The Internet is full of tricks and treats for all of us. Even web-savvy adults fall for online scams (one of the top three types of cybercrime according to the recent Norton Cybercrime Report ) but, with a little education, we can all learn methods for avoiding these problems and staying safe.
What about our children? You may be doing a great job teaching your child about the need to be kind online, to limit the sharing of personal information and how to use security and privacy settings appropriately, but are you teaching your children not to open the door for the Internet’s bogeymen?
Email spam is still an enormous global problem. An estimated 70% or more of the world’s email is spam and even if your ISP or email provider is cleaning up most of it, some of what your child might see in their inbox is the electronic equivalent of unwrapped candy. Possibly dangerous and certainly icky, spam can contain language and images that are inappropriate and upsetting for children to see. Worse, they may contain dangerous links that might infect a computer with just a click of the mouse. No kidding, in the world of Internet botnets, you don’t want your computer turned into a zombie. Show your child how to set up spam filters and for younger children, review their incoming messages to delete the bad stuff, just as you would go through their Halloween goody bag to toss out anything they shouldn’t eat.
This Halloween, you can set your kids on the right, well-lit path when it comes to Internet safety, especially when it comes to the problem of online tricksters. Some of the most common scams that trick children are pop-up ads that:
Promise you can easily win great prizes like a tablet or gaming system
Claim to detect viruses on your computer and offer to clean them
Offer to speed up your computer
And all of these scams will do far more damage than an electronic equivalent of “egging” your house. They may lead to infected computers, stolen private information and identity theft.
We’re also seeing mobile device–phishing and spam that appeal to children. These “smishing” or SMS phishing, messages might sign you up for expensive mobile services, or request private financial information to get enrolled in a “contest.” According to the recent Norton Cybercrime Report , 10% of adults in the world have already been a victim of mobile cybercrime. And our children can easily fall for any of these tricks, sharing Mom and Dad’s credit card details or sharing their own Social Security numbers. Keep these goblins off your child’s mobile device by showing them not to click on unexpected messages, to block unwanted contacts, to use passwords, and to install mobile security like Norton Mobile Security.
Top tips? When your child goes trick-or-treating you have rules like staying on the sidewalk, crossing the street carefully, carrying a flashlight or wearing light colored clothes, avoiding unwrapped or homemade treats and coming home before it’s too late. The Internet equivalents are:
1. Be careful what you click on, stick to well-known Internet sites and use search ratings tools like Norton Safe Web to avoid going to dangerous websites.
2. Teach your child never to respond to spam and to delete unwanted messages.
3. Use security software on all computers and, increasingly, on mobile devices like cell phones and tablets.
4. Set up passwords that are unique and complex and make sure your children share them with you but no one else.
5. Talk to your child about Internet scams, misleading advertising and other online tricks you know to avoid but they may not.