The Online Kids Are Not Alright
If the snippet I’ve seen is anything to go by, a new movie called Trust, directed by David Schwimmer, might be essential viewing for parents and their children. It tells the story that cyberspace can be a dangerous place and explores the problems of cyberbullying, sexting, etc., with the distinct message that technology does not replace a proper relationship with your offspring.
Parents may be wising up to the dangers of unsupervised online activity, with many having rules for using the Internet; but do they extend that to include gaming consoles, iPads, and smartphones as well?
Nowadays, any gadget with an Internet connection is open to all manner of vulnerabilities. Gaming consoles can be used to connect online in much the same way as using a PC. Advancements in connectivity make a smartphone a PC as well.
Even the most vigilant of parents struggle to keep in touch with advancing technologies that allow youngsters to be online without parental knowledge.
In a recent example, a 14-year-old used his Xbox to give out his father’s email address and password “in exchange” for Microsoft Points, and the ID was stolen.
How many children understand the value of seemingly innocent pieces of information? For example, how many would know what a Social Security Number is, and that giving out just that information could also end in child identity theft?
Speaking of which, the term "child identity theft" may sound odd, since children cannot get credit. But a recent Carnegie Mellon survey showed that 10 percent of 42,000 US children surveyed had their Social Security Numbers in use by someone else, mostly identity thieves. And yes, to repeat: That’s a staggering 10 percent!
Children’s IDs are utilized to buy vehicles, open credit card accounts, and even purchase houses. The largest child identity theft recorded in the survey was a $750,000 fraud against a 16-year-old, and the youngest ID theft victim was 5 months old.
External devices are increasingly becoming a source of entry for malware and viruses. If adults don’t have a clue about how malicious programs can be picked up this way, then children are even less likely to.
And some adults remain ignorant. A report from Sunbelt found that out of 200 senior IT workers, 39 percent had no idea that online gaming consoles were at risk from DDoS attacks, phishing, and social engineering.
Even more problems can be presented by slightly older kids experimenting with making “home brewed” applications, as demonstrated recently by Korean security researchers DongJoo Ha and KiChan Ahn, who showed how such applications can be exploited to distribute malware.
Probably the greatest danger is still posed by sexual predators using gaming consoles. This has been a cause of concern for some time, as incidents highlighted on this http://kidsafe.com/42/predators-use-xbox-wii-consol-and-other-gaming-consoles-to-contact-our-children/ blog show.
Online gaming consoles in many ways have become another form of babysitting and a way to keep the kids occupied, but obviously the console and game manufacturers have been neglectful as well, and an urgent job is needed to tighten up on ID security.