Thursday, December 24, 2009

Easy Net Access Spells More Risks for Children

Easy Net Access Spells More Risks for Children
By: Rajeshwary Menon

Easy access to 3G mobile connections, cybercafés and WiFi hotspots means children have more opportunity to go online unsupervised, leaving them vulnerable to internet predators.

Speaking at a Cyber Security Awareness for Everyone (CyberSafe) forum last week, DSP Mahfuz Abdul Majid from the Cyber and Multimedia Investigation Division in Bukit Aman warned of the dangers posed by the internet, especially to children who easily fall prey to cyberstalking, cyberbullying and indentity theft.

The internet has become such a convenient place for cheating – anymore can cheat anyone and there are so many potential victims. Criminals use technology to cheat, harass and disseminate false information and children especially, are vulnerable.

The forum, themed Protecting Children Online: Are we doing enough? and organised by CyberSecurity Malaysia, was attended by 100 participants comprising parents, educators, counselors and lawyers.

It covered topics and issues related to protecting children online such as the current trends in abuses of technology, role of parents, educators and the community in preventing the exploitation of children online and the cyber laws available to people who have been victimised online.

Tan Wei Ming, senior manager of Symantec - an IT company specializing in anti-virus software – spoke on the creative ways in which cyber criminals could mislead children and even adults through information gleaned from social networking sites.

They can profile you through social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. Even if they only have your name and e-mail address, they can learn about your weak points. Children can easily fall victims.

He also touched on the importance of keeping computer anti-virus and malware detection software up to date, as cybercriminals use viruses to steal personal information, and even banking details.

Nowadays, malevolent viruses are also embedded in websites, the address of which is sent to you through a link. If you click on the link, your computer becomes infected and your personal details would be compromised.

Freddy Tan, the chief security adviser of Microsoft, spoke about dangers of internet addiction and shared tips on what could be done to keep children safe online.

Parents should start by setting boundaries and telling them to be safe and responsible online. They should teach children about what they should or should not share online.

He said policymakers could include internet safety education in schools, fund research on online risks and behavior and support community internet safety events.

Source: theSun, December 21,2009

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