HOW TO SECURE YOUR CHILDREN’S SAFETY AGAINST ONLINE DANGERS

Over the years, the internet has managed to establish its role as one of our most influential partners in raising our kids. From entertainment and communications to education, it has become a reliable and, to an extent, indispensable tool for our children.

However, due mainly to the anonymity that it affords to its users, the internet has also evolved into a perfect platform for various online crimes and abusive activities.

Just recently, the news about the international cyberpornography trade that the Australian “porn king” and his Filipina live-in partner, dubbed the “Savage Girl,” have been operating in the Visayan and Mindanao areas was all over social media. The infamous couple is reported to prey on unsuspecting female street children and scavengers by luring them into their fold, torturing, molesting and forcing them to perform hideous sexual acts, videotaping them, and selling those live-stream videos to their sexually-perverted clients from across the globe. The victims’ ages range from 1-12.

There was also the case of a female student who experienced grave sexual harassment online when she posted her picture showing her at a protest rally.

Moreover, the rising number of reported cases of suicide triggered by cyberbullying, body/slut shaming or social media depression is something that is causing serious alarm to authorities.

As parents, we need to ensure that our children are protected against these cyber bullies, online predators, pornography vendors and cybercrime offenders. Here are some tips to help us safeguard our children’s online safety.

 

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Photo credit: yoursphere.com

 

  1. Talk to your children about the nature of the virtual world and the concept of digital footprint. Make them understand that, just like the real world, the cyberspace is both a wonderful and nasty place. It is a platform that offers unlimited possibilities, but with ease comes threats, with convenience comes dangers, and with functionality comes risks.

 

  1. Advise your children to be cautious and discerning about what they share online. They should, for instance, refrain from giving out personal information that could be used by identity thieves. They should never share their exact location at any given time. And they should not flaunt suggestive/revealing pictures or pictures of their personal belongings and properties. Most importantly, they should secure their social media accounts at all times.

 

  1. Tell your children never to engage in online chats with strangers. Child predators often pose as kids in chat rooms to make them seem less threatening, and when they eventually earn your children’s trust, they can easily convince their gullible victims to meet with them. That is when real trouble begins.

 

  1. Encourage your children to come to you if anything ever makes them uncomfortable. Kids are naturally hungry for attention and social acceptance. But if they are constantly taught about moral boundaries, it would be relatively easier for them to spot online jerks and to identify sexual advances disguised as sincere compliments.

 

  1. Keep the computer in a common area in the house, and create and strictly enforce ground rules on the time and length of use of that computer. If you have wi-fi in the house, customize specific rules for internet access for each of your children. To ensure compliance, inform them that offenders will be meted out with corresponding penalties.

 

  1. Monitor your children’s online activities. Be aware of the kinds of websites that your children frequently visit and the kinds of people they regularly hang out with online. You may want to invest in a recording software that would allow you to see all the data that your children have seen, received, downloaded and viewed. There are also software programs that could enable you to monitor your children’s mobile devices.

 

  1. Filter the websites that your children can access and block those harmful ones. Using parental control software products that are readily available online, you can customize the web content filtering settings appropriate for each of your children. You can also modify the default settings to add or remove sites at your discretion.

 

  1. Report to the proper authorities any incident that you suspect can expose your children to online danger. Preserve the pieces of evidence by taking screen shots of the inappropriate materials, e-mails, photos, etc. that can be used in filing a case against the offenders.

 

  1. Set an ideal example to your children by being a responsible and cautious #CyberPinoy. You cannot be a credible role model to your children if you are telling them one thing yet your actions are saying something else. Practice what you preach.

 

 

Written for and submitted to Inquirer.net

Commissioned by Globe Telecommunications Company

HOW TO BE A RESPONSIBLE AND CAUTIOUS CYBER PINOY: THE DOs AND DON’Ts OF CYBER SHARING

In today’s digital world, online connectivity has become an important and indispensable component of our everyday lives. Online predators and cybercriminals, however, are constantly lurking on social networking sites, ready to pounce on their unsuspecting victims at the first opportunity. It is important to note, though, that most cybercrimes have been made possible by the netizens themselves —through their seemingly harmless act of cyber sharing.

As a cyber Pinoy, how can you protect yourself, your loved ones, your home or your business?

