By now hopefully you’ve had several critical conversations with your child about the good, the bad, and the risky of the online world. But have you had the ‘dangerous celebrity’ talk’?
You read that right. Because cybercriminals have become more and more savvy in disguising their digital attacks, parents, too, must be equally poised to equip their kids to spot—and dodge—potential danger zones. And in this case, unfortunately, the next scam just might be linked to a very innocent search for their favorite celebrity.
Taking full advantage of the public’s insatiable curiosity around celebrities and pop culture, cybercriminals now plant malicious links in a user’s search results to lure them to sites laden with dangerous downloads.
This year, McAfee’s Most Dangerous Celebrity™ is late night funny man Jimmy Kimmel. According to this year’s eighth annual McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities study (see graphic, right), searching for the latest Jimmy Kimmel pictures and downloads yields more than a one in five chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.
Unfortunately, your child’s simple search for a funny TV clip, song download, or photo can turn out to be far from humorous.
So how do you start building your child’s street smarts when it comes to safe searching online?
Here are some tips to get the family discussion started:
- Commit to having ‘the talk.’ Don’t make assumptions about your child’s knowledge of online scams. Talk frankly about the very clever ways cybercriminals disguise bad links to bait us all. Alert him or her that downloading photos and videos exposes them to the risk of downloading viruses and malware.
- Breaking news = red flag. Beware of breaking news involving a celebrity (such as the recent celebrity photo leak). Let your child know that criminals use curiosity around these events as bait to malicious sites. Celebrity names coupled with the terms ‘video’ and ‘picture’ are some of the most-searched terms on the Internet.
- Protect your devices and identity. Since your teen will most likely be searching for information about his or her favorite stars, make sure the sites have tools such as McAfee® SiteAdvisor® and McAfee® Mobile Security for Android and iOS; both are free and help alleviate risk of clicking on risky sites.
- Stay on the main road. Most reliable news clips you would want to see can easily be found on YouTube or Vimeo, which will not require a user to download anything. If a website offers an “exclusive video” for download, tell your kids not click and not to stray from main, trusted news sources.
- Get a sneak peek. Hover over a link to see if it is real or not. Look for clues that it might be a phony site such as a long url name that doesn’t match the promised campaign or site name.
- Don’t log in or provide personal information. Teach your child that if he or she receives a message, text, email, pop up, or a link to a website that asks for personal information in exchange for access to an exclusive story—not to click. Criminals often use this phishing tactic in identity theft.
- Put a PIN on it. Make sure your family has a passcode on phones and other mobile devices. If your phone is lost or stolen, anyone who finds the device could misuse the personal information on it.
Let’s make sure that our kids stay safe when searching for celebs.
To help us all learn how to stay safe online, McAfee is having a social sharing sweepstakes. Share Most Dangerous Celebrities content and you can have a chance to win a Red Carpet Swag Bag that includes a Dell Venue™ 7 tablet, Beats Solo 2.0 HD headphones, a subscription to McAfee LiveSafe™ service along with other goodies. You must be 18 or older and reside in the United States in order to participate.
Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @SafeEyes.
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