Danger Alert! Apps

App developers are nothing if not prolific. But not all apps are created equal – there are new nefarious social apps on the scene all the time.

One of the apps that has gotten press in recent months is Snapchatsnapchat. Messages disappear after a matter of seconds. The messages can include images, making it easy for users to “sext” and have the evidence vanish. But is it really gone forever?

In an article dated October 15, 2013, the BBC reported on a Snapchat hack called Snaphack. Snaphack allows the user to capture images and messages from Snapchat. These can then be passed along, undermining the stated intent of Snapchat.

Anonymous chat apps, such as Omegle and ChatRoulette, offer additional avenues for predators to find victims. The use of the Internet for such purposes is nothing new, but these apps make it harder for parents to monitor.omegle

Earlier this month, the man accused of assaulting a teen he met on Omegle was arrested in Oklahoma. The story, reported by News 9, highlights the inherent lack of security in these apps.

Another category of apps allows users to hide selected social media apps with the tap of a button. Tech savvy kids (and what kids aren’t?) can use this to hide their use of controversial apps from their parents in an instant. A search for “hide apps” in the iTunes app store returns several results. Also important to note, apps like Poof, which are no longer available for download, are still in use.

What can families do to protect their children?
There are security features parents can enable on their children’s phones and other devices that will help keep them safe. Apple and Android products have built-in parental controls or restrictions that can be enabled and are password protected. Step-by-step tutorials are available through the links below.

The best protection of all is to have open communication with your kids and to talk to them about using technology, make sure they are comfortable with asking for help if a stranger approaches them online, or if they have gotten into something they don’t know how to get out of.
Together, we can keep our kids safe online.

For more information on Cyber Crimes and protecting children online, please view a recording of Part 1 of our 3-part series on Cyber Crimes and join us for Part 2 on November 19 at 10am PT.

Looking for sites on Cyber Safety?

We have recently scheduled three webinars in a series on Cyber Crimes. The webinars will cover Current Trends and Issues, Cyber Security Options and Safety Strategies for Families. In addition to the great content we have coming, we thought we would share these great websites as well.

The FBI has a site that guides kids from grades 3-8 on making good decision while they are online.

Learn more on the FBI Cyber Surf Islands site.

Another site for parents, educators, law enforcement and kids is the website from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Look for more resources from the webinars following each session.