The Internet and technology have drastically changed the way that you and your family interact with the world, the Attleboro Police Department is providing this page for the public on the best practices to protect your computers, information and children online.
Keeping your computer and cell phones safe
- Website pop-ups
- Fake websites
- Spam emails
- Spam text messages
- Public WiFi
- Facebook spam
- Password reset requests
- Bank info requests
- Rogue phone apps
- Misspelled words
- Badly typed or written emails or messages
- Do not open any emails you don’t recognize
- Don’t click links in emails you don’t recognize
- Many times people are fooled by messages from friends because their friends were fooled by someone and the malware or spam keeps spreading. Don’t click links that appear odd, even from friends.
- Make sure you are on the correct website and not a fake one
- Do not fill in passwords or personal information from any unsolicited links or text messges
- Find and utilize good anti-virus software (there are plenty of fake ones)
- Monitor your credit reports for ID theft
- Do not use public internet access for personal websites and information exchanges
- There are now fake apps and viruses for cell phones. Be wary of what you are downloading and consider cell phone anti-virus software.
Keeping your children safe
When it comes to protecting yourself from ID theft you should pay attention. Many scams depend on you being fooled by false websites, spam, and offers. Minimize you and your childs vulnerability by closely examining any site that asks for your personal information. Many adults and children to not take security seriously and fail to educate themselves or pay attention to the site they are on or the links they click. For example, look for “https” or a lock symbol in the address bar when making purchases online. This means that you are viewing a secure Web page with the necessary allocations for privacy and protection.
You should also talk to your children about online scamming techniques. Warn your children about clicking on pop-ups and downloading programs from unknown sources and social media sites, as these may be tricks to install malware or get personal information. Also, make sure to have antivirus software and firewall programs installed on your computer. Although these programs are not perfect, they are essential in helping to keep your personal information private and your computer working properly. Learn more http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
Cell Phone SafetyWhen you think about your children’s online activities, do you consider their cell phones? Just like you, your children can browse the internet, send and receive images, e-mails, texts, and instant messages from their phones, which many parents and guardians do not monitor. However, you should consider cell phones an extension of the Internet and employ the same safeguards. Mobile internet use is rapidly rising and there is a good chance your children to most of their social networking and internet use right from their phone.
- Cyber Bullying – Children may send and receive mean-spirited phone calls, texts, and picture messages at any hour.
- Predators – While some predators ask children for their cell phone numbers after meeting them online, there have been some cases where predators try to connect with willing children by sending texts to random numbers.
- “Sexting” is a term used to describe the sending of sexually explicit text or picture messages of minors by minors. Often these explicit photos end up on the Internet, children risk embarrassment and could jeopardize scholastic, athletic, and employment opportunities.
GamingOnline games have communications features which allow their users to interact anonymously. Some may take advantage of this anonymity to target children and predators may send inappropriate content or use a game’s communication functions to arrange in-person meetings. Some scam artists may promise virtual goods in an effort to get credit card information.
Many game consoles allow Internet access as well, so it is important to be aware of their communications features. Predators have sent children inappropriate content through game consoles in attempts to coax them into reciprocating or meeting offline.
CyberbullyingCommon Forms of Cyberbullying
- Flaming and Trolling – sending or posting hostile messages intended to “inflame” the emotions of others
- Happy-Slapping – recording someone being harassed or bullied in a way that usually involves physical abuse, then posting the video online for public viewing
- Identity Theft/Impersonation – stealing someone’s password and/or hijacking their online accounts to send or post incriminating or humiliating pictures, videos, or information
- Photoshopping – doctoring digital images so that the main subject is placed in a compromising or embarrassing situation
- Physical Threats – sending messages that involve threats to a person’s physical safety
- Rumor Spreading – spreading gossip through e-mail, text messaging, or social networking sites
Signs Your Child May Be a Victim of Cyberbullying
- Avoids the computer, cell phone, and other technological devices or appears stressed when receiving an e-mail, instant message, or text
- Withdraws from family and friends or acts reluctant to attend school and social events
- Avoids conversations about computer use
- Exhibits signs of low self-esteem including depression and/or fear
- Has declining grades
- Has poor eating or sleeping habits
WebcamsMany children use their webcams to create videos which they post to video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo. In these videos, children sing, dance, tell stories, and share opinions. While many are meant innocently, it is important that you talk to your children about what content you consider appropriate for posting online. For example, you may not want your children singing certain songs or using certain words. Make sure to review all videos before they are posted, and remind your children that their videos may be seen by a large audience. The videos may also be around for a long time; actions that seemed funny at age 14 may be embarrassing when they are adults applying for jobs.
Video-streaming sites like Justin.tv or Skype can be a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. With a webcam, users can connect with each other and engage in real-time, live video chats. Many people use these services to stay in touch with family members and friends. Some video chat services allow the content to be recorded, so it’s important to teach children to be mindful of what they say and do while chatting via webcam. Encourage them to report any inappropriate actions by other webcam users to you or the website immediately.
Some predators try to take advantage of webcams’ capabilities in order to manipulate children. They may start by making small, seemingly harmless suggestions, such as removing a shirt. If children comply, the suggestions may escalate to full nudity and sexual acts. If children stop cooperating, some predators will threaten to expose recordings they’ve made of the children’s previous actions in order to force them into complying. There are a number of cases around the country where this has happened.