Protecting students learning online from hackers

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — With so many students of all ages taking online classes, cyber security experts are raising red flags about the potential for hackers and malicious online actors targeting kids.

We found some simple things you can do to protect your kids and computer.

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“We are seeing more attacks because of COVID-19 and the fact kids are online more,” says George Insko, UK Director of Cyber Security.

And as school starts, that’s about to be worse.

“Really understand that people are trying to use this time to exploit you,” warns Insko.

He says exploitation can come in may forms – emails, a pop-up, a student or teacher sharing a bad document, or going to a bad link.

For parents, now is the time to act, not once the damage is done.

“The parents really need to have conversations up front about what acceptable use is for their kids, what sites they should go to, how they should interact with their peers and what kind of software they should use,” says Insko.

Bob Stamper with iSafe Complete Managed Services recommends long complex passwords and changing them frequently, backing up to a cloud, and using anti-viral protection.

“Don’t share your address, schedule, pets names or anything else on social media,” says Bob Stamper, owner of iSafe.

He warns Facebook games will ask you harmless questions, like your nickname or pet’s names, and that personal information is often used for passwords.

Insko says to update your computer and programs, often.

“The number one way people are getting exploited is their systems are not up to date,” says Insko.

Fayette County parent Mary Johnson’s 14-year-old son is starting high school this year.

“I have all of his accounts linked to my phone so whatever is coming into his account comes to my phone so I’m able to see it,” says Mary Johnson.

This helps when she’s not around. She’s not as worried about pop-ups.

“He’s smart that he knows what he can truly believe and not believe,” says Johnson.

But parents with younger kids should worry about pop ups because they are more likely to click on them.

Meanwhile, once school starts Johnson will be with her son.

“I’ve done told him once school starts to be used to me being stuck to him,” she laughs.

Johnson says being prepared is key and that’s her plan.

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Christy Bollinger joined the ABC 36 news team as a reporter in March 2018. Christy comes from a little western Kentucky town called Cadiz. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May 2017 with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Criminology. Christy is thrilled to be working at her dream job in her home state. She is passionate about storytelling and you can see her weekdays on ABC 36 News at 5 and 6 p.m. She's covered everything from visits from the sitting president and vice president, to high-profile murder cases. When not chasing stories, Christy loves nothing more than being at the beach and says life is just better with sand between your toes and waves crashing at your feet. She is also a big animal lover. She's a fur momma and her mini-Australian Shepherd, Milly, standard Australian Shepherd, Bennie, and her Maine Coon, Cheeto, are the loves of her life. Christy encourages you to send her any story ideas you may have. Find her on Facebook at Christy Bollinger ABC 36, tweet her @ChristyB_news, or email her at CBollinger@wtvq.com.