A glaring example of why parents shouldn’t allow kids to have computers alone behind closed doors – especially in their bedrooms – broke into the headlines this week because of the fame of the victim. If you missed it, Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf, revealed that she was victim of an Internet sextortion plot.
Here’s how Nate Anderson of Arstechnica.com started his report about Cassidy’s case.
“Webcam hacking has officially gone mainstream with yesterday’s revelation that the new Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf, was the victim of a “sextortion” plot in which someone slipped Remote Administration Tool (RAT) software onto her computer and used it to snap (apparently nude) pictures of Wolf in her room. “I wasn’t aware that somebody was watching me (on my webcam),” she told the Today Show. “The light (on the camera) didn’t even go on, so I had no idea.
“Wolf said that the hacker tried to extort her, threatening to release the pictures publicly if she didn’t follow his demands. The FBI has admitted that it is investigating the case and eventually said that it has identified a suspect.”
It really is that simple.
It really is that dangerous.
Your daughter or son could be being watched by Internet predators who can remotely operate the camera on your child’s computer by tricking your child into clicking a link in an email or on a website that plants Remote Administration Tool (RAT) software on their computer.
Then, while your child is undressing, the pedophile takes pictures or videos of your child to share with other pedophiles or to use for sextortion (demanding money to not share or release the photos) or sexploitation (demanding your child perform sexual acts in front of the hijacked camera as the predator takes more pictures or videos).
You can read more about what happened to Cassidy by following these two links:
I am sorry to say that this is far more common than most Americans know.
That’s why Cassidy Wolf, in her role as Miss Teen USA, has made it her mission to teach other children and their parents about this threat to kids across America.
Personally, I am impressed by the bravery of Cassidy and thankful that she is calling attention to this crime. Perhaps more parents will now heed my warning to keep computers and smartphones out of the bedrooms of their kids.
Unfortunately, I know many parents – maybe even most – won’t.
In that case, I hope they’ll teach their children an easy security technique. In fact, it may be the easiest security technique I’ll ever share.
Teach your child to place a piece of tape over the camera eye on any computer they use – no matter what room it’s in – and leave the tape there unless the camera is being used with the knowledge of the parent and the child.
For extra security, be sure the microphone on the computer is turned off unless it is being used with the knowledge of the parent and the child.
It really is that simple.
Remember: The number of sextortion and sexploitation cases targeting young girls and boys is increasing as cameras built into computers become commonplace. The best defense is to keep computers out of the bedrooms of children. But, if you’re going to allow your child to keep a computer in the bedroom, insist that they keep a piece of tape over the camera eye.
Looking out for you….
Chris Peterson, Privacy Advocate