Recently photos of Malaysian comedian Harith Iskander’s three year old son along with pictures of other children were found on a child pornography website believed to have originated from Malaysia. Unfortunately this violation of privacy is one of increasingly many incidences of families and individuals alike being exploited by cunning cybercriminals.
Here’s 3 steps from Trend Micro on how to protect identity and privacy while online.
- Spies and information stealers – social media makes it very easy for kids and other family members to share just about anything from photos, location, and other types of information to their network. Unfortunately, oversharing poses a risk of exposing sensitive details not only to social network contacts, but to cybercriminals who could use them for identity theft and other malicious purposes. While posting a status like “our entire family is going to Europe for the weekend!” might seem like a common thing people do on social networks, it also says that the house is potentially unprotected. A stranger could then dig into your previous posts and find a status that shows a map of you “checking in” at home. A determined criminal can simply put two and two together and break into your house. Oversharing can also make identity theft easier for a cybercriminal to pull off. If you post your full name, birth date, address and other personal details on public sites or on social media accounts that are set to public, you should be aware that cybercriminals can use these details to crack into online accounts or use them to verify credit card purchases. The fix: The hard and fast rule here is to simply watch what you post online and keeping personal information private. Thinking before posting will cut down the chances of posting something that you may regret later. For parents, educate the kids about the possible implications of posting to a network. A status that says “I hate my math teacher” might seem clever to a child, but not when they realize that the said math teacher is connected to their network. Social network accounts can also be secured by going over the privacy settings to limit who can see what is being shared.
- Malicious and inappropriate content – while the Internet offers a world of fun and learning for kids, it’s also rife with sites with sexual, violent and inappropriate content. One accidental click could lead to thousands of similar sites. The fix: To avoid accidentally being exposed to these sites, parents should establish rules regarding computer and Internet use. Parents can also block access to mature and inappropriate sites by using a browser’s built-in content filters, as well as installing security software that offers parental controls and monitoring features.
- Exploitative and abusive people – the Internet could be the perfect place to meet new people and foster new friendships. However, some kids don’t scrutinize new connections and end up being victims of cyberbullying or exploitation. As seen in the news, many kids resort to self-harm when the online abuse gets out of hand. Additionally, online predators are also out to exploit minors who are just too young to know any better. The fix: Privacy and Internet safety is not just about what you share, but more importantly, who your audience is as well. Parents are advised to monitor who their kids add to their social networks, and confirming that they personally know everyone in contact with their children to minimize the risk of exploitation and cyberbullying.
Parents and guardians should take the initiative to educate and train their kids about the many risks they may face online. Awareness and education is a good first step. When applied with proper safety guidelines, it can strengthen the security of a family’s online environment, the online security vendor said.
“The power of social media encompasses communications, connections, and how we gather news, stories, and other pieces of information. However, as we all know, social media is not without risks. With the whole world as your potential audience, anybody can see what you’re doing, what you’re up to, and even know your whereabouts¹. The Internet is inherently public, but that doesn’t mean you should give up your rights to privacy and security,” said Goh Chee Hoh, Managing Director for Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, Trend Micro.
“Whether we like it or not, everyone who uses the Internet will constantly be exposed to online dangers. With the many high-profile hacks taking center stage in recent years, it is even more important today to be aware of what you put out there, and to start developing safe and secure online habits when it comes to protecting your social media and how to stay safe online,” continued Goh.