Cybercrooks do not go on summer break

(image) New Delhi: Cybercrooks do no go on a holiday and innocent kids may be victimised by them as children spend a lot of time on the Internet during vacations, say experts.

Online stalking, spams, phishing attacks and illegal content including pornography are the various tools used by cybercrooks and parents need to exercise extra caution to protect children, they say.

"Children being inexperienced and innocent, are always targeted by cyberfrauds. Malware attacks increase during school vacations and crooks employ social engineering tactics that play upon human weaknesses and influence people into falling for scams, specially children," says Vinoo Thomas, Technical Product Manager, McAfee Labs.

"Social networking sites can be easily used to befriend children. Kids can also be lured to reveal their personal details and credit card information leading to siphoning off money from accounts. Besides, they may be exposed to porn content as well," says Thomas.

According to a survey conducted by TCS across 12 Indian cities last year, 63 per cent of urban students spend over an hour online daily and 62 per cent have a personal computer at home. Over 80 per cent find time for the internet alongside school, classes and extra-curricular activities, and are starting to embrace Web 2.0 tools like blogs and social networking sites, the report says.

In 2007, 16-year-old Adnan Patrawala, the son of a rich businessman, was killed in Mumbai by his abductors, who had befriended him on Orkut through a fake profile.

yberlaw expert, Pavan Duggal says unawareness among public and technical sophistication of the cybercrooks has led to increase in phishing attacks in recent years in India.

"Parents should educate their wards against such things. If a child`s profile on a social networking site says that he has a car and a bungalow in a posh area, he indicates that he belongs to a rich family. Now when he updates his friends that he is feeling lonely at home today after his parents are out to attend a party, the child will obviously invite the attention of online stalkers," says Duggal.

"Collecting e-mail addresses from spam mail vendors is not a big deal. Children mention their e-mail address openly on forums and social media networks that makes life easier for online fraudsters," says Thomas.

As children are generally unaware of the repercussions of inadequately protecting their Online identity, it becomes the responsibility of the parents and teachers to ensure that they do not face a difficult situation.

"Children should be made aware about the online frauds and a security software that includes a dedicated web-scanning layer, and behaviour-blocking technology should be used for computers by the parents. Besides, children should be taught inside the classrooms on how to use the web for a safe and trouble-free experience," says Thomas.

Duggal says there is also immediate need for stringent law to deal with such criminals, cyber attacks have been increasing during occasions like festivals, Valentine Day and major events like World Cup.

"We need to get strict on this. Our conviction rate in cyber crimes is very very low, just three in last 15 years," he says.