Unprotected Computers and Kids: A Potentially Explosive Combo
In my previous blog I discussed the findings of a McAfee study that revealed India ranking 10th among least protected PC users globally. This means many of us are pretty careless or might I say clueless, when it comes to computer and smartphone protection. Why is this so?
I think it stems from a lack of collective knowledge, which is the result of learning derived from society’s experiences over time. For example, we have learnt the hard way that it is not safe to keep valuables at home, whether in a cupboard or in a hole dug in the kitchen corner. It’s best to insure them and keep them in banks. But it has happened gradually and several thefts to make people realize this.
Similarly, many people ignore basic safety measures till they themselves face difficulty or danger. But by then, it might be too late.
According to the survey, some common reasons behind lack of security are:
- Many PCs come with pre-installed software. Some users are not aware that this free software is offered for limited trial periods. They may also therefore be inexperienced in installing their own anti-virus
- Sometimes users disable their security protection to access unsafe sites or play online games
- Some mistakenly believe that they don’t need protection if they follow safe surfing policies
So what happens if your PC does not have even basic protection?
- Your PC may get hacked
- Malware may enter your system, helping cyber criminals to steal your data, crash your system or turn it into a zombie
- Data loss — Data loss would include personal ID, bank and credit card information, user name and passwords for different accounts. What a rich harvest field for a criminal
What is the effect on kids who use the net?
As McAfee Cybermum India, my main concern is children. You can’t even begin to imagine the dangers an unprotected computer or laptop or smartphone can pose to your kids. Kids are vulnerable and you have to have constant dialogues with them to keep them aware of the dangers online. Also you need to supervise them when they go online, for sometimes they might be too embarrassed, too scared or too troubled to confide in you.
Some of the dangers that kids may face when they surf on an unprotected system:
- Accidental exposure to inappropriate sites, content, videos, and language: Most software screens sites and opens only safe URLs. This will not happen if the PC is not protected
- Paedophiles and other cyber criminals will find it a piece of cake to approach kids networking from an unprotected PC
- They might inadvertently open links and videos sent by friends or strangers which might lead Trojans and other viruses to enter your computer
- They might be bullied or groomed online but in the absence of an advanced security software, you would not be aware of this. Isn’t that scary!
- Scammers find it easier to trick kids than adults who are generally more wary
You know the remedies. Install security software now or update the existing one. Ensure it offers total family protection that allows you to limit internet timings and sites for individual kids. Last but most important, be your child’s friend. Keep communication channels open so that they can fearlessly bring their problems to you.
Safe surfing folks!