Computers and mobiles have reached every nook and corner of the world and access to them as well as the internet has become fairly easy in the current times. While its abstinence could have been considered a choice before Covid 19 pandemic, but of now it has become a compulsion for many, including young children to make use of the digital platform for learning and communicating purposes. While the proportion of cyber users have increased drastically, at the same time, people are relatively unaware about the omnipresent risks and dangers present in the cyberspace, which in recent years have actually grown in magnitude.
What do you mean by cybercrimes?
As defined by Britannica, "Cybercrimes" involves the use of computer and internet to further illegal ends such as indulging in corruption, fraud, child pornography, stealing confidential information etc. Adults and children both are vulnerable to cyber threats. Novel technologies have spurred the growth of crimes through the digital platform by broadening their nexus. Cybercriminals often affront children because they consider them to be easy preys. Hence it has become a necessity of sorts to teach kids about cybercrime and cybersecurity to prevent them from being taken advantage of by crooks on the digital platform.
Different kinds of cybercrimes
Cybercrimes have grown in range and are myriad in nature. Herein we have listed the ones that you need to be more cautious of as they explicitly target minors.
- Identity theft: In such a scenario, the identity of a person is manifested by another by using identifiable data to pursue criminal activities as forgery, misappropriate goods or even abuse others.
- Cyberbullying: According to a study published by Microsoft in 2012, fifty-three per cent of children are bullied online in the country. Cyberbullying negatively impairs the child's personality and makes them withdrawn and even toxic. It is also a prominent reason for suicide in the country.
- Phishing: It refers to sending scam messages either through mail or any other means to lure users to relay personal information. Such messages often contain promises of rewards and deals. Links of malicious websites are sent under the guise of well-known sites.
- Flood attacks: Flood attacks are usually spread through “botnets” to flood a disrupt the server through innumerable requests. Botnets are also used to launch malevolent software, spread malware or virus-infected files, launch Dos attacks among many others.
- Browser Hijacking: Cybercriminals make use of code to exploit another user browser to serve their own illicit interest. In addition to it, hackers also sabotage website and computer networks in random.
- Child pornography: It is considered to be a serious offence in our country to distribute sexually explicit photos or videos depicting anyone below the age of 18. But such materials do exist in dark corners of the web.
- Sexual harassment: Perverts and paedophiles often make use of the internet to sexually exploit and abuse minors and even adults.
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Here’s how you as a parent can help your children avoid red flags in the virtual dimension
- The first thing that you need to do is make them aware of the threats in cyberspace. Convey to them that there exist, people who shall attempt to milk information, solicit identity and do away with money if they find the faintest opportunity to do so.
- Teens and pre-teens are much more active on social media in comparison to any other age group. They are ten times more likely to upload photos and videos than adults. Their engagement can be attributed to their desire of appearing cool, gaining followers or establishing their superiority. Though there is no problem posting pictures, the child must be enlightened with the knowledge that once something is posted, it is hard to erase it and hence caution should be exercised while sharing posts on online.
- Teach them about privacy settings. While almost 97.12 % of students make use of social media, only a quarter of them knows about privacy settings. These in turn makes them susceptible to identity theft, cyber harassment etc. According to Javelin Research study, near about 1 million children had their identity stolen in 2017 and 66.1% were under the age group of 6 – 10 years.
- Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp and other such platform enable insecure youngster a possibility to express and satisfy their longings. Thus, they often turned to them in search of people that “get them”, with whom they have a heartfelt talk. But such friends often turn out to be a venomous individual who often resorts to exploitation once they find an opening. A study from the Centre for Cyber Space and Education reveals that about 21.1% of youth under 16 years have been put under extremely tight and even life-threatening situation by strangers that they have met online.
- About 61.6% of children under the age of 14 and 84.33% youth around the age group of 15 – 19 purchases stuff online and most make payments by using cards. While one can be in ease while shopping on giant online retailers, there exists a high possibility that cyber crooks may steal the finances if the child lowers their guard in the process.
- Tell your kids to use strong passwords and passphrase as well as recycle them from time to time. Also caution them not to share their social media passwords with anyone. It's best to enable multifactor authentication as an additional countermeasure to ward of hackers.
- Remind your kids to update their software from time to time. They not only patch up security loopholes but also improvise software stability. Also, check to it that they keep their system firewall intact.
- Make use of antivirus software to protect your computer from bug and virus infestation as well as data theft
- Protect your domain by using WHOIS private service. It is also advisable to use a private secured DNS server to prevent hijacking and warding of third party attacks.
- Make use of your mail anti-spam blocking feature. This helps in avoiding phishing attempts, as they are generally carried out through unsolicited emails containing links and attachments.
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As a parent, you are responsible for your child protection in both the real and virtual world. No doubt its a bit strenuous for parents to monitor children activities online as well as follow an up to date digital protection regime, the long term benefits, however, outweighs the periodic trouble and hence worth the trouble. After all, it is for the sake of your precious children.
This article has been reviewed by our panel. The points, views and suggestions put forth in this article have been expressed keeping the best interests of fellow parents in mind. We hope you found the article beneficial.