Safety was the last thing on most people’s minds before the dangers of the cyber world emerged. During the days of dial-up, online chat rooms equaled significant anonymity. Chat rooms made catfishing the most common internet scam. Most scams were new to people, and shows like To Catch a Predator and Catfish had exposed internet predators’ minds and typical actions.
People have learned through the exploration of social media that people can pretend to be whoever they want. A celebrity, a friend, a family member, or a potential mate. Since then, the games haven’t changed, but the players are smarter. Predators must be more creative and funnel through victims, mostly older people, children, and young adults. The things we do on social media and the internet often blend into our physical realities. It is imperative to take internet safety seriously and teach children the importance of privacy and ways to protect themselves from scammers and predators that lurk on every digital platform imaginable.
23% of Women and 38% of Men Admit to Catfishing Online
Catfishing has evolved as the internet and social media became harder to hide behind. Chat rooms allowed someone’s complete identity to be withheld, and when MySpace and Facebook came along, the deception became more elaborate. Predators use fake pictures, names, and storylines to convince their victims to fall in love, send money, or spend years chasing them, which is what the famous show Catfish exposed for many years. Even though many adults are aware of online dangers, children are still vulnerable to threats when left unsupervised. To Catch a Predator has exposed countless predators for decades. This is the reality a child could easily face if not taught to recognize a threat and avoid contact with strangers.
25% of Phishing Emails Land in a Corporate Employee’s Inbox
`Email Phishing can deceive almost anyone. Some companies test their employees regularly to ensure they are not opening emails that give access to hackers and viruses that can breach an entire database. Without this awareness, cyber attacks like the one Kronos is currently experiencing will become more common.
Ransomware attacks keep companies locked out of their database for weeks. Data thieves utilize ransomware by holding information hostage and charge companies millions to buy back their information. Companies want to ensure their employees know of emails, texts, and calls that may trick someone into divulging information relevant to passwords and other sensitive information.
More elaborate email scams involve job offers that require the applicant to cash a fake money order or load money to a gift card and send them to the “employer.” After the exchange, the victim is sometimes left owing money and never hears from the company again. Yahoo, Gmail, and Outlook all have features that filter certain emails into a spam folder to protect the user, but you should still be very selective about what grabs your attention.
Children Ages 12 to 15 are Especially Vulnerable to Online Predators
Adults, teens, and children should always be aware of past, current, and possible future threats they may face on the internet. Staying safe online is all about gatekeeping your personal information and utilizing two-factor authentication. Avoid emails that request you to verify your account at random times. Investing in software that protects your data is helpful, especially when browsing unfamiliar sites or downloading apps and programs. Other ways to protect your sensitive information would be to change passwords every six months.
Caution goes beyond limiting who we interact with and where we share private information when shopping and researching online. Although most social media and internet users have grown up with digital technology at their fingertips, technology changes so fast that there are always dangers that young children and busy adults might not be aware of. Knowledge and awareness are crucial to staying safe on all digital platforms.