Parenting in this era of the mobile devices proliferation is a big challenge indeed. As a cyber-security expert, I have encountered helpless parents whose children are victims of cybercrime. You don’t want to be in such a situation.
There is no such bad feeling to a parent when their child is under intense suffering and pressure, but they don’t have anything to do to ease the pain. In four part holiday series, I will share ideas on how you can keep your child busy in this long holiday. First some context.
March 2016 remains fresh in my memory. A 43 year old mother came to my office for help to investigate a Cyber Bully who had put the life of her 16 year old daughter in a mess. The young lady had just returned home from a boarding school. But her Mom and Dad did not want their child to lack anything. In this era of technology, they bought a small laptop with Internet access for their daughter. You probably know of parents who say “my 10 year old kid knows better how to use my phone than I do”, some are true. I am sure that is what the victim’s mother used to say.
The teenage girl opened a Facebook account. And that is how many people started sending friendship requests. She was excited, she accepted them all. Some of the ‘new friends’ were cyber criminals who keep prawling the Internet for any victim. One friend with a lady Facebook profile picture sent a message and a chat ensured. She strengthened the relationship by opening up about her life. And asked the victim also to share. Innocently the young girl fell for the trap. She talked about herself, family, etc. and shared more private information than necessary via online.
The Bully then shared revealing photos of her face, breasts etc. asked the young girl to also share explaining that “You have got to love your body.” Of course the Cyber Bully was not sharing ‘her’ real photos. Then the cybercriminal shared her Skype username and asked the teenage victim to join Skype for a new digital experience. She did. After building trust, the Cyber Bully started to remotely instruct the victim to do tasks which she gladly did. At first it involved helping with course work, where the cybercriminal would share YouTube videos of the topics the victim explained she was reading. After two weeks, the cybercriminal took it to another level and started requesting for videos of the young girl when she is bathing, lying on the bed naked, jumping etc. You get the idea.
A week later, a ransom message came to the young girl’s Facebook account demanding for USD5,000 or else all videos and pictures she innocently shared would be published and shared with tabloids like Red Pepper and put on her Facebook account. That is when the young girl told her parents of her dilemma. They immediately reported the matters to police. Unfortunately, capacity for cyber warfare and cyber weaponry for offensive, defensive and investigations may not yet be available to police officers at the stations that handle most of the public cases. And that is how matters landed on my desk, as a private cyber investigator.
In this holiday period, if you have a ten year and above old child, enroll him/her for an online safety 3 weeks course at the Institute of Forensics and ICT Security or any other Institution that has a similar holiday program. Cyber Security is effective with empowerment and not depriving young ones with information. You can register at www.forensicsinstitute.org or admissions[@]forensicsinstitute.org.