Cybersecurity Awareness and Tips to Prevent Cyber Crime for Students

Teach Cybersecurity to kids

One of the many things that make the children of today stand out is their awareness of computing devices. In the absence of state-of-the-art computers and smart phones filled with various apps such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Skype, some people did find enormous glee in living their life unfiltered. They made a great, painstaking effort to meet their loved ones. Before the advent of e-commerce websites such as Amazon, people would have to physically go to buy stuff. Kids back then validated their freedom by attending their close friends’ birthday parties and taking five hundred selfies in order to post one on social media platforms wasn’t the priority.

Children today will not have the same story to tell. They are tech savvy and know how to operate computers and smart phones. They decipher the ways of operating any electronic gadget under the sun with ease. They reap the benefits of the internet much more proficiently than we grownups did as kids. Gone are the days when you had to take your children to the bank or the ATM to slowly expose them to the experience of depositing or withdrawing cash. Dazzling dresses, vacuum cleaners, makeup, smartphones, groceries; you name it, e-commerce has facilitated the doorstep delivery of it all. Your child probably has become your in-house cashier and orders anything and everything you need by swiftly gliding his or her fingers over the interface of e-commerce apps. Maybe you as a parent still don’t have a Facebook profile, but your kid does and the next thing you know, your tot’s social media presence is bigger than yours. Your kiddo probably emails homework or projects to his or her teacher and you swell with joy to see them not balk at the prospect of conventionally written homework. Thus, children today are seen rejoicing in the gifts of the computer revolution.

But is everything rosy with the way the members of the Internet community use the web? Is it guaranteed that every child or adult who uses cyberspace does so ethically, solely to make their own life and others’ life easier?

Importance of Cybersecurity

As the pros of every human invention have come to light, so have the cons, and so it is with computing devices and the internet. As children today submerge themselves in computers and smartphones early on, it is crucial that parents educate them on what might happen if they don’t practice cyber security.

Cybersecurity threats such as the ones mentioned below can not only disrupt a child’s personal and academic life, but can inevitably take a toll on parents’ personal and professional lives too. However, there exist strong precautionary measures to minimise or obliterate the occurrence of such instances. To tackle such wrongdoings after they have been inflicted, there also exist cyberlaws that children and parents can successfully exercise to punish such offenders.

Types of Cyberattacks and ways to prevent them

A few preventative and responsive actions to deal with cybersecurity threats have been highlighted as well.


The whole act of using technology to tease, harass, threaten or dominate someone is referred to as cyberbullying.

stop cyber bullying

Cyberbullying is the most common cyber attack that takes place through social media platforms, text messages, email, SMS, online gaming forums and through any website and app that allows the sharing and exchange of content. It includes, but is not confined to, abusing or calling someone harsh names, body shaming, blackmailing, uploading inappropriate photographs or videos and impersonating a person with a fake profile.

Given the fact that children these days use computing devices for entertainment, social media presence and education sooner, they’re at a greater risk of being cyberbullied. While a child can possibly report a traditional bully existing in his or her school or social circle to his or her parents, the anonymity offered by the internet often shrouds a cyberbully’s identity and their whereabouts.

Getting bullied online can be more frustrating for children since the humiliation inflicted on them is often visible to large number of online onlookers. Since adolescence is an important stage of someone’s life in the sense that it is a bridge between their childhood and adulthood, it is imperative that the mental decline brought on by cyberbullying is tackled by a child’s parents. Continued cyberbullying can cause a kid to suffer from depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance abuse and even suicidal thoughts.

Tackling cyberbullying:

In case you suspect that your child is being bullied online but hasn’t informed you of it, there are telltale signs that you may notice. Your kid may start using his/her computer for a much lesser amount of time or may become suddenly nervous when his/ her phone pings at the reception of a text message. Often a depressed undertone to the speech or an unpleasant change in a child’s otherwise peppy behaviour indicates a problem.

It is necessary that a child being bullied online and his/ her parents don’t go haywire and address the situation in a calm way. If cyber bullying happens on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, the victim can report or flag the bully’s account, comment or post for hate speech, bullying, harassment or identity theft. If the one bullying is your child’s school or social circle peer and if your child regularly interacts with them in person, you can ask your kid to retain screenshots of the hate messages. Parents then can present it to the school authorities or to the tormentor’s parents and take immediate action.

