Parents need to monitor the internet usage of their children as it is a place that offers anonymity and hence gives immense potential for criminals to operate.
The virtual world is an alternative reality, it is the world where people can do whatever they please, stereo typically there is no rules, this is the reason why it is also used by Paedophiles for selecting and stalking their victims.
Head of Reed Cyber Intelligence Unit, Toronto Keith Elliot explained how dangerous the net can be for children
“Pedophiles are online, always looking for pictures, information and videos of children – there are literally people who haven’t got up for days on end from their desktop- they may use buckets and bottles to defecate and urinate as they do not want to miss anything. Innocent things like photos of babies, children’s school photos, people don’t think twice about uploading such innocent photos onto the net but these can be used by such bad actors. Legally the upload of content related to children cannot be stopped or monitored as these are not child pornography.”
Elliot was addressing a webinar titled ‘Protecting Children in Cyberspace’ organised by National Institute of Security, Safety, Management and Applied Technelgy (NISSMAT) recently.
Saying that for pedophiles online content regarding children is a low hanging fruit he underlined that one needs to be very careful about what one posts, especially regarding their children “Always pause before you post anything on the net, especially photos and videos, it is advisable not to post your entire life on the social media, people are out there to get every single detail about you. There have been cases where pedophiles see family photos and then approach children saying ‘I know your mum she asked me to pick you up’, they extensively use the net to pick their victims. “
He insisted that parents should not hesitate from being firm for the sake of protecting their children from cyber crime and harassment “Parenting is not a popularity contest, you need to be firm in safeguarding them from online threats. I have three children and my first rule for all my children when they were teenagers was that I must be your friend on all your social media accounts, that way you can monitor what is going on. You should control the access and the amount of data used by them, I kept the router for my internet at my bedroom so when I went to bed every night I cut the router as nobody should be on the net past 10 o’clock, children don’t need to be online at 12 o’clock or one in the morning, it’s not relevant.”
He listed six apps that have explicit sexual and violent content and is extensively used by criminals and should not be used by children-IMVU, Whisper, Kicks app, Tinder, OKCupid and Chatspin.
Elliot also pointed out that self destructing apps should not be used by children either “self destructing apps are secret apps that don’t leave behind a message in the inbox, the message comes and then self destructs after 10, 12, or 30 seconds. These include Snapchat, Burn Note, Whisper and Yik Yak, children should not be communicating through any of these platforms as they are doing it to hide something.”
He suggested some common sense rules that ought to be followed while using the internet “Always safeguard your identity and personal details, be careful regarding photos or videos that you upload anywhere on the net, avoid making friends with online strangers, if they are not someone whom you have met in person then they are not a friend.”
Elliot said that information on the net is more or less permanent in nature hence one should avoid uploading sensitive content “if you were to burn a piece of paper, information on it would be gone forever, but on the internet, information lasts forever, it is difficult to permanently delete any information. Inappropriate photos, something said about somebody lasts, it stays there and recycles itself through different layers.”
He highlighted the importance of having a strong password for saving ourselves from hacking and online fraud “weather it be a cyber breach, account takeover, ransomware, all of this happens due to inappropriate use of password, especially where individuals have a single password for multiple platforms. Hence one needs to have a strong password, longer it is the better.”