SOCIAL media has fooled many to shed our inhibitions online. This is because of both the ease, ambiguity and trust it provides users. This oversharing of information may lead to loss of money, tarnished reputation and family conflicts, according to security experts at Kaspersky. This becomes doubly dangerous when children are involved.
“We have to understand that the line between parenthood and professional work has been blurred tremendously as our homes now serve as an extension of our offices and our children’s schools. Social media offers a platform for mothers and fathers to take a breather and to find emotional support and advice from their own groups,” Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky explained.
A survey conducted by Kaspersky to some 760 respondents just this May revealed that 80 percent of parents in the Asia Pacific region are spending a lot of time on different social networking apps as the lockdown restrictions force them to work at home and look after their kids, all at the same time.
“While these virtual networking platforms can be a useful source of knowledge and assistance for parents who are trying to juggle their tasks, it is essential to remember that ill-minded individuals lurk around here, too. It is necessary to be careful about the information we post on our social media accounts as the biggest danger lies in the fact that information shared on social networking sites and other public sources can be analyzed and used by a whole host of complete strangers, including criminals of all stripes,” he adds.
Everything that the parents or their children publish online can be used against them – whether it’s an angry post on a random topic, an intimate photo or details of their personal lives. It is therefore important to remember and to teach children: before clicking “Publish” take a minute and think.
A simple guide: What should never post online
Home address or school. Armed with this information, robbers, pedophiles, bullies and other unsavory characters can easily locate a child. Children rarely publish their home address on social networking sites, but very often they name the school they attend.
Phone number. With children, a phone number is a direct means of contact that peers can use for bullying and adults for even more sinister things. For criminals this particular piece of information is among the most valuable data they can get. For example, since at least 2016 cybercriminals started collecting phone numbers of social network users and used stolen information to re-register for online banking services and gained access to their victims’ accounts.
Your current geolocation (‘Check-in’). Information that a family is away from home is a signal for burglars. It also makes it easier to track someone down. Additionally, saying something like “our favorite place” and posting a geotag may be dangerous as it shows bad guys that there is a place where a person can easily be found.
Intimate/compromising photos and videos. Photos that may seem like a bit of fun to adolescents could get them into trouble if published on the Internet. For example, there are numerous sites that collect erotic pictures of teenage girls that they post themselves and publish them as “hot” content. The directors of colleges and universities and potential employers may take a very dim view of compromising photos.
Compromising photos of other people. Do not publish compromising photos of yourself or other. Users of all ages should understand this basic rule.
Baby photos of your teenage child. Parents very often post information on the Web about their child that the child can find unacceptable. Kid’s photos that may be cute and sweet could also result in bullying in the future.
Photos of expensive gifts. This is a demonstration of wealth or luxury to strangers. Together with a home address and current geolocation it is a gold mine for thieves searching for victims on the Internet.
Information about your personal life. Personal information can always be used for criminal purposes. For example, it can be used to guess the password for an online account, to devise a scam that you are more likely to fall for, or to get acquainted with your child and gain their confidence. Publishing complaints or very personal information about your loved ones is particularly harmful as it may damage your relationship.
Critical statements on sensitive topics. Opinions matter. However, when it comes to contentious issues such as religion, politics, sexual orientation, etc., it is better not to share opinions on the Internet. This may cause a conflict that can shift from the virtual to the real world, or spoil your reputation in the eyes of a potential educational institution or an employer.