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Hacking Chronicle
Let "Awareness, Precaution, Carefulness" be your online mantra

: By Cattechie

Anindita Mishra, a Pune-based freelance writer, teacher and mother of two has always been a vocal advocate for issues tied to children's welfare and development. Our Editor in Chief Vaidehi Sachin had a conversation with Anindita who spoke about various types of cyber crimes occurring against women and what measures parents must take to safeguard their children online. 

What are the types of cybercrimes witnessed against women?
Some of the possible cyber crimes which occur against women are as follows:

  • Harassment via e-mails: It is inclusive of blackmailing, threatening, bullying, and even cheating. More often than not, the perpetrator uses a fake id for performing such crimes.
  • Cyber stalking: This is the most common and most frightening form of crime against women on the net. The stalker follows the victim’s activities on the net, by hacking the e-mail or social networking accounts; posting rude or obscene messages on the walls; entering chat-rooms frequented by the victim etc. It has been found that ex-husbands or boyfriends, jilted lovers, crazy fans, and jealous colleagues usually stalk women; while adult predators mainly stalk young girls. The stalkers finds his task made easier by the fact that the girls are usually not net-savvy.
  • Cyber predators: Many young boys and girls click pics or videos of self and share publicly as part of some community criteria. These pics are then often misused. Photos uploaded on spurious dating or friendship sites are also likely to be misused. Older people with ulterior motives befriend kids on chat sites, pretending to be young themselves, and then cajole them to meet in person.
  • Defamation: This occurs when someone publishes defamatory matter about a person or sends e-mails containing defamatory information to his/her friends
  • Morphing: Often, the victim finds morphed pics of herself posted on her wall, followed by lewd messages and her contact no. Sometimes, children resort to morphing as revenge against bullying or humiliation. Take the case of the Air Force Balbharati School boy who was teased by his classmates for having a pockmarked face. He scanned photographs of his classmates and teachers, morphed them with nude photographs, and uploaded them on to a free web hosting service!

Is the nature of risks to young girls and teenagers different? What should parents know and do to keep their children safe?
The nature of risks and the subsequent experience with young girls and teenagers differs from person to person and doesn’t necessarily vary as per age.
Parents could adopt the following steps to ensure their kids’ online safety:

  • As soon as your daughter starts using the net, have a frank chat with her on this subject. Explain to her the dangers she may face online and what she can do to stay safe.
  • Work as a team to set boundaries. Discuss with your child exactly what is OK and what is not OK regarding what kind of web sites are appropriate for them, which chat rooms to visit, and what kinds of things they can talk about there. Set strict time limits for Internet use and enforce them. Ban late-night use. Do not permit your child to be left alone in cyberspace for long periods of time — this is when they are most vulnerable
  • Convince your child that they need to tell you if they receive any odd or upsetting messages while chatting, and that you will not be angry with them or ban the Internet as a result. Make it clear to her that you understand that they cannot control what other people say to them and that they are not to blame if this happens.
  • Make it clear to your child that people in chat rooms are always strangers, no matter how often they chat with them, and no matter how well they think they know them. They should be told that people can lie about who they are, and their new friend may be a 40-year-old man instead of a 13-year-old girl.
  • Make sure your child understands that they should never disclose personally-identifiable information such as their real name, gender, age, school, phone number, or where they reside. Have them use a chat pseudonym that is non-provocative and doesn’t hint at who they really are. They must also guard other people’s personal information, such as friends’ names and phone numbers.
  • Don’t let your kids open attachments to email messages from friends or file-sharing services without you being there to approve and scan the content for viruses. Predators can send pornography or other questionable material.
  • Educate your daughter about exercising caution when befriending strangers. Evaluate them by checking if their profile information matches other online information, such as their Facebook or LinkedIn profile. You can even Google names and verify pics online to establish real identity.

Any recommendations such as any security applications
Yes, there are some parental control softwares as well as malware protection softwares that can help parents protect their children from online hazards: 
The McAfee® Internet Security offers trusted eight-in-one protection from identity thieves, spammers, and predators, ensuring a worry-free experience for you and your kids. It filters offensive content and pictures that a predator may send, and blocks inappropriate web sites. The integrated Parental Controls also restricts sending of personal information without your knowledge so that you can keep your children safe. Also, check out online child safety monitoring software like IMSafer. For the most complete way to keep your children safe online, use McAfee Family Protection. McAfee Family Protection is a powerful tool that helps parents get better insight to the digital lifestyles of their children. Parents can choose to block categories of sites, filter out only a handful of sites, or block nothing at all and simply review online activity reports. Its innovative features such as online activity reports, age appropriate settings and YouTube, games and website blocking and so on gives Indian parents a powerful tool to ensure their kids stay safe when using the Internet.”

Advise on how to get help if needed on being stalked on the net
If you feel you are being stalked or maligned on the net; don’t panic. Keep a record of the page, block the stalker, don’t reply, or engage in verbal war. Report the incident to your nearest cybercrime cell. Change your e-mail id and passwords.
Any tips for women who are online?
Here are a few tips to transform you into a net-savvy woman:

  • If you are already familiar with the PC, well and good, otherwise take some basic courses
  • Ensure you have advanced security software installed on all your devices
  • Don’t engage in light-hearted chit-chat with strangers. They might take it otherwise
  • Don’t share posts/pics that may embarrass you or your acquaintances
  • Read privacy policies of all sites you join. Keep privacy at maximum
  • Keep records of all unacceptable messages, posts you receive. Share your concern with someone you trust
  • Don’t become an Internet addict: refrain from updating all your joys, triumphs, woes and anguishes all through the day. These may have negative effects on your relationships and career

On this women’s day would you like to share a message or a word of advice?

UN has designated the theme for International Women’s Day 2013 to be ‘A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women’. On this note, I would like to dedicate my Women’s Day in helping spread the knowledge and awareness of Cyber Stalkers.
Women today are pretty good at multitasking. They are taking part in adventure sports, pursuing all kinds of careers and successfully raising kids single-handedly. But there are times when they lag behind, especially when it comes to technology. Even educated girls shy away from technology at times saying that they don’t understand it. They profess not to understand how to set security options and take the help of their husbands to fix things. It’s worse when mothers consider themselves to be technologically challenged and get overwhelmed by different aspects of technology and so chose to remain ignorant of their kid’s online behaviour!
This attitude needs to change. Women should not only be the perfect housewife, the perfect mother and the perfect companion; but also extend that role to the internet and be aware of the benefits as well as the risks! A well-rounded outlook is important and now that women are aware of increasing number of dangers lurking around the corner, they need to be well armed. Adoption of simple measures like installing security software and keeping it updated as well as well being a responsible surfer will go a long way to ensure their online safety. Make your online mantra “Awareness, Precaution, Carefulness” and then confidently explore the cyber world.

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