The Gullible Cyberspace: Watch Your Kids
The parents today in our society have seen and observed many emphatic changes, in last two decades in particular, in all domains of life – be it life style, shopping, education, entertainment, work culture, banking or anything for that matter. Things have actually changed a lot in all spheres and it has its definite effects in the fosterage and upbringing of the typical child that we keep seeing around in our respective circles or more so nearer our own kids. Most of the babies today open their palpebras to the world not to see affectionate parents with tears of felicitousness but to see DSLRs and mobiles clicking them for directly uploading to various social engineering sites. These kids grow with Internet and digital assets as permanent habitués of life. The way things are currently, is leading to scenarios wherein a kid may be tolerant to absentia of parents but not to tablets, smartphones or Internet around him/her.
A parent may find it easy and worthwhile today to handover the crying kid a smartphone/tablet rather than trying to spend time with them. With this background over years, a kid finally starts applying his naïve skills to the internet and cyber world. They start interacting with the cyber web and that’s the stage when they become easily amenable and prone to the benighted side of the cyber age. The internet has unquestionably altered the way today’s kids interact and see the world. This is the stage when as a parent, the role to interrupt and monitor becomes all-important. As I move ahead from here, I would like to bring in a few attributes and roles that a parent today must realise to fulfill and be part of their kid’s life.
As a parent, you just cannot handover the driver’s seat to the kid, to surf the cyber web, without realizing the exact amount of dangers you are making him vulnerable to. Safeguarding a kid at home, at school and in our communities is our responsibility as a parent and as a responsible citizen.
Terms like cyber bullying, hater, mobbing, sexting, text roulette, griefer, heckler, Internet troll, online predation or the risks of exposure to Chatroulette, Omegle or Zumbl etc., to mention a few, I am sure most of us would be incognizant to these when as responsible parents we should be aware of all and much more. The need to know all these is essential today and is just not a matter of choice. Besides being aware of such terminologies, a set of dominions may be enforced for your child before you accord full throttle internet access.
The set of guidelines as bought out below are recommended to be implemented not in the manner dictatorially but need to be interpreted by you as a parent as well as empathized by the kid. And just if you think that the kid might not construe the kernels of repercussions, you are likely to be in for a surprise. So the following guidelines are recommended to be adhered to while your kids surf and browse cyberspace:
• Online Ads
Online ads which keep popping up left and right of the screen are the first to unhinge a kid from his regular genuine surfing. Hence, it is important to make amply clear to kids to not to click these ads and simply keep surfing. Online ads are very tempting but are the most common method to download a malware/virus. They appear in various forms -either a pop up or a descent looking scroll or a flashing text, etc. Kids need to be aware of just not clicking any of those as a default rule and should not buy anything online without taking consent of elderly around. Besides, as a parent you should just not ever save your credit card or banking logins to make it a breeze purchase for the kid.
• Screen Name
In any event of an interface asking your name or any credential, the default rule should be set to a name that is not yours or any one from your family. For example, a regular name should ideally be replaced with names like alpha, zulu or delta etc.
• Personal Details
Any interface asking the credentials like mobile number, name, address or any other PAN/credit card details should never be shared with. The greed to get a freebie or some upgrade of application or some bogus points makes a person throw caution to winds and end up falling prey to information theft. Kids, mostly in adolescence, invariably have default access to your car number, your phone numbers, your date of birth, your house address, your habits, even your credit cards, your secret diary with passwords dump of various accounts etc. Any such info being shared at any website should be strictly monitored to avoid becoming a victim later. Simply advise fudging or bogus entries if required.
Advising your kid to basic password rules in the beginning years would go a long way to hardened cyber hygiene and a safe cyber space. Advising non-dictionary passwords in their regular habits will ensure a safe cyber space life. Making it a habit to logout anytime anywhere you login, especially while using public computers, is strictly advised.
The urge to upload and like photographs comes naturally at every age (and even for that matter adult fraternity is unable to resist most of the times). Kids should be well-advised not to post photos/videos online without getting your permission.
• Online Friends
Make your kids aware of various case studies of cyber crimes wherein meeting online friends has landed victims in acute danger of even lives. Even without meeting, if a kid is interacting and chatting with a stranger, it should be very well in your know how.
Downloading of untrusted applications and software, with and without knowledge of a user, forms the major reason for victimisation in the world of cyber crime. The default rule for kids to be advised is no downloading and whatever downloading is done should be done in the purview of parents. There is no free lunch ever. Whatever you download from the cyber space has its repercussions in some form or the other, be it a routine cookie or real-time tracking or botting your PC or the widely propagated distributing of malware.
Sentiments seem to get naturally higher in the cyber space vis-à-vis the physical world. Kids should be advised not to send, share or react to any affronting messages.
• Social Networking
The widely cognized social networking websites, for example, Facebook and Twitter have a certain minimum age prerequisite to signup. They have a reason behind it and that should be respected and followed in spirit before a kid gets engrossed in digital world.
In the name of search and studies on some topic, kids usually convince their parents to permit them access to the cyberspace. As a parent you must identify a few sites which are reliable and trustworthy from the content point of view. If you simply ask your kid to Google across the web, you are only increasing the chances and vulnerability to cyber crime.
• Privacy Settings
Each application, software, social engineering website or for that matter even browsers have settings option. As parents, you should be aware and wise to keep these privacy settings as high as possible.
Above guidelines as bought out would only suffice for the routine handling as you and your kid surf. Believe me with today’s complexities existing in the cyber space and evolving cyber crimes technicalities, it is actually inconceivable for even the literate adults to forfend themselves from being a victim. Hundred per cent IT security for long is going to be a myth. But it doesn’t entail to be actually cutoff from the internet to be safe. All it needs for each one of us is to take calculated risks and move on. Things will get better in times to come, the IT Security community and the countries across the globe who have realised the potent dangers are working to decelerate the growing cyber crime graph, but it has its constraints and till such time calculated risks, being aware, being more knowledgeable, will remain the key assigns to adopting cyber hygiene.
By: Anupam Tiwari, Cyber Security Expert working with Government of India
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are that of the author and do not reflect the views of the website. The Peeper Times does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.