• John Heaton, Author |

Cybercrime is on the rise everywhere.

As we go about our daily online lives at work, home, and play, a fraudster is trying to hack into our computers, steal our identity, and con us out of money.

As many as 60 percent of CEOs in our recent KPMG 2019 Canadian CEO survey said it's only a matter of 'when,' not 'if,' their organization will fall victim to a cyberattack. That's up 10 per cent from last year.

While we've been lucky in Canada not to have seen a lot of what I'd call extreme cyber events, we have recently seen an explosion in wire transfer phishing fraud in North America.

Also called CEO frauds or business email compromise (BEC) scams, this type of fraud has resulted in US$26 billion in losses since July 2016, making it one of the costliest crimes against corporations, according to the FBI. The scammers often use a hacked or spoofed address to pose as a CEO, a senior executive, a vendor, a realtor, or a lawyer, instructing the receiver—usually finance or human resource professionals—to wire money, buy gift cards on their behalf, redirect proceeds from the sales of homes or other properties, or share personal information like copies of employee tax information.

These attacks require only rudimentary computer skills and can be devastating. They can also happen to anyone. And they're merely one type of cybercrime.

What's more, in this new era of the Internet of Things, being cyber smart is now an essential life skill—not just for organizations but for everyone.

At KPMG, we started an initiative three years ago to visit schools in the 50+ countries where we operate to help children, parents, and teachers better understand online risks and arm them with tips and tools to stay safe.

We tell our kids to look both ways when crossing the road and warn them not to talk or accept gifts from strangers. But, kids today—as well as adults—actually carry risk right in the palms of their hands: their smartphones.

Here are some considerations for parents to help keep their kids safe today while preparing them to be the cyber-vigilant adults of tomorrow:

  • Talk early and often to both young children and teenagers
  • Use Parental Controls: Set content and time limits on your kids' devices, check privacy settings, and monitor screen time.
  • Set Ground Rules and Enforce Consequences
  • "Friend" or follow your child online to check in on their social media activity, but don't stalk.
  • Talk to your family about hate speech online and how to distinguish between real and fake news
  • Be a Good Digital Citizen/Role Model: Know when and where to unplug and show your kids how to exercise judgement and be kind online

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