Cyber Safety For Kids Facts

You may think you’re on top of it. You insisted on having your child’s Facebook password before they could publish their profile. You check cell phones and tablets regularly. You check your phone bill regularly. If you’re really savvy, you have the access password and the password to the “Settings” function on their cell phone and tablet and have laptop administrator rights. You’re comfortable that you have access to everything they’re doing, everyone they meet online, everything posted, everything others post about and to you kid.

Prepare to get very uncomfortable.

Mobile App Security

Your kids may be showing you one cyber life and living another completely secret cyber life. The problem has prompted the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) to issue a report to make parents more aware of what their kids are really doing online, a world kids navigate with the ease and speed that you navigate the rooms of your home.

According to the AAP:

Over 75% of teens have cell phones.

Over half admit to hanging out on social-media sites more than once a day.

More than 30% of parents allow children younger than the 13-year-old age limit to have Facebook accounts.

So, if you have all the passwords and you check your child’s online devices regularly, what’s the problem?

 Mobile Device Security

One big problem for parents is jailbreaking iPhones and other iOS devices. Kids do this so that they can install and run apps and games not authorized by Apple, some of which are decoy apps that hide content on your child’s phone from you. In addition to putting the phone at risk by destroying Apple’s security structure, jailbreaking puts kids at risk by allowing them to hide content from you and download apps that could be dangerous. A couple of examples:

  • “Snap Master” (a jailbroken version of “Snapchat”) can be installed by other people on jailbroken phones. This device allows the users to save images and videos on the jailbroken phone without the sender’s knowledge.
  • The “Mobile Monitor” app allows the installer to monitor a jailbroken phone’s activity from another device. The app itself is hidden on the jailbroken phone and installs a dashboard on the hacker’s device so that the hacker can monitor the jailbroken phone. It tracks everything done on the phone and has a GPS.

Decoy Apps – Secret Cyber Life

One of the biggest and most widely spread problems is decoy apps. Go to your iPhone / iPad or android “store” app and do a search for “secret apps” or “decoy apps.”

Up pops dozens of apps that, when installed, look like a very innocent game, music app, picture, or calculator, but when your teen keyboards a coded message into the app, a whole secret cyber life opens: hidden pictures, videos, folders, files, diaries, notes, other apps, and more.

Many decoy apps look like vaults or locks, but many are designed to completely throw off prying eyes. You may not recognize decoy apps on your child’s phone.

There are dozens of apps, for example, that allow you to hide data behind a working calculator. One app, called “Secret Calculator Folder,” is described in the iPhone Store app this way: “An iPhone calculator that works – and looks! – exactly like any other calculator until you type in your secret passcode. The calculator then turns into a private storage app in which you can hide your most secret photos, videos, notes, and more.” This app also has a private Web browser that saves no history and lets you save secret book marks. This app, like many apps just like it, is free.

Some decoy apps, in addition to hiding photos, videos, and files, also hide call logs and Facebook messages. Premium editions offer a decoy folder that shows fake content to anyone who insists on seeing the content in the “vault” file and also offer the ability to completely hide the vault from the home screen, making it accessible only by entering a passcode into the phone’s keypad.

Some decoy apps appear as apps that manage the sound settings on the phone, but executing certain keystrokes within the app triggers a password prompt that unlocks hidden content.

Other decoy apps look like what they are, folders that can be opened, but they require a password when clicked. “Keep Safe Private Photo Vault” is an example of this kind of decoy app. It allows you to hide photos, videos, files, and more in a folder to which you assign two passwords. One is a fake password in case someone pressures you to open the folder. Kids give this password to their parents who input the fake password, and the decoy vault opens and displays material kids don’t mind sharing. The real password opens the photos and other data kids want to hide. After you copy your “secret” pictures into the app, you then delete them from all of your devices and they exist only in the app.

Information Cyber Safety for Teens

How Parents Can Discover a Secret Cyber Life

  • First, try to head the problem off at the pass by keeping the lines of communication open and letting your child know you won’t have a meltdown if they tell you what’s really going on with them and their world. They’ll be less likely to conceal things from you if they feel you will be understanding.
  • Look in “Programs.” Multiple calculators tells you one is probably a decoy app.
  • Look for multiple new apps. Google them to find out what they are.
  • Look for app names like “decoy,” “secret,” “vault,” “private,” “personal,” “locker,” and “hide.”
  • To find out if a phone is jailbroken, look for a “Cydia” app, which is an app that jailbreak software automatically installs. It works like the Apple Store, but it allows jailbroken phones to download unauthorized apps that can damage the phone and also put your child’s safety at risk. If you don’t see a “Cydia” app, it may be hidden. Do a spotlight search for the “Cydia” app. If that app comes up in the search, the phone is jailbroken.
  • Back up the iPhone to your computer. In the backup menu, you’ll be asked if you want to restore the device to its factory settings. Restoring the phone removes the jailbreak and all of the jailbroken software and also removes all decoy apps.
  • Set up parental controls on your child’s devices.
  • Take the phone away from the child.

Internet Cyber Safety Resources

More Information on Decoy Apps

Internet Matters: Advice App Guide

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Child: Online Safety Preventing Abuse Keeping Children Safe

Posted in Cyber Crime
Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment