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Internet Safety Tips – Recommendations from the FBI-2-4.

Internet Safety Tips – Recommendations from the FBI-2-4.
By Jerry Simas, Freelance Internet Safety Consultant

We all love connecting with our friends and family via social networks and sharing photos of our vacations and business trips with anybody who is interested. But you must also remember that just like in the real world, safety comes first in the digital realm as well. The dangers posed by cyber criminals cannot be ignored and to keep yourself and your family safe online you must fight back.

Having spent the majority of my career fighting all sorts of cyber criminals, from stalkers to pedophiles, I can tell you that the biggest risks come from social media and other chat platforms. These are proving grounds for cyberbullies, identity thieves and online predators.

What people do not always understand is that when information is posted on social media, that information is no longer considered private. And, perhaps, worst of all, even if you delete these photos, videos, posts etc. they can still be recovered and traced back to you by hackers and other cyber criminals.

Internet Safety for Children

When it comes to keeping your child safe online here is what the FBI recommends.

• You have to take matters into your own hands because they do not comprehend the dangers of social networks. You must remember that social networks make it easy for someone to pretend to be someone else and anyone who is a “friend” can ask for their passwords, money or to meet face-to-face. This is why you must tell you child to only accept friend and chat requests from people they know. Everyone tells their children not to talk to strangers they meet on the street and the same rules apply online. The strangers they meet online can be more dangerous than the ones they meet on the street.

• Beware of TMI- too much information. Not only should you never give out sensitive information such as social security numbers (even the last four digits) and passwords, you should never share the state you were born in, birthday or photos you would not feel comfortable being plastered on every billboard in the country. Photos can be reposted and disseminated at lightning speed and can be used to blackmail and bully your child.

• Do not post anything online that you would not feel comfortable being plastered on every billboard in the country. Even the strictest security settings are not enough to keep photos and videos you share from falling into the wrong hands. And, as we said before, once it is on there, it is there for good. Even if you delete it, it can still come back to haunt you. As a rule of thumb, if you would not feel the entire world seeing your photo or video- do not post it.

Cyberbullying
Speaking of cyberbullies and trolls, social media is an excellent platform to bully and blackmail both adults and children online while remaining anonymous. The only good thing about cyberbullying is that the evidence can be saved and tracked back to the bully so the police or competent authority can take the appropriate action(s). Be sure to keep all the evidence, even minor stuff, because they may escalate into major dangers. If the harassment is coming from instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, SnapChat etc. be sure to block the bully and leave any chat room that participates in cyberbullying. Here is what we can do as parents:

• Education- We all remember high profile bullying stories of Amanda Todd, a Canadian teenager who took her own life because of the harassment from cyberbullying We need to have discussions with our children about the dangers and consequences of cyberbullying because they may simply think that it is harmless fun.

• Use the celebrity card- There are several A-list celebrities that have been outspoken against cyberbullying namely Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift. They have been victims of bullying themselves when they were young and they openly share stories about how it impacted their lives and how they overcame being bullied.

• Create a forum for parents- there are many chat rooms and forums that have been created by parents to discuss online dangers and share their experiences. If there is no such forum in your community, it highly recommended that you create one. Such a forum will allow all parents to be aware of dangers in their community and it will also allow parents, school administrators to take swift action against cyberbullying.

Internet Safety Software

Since it is difficult to remain vigilant as to what your child posts online and who they communicate with, I strongly recommend that you install parental control software on your child’s phone. This software will allow you to see who they are friends with, who they talk to online and what they are sharing. It also allows you to see text messages they send, receive and delete. Armed with this information, you can spring into action to prevent your child from being bullied online or falling prey to cyber criminals while at the same time balancing your personal and professional life. Since the software sends you notification when your child accepts a friend request from a stranger or sends inappropriate pictures or videos, it alleviates a lot of the work of your shoulders.
I highly recommend these free apps to all parents, teachers and law enforcement professionals.

1. Kidgy
2. Norton
3. K9 Web Protection

Keep in mind that this software won’t do all the work for you but be an additional help in creating positive online environment for your children. At the end of the day education comes first and you are responsible for their online safety as a parent.

This is a guest post by Jerry Simas. I have been working as a freelance internet safety consultant for 17 years. I provide consultations on internet safety and security to law enforcement, businesses and private citizens. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via G+: https://plus.google.com/108453892503099102540?hl=uk

Please also check out their work at: kidgy.com