#cyberfraud | #cybercriminals | Google launches $1m grant for children

The world over, there is an increase in cyberspace crimes. These are crimes that use computer networks or devices to advance other ends. To stop the trend, Google has launched $1 million Pan-African Fund with the intention of developing further programmes aimed at safeguarding and supporting children on internet usage, writes CHINAKA OKORO.

The rising rate of cybercrime with its varied and diverse features has been a source of concern to governments, policymakers and internet providers. Youths are said to have become ensnared with internet-related criminal activities.

According to experts, cybercrime is the act of performing criminal act, using cyberspace as the communication medium. As a consequence of rapid globalisation, low cost of mobile phones and easy access to Internet, cybercrimes such as cyber bullying and cyber defamation are common issues, and are rapidly increasing.

Various countries are evolving policies and laws to prevent the growing number of such crimes.  Young children and youths are among the most targeted section of the society affected by the dangerous effects of electronic media.

Activities such as computer-related frauds; cyber defamation; cyber harassment; child predation; identity theft; extortion; travel scam; stock market manipulation; complex corporate espionage; planning or carrying out terrorist activities; health care insurance/bonds frauds; auction frauds; fake escrow scams; blackmail; non-delivery of merchandise; newsgroup scams; credit card frauds; email spoofing; data manipulation; sabotage web jacking; spamming; software piracy and forgery, among others, constitute what have been generally regarded as cybercrimes.

Specialists in computer matters maintain that making the cyber world safe is an urgent phenomenon. They also are of the view that deterrent measures against cybercrime are essential to national cyber security in protecting individuals and critical infrastructure of the nation.

The crucial objective of governments is to prevent cyber-attacks and protect critical infrastructure of countries concerned. It also focuses on reducing vulnerability to cyber-attacks so as to minimise damage and recovery time.

There are also efforts by governments, groups and internet providers to disabuse the minds of the young ones from cybercrimes. There are concerted efforts to empower them by providing skills for them through which they can remain independent and be useful to themselves and the society.

One of such organisations that have empowered the youth in other to make them become independent and useful to themselves is Google.

Google is committed to support innovative ideas around privacy, safety and security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To this end, Google, on Tuesday announced the launch of $1 million Pan-African Google.org Fund to support innovative ideas around privacy, trust and safety of families online across Sub-Saharan Africa.

In a statement by Seember Nyager, Google Nigeria Policy and Government Relations Manager, the organisation noted that “Google was committed to a safe internet for children.

“Google would support initiatives across Africa and will be administered by a trusted partner.”

According to her, beyond our products, we also want to help kids learn how to be safer, more confident explorers of the online world.

“Today, we join the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to hold SID events in 36 states of the federation towards empowering teachers, parents and younger children to better understand and navigate the Web with confidence,” she said.

She also said Google has launched “Be Internet Awesome”, in Nigeria, Netherlands; South Africa and earlier in Kenya, adding that the initiative is a landmark child online safety programme.

Head of Brand and Reputation, Africa at Google, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, said Internet Awesome seeks to help minors explore the internet safely and confidently.

She said Google was excited to strengthen the work being done with parents and children in the field of online safety in Nigeria.

She said in addition to Family Link, which allowed parents to help their families develop healthy digital habits; Google also launched Password Checkup exactly one year ago to empower users to check and strengthen online security settings for their Google Accounts.

“Be Internet Awesome teaches kids important skills for surfing the internet, such as how to recognise potential online scams, using the internet securely and safeguarding valuable information.

“It teaches how to identify and refrain from cyber bullying, as well as what to do when encountering questionable content on the internet.”

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Public Private Development Centre (PPDC), Nkemdilim Ilo, said SID brings schools, parents, teachers and industry together to en sure that children have the power, information and resilience they need to make safe and informed choices online.

This year, she said, PPDC was particularly pleased with the support of Google and the government, stressing that they have been able to infuse online safety courses into the Nigerian school curriculum. “This will teach children the practical and emotional skills they need as they navigate their way through the digital world,” she said.

National Orientation Agency (NOA) Director-General Dr Garba Abari, said: “SID provides a great opportunity to promote internet safety across a range of audience and it’s an event which the agency strongly support.”

