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Cyber Safety News Wrap

important issues to keep an eye on in the year to come

As we wrap the year to an end, there are important issues to keep an eye on in the year to come. Cyber crime ranks high on that list, as does the ongoing fight against child safety on the net. Then, social networking, home and online video gaming, digital connectivity and cyber government will rank next. Throughout the year, we'll be updating and expanding our continuing coverage of these and other issues of social/digital importance.

Online Frauds Target Seniors

Almost 60% of the users who reported falling victims to cyber crime were sufferers of malicious programs or 'malicious intent', comprising either of spam, phishing, ID theft, fraud, or a computer infringement. This is as per an assessment of data gathered through the "Take a Byte Out of Cyber Crime" campaign, under the initiative of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Council and its partners from the public sector. Disturbingly, 28% of users reporting online crimes suggested that they fell victim to internet scams, with almost 50% of those victims being aged 60 or above.
NOTE SPAMfighter News - Copenhagen, Denmark

CastleCops: In Memorium

CastleCops, the volunteer-run website and organization famous for fighting phishing, highly recommended by many, has gone offline. The site had reached its five-year anniversary in 2007. CastleCops had made many enemies among the malware community, who used DDOS attacks on the site as well as PayPal donations from compromised accounts to ruin the siteÍs PayPal reputation. In June, founder Paul Laudanski announced in June that he had been hired by Microsoft to work on phishing and spam investigations, and said that he hoped to find someone else to run the site.
NOTE RealTechNews - San Francisco, CA, USA

Child-proofing for Firefox browser

This is an interesting development for families with elementary-school-age kids: Kidzui built right into the Firefox browser - built-in parental control in a new form. "Once installed and activated by a parent, [the Kidzui browser extension] locks the child (or anyone else for that matter) out of accessing non-Kidzui approved sites, or other areas of the computer, by taking up the entire screen," CNET's Webware blog reports. That last phrase means kids can't even get to other applications on the computer like Word or instant messaging without inputting "a password, which is chosen by the parent" - the only way out of KidZui. It's up to parents, of course, to decide if older kids can have the password. The add-on is free, like the basic version of Kidzui too, but also supports the $40/year edition with extras such as kid social-networking features (e.g., having a profile and "Zui" avatar) and extra parental-control tools. For more on Kidzui, see Net Family News' October post on new sites and services for young people
NOTE www.netfamilynews.org

Oz: Landmark child-porn ruling

In a landmark ruling, an Australian Supreme Court judge ruled that an online cartoon depicting The Simpsons engaging in sex acts constitutes child pornography, the Sydney Morning Herald reports
      "Justice Michael Adams upheld a magistrate's decision convicting a man of possessing child pornography after the cartoons ... were found on his computer."
The BBC that Justice Adams "said the purpose of anti-child pornography legislation was to stop sexual exploitation and child abuse where images of 'real' children were depicted. But in a landmark ruling he decided that the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people." It added that the judge said the Simpsons cartoon could "fuel demand for material that does involve the abuse of children." and therefore upheld the conviction for child pornography.

Verizon beats cybersquatter

Register reporter Austin Modine says: Good luck collecting it
Verizon has been awarded $33.15m in a cybersquatting lawsuit against a shady domain aggregator that registered hundreds of websites using the telco's name and trademarks. In a default judgment this week, a federal court in Northern California ruled this week that OnlineNIC should pay $50,000 for each of the 633 domains Verizon claims were created specifically to be confused with legitimate Verizon brands.
NOTE www.theregister.co.uk

Online-safety czar called for

The Family Online Safety Institute, the only such US organization with offices on both sides of the Atlantic, this week called on President-Elect Obama to promote "a national strategy on how to best educate children, tweens, teens and their parents on online ethics, safety and cybercitizenship," citing the "excellent example of the UK government" in developing industry best practices, funding research, and setting up the UK Council on Child Internet Safety (for disclosure, I'm on FOSI's Advisory Board). In a report FOSI released at its annual conference this week, CEO Stephen Balkam, makes four recommendations: that the Obama administration
1) hold an annual White House Online Safety Summit,
2) create a US Council for Internet Safety (the FCC's National Telecommunications & Information Administration is right now putting together something similar, a "working group" called for by a just-signed broadband Internet law),
3) create a $100 million online-safety program to fund research and educational and awareness campaigns, and
4) create a National Safety Officer position in the office of the US's new chief technology officer.
NOTE Here's the Washington Post's coverage

Videogames not just child's play

Videogames certainly aren't just for kids. That's the key take-away from a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, finding that more than half of US adults play videogames. [Another Pew survey in September found that 97% of US 12-to-17-year-olds do.] People 65+ are no slouches where videogaming's concerned: Nearly a third of people 65 and up play games everyday, Pew found, while only 20% of all younger players do so everyday. Younger players prefer gaming consoles (e.g., PlayStation or Xbox), older ones prefer computers, which are the most popular gaming devices - 73% of adult gamers play with computers to play games, compared with 53% consoles, 35% cellphones, and 25% portable gaming devices. See the San Jose Mercury News has a shopper's guide to the latest videogames.
NOTE Here's coverage in a Washington Post blog


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