Many children are allowed onto the Internet by parents who hand them smartphones and tablet computers so that they can play games. It is seen as the electronic equivalent of a comforter or a dummy. Many of the tablet sales this holiday period will be seasonal presents for children.
The problem is that few parents think deeply about the risks that their children face on the Internet. They see the stories about online predators and grooming but don’t make themselves aware of when their children are at risk. Perhaps the most common excuse is that: “my children know more than me so how can I protect them?”
It is not just threats such as grooming and the risk of exposure to Internet porn that are involved. Children often have no filters and put out information that will come back to haunt them in later years. There are already many stories of people losing jobs or failing in a job interview because of what they posted online. Perhaps the most high profile of these was the first UK Youth Police Commissioner, Paris Brown who was forced to resign after the tabloid media went through her Twitter and Facebook history.
Another future threat that is all too real is identity theft. As children put out increasing amounts of data, it becomes easier for hackers to create full profiles on them that can be used later to impersonate them. This means that as they enter the workforce and get bank accounts, their details are used to apply for credit cards and run up debts that they often know nothing about.
What is interesting about these tips is that they are not exclusively for children. Look carefully and they can apply to any age group and in a world of social media, some of them definitely apply to a modern workforce.
The 7 tips to protect children
- Education: This is the cornerstone for training everyone from minors to CEOs. The challenge for parents is that their limited knowledge about the Internet causes education to be poor. What is Facebook? What is Tuenti? Should my child chat online with strangers? These are the questions that are asked on several occasions by parents who do not understand this new kind of social environment. Parents must teach their children how to create their online personality, just as they teach them how to behave in real life. There are some values that they should maintain in both worlds: do not to speak with strangers, do not to show an image of you that could be later used against you, do not to give personal details to people you don’t know … Web education and teachers are great the resources that parents who feel lost in this world can use.The majority of this applies to adults. The posting of images by teenagers and even those in university can cause problems as employers are increasingly looking at social profiles as part of the employment process. Personal details make it easy for criminals to steal identities and gain access to both private and work accounts as they will use the data to impersonate individuals.
- Control the Hours Spent Online: In today’s work, the social relationships online compete against offline social relationships. All children should learn to disconnect, so they can continue to enjoy a conversation or a real life experience, away from the world.In the workplace, employees can often waste hours on social media. In Sweden there is a plan to reduce the working day to just 6 hours. The key requirement of the experiment is that workers accept that work is not about their social life and they agree not to engage with social networks during their work day.
- Show Network Hazards: Sometimes overprotection hinders children from really knowing the threats that face them. Actual cases of harassment, espionage, identity theft, blackmail, etc will happen to those that are less aware threatening situations.This goes back to education for the employees as well. They need to understand the implications of drive-by attacks, identity theft and the impact of access to corporate assets due to blackmail. Very few companies actually ask their legal team to give internal webcasts to employees to explain the process of dealing with identity theft and the long term impacts on them. Such actions would raise the awareness and increase the security of the business.
- Who Does My Child Talk To?: Parents try to preserve the privacy of their children, but the truth is that you we need to know whose talking and what they’re saying. Just as in real life, a child must know to distrust a stranger who approaches them, they must also learn that these type of people exist and are duplicated within the online world. Phishing attacks via phones are becoming commonplace. The “support centre” call claiming to be from Microsoft who have detected a virus on your computer and want access continues to claim victims. Simple awareness for workers around their computers at home would help reduce the threat to the business for this type of attack.
- Which Photos Should Be Uploaded to the Network?: It’s easy to control the clothing and appearance of children in real life, but do we know what pictures up of them are up on the network? We must remind them of the danger of over-exposure on the Internet.Some companies have a ban on workplace photography and it is difficult for employees to separate their social and business lives where photography is concerned. As we move towards the seasonal parties, there will be a lot of photographs of work parties and individuals. Hackers use those images to build social networks of users that they can later use as part of their phishing and advanced attack methods.
- Where Does My Child Go Online?: There is certain web content that a minor does not have to see. Since it is impossible to control which pages your child is browsing on the Internet, or what places can be reached via banners and ads, you should install parental control. Through this, the parent may decide which sites are appropriate for their child.Companies need to consider their use of content filtering and help employees understand how to apply this at home. Most end-user security software allows for some degree of filtering as do the various Internet routers. Employees just need to know how to turn it on and manage it.
- Use Common Sense: Like always, if we teach our children to at least to use common sense, it can used within modern world. The same applies to employee’s, employees often act like children and sometimes reminding them of what common sense actually is as it applies to the internet is worth considering.
Anything that applies to children around Internet security also applies to adults. Companies are failing badly to protect their employees yet a little bit of time and investment would save them thousands if not millions of pounds in dealing with a security breach. By educating users they also help them to keep their families and children secure.
Perhaps Universal Children’s Day should be something used by companies to kick start their own Internet and security awareness education.