Data breaches, malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks are just a few cybercrimes that we're constantly warning you about. Hackers have even started attacking appliances such as Wi-Fi light bulbs and smart locks. I never would have guessed that my refrigerator could be used against me.
Hacking into a light bulb or a smart appliance falls into a category of cybercrimes. Recently, a woman called Kim on the show and discussed how she was being stalked and tracked online by a former boss. The caller wanted to know how he could know so much about her life, up to and including when she looked at her text messages. Kim helped her out but was quick to point out to the caller that this was a situation for the police. This is a crime called cyberstalking.
Before delving into that, though, let's look at two other crimes that are spreading online. You need to be aware so that you can help keep your family and friends safe. Speaking of, this is an excellent article to share on your social media accounts or by email. After all, knowledge is power.
Trolls are people who saturate the internet with inflammatory comments or meaningless discussion to distract others or even pick a fight. They comment endlessly to get their point across, even if it's completely wrong. This usually happens on social media.
An extreme version of trolling is cyberbullying, which is when someone communicates electronically to bully a person. The cyberbully typically sends messages to the victims, intimidating or threatening them.
Studies have shown that cyberbullying can lead to low self-esteem, depression and even suicide. Children are at high risk of being cyberbullied. Nearly 35 percent of students say they have personally experienced cyberbullying and over 85 percent say they've witnessed it.
Here are some suggestions to keep your kids safe:
- Talk to your kids - You should have open discussions about cyberbullying on a regular basis. Let them know that you are there to help. Encourage them to let you know immediately if they, or someone they know, are being cyberbullied.
- Keep track of their online activity - Know what sites your kids are visiting online.
- Use parental control filters - You can install parental control filtering software or monitoring programs on their gadgets. These allow you to keep track of their online behavior.
- Ask for your children's passwords - Ask for their passwords, but let them know that you will only use them in case of an emergency.
- Friend or follow them on social media - This will allow you to monitor their activity and see if they are being bullied.
- Establish technology rules - Teach them the appropriate use of computers, phones and other gadgets. Be clear on what sites they can visit while online and to be smart about what they post. Let them know that once they post something embarrassing to themselves or others online, it's out of their control of what people will do with it.
- Learn school rules - Most schools are coming up with policies on dealing with cyberbullying. Here are some questions to ask your kid's teachers about the topic.