For tender preteens and children grappling with learning difficulties, it is necessary that parents supervise messengers, emails and SMSes to detect any suspicious or negative exchange of communication. If an anonymous cyberbully threats to harm your child physically or triggers them to the brink of self-harm, you can report the matter to the cops and/or the cybercrime authorities near your location. The bully’s Internet Protocol address or IP address (A unique number associated with every participating device on the internet) can be possibly traced and you take the bull by the horns. It is as important for your child to not be bullied online as it is for him/her to be not a cyberbully himself.


Phishing is a cyber attack in which impostors on the web make an attempt to collect private data, such as login credentials and financial details of a person by pretending to be a legitimate and trustworthy company.


Scammers disguise themselves as a bank or financial institution and mimic the targeted company’s User Interface on their own fake website. They also create a similar domain name by subtly changing the original characters. While its deceptively constructed spelling is closest to the spelling of the actual website, the pronunciation remains the same. Thus, the plagiarised logo and the imitated look and feel of the original corporation’s website lures people into giving sensitive information such as internet banking passwords, bank account numbers and debit or credit card details.

While a learned adult can still tell these things apart, the more vulnerable audience are students who have an email account that is meant for personal and academic use. Usually, such messages have an urgent undertone to them and they pressurise the victim to take action and warn them about the consequences of not doing so. If students, of all targeted people receive such an email, SMR or text on online messengers from such a cyber attacker, they may give in to fear tactics and end up divulging confidential information to bogus entities. This results in financial losses for the parents.

Tackling phishing:

Since children don’t often do online transactions and have little knowledge about banking functions, they must be educated on how they can safely use net banking and debit or credit cards for online payments. Banks will never randomly or directly ask their customers for confidential details such as net banking username and password, Debit/ Credit/ATM card pin or CVV number and OTP (One Time Password). In case you suspect that you’ve received a phishing email or SMS from a fake bank that wants to fish for your bank account number or details, the best way to verify its authenticity is by calling your bank.

In case of websites where online payments have to be made, it is essential for the user to check if the preceding part of the URL contains the term ‘https://’. The ‘s’ in ‘https://’ stands for a secure site and the absence of the ‘s’ could signify a potentially dangerous or phony website. Knowing the original company’s logo and domain name always helps. One must also look out for grammatical errors and usage of informal language in emails or SMSes, since these things are common indicators of phishing. No legitimate website would force you into clicking on any link or have a timer for you to perform an action. If someone still falls prey to such fraudsters due to lack of knowledge and ends up disclosing sensitive information, they can try and minimise their financial damage by reporting on the helpline number available on their bank’s official website. The bank would then block their customers’ cards and render them useless for the imposter who has gotten access to the cards.

In India, in accordance with RBI guidelines, if your losses continue even after you have informed the bank of such illegal transactions, your bank will be liable to reimburse those sums. Exchange of such healthy knowledge between parents and children thus not only emboldens and educates kids, but also strengthens the bond between them.


Catfishing refers to the creation of a fake social media profile, usually to lure those who seek romantic relationships online.


The trickster pretending to be someone else obtains details about that person’s identity by stealing their images and personal information from their social networking profiles and creates an account that looks exactly like the original person’s.Students in their Pre-teens and teenagers are highly susceptible to the hazards of catfishing, given that their exploratory brains are in the process of making new social connections and their bodies are undergoing physical maturity.(For more information on tackling teenagers, please check out our article on Understanding the teenage brain)

While the underlying motive of catfishing is usually to romantically court someone, it may also be done to carry out sadistic physical or sexual attacks, or for pranking people, out of boredom. Child predators often practise catfishing to stage their evildoing and take undue advantage of innocent children. Another danger of catfishing that can cause a person’s online presence to quake is the menace of their identity being stolen to either catfish a third entity altogether, or simply for the purpose of cyberbullying a lot of other people.

This is done by the catfish to blacken the prospect victim’s web-based standing by framing them for the crime/ cybercrime that the catfish committed in disguise. While social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter allow children as old as thirteen years of age to use their services, a number of underage children are breaching the legal age limit and their accounts are popping up. This accentuates the risk of kids being exploited by catfishing, the possible trauma in the aftermath of which can be rather painful for parents and children alike.

Tackling catfishing:

Parents can and must educate their children about the dangers of catfishing by foremostly familiarising them with the indicators of a catfish. If you suspect that a catfish is around, there are litmus tests that can confirm your suspicions. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, Tik Tok, Reddit, Tumblr and even LinkedIn (where largely professionals virtually congregate) are some cybernetic places where catfishing can and does take place. Boy or girl, anyone can be a catfish himself/herself or be a victim of catfishing.