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Image from privsecblog.com

Here are some tips to help you stay on the safe side of the cyberspace.

1. Don’t post any personal information that could be used to steal your identity. According to the Internet World Stats, as of June 2016, 54 million Filipinos (or 52.6% of our total population) are internet users. There are 47 million active Facebook accounts. Along with Brazil, Philippines tops daily time spent online using PC or tablet with 5 hours and 12 minutes, the highest among many countries. At 3.7 hours, we also top the list of countries with the most time spent on social media each day. And with a data consumption of about 150k terabytes annually, we are fast developing into a land of online data guzzlers. With that vast potential audience that stays long online, we need to be extra-careful about what we put out there.

2. Don’t share your exact location at any given time. While other countries have already developed cyberwarfare armories to address the growing threat of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, the Philippines has, over the years, been regarded as a cybercrime hotspot or a haven of crimes committed online due to its weak cybersecurity. We need not equip these cyber criminals with more weapons to use against us.

3. Don’t flaunt pictures of your personal possessions or properties. Philippines ranked 39th globally in 2014 on internet threat activities, based on the annual report of Symantec Internet Security Threat. Seeing pictures of your mansions, flashy cars, sparkly jewelries, etc. might be too difficult for these online predators to resist.

4. Don’t divulge any information that could compromise the safety of your home or business. According to the 2014-2015 Cybercrime Report of the Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrime, cyberespionage attacks or intellectual property theft is on the rise as a major threat. 31% of the attacks in recent years were directed against small businesses.

5. Don’t share information about your travel documents. A massive breach in the Comelec’s database happened just days before the national elections in May 2016. The personal data of more than 55 million registered voters were leaked online, making each voter susceptible to fraud and other risks. There is no need to provide additional information to those leaked data that the hackers have already amassed about us.

6. Don’t be too comfortable sharing anything with someone you just met online. Identity thieves can easily create fake profiles in order to obtain personal information that should otherwise have been private.

7. Do secure your social media accounts. Your security setting should not allow you to share everything with the “public.” Swift (or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) stated last year that “a wider and highly adaptive campaign” was under way targeting banks. From the last quarter of 2015 until the first quarter of 2016, Philippine banks had been the target of cyberattacks of foreign hackers. Also, following the release of the ruling on the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China last year, 68 Philippine government websites had been subjected to various forms of cyberattacks. In retaliation, Anonymous Philippines, a loosely associated network of Filipino hacktivists, hacked and defaced more than 200 Chinese websites. The University of the Philippines, DZMM, and many others were also targeted. We can never be too vigilant nor too cautious.

8. Do read everything you want to share before clicking the share button. Avoid spreading click and link baits as these could launch malicious software or viruses that could damage a computer.

9. Do fact check from reliable sources any information you feel the need to share online. The Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) has reported a total of 1,211 cybercrime complaints covering the years 2013-2015. Online libel is the top 2 complaint.

10. Do teach your children about safety precautions when using the internet. They should know how to spot and deal with online predators that prey particularly on children. Our deep-rooted problem of poverty coupled with the failure of the law enforcement agencies in the Philippines to fully protect the children under RA 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Children), RA 7610 (Child Abuse Law) and RA 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2209) is a come-on for international pedophiles and child pornographers to come here, abuse our children, and make money from it. UNICEF says that the Philippines is “the number one global source of child pornography.”

11. Do share links and articles that will only inspire, empower, entertain, educate and bring good vibes to the social media universe.

Sources:

http://isupportworldwide.com/blog/archive/socialmediaphilippines/

http://www.internetworldstats.com/

http://www.manilatimes.net/philippines-is-no-1-global-source-of-child-pornography/267148/

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/16/1603250/68-govt-websites-attacked

https://technology.inquirer.net/48077/ph-banks-under-attack-by-hackers

http://thehackernews.com/2014/05/anonymous-philippines-hacks-hundreds-of.html

http://newsbytes.ph/2015/08/29/online-scams-libel-top-pnp-list-of-cybercrimes-in-last-3-years/

Global Cybersecurity Index and Cyberwellness Profiles Report

DOJ-OOC 2014-2015 Cybercrime Report

Written for and submitted to Inquirer.net

Commissioned by Globe Telecommunications Company