Special Feature: Internet Safety

typing on keyboard Society is more connected than ever, but with the proliferation of social networking and online commerce, an entirely new environment for criminal and terrorist activity has emerged.

Criminals can exploit these new connections for their own financial gain and other malicious purposes through crimes such as internet fraud, child exploitation, elder financial exploitation, and identity theft.

This platform for criminal activity has brought about new challenges for law enforcement in investigating a broad variety of cybercrimes. Malicious software and other cyber tools used to perpetrate crimes are sold in forums and chat rooms on the dark web, which provides for anonymity. In addition to dealing with these new threats, law enforcement must also build secure and resilient information systems to support their operations and address the exponential growth in digital evidence and forensic investigations.

Since the nature of the internet is so anonymous, it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves and manipulate or trick other users. Young children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to criminal acts because they are often trusting, naïve, and curious. Children must be taught to be careful about the information that they share online and the sites that they visit.

Cyberbullying is a growing concern, with rapid advancements in technology and increases in children’s access to electronic devices and social media. This form of bullying is similar to traditional bullying, but it doesn’t stop when children are in the safety of their own homes. Research has shown that 21 percent of students aged 12 to 18 experienced bullying in 2015, and about 16 percent of all high school students experience some form of electronic bullying. When combined with traditional bullying, cyberbullying becomes increasingly dangerous to the victims’ mental and physical well-being.

Technology can also be misused by abusers and perpetrators in more personal crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, elder financial exploitation, and trafficking. Stalkers are increasingly using a variety of computer technologies to harass, terrify, intimidate, coerce, and monitor former and current family members and intimate partners.

While technology allows us to connect to others around the world and conduct business online regardless of our location, it increases our risk for different scams. Each time we connect to the internet, we make decisions affecting our cybersecurity.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, an opportunity to review best practices in protecting personal information online and learning more to ensure that you and your family are safe online.

Select a page from the “Internet Safety” box to learn more.