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Kaspersky Warns Parents of Threats to Their Kids From Dangerous Websites

By Rico Cruz - on 16 Aug 2011, 2:43pm

Kaspersky Warns Parents of Threats to Their Kids From Dangerous Websites

Kaspersky lays out some ground rules for parents when dealing with the Internet and their children.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Kaspersky Lab to parents: Know the dangers of the internet While it is cool to see children browse the Internet, it's a lot cooler if parents would educate them on the dangers of the web. The Internet provides children with wonderful social and developmental opportunities. It has become very accessible—even to children—that most users consider it as a primary source of information.

Schoolchildren, who have access to the Internet, now rely on the web for their homework. Instead of asking help from their parents, some directly consult the Internet for answers However, parents should never forget that cybercriminals and scammers are a constant source of danger online and like adults, children are not immune. Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content and threat management solutions, identifies some of these concerns related to children. These include email spam, pornographic materials, identity theft, and sexual predators. “Children make extensive use of Internet resources such as search engines, social networks and email. All of these are a potential source of threats—like the distribution of links to phishing or pornographic websites as well as adult content spam which may negatively affect a child’s psyche and expose the computer to the risk of malware infection,” said Kaspersky lab expert Konstantin Ignatiev.

According to Ignatiev, a typical Internet session starts with the user going to the homepage of a search engine, like Google, Bing, Yahoo, or others. Usually, a child looks up the Internet for games. Unfortunately, the results of a child’s search can list things that are not at all what the young person may have had in mind, and there’s no telling how what the child sees will affect his/her psyche or worldview. “Even general searches can throw up completely unexpected results,” he added. He said that children are curious and there's a fair chance that a child will want to see what kinds of games adults play.

“Kids will also at some point search the Internet to find out more about what their peers are whispering about at school, such as the differences between girls and boys and the male and female bodies. There is nothing wrong, of course, with a desire to learn about human anatomy and physiology via, for instance, an encyclopedia—people are wired to want to learn things, after all. But there are articles available online that that might not be appropriate for children. There is also the distinct possibility that children may receive links to adult content website in response to their online queries,” Ignatiev explained.

Cybercriminals can use blackhat SEO techniques to push unwanted or dangerous links to the top of search results. Often, these links not only lead to websites with questionable content (typically, these are fraudulent pages or adult content websites), but can also be malicious. Ignatiev said that "for the sake of fairness, it should be noted that curious teenagers may show interest in dubious websites." Data collected worldwide by Kaspersky Lab showed there are about 3,000 consistent attempts to access adult content sites by minors every minute. The web content kids love social networking sites—venues where they can socialize, plan get-togethers, play games, view videos and photos and chat online with friends. The popularity of social sites is also a draw for cybercriminals. The rise of social media, such as Facebook, has also allowed the propagation of these risks.

Most parents would be understandably worried if their children accepted a stranger’s invitation to meet up, or clicked on a link to see that stranger's "personal photos." However, the problem is that dangerous links can come from friends and acquaintances, too. Cybercriminals put a lot of effort into obtaining access to other peoples' accounts. Usernames and passwords are stolen via fake websites designed to look like well known resources. "Using social networks today is a huge risk for children, since they do not have sufficient life experience to reliably distinguish between the fake and the genuine. Parents should never forget this!" Ignatiev said. He stressed that parents have the primary role of keeping their children in check against all types of risks especially when their children are growing more dependent on the Internet for many of their social activities. Ignatiev gives some reminders about online risks and how parents and children can better protect themselves.

Steps to Kids’ Safer Browsing

One of the first things that parents must do is to familiarize themselves every few times about the technologies that their family members are using. Everything from computers to mobile devices must be checked for use in Internet connectivity. They must then review potential dangers of using the Internet especially at home. Next, they must talk with their children about these dangers. Children should be aware that their parents are trying to secure them from risks. Parents must also set rules on how their children should use social networks.

Because parents have full control over equipment and appliances at home, they must also ensure that their computers are installed with legitimate security applications. New malware are created each day and antivirus applications are constantly updated with the latest virus or Trojan signatures to ensure that computers are protected. Updating these applications would prove useful in the fight against cybercrime. “Currently, the Internet Security products offered by many companies feature a setting that can be used to protect your child against a number of threats. You can choose the solution most suitable in terms of the possible restrictions, the flexibility of the settings, etc.,” Ignatiev explained. “Using built-in security solutions is just the first real step you can take to ensure that your child is protected against the potential dangers of the Internet,” he said.

Security software such as Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 has Parental Control module that allows parents to restrict the time that children are permitted to use the Internet and the computer. They can also restrict the download of inappropriate files from the Internet, regulate access to specific programs and sites and log their children’s instant messaging and social networking sites.  “Don’t forget that your child’s adventures on the Internet greatly increase the risk of your computer becoming infected. It is essential that the computer your child uses is protected against malware,” Ignatiev said.

Rules for Children 

Ignatiev said that children must also learn to be responsible for their actions especially online. He advises parents to sit down with the child and explain the simple rules below. He said “it will be a lot easier if the child learns about safe surfing from his/her parents, instead of suffering the consequences of making a wrong move.”

1. Children must never make their addresses, telephone numbers, or other contact information public, or send that information to a stranger by email, via a social network or by chat. They must never agree to meet stranger in person. Ignore these invitations, and cut off communication with anyone who insists on meeting.

2. Never publish your email address on any forums, community websites, or social networks, which can be used by spammers to send with unwanted email. Don’t click on links in messages from strangers as these could have been sent by cybercriminals.

3. Do not follow links with tempting offers, such as increasing your account rating or gaining some kind of super-user options on social networks. Often, these messages are sent by scammers or cybercriminals to trick users into visiting a malicious website which will then infect their computers. 

4. Don't pay attention to offers of free prizes, easy money, or inheritances – such messages are only sent by scammers. "Overall, children should be just as careful on social networks and the Internet as they should be in real life," Ignatiev said.

Find out how you can protect your children from dangerous websites by logging onto www.kaspersky.com.