Children: Are They Most Vulnerable to Cyber Crimes in India 2020
Children: Are They Most Vulnerable to Cyber Crimes in India?
The number of electronic device children have access to continue to increase – tablets, mobile phones, laptops, smart watches etc. They also have access to plethora of connected devices like smart watches, fit-bits, toys etc. As children use more and more devices, the threat vector grows as well.
From Blue Whale game to Momo challenge, the young internet users face countless threats on daily basis. But unfortunately, overwhelming majority of parents don’t restrict the time their child spends online! Lack of security in these devices, compounds the problem. Surprisingly, most parents never review the default settings of the devices their children use to prevent them from viewing inappropriate content online, nor they install any security solutions like firewalls, anti-virus, any phishing filters etc.
As Internet of Thing device usage expands, children are becoming even more vulnerable to cyber-crimes and criminals. In fact, IoT also increases chances of compromising school and home network, as these devices interact with them.
Why Children are More Vulnerable than Others?
- Too Young to Comprehend Dangers! While children are becoming tech-savvy, but by nature are not protection-savvy. They also don’t understand the dangers of the virtual world. Every day children connect to external sources without realizing the various ways others can exploit the digital connections.
- Very Real Threats: Even toys are being used to spy on children, and children as young as 7 years old are having social media accounts. Blue Whale game, Momo challenge etc has shown that these threats are very real.
- Lack of Awareness: There is lack of awareness around basic device protection, especially in India. The vulnerabilities and security flaws are not known and understood properly even by many parents. Patches and updates released by manufacturers to counter them are not installed in real time basis.
- Wearables Threat: With time wearables have become popular. At times, wearables like smart watches are provided by concerned parents to know whereabouts of their children to ensure their safety. However, most of them fail to realize that they may have numerous security flaws, leaving children susceptible to hacking attacks. In fact, with increasing demand, many cheap wearables are now available in the market. They are becoming popular due to lower cost, but plugging security gaps is not a priority for such manufacturers.
- Experimental Nature: Children by nature love to explore and experiment. Under peer pressure or otherwise, they can join spurious clubs and forums online, chat with strangers, share photos and videos of themselves, and risk their personal information by sharing it online.
- Freebies Trap: Students often fall into the trap of freebies, easy and free access to files and media, torrent sharing etc. To save up little money, or simply to have fun, they may end up getting victimized.
With a dramatic reduction in the prices of smart-phones, the first point of contact with the internet has seen a sharp decline. Ten years before, a working salaried person may not have had a smart-phone. However today, children as young as ten years old are using smart-phones and perhaps even laptops/ desktops to connect to the virtual world. Activities like school projects, sometimes compel a student to reach out for online resources!
A hacker is most likely to target a less tech savvy user than anyone else. Thus, children are the most preferred target for a cyber-criminal especially for sexual abusers and pedophiles.