How safe are you and your family using the internet?

How safe are you and your family using the internet? Jon McCormick

How safe do you feel using the internet? Are there ways to protect yourself from criminals attempting to access your personal information so you and your family can enjoy the benefits cyberspace offers?

According to the RCMP and the FBI, criminals have found a way to spam your emails and infect your system with malware, malicious software, called “Game Over”. This program allows the criminals to access your usernames and passwords and override your bank’s financial authentication system. “Game Over” is a new variant of “Zeus” malware which was created a number of years ago to obtain banking information.

Rural Crime Watch (RCW) has posted a number phishing attempts on our web page, the most recent being a scam where the sender has obtained your email address and addresses the message using your name. DO NOT OPEN.

In another scam the sender purports to be associated with your bank and states there is a problem with your account and wants you to click on the link to confirm their information. DO NOT DO IT!

Internet safety has to be foremost with your family security.

The RCMP states that 96 per cent of youngsters are on the internet daily. They use it to update their status on social media, text each other at school and for school research;  all with a handheld device.

This access ease has made it easy for pedophiles and others who will take advantage of your children and not break a sweat or blink an eye at their deception and cruelty.

Sending sexually explicit photos and information is against the law as Congressman Anthony Weiner and others have discovered.

Some teens have been charged and have to register as a sex offender for sending nude photos of themselves. Your children need to know the ramifications of their involvement in this activity.

Bullying has been around for decades but has taken on a new form on the internet with cyberbullying. Bullies are weak, shallow ineffective people who can not deal with their insecurities and take their inadequacies out on others. Physical confrontation is not necessary when the bully can spread hateful, threatening and embarrassing information via texting and twitter. The RCMP advises, “Online harassment is a serious offence and can include criminal charges. It is important to report incidents of cyberbullying to www.cybertip.ca, because the effects can be damaging or dangerous to the individual being bullied online.”

You and your family are not without recourse. As with all your child’s activities, know where, when and with whom they are interacting. If you include your children in the danger evaluation and create a family plan, they will not feel you are being over protective or overbearing.

First and foremost you need to be computer savvy yourself. You can not sit on the sidelines and allow your kids to make the decisions. Learn how to adjust privacy settings and make sure your children know and include them in their computer/handheld. Learn social networking, whether you are interested or not. Understand that users can list information limited to a few or open to the general public.

A photo, home town, phone number and age can be listed on the social network system and be limited to just “Friends”. But what if that “Friend” sends the information to someone your child hasn’t authorized? Ensure that all internet connecting devices are protected by Spam and anti-virus software.

Learn texting lingo at www.netlingo.com and on our web site www.ruralcrimewatch.com under Bulletins.

If you are the recipient of a scam or phishing attempt, share with RCW so that we can alert others.

By Jonathan McCormick and Denny Fahrentholz

“If you see something, say something… to Rural Crime Watch”