A catfish possibly will:

  • Not be having a profile picture or as a matter of fact, any personal or professional details that can give away their whereabouts.
  • Pretend to suffer from a terminal disease and try to collect funds for the same using sorry photos and fake medical reports, shying away from legitimate crowdfunding platforms.
  • Show off a lifestyle that revolves around exotic residences, fancy cars, high-end gadgets and expensive clothes, all of which looks too good to be true.
  • Refuse to meet you in person and make consistent excuses for the same, giving away their elusive demeanor.
  • Avoid meeting you in public places and try to convince to meet you at a secluded location in private to threaten your safety.
  • Pretend to be someone you know rather closely, but won’t conduct themselves the way the original person does.

Since catfishing involves stealing someone’s online identity, it is imperative that users take good care of their social media privacy settings. Children at all costs must not befriend strangers on their social networking profiles. As a matter of security, children should be taught to build a solid, unguessable password and must periodically change it. A good tactic to know what pieces of information and photos of yours are available to the public is to google yourself. If kids mention their school's name and area of residence, they must ensure that nobody else except their close friends and family sees it.

All these precautions can help kids to dodge a catfish. If someone steals your photos, makes a fake profile, becomes a cyberbully or asks people for funds, you can immediately report that scammer to the social media authorities. This should be followed by an announcement post on your original profile to inform your followers.


Malware or malicious software is any detrimental software that is installed in computing devices and networks without the owner’s permission.


Computer viruses, ransomware and adware are a few sorts of malware. Cybercriminals generally create malware and target people in order to steal confidential data such as banking passwords, for monetary gains. Attackers developing such malicious files and programs bait computer users into downloading such software and often render their PC unusable by corrupting, stealing, or manipulating its data and functions. This move is often followed by an attempt to extort ransom money from the duped user in exchange for restoring the hijacked device or network. Such infiltration is known as ransomware attack.

Downloading free versions of apps on our mobile phones often comes with incessant ads that pop up intermittently. While such ads are ideally meant to generate revenue for app developers without substantial harm, a few pest ads can open a portal for computer viruses to attack your smartphone or track your location. They also can collect data about your browsing to sell it to possibly dubious third parties. Commonly, kids encounter a number of such adware emails, in free gaming apps and on pornographic websites. They often appear as ads that tell us we’ve won a fat lottery, offer us work from jobs with imaginarily handsome pay or lure us into paying for mythical weight loss programs. In the worst case, it can install harmful software without your knowledge and automatically subscribe to premium paid services without your consent.

Malware can cause a PC or smartphone to run slowly or make it crash, resulting in irreversible loss of vital data. Since present day children surf the web on their laptops and mobiles to download pirated video games, apps, movies and since they stream tv shows and films on illegal websites, they are at a greater risk of encountering havoc wreaking malware.

Tackling malware:

Having the latest released version of software in your PC lessens the risk of a malware attack by setting up security and bug fixes. Parents can prudently show their kids the contents of spam email and make them used to the general look and feel of spam emails. Students sometimes store academic contents and presentations on a USB drive, given it is a convenient and transportable piece of hardware. Since USB drives often are plugged in to different computers, they are vulnerable to being corrupted by a malware infected PC. Kids can even lose valuable data because of this.

A good way to prevent this is by encrypting the drive, so that the contents can be accessed only after using a password or encryption key file. Another way involves buying flash drives with a tiny slide switch that comes attached to the main body of the drive. This switch is known as ‘write protection’ and blocks a potentially malware infected host computer from altering or affecting the data in the drive. No random popup or link that boasts of unreal prizes, jobs or fake antivirus programs should be clicked on. Installing proper antivirus software on your PC offers the greatest protection against malware. Teachers can explain to their students about how it detects, scans and hunts down malware. Whether malware originates from the internet or from an external hardware, an antivirus program works both as a vaccine and a curing drug for the health of your computer.

It is natural for parents to be concerned about their child’s safety in cyberspace. As technology has progressed with time, we as a race have realised that internet is whatever we make of it. Since tender children today will shoulder a large, technologically dependent world tomorrow, they must be protected from the throes of cyberattacks at all costs. Thus, parents can guide their children to safely and successfully access cybersecurity tools and let them have a peaceful and productive screen time.