Cyber security awareness for children

5 mins read

Children worldwide have access to the internet more than ever before. COVID-19 played a massive role as students had to get online education and be more acquainted with it.

In this day and age, everyone is keen to adopt new technologies. Digital transformation is at its peak, and remote working culture has been widely established across all industries. Consequently, increasing the overall attack surface, we have become more vulnerable to security breaches and cyber terrorism. While almost everyone on the internet is prone to cybersecurity risks, students and minors are more susceptible due to a lack of awareness, commonsense and knowledge.

Children worldwide have access to the internet more than ever before. COVID-19 played a massive role as students had to get online education and be more acquainted with it. It resulted in the sudden growth of the use of technology by school students. However, the students are unaware of the security threats associated with using the technology. Since the children have little to no knowledge about cyber crimes, cyber threats, and cybersecurity awareness, they become easy targets for cybercriminals. The most common form of online abuse seen among these minors are cyberbullying, sexual abuse, cyber trafficking, money demands, extortion, etc., which can leave a long-term psychological impact on their lives.

It is mainly caused due to lack of insufficient knowledge about IT systems and contents delivered over the internet, sharing information publicly, trusting everyone, and primarily due to a lack of cybersecurity awareness. Researches show that students and children from developing world and rural areas are more likely to be abused by cyberbullying, cyber threats, and extortion. Nevertheless, the problem is universal and not limited to a country or a group of nations. Researches also show that around 30% of students face the problem of cyberbullying and cyber abuse each year. However, among those, only half of them admit to being abused. Similarly, girls are twice as likely to be used and bullied online than boys, which is one of the major causes of suicide among young children and students.

Since children are unaware of the risks of the internet, they tend to visit maliciously designed websites that track their activities. Their activities are often illegal and unethical, such as downloading free software and applications, watching porn content, sharing personal details, etc. Once their movements are tracked, they are blackmailed and extorted by these criminals to ruin their social and personal life. Sometimes these websites contain malware that gets installed and start recording their action resulting in serious privacy concerns.

Likewise, these activities can even pose threats through social media if not used carefully. Besides phishing for sensitive data and credential harvesting, cybercriminals may impersonate friends and ask for personal details such as credentials, photos, and videos. Upon receiving the images and videos, they use them to abuse, blackmail, or extort minors by threatening them in several ways, such as by publishing them online or forcing them to do things that may harm them in physiological and psychological ways. In addition, using weak passwords and sharing personal credentials with friends and strangers puts them at risk of being attacked and security vulnerability.

Any bullying can have a physical and psychological effect on a child. Anxiety, depression, fear, behavioural issues, and academic struggles are some of the things that can happen to a victim of cyberbullying. Sometimes, these effects can be seen in the witnesses of cyberbullying in the form of guilt, sadness, and helplessness. Often cyberbullying leads to the children being deprecated and denied in society if the requirements of the cybercriminal are not fulfilled. Moreover, the children might not share this cyberbullying with others due to the fear of being rejected and humiliated. This build-up and stress might lead to many problems, and sometimes it even results in suicide.

Therefore, it is essential to stop and prevent children from such online abuse and cyberbullying. It requires cybersecurity awareness among people of all age groups through different forms. It is a collective responsibility of the experts and society and general to increase cyber awarenss among young children. Providing awareness may decrease the number of cyber attacks. Furthermore, educating adults, parents, and teachers about the necessary steps to prevent this from happening and supporting minors in such scenarios to avoid further mishaps is essential.

The challenges mentioned above can be addressed through an effective cybersecurity awareness program. Such programs are designed to increase awareness and protect individuals from online threats and related security risks. It is precious to prevent your children from being harassed online and prevent them from getting exploited. In addition, it creates awareness about the dangers of sharing personal information such as user names, phone numbers, passwords, pictures, and videos on the internet. Furthermore, an awareness program will help them separate right and wrong choices, making them more conscious while using social networking sites. Likewise, it will educate them to use and surf the internet responsibly, avoiding untrusted and malicious sites. In addition, they will learn about privacy, digital identity, and password security. Finally, and most importantly, it will give an insight into what to do if they become victims of cyberbullying. Ultimately it will improve common sense and knowledge of cybersecurity, leading to a  safe and secure society.

Article by Akash Chand

Biz Serve IT has taken an initiative to encourage the development of cybersecurity awareness in the community so that everyone can understand and take responsibility for their cyber safety and cyber hygiene. To learn more please feel free to reach out to us.