Well, we have all heard that the internet is a dangerous place, although usually these dangers everybody speaks about are obscure and not very clear.
The weird thing is, that apart from the obvious dangers of sexual predators stalking the chat rooms, the internet is teeming with other nuisances , which pose a threat to our privacy, to the safety of our computers and our wallets. When you browse the internet you come across these dangers on a daily basis, you mostly disregard them without even being aware of their malicious intent, and sometimes you are even becoming a victim of such threats unwittingly.
But if even you, a computer savvy and life taught person are a target of such threats, what about your naive 5 year old child? Our point in this review is not to intimidate you with the obvious dangers of the internet, but rather to show you how common these smaller threats are and how benign they may appear.
The internet is free for use, but still is a very capitalistic environment which usually lives off advertisements, and this is at the heart of the internet model. This combination leads to a somewhat "degradation in ethics" when considering which advertisements are legit. This combined with the fact that ads are in many cases delivered by a third party means that malicious ads can appear even in a trustworthy website, and there were many such cases recorded.
Have you ever installed a toolbar on your browser? Well, there's a good chance you have allowed spyware on your computer.
Yes, you will not hear any bells from your precious Anti-Virus software, and you will not hear about it on the news. It is not as 'sexy' as viruses, mal-ware and password-attacks.
It is almost considered a legitimate practice, but most of the online browser toolbars are used to collect information about your surfing habits and communicate them to a remote server.
Did you agree to that? You probably did, when you downloaded it without reading through the 32 page terms of service. Why would someone want to know about your surfing habits, you ask? Well of course, to choose the right advertising for you.
The toolbar business is highly lucrative, and is being pushed relentlessly to users worldwide. Have you ever noticed that when installing free software, someone always tries to sneak-in a small checkbox agreeing to install some toolbar? Well, this probably costs them money, and this means they make money out of it. Of course we always notice it one millisecond after clicking "Finish".
If you think your web-browser is acting a bit slow lately - try to remove some of these toolbars and you will notice the difference. Someone is using your bandwidth to give your private information away.
These software downloads also often disguise themselves at benign buttons on a web-page, which is a big No-No ! For example, on a page with an online game, the advertisement may show as a big button saying 'play now!'
They will tell you you have been chosen to win a prize, or even pose a fake security alert, tricking you into installing fake anti spyware software.
We could talk to you about viruses which damage your computer and send email on your behalf, but we belief that the simple case of the toolbar makes a better case. Just look how something so benign turns out to be so malicious.
If your 5 year old child was presented with a 'Dora the explorer toolbar' would they have installed it?
Everybody talks about Physhing (posing as a legit website to fool you into giving your password) and identity theft over the internet. And everyone has heard of the Nigerian sting (Send me some money so I can send you back much more), but these fraudulent practices are criminal acts and are not very common.
How about some legal way to get your money out of your pocket? How about recurring payment scams? The mere use of the word 'scam' could get us sued for libel, because these are completely legal.
It is very simple actually. You are offered some free service, you are just asked for your credit card for confirmation that you are a responsible adult. It usually takes 6 months just to figure out that monthly payments to something called U.R.A.fool inc. are not for a product that you really bought. Yes, you got billed for $8 a month for a service you never use or need. And again, yes, you agreed to this payment (you just had to scroll down to an invisible area of the page to have noticed that).
Now, it's very easy to figure out that when someone asks for your credit card number, they want your money, but what if that someone just asks you for your cellphone number, or for a text message?
Recurring payment scams have elaborated to target young children and teenagers who don't have access to credit cards by luring them to use their cellphones for making payments. The cell-phone companies endorse this phenomena, of course, because they make tons of money out of it. So typically when you sign up for a cellphone account, you will have to actively opt-out of the possibility to receive such services.
Your teenage children will be presented with a multitude of services from ringtones, to love meters, quizzes, daily horoscopes and other cool stuff. Your child will not need access to your credit card. They will not even know that they are paying for anything. In their naive minds they are receiving something for free by just doing what's very natural to them - sending a text message.
This is the new evil. Again, it is legit, it is on the rise and it is used wherever children are on the web.
If you own an Apple product, you probably know what we are talking about. Once you have paid for any subscription to a legit service (like the Apple app-store), meaning your credit card number is in their database, they will offer you to make purchases inside an application. Typically this is done within games, where at some very hard stage of the game, your children will be offered to buy a shortcut. Many times, the only way to progress in the game is paying that extra money.
This is pure evil !!!
Try wherever you can to make sure you are blocked from receiving any additional services or purchases. This goes for the cellphone company as well (like we mentioned above).
1. Your kids cannot follow any links, just play their games. So they cannot follow any advertisement to a page which asks for your credit card details or your phone number details.
2. We filter out any games which contain in-app purchases.
3. We filter out any games which contain in-game chat which may pose a threat to young children.
That's it . That simple.
Well, the purpose of this article is not really to go over all the dangers of the internet, but merely to demonstrate that these are all around us. They are not all illegal, but they are very devious and many adults fall for them, not to mentions young children.
So we've made our point by demonstrating just these threats above, but in order not to overlook anything, here's a short list of most of what's out there: