CAC warns of child exploitation online

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THE Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) has advised parents and guardians to pay careful attention to their children’s online activities.

Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, CAC information technology manager, Andrew Evelyn, said that child exploitation online is a trend that the CAC is watching closely.

He said parents should pay close attention to the online games that their children play. “When a child uses an online game platform, it usually has an in-game chat, which allows your child to communicate with other users online that can lead to child exploitation. Nefarious persons use different techniques to coerce your child into talking to them online, and once they have gained the child’s trust then they will ask them to do things such as share photos on another platform,” Evelyn explained.

“Ask your child to demonstrate the games to you, so you can assess the threats and risks that are out there for your child. Check the game chat features and who they communicate with and warn them against communicating with strangers,” he advised.

Evelyn said children are technologically savvy, “and sometimes they will use the phones in ways you’re not aware of. They could record a video of themselves or your home and post it on YouTube or another platform, and it’s quite easy to do”.

At the same time, the CAC official has advised individuals and businesses to exercise due diligence to reduce the likelihood of being affected by cybercrime.

Evelyn said that ransomware is one element of cybercrime that impacts local consumers. “Ransomware is where software is installed on the user’s computer and it will encrypt all the critical data on the user’s device and prevent them from accessing their own data. Following that, the user is contacted and told they will have to pay a ransom fee to regain access to their device,” he explained.

The issue of fraud support was also highlighted as a cybercrime that has affected local consumers.

“Fraud support is where you go on a site and you get a pop-up alerting you that your computer needs immediate attention and that you can access free online support by calling a number or sharing your contact. This is an attempt to install ransomware or malware on your device and gain control over your device,” he said.

Evelyn recommended that users contact a local information technology specialist if they encounter incidents of fraud support while using their device.

“We also advise consumers to back up their data in a cloud or a third-party device such as USB, memory device or external hard drive because it is very critical to not have all your data in one place,” he added.

Evelyn said there have been eight reports of ransomware to the Jamaica Constabulary Force between 2015 and 2017. However, in most cases people do not make reports to the police.

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