What Should You Do if You Think Your Kid’s Device Has Been Hacked?

It’s a fact that almost all of our kids have their own devices or access to shared devices in the home. As adults we know how critical online safety is, but do your kids? Kids are even more at risk because of their lack of experience, their their trusting nature, and just not knowing or understanding the dangers that are out there. So what do you do if you suspect your child’s device or any of their online accounts have been hacked? Here are some steps to take immediately:

  1. Double check their username and password. A trusted and free online resource called Have I Been Pwned? allows you to check your usernames, email addresses and passwords to see if they have been compromised.

  2. Disable the account. Delete the breached account on any devices that have access to it. Check all of their devices and your own, some plans are set for family sharing and automatically install the apps on a parent’s device. Uninstall the the app or software completely.

  3. Change your passwords on all sites that you login to. This is time consuming, annoying and frustrating of course, but unfortunately, a necessary step. If a hacker is able to get your password and you use it for anything else, then they have access to that login as well. Use a password manager to store your passwords. Here are a few we suggest: Keeper, 1Password and LastPass.

  4. Checked for linked accounts. The account may be linked to other programs. Check the settings and delete those connections.

  5. Establish a fraud alert on your credit report. The FTC has a great resource on their website that walks you through the steps and why you should.

Of course, prevention is always better than dealing with a hack after it happens. Here are a few things to look for when you and your kid create any personal profiles using a device, computer, or Internet-enabled toy:

  • Look for an "s" in the Internet address. Does the URL begin with "https"? The "s" on the end means there's an extra layer of security on the website. Make sure that "s" is there both before and after your kid logs in.

  • Do a password check. Click on the forgot password link on the site. Does the site display the password or email it to him or her? If so, the password is not securely protected. Sites that send a link prompting you to create a brand-new password are safer.

  • Check sharing settings. If kids are creating websites, sending messages, or creating other shareable content online, make sure the privacy settings are as strict as possible. You can test this by pasting your kid's website URL into a new browser to test what it looks like to the public.

  • Create STRONG passwords, and never share them. Guessable passwords that spell out real words make your account vulnerable.

  • Tell your kids to be careful with their information. Instruct them to get your help when filling out online forms. If they create profiles on school computers, make sure they know what to keep private: phone numbers, addresses, social security numbers, etc.

  • Be careful with downloads and other links. Spyware, malware, and viruses can be embedded in unassuming downloads. Keep your virus protection up to date, and make sure kids get permission before downloading.

For more information, check out our blog page about what the Department of Homeland Security is doing to address kid’s safety online.

We all want our kids to be safe at home, at school and out and about. But in this day and age, we also need to make sure our kids are safe online.