Kids are weak links in home cybersecurity

Kids are weak links in home cybersecurity

Children's trusting behaviour online has made their parents vulnerable to hackers, with three in 10 computing devices in Singapore compromised in this way, according to the latest survey findings by security technology firm Norton.

Very often, children download viruses to their family computer, click on a link in a text message or share their password with someone who then abuses it, the survey revealed.

The Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, released yesterday, polled more than 17,000 Internet users above 18 years old across 17 countries, including about 1,000 people here.

The survey, conducted in August and September last year, included for the first time questions about children's Internet behaviour.

Children here have also been duped into responding to online scams such as phishing messages, thinking that they are legitimate.

Phishing is a process used by hackers to trick people to divulge sensitive personal information such as their user identities and passwords.

"Children are becoming increasingly comfortable with devices like smartphones or tablets, and parents must be proactive in educating their children on online safety," said Gavin Lowth, Norton vice-president for consumer and small business in Asia-Pacific and Japan.

"Protecting children online is weighing heavier on parents than ever before as cyberbullying, online predators and privacy are now real world concerns."

The findings come amid rising online crime in Singapore.

Last year, the number of online crime cases involving e-commerce, credit-for-sex and Internet love scams almost doubled to 3,759, from 1,929 in 2014, according to police statistics.

In February, David Chew, director of the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force, said the country is a target because it had "a wonderful infrastructure for the Internet".

Housewife Sakura Siow, 40, said she limits access time for her two daughters - aged six and 13 - to half an hour daily.

But the Norton survey revealed that most parents here do not frequently act to protect their children's cyber safety.

For instance, more than three in five parents do not frequently supervise their children's Internet access.

They do not regularly limit access to certain websites or restrict the information children are allowed to post on social media. About one in five parents takes no precautions at all.

Said public relations consultant Oo Ginlee, 46, who has three daughters: "For those of us who work long hours, we just give guidelines and hope that our kids follow them."

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