Youngsters assume smartphones are secure

With only 13% of the 2.8 million children in the UK now owning a smartphone using a security solution, many youngsters are putting themselves at risk. (source: Carphone Warehouse/YouGov). With the explosive popularity of smartphones and tablets, particularly Android devices, children are not yet fully aware of the dangers that apply when using such gadgets.

Eddy Willems, Security Evangelist at G Data, comments: “Today’s children are more digitally advanced than ever before, but as a result are less cautious than their elders. If kids are old enough to use a mobile device, they need to realise that such a device still requires a robust security solution. From malicious apps to the dangers of public Wi-Fi, children also need to be educated about the security risks.“

Willems continues: “Safer Internet Day is a great initiative and G Data fully supports it. Children are the future and it is important they are made aware of the risks so they can discover the digital world safely.“

G Data’s top 5 mobile security tips for kids:

One ploy used by cyber criminals is fraudulent apps for tablet PCs or smartphones with Android operating systems. In most cases the app pretends to be harmless and useful, for instance a game, but in reality it also secretly initiates calls to premium numbers, causing kids to lose hundreds of pounds. Therefore, children should only download applications that have abundant positive reviews from users already from reliable sources such as the Google Android Market, Even then be cautious, as it is possible for bonafide apps to get fraudulent updates.

Public Wi-Fi (e.g. in a cafe or shop) should be avoided where possible as it is often inadequately secured, meaning cyber criminals can spy on data. Many children still don’t fully understand the danger of logging onto personal platforms from an open Wi-Fi connection. Hackers can very simply “listen to the session” and obtain personal data, including passwords – this is called a ‘Man in the Middle‘ attack. Children should try to avoid sites that require a login when using free Wi-Fi altogether. In any case, they need to ensure they only insert passwords or personal information on encrypted websites. The address bar should say “https://” before the site you are surfing – the “s” stands for secure! There are many tools that allow hackers to log on and see what your password is if it is not encrypted.

It is now easy to access social media sites via smartphones and tablets, so children need to be aware that criminals are increasingly using sites such as Facebook and Twitter to find out other users’ personal data. Children should be careful about how much information they reveal on sites. This includes geographical locations, which can be done with several very popular apps. This particular information publicises their whereabouts to all, including criminals.

Children generally have more than one online account they access via mobile devices, and often use the same weak password across all, which is not safe. Strong passwords are essential. It sounds very simple and the security industry has been saying it for years, but weak passwords give hackers an easy way in. Children should incorporate numbers and symbols into their passwords and never use the same password across different platforms.Although it can be annoying for youngsters trying to remember multiple passwords, there is a very simple way around it. A tip is to use the same password but depending on what it is for, alter it slightly, so for example, if my password was: EddyWillems12!, I could do the following:

a. Facebook: Eddyfacebookwillems12!

b. Twitter: Eddytwitterwillems12!

c. Hotmail: Eddyhotmailwillems12!

Users should install an effective security solution on their mobile device that includes authorisation checking for installed apps as well as a virus scanner. If you are accessing the Internet, whether a laptop, smartphone or tablet, a security solution like G Data MobileSecurity, should be installed and updated regularly.

Each year, Safer Internet Day is organised by Insafe to promote the safer use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world. This year it will take place on Tuesday 7 February 2012 and will focus on connecting generations and educating each other, with the slogan: “Discover the digital world together… safely!”

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