Abari, who was represented by Mette Edokobi, said the agency was really glad to collaborate with Google and our reliable partners, PPDC, to launch “The Digital Parenting Initiative”, adding that it was a programme aimed at educating guardians, teachers and families on online tools that bring families together to learn, have fun and be safe online.

According to him, “there were excitement to strengthen the work we have been doing with parents and children in the field of online safety in Nigeria.”

Experts have maintained that while there appears to be a common view that the Internet has had a major impact upon criminality, there is much less consensus as to what the impact has been. Many sources made claims about the prevalence of cybercrimes (networked computer crime) without clarifying what precisely was the issue at hand.

They added that “when the so-called cases of cybercrime come to court they often have the familiar ring of the ‘traditional’ rather than the ‘cyber’ about them. Frauds, pornography, paedophilia, among others, are already covered by substantive areas of law in most fields.

“Even more confusing is the gap between the many hundreds of thousands of estimated incidents and the relatively small number of known prosecutions – which questions the early predictions that cybercrimes, unless checked, could effectively bring criminals into every home.”

Taking action against cybercrime

Despite the many outstanding questions on the future of cyber security and governance, international co-operation is essential to tackle the ever-growing threats of cybercrime.

Cybercrime’s unprecedented reach – across all borders, into our homes and schools, businesses, hospitals and other vital service providers – only amplifies the threats.

Keeping people safer online is an enormous task and no one entity or government has the perfect solution. But there is much that can be done to strengthen prevention and improve responses to cybercrime.

They include building up capabilities, most of all law enforcement, to shore up gaps, particularly in developing countries; and strengthening international co-operation and dialogue – between governments, the United Nations (UN), other international as well as regional organisations, INTERPOL and many other partners, including business and civil society, with a stake in stopping cybercrime can be of immense help.

Police, prosecutors and judges need to understand these crimes, they need the tools to investigate and go after the criminals and protect the victims, and they need to be able to prosecute and adjudicate cases.

Collaboration with Internet Watch Foundation and stakeholders can take the initiative to report abuse images and protect girls and boys from online exploitation.

There should be strengthening online protection and education of parents, caregivers and children about cyber risks through outreach in schools and local communities. Prevention is crucial.

How to stop cybercrimes

One of the ways to stop cybercrime is through shutting down all computers.  One can reduce one’s chances of becoming a victim by using the various firewall and antivirus programmes and using sense while you are on line. … As soon as a programme is released cyber criminals find the holes they can hack.

Cybercrime is not just a concern for corporate technology departments. Schools, scout troops, rotary clubs, and religious organisations need to know what to look for and how to handle it. Everyone should know the basics on how to protect themselves and the groups or organisations they are part of.

Keep everything up to date

Most major computer companies issue regular updates to protect newly emerging vulnerabilities. Keep your software and operating systems updated. To make it easy, turn on automatic updates when possible. Also, be sure to install software to scan your system for viruses and malware, to catch anything that might get through.

Use strong, unique passwords

Remembering passwords, especially complicated ones, isn’t fun, which is why so much work is going into finding better alternatives. It’s important to use unique passwords that are different for each site and not easy-to-hack things.

Encrypt and back up your most important data

Encrypt the data that’s stored on your smartphone and computer. If a hacker copies your files, all he’ll get is gibberish, rather than, for instance, your address book and financial records. This often involves installing software or changing system settings.

For data that’s crucial, such as medical information, or irreplaceable, such as family photos, it’s important to keep copies. These backups should ideally be duplicated as well, with one stored locally on an external hard drive only periodically connected to your primary computer.

Be cautious, proactive, and informed

There is much more one or an organisation can do to protect private data. Search engines such as DuckDuckGo don’t track users or their searches. Firewall software built into both Windows and Mac OS-or downloaded separately-can help stop viruses and worms from making their way into your systems.

To protect yourself against data breaches at places where your information is stored, you should consider freezing your credit, which blocks anyone from applying for credit in your name without your personal permission.

If you have already received a notification that your data has been stolen, consider putting a free “fraud alert” on your credit reports. By taking these steps, one can make it less likely that one will be a victim and in the process help raise the overall level of cyber hygiene in one’s community, making everyone safer both online and offline.

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