Friday, March 1, 2024

Kaspersky: Here are 3 major online threats to school-age kids

As classes open this month, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky reminded Filipino parents to be wary of online dangers that their school-age, internet-using children could be highly vulnerable to. 

In a post on Kaspersky’s blog, Lance Spitzner of SANS Institute summarized the three major threats to kids growing up in today’s connected world. These are:

  1. Strangers: sexual predators, sextortion, fraud;
  2. Friends: cyberbullying, pranks, sextortion, poor examples; and
  3. Self: oversharing, sexting, bullying, downloading/sharing illegal content

According to the 2022 Disrupting Harm study conducted by the UNICEF, ECPAT International and the Interpol, there are 20% (or an estimated two million) Filipino children aged 12-17 who were subjected to online sexual abuse and exploitation.

Meanwhile, most recent national data show that half of Filipino children aged 13-17 are affected by cyberviolence. 

A Kaspersky report also revealed that Generation Z or those between the ages of 11 and 26 are oversharers, believing they are knowledgeable on online security but are the most susceptible to scams.

About 55% of those surveyed admitted to having included their personal information on social media channels such as name, date of birth and location. Majority (72%) of them were unable to identify phishing scams and 26% confessed to having been victimized by a phishing scam. 

“It used to be that when it’s school time, parents worried the most about their children’s report cards. Not anymore,” Yeo Siang Tiong, GM for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky, said.

“Filipino parents, just like their counterparts elsewhere in the world, are now raising hyper-connected children and their other current, big concern today include their child being targeted by cybercriminals. No one can blame them as these days, children are at risk of being lured by strangers, bullied online, and even their personal information getting stolen in schools.”  

Yep added: “From a security perspective, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 6 or 56 years old. We are now living in a world where all of us are now digital citizens and our digital footprint is expanding by the day. If at this point, adults still keep on falling for cybercriminals’ traps, it’s impossible to expect children to know what to avoid in the cyberworld so protecting them should be our top priority as parents.”   

In a global study conducted by Kaspersky where it polled 8,793 parents of children between 7 and 12 years old, 58% of parents admitted to having spent less than 30 minutes in total, through their kids’ entire childhood, talking about Internet safety.

Only 11% say they have spent more than two hours talking to their children about the dangers.

Renowned psychologist Emma Kenny recommends to spend ten minutes everyday before bed discussing your kid’s day including their online activity. Ask them to share with you about a positive and a negative that they encountered online.

Not only does this normalize conversation on internet protection — it even contributes to a cybersmart approach to safety and after a short time feels less like making a special effort to “check in”.

Kaspersky also advised parents to take the time to read up on emerging trends, games, and channels to understand how they may affect your child’s online activity. Discuss technology and the potential dangers with them.

Even if it means that you have to play dumb and ask them to help you set up a social media account. By showing that you trust them as teachers, the more it builds up that mutual trust.

Parents can never hover over their children 24/7 to monitor their activities online. A smart move is to use a reliable parental control software to establish the framework for what’s acceptable — how much time (and when) they can spend online, what content should be blocked, or what types of activity should be blocked (chat rooms, forums, and so on).

Parental control filters can be configured for different computer profiles, allowing you to customize the filters for different children.

If you have purchased a smartphone for your child, know that it is not just a phone but a sophisticated computer. It comes with parental controls that can filter out nasty content. 

You also have an option to protect your child’s device using technologies out there like Safe Kids that’s automatically loaded in Kaspersky Premium. Such a technology helps parents by serving as a secondary level of protection for kids from unwanted creeps, dirty content or to even find a lost or stolen phone. It works both on iOS and Android.

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