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Internet Security : Children Online More than Ever; Need Good Sense and Good Security

Jersey City, NJ, January 26, 2010 – In 2009, children spent more time than ever hooked in to their electronic devices. During their time online, they need protection from two kinds of threats: targeted one-on-one danger from online predators, and automated menaces, said Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO of Comodo.

A January 10 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation surveying more than 2000 youngsters found that children age 8-18, especially minority children, are increasing their use of entertainment media dramatically. Children’s computer use has grown from 27 minutes in 1999 to little over 1-1/2 hours a day in 2009. Top online activities include social networking, online games and video sites.

When children visit these kinds of sites they may encounter two kinds of danger,” said Abdulhayoglu. “First, predators look for them on those sites because those sites attract children. This predator is willing to invest both time and money in gaining a child’s trust. Children online need good sense, at a time when they are still trying to develop it. Comodo strongly recommends that parents take time to discuss what their children are doing online, to guard children from online predators. A very helpful resource is the FBI’s Parent’s Guide to Online Safety.

At the same time, children online face the same hazard as citizens everywhere: malware. Just like grownups, they may unthinkingly open email attachments containing viruses, or they may visit infected websites. “In fact, because they are not as worldly, they probably do this more often,” said Abdulhayoglu. Doing so causes malicious software to install itself on their computers.

Malware has evolved,” said Abdulhayoglu. “Once it installs, even a grownup may not even know that it’s there. It sits in the background and sends out spam emails. Or it tracks the keystrokes that Mum or Dad types into the computer, including their online banking password and other confidential information.

The good news about malware is that it goes out to thousands or millions of people in hopes that a small percentage of them will take the bait, without the elaborate ruses that online predators use. This means that security software can protect against most malware.

Just as malware has evolved, security software has evolved as well. “The best protection is a whitelist,” he said. Whitelists are lists of safe software. If the software that tries to install itself is not on the list, security software such as Comodo Internet Security will not permit it to install. “Most security software uses the outdated blacklist approach. When a child meets today’s threat, but your blacklist only includes yesterday’s threats, you can see that there is a gaping hole in your security. Instead of letting it install because the file is not on the blacklist, a whitelist prevents it from installing until a responsible adult can check it out.

Today’s youth are especially fond of mobile devices according to the Kaiser Family Foundation report. “Those mobile devices are computers—totally capable of running applications,” Abdulhayoglu said.

All criminals have to do is trick us into opening up their application. If you download or install the application, you’ve just given them full access to everything that’s in your mobile device. And, again, kids do not have the judgment and discrimination that adults have.

The Internet offers vast amounts of valuable information for people who can use it wisely, he said. But when children venture online, he recommended “responsible supervision when possible, and reliable security software at all times.

About Comodo

The Comodo companies provide the infrastructure that is essential in enabling e-merchants, other Internet-connected companies, software companies, and individual consumers to interact and conduct business via the Internet safely and securely. The Comodo companies offer PKI SSL, Code Signing, Content Verification and Email Certificate; award winning PC Security software;  Vulnerability Scanning services for PCI Compliance; secure e-mail and fax services.   

Continual innovation, a core competence in PKI, and a commitment to reversing the growth of Internet-crime distinguish the Comodo companies as vital players in the Internet’s ongoing development. Comodo secures and authenticates online transactions and communications for over 200,000 business customers and 3,000,000 users of our desktop security products. 

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