sean Reyes posted in January about pirate website dangers and how to avoid them.

Don’t be a victim. Guard your privacy. Be careful about the websites you visit, and warn your kids about how to stay safe online. 

For tips on how you and your family can be more safe online, visit StaySafeOnline. You might pay particular attention to the Online Safety Basics page, and Secure Key Accounts and Devices

You should also click through the Parent Resources at NetSmartz

Happy Thursday! 

 

 

 

 

Photo by  Marvin Meyer

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