Social networking, chat and risks with online
1.1 What is social networking?
Social networking sites allow users to create their own content and share it
with a vast network of individuals, potentially world–wide. A large number of
such services exist, and content created by the Internet users (so-called user-
generated content) is becoming more and more popular. The services target
different groups of the public, not all are targeted towards children, but many
are very popular with children and young people.
Social networking services have created a new social space or arena for
children to engage, and they include chats, search, e-mail, instant messaging,
blogs, videos and so on. Examples of social networking services: MySpace,
Bebo, Windows Live Spaces, Piczo, Yahoo! 360, Face Party, FaceBook and
Xanga, YouTube and Google Video.
Social networking sites makes it possible to create and design a personal
website, blog, journal or diary using graphics, colour, music and images to
represent a unique style and identity.
On these sites, children and young people share thoughts and information
about areas of interest and themselves, they publish and share their own
music, they receive comments from friends or guests, they publish images
and videos, also of themselves and their family and friends and they link to
other friends' websites.
On many sites they can also interact with friends in real-time through instant
messaging, chat rooms or message boards and they can meet new friends,
play online games, join communities where they can discuss their interests
with others and take part in competitions and quizzes.
1.2 What is chat?
To chat in the online environment is to communicate with others by writing
messages in an online programme. Such programmes allow people to meet in
a virtual meeting room in real time – a kind of telephone call performed in
Two main programmes are used by children and young people for
communicating through chat: Open chat rooms and Instant Messenger
Programmes (IM). Although the means of communication is the same for
these two possibilities, many young people don't consider using IM to be
chatting, and the term chatting is reserved for what they do in the open chat
An open chat room offers direct communication with other people in real
time. The communication can be with people from all over the world about
common interests or just out of curiosity. Many people experience that this
communication is very immediate and personal, that it is easy to get to know
new people and that it is easy to make new friends.
Most open chat rooms have the possibility for people to enter closed chat
rooms, where only two people communicate with each other without other
people looking in.
Instant Messenger Programmes, like Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo!
Messenger, makes it possible to speak to people you have selected to speak
to. Such programmes allow you to see who of your friends are logged on, and
many young people use it to keep connected to their friends when they are at
home, doing homework or listening to music. You can choose to communicate
with many at the same time or with one friend at the time. You can invite
people in your network or block people that you don’t want to communicate
with. Other programmes which allow you to chat in this way are Skype, ICQ,
Yahoo!Messenger, Google Talk and other communication tools.
1.3 What are the risks when children and young people
Children can be subjected to many risks while communicating online – they
can be lured into giving away personal information, they can download viruses
and malware and they can get into contact with people with bad intentions.
One of the most serious risks to children and young people communicating
online is that persons who have a sexual interest in children use these
technologies for becoming friends with and getting close to them (so-called
Persons who want to get into contact with children for sexual abuse
sometimes use fake information to get close to the young people, for example
they give false name, age and interests. However, not all give fake
The process of getting close to children for sexual abuse happens through a
process of manipulation and persuasion, in many cases without the child
noticing it. The person starts communication with the young person, asking
about apparently common interests, asking about where they live and their
family, if they are happy or sad and why. All the communication is aimed at
gaining their trust over time.
In the online environment, one of the nice things is that you can get new
friends. It is therefore only natural to talk about your interests, parents,
siblings and your state of mind when you want to get to know someone.
Therefore it is easy to start revealing personal information about themselves,
their friends and family, and giving out the address, name of their school,
telephone numbers etc. In many cases, the "new friend" aims to be the child's
new best friend, the close friend he or she has always missed, the one that
really understand him/her.
The persons in search for children to abuse can be very patient and take a lot
of time to collect enough information about their potential victims’ life, in
some cases starting to ask questions about their sexual experiences, fantasies
and hopes of getting a girl- or boyfriend.
In some cases, pornographic images and images portraying child abuse are
used to show the child how "normal" it is that adults have sex with children.
This also puts the child in an awkward, embarrassing and sometimes
threatening situation so that they won’t tell their parents. Such actions aim at
weakening the potential victims and persuading them to take part in sexual
acts later on.
Also, many potential abusers ask youngsters to physically meet when they
believe that they have gained their trust. Such meetings can prove dangerous,
and lead to sexual abuse or even to kidnapping with fatal consequences.
1.4 What can be signs that my child is being befriended by
a potential abuser?
One of the purposes of the communication with and manipulation of the child
is to make sure that the child does not inform his/her parents of what is going
on. The manipulation puts the child in a position where he/she feels as
accomplices to the actions about to take place, and he/she can often know
that what is happening is wrong, but that it is his/her fault. Revealing these
actions to a parent or an adult that they trust can be extremely painful and
difficult for them.
It is therefore important to signal trust in the child, get the message through
that whatever has happened to them is not their fault and that you, as a
parent, will not be angry or take away their access to Internet or mobile
phone. If the child seems troubled, changes behaviour or is sad or angry and
will not talk about it, it can be worthwhile to try to find out what is wrong.
However, these "symptoms" might also be associated with other problems
that the child is experiencing: a broken heart, bullying, feeling exclusion,
difficulties at school or in other activities. In any case, it is better to show that
you care than not.
1.5 How can I contribute to making my child safer on social
Be curious about what your child or youngster does in the
online environment and ask questions - don't let the online
environment be an adult-free zone without ethics, moral or
Try to learn about the features and services that the child uses
online - this will make it easier to talk to the child about
Discuss rules and precautions together with your child -
realistic rules and a common understanding is more effective
than imposed control
Talk about the consequences of online conduct and behaviour
and discuss how your child can set his/her own limits in the
1.6 How can I communicate safely online?
It is easy to communicate safely if you remember the following:
1. Friends that you have only met online can be different and
someone else from what they seem to be.
2. Never give out personal information such as your e-mail
address, your home or school address or your phone number.
3. You have the power to stop communication if you feel it's
uncomfortable, scary or just don't want to continue the
conversation with someone. It is easy to block the user.
4. Never give out information about your family, your friends, or
other people you know.
5. Never arrange to meet strangers you only got acquainted with
over the Internet. Nevertheless, if you want to meet, always
arrange to do so in a public place, and always go with your
parent or an adult you can trust.
1.7 What can I do if someone is harassing me online?
Always remember that you have the control. If you are chatting, and feel that
somebody in the chat room acts strangely or is trying to harass you, just end
the conversation and exit the chat room with a simple ‘click’. Immediately
inform the chat moderator.
If somebody is harassing you through Instant Messaging, block the user. if the
bullyer is someone you know, talk to your parents and ask them for help. If
somebody keeps harassing you through your e-mail address, then you should
immediately inform your parents and ask them to help you block those
messages. Finally, you can consider changing your e-mail address.
1.8 Where can I register offences (hotlines)?
See list of links: www.inhope.org.
1.9 Can you indicate safe chat rooms for children?
It is almost impossible to indicate safe chat rooms for children. The reason is
that it is almost impossible to verify that someone is a child (or an adult) in
the online environment.
Some chat rooms are safer than others – look for the following signs:
the chat room is monitored: someone is giving people
messages if they use inappropriate language, or give out
the chat room has easy-to-find report possibilities and
possibilities to block users
the chat room has easy-to-find safety tips
It is a good idea for the parent to try out the sites that their children
communicate in: social networking sites, blogs and chats.
The word “blog” is short for “weblog”, and refers to an online journal or home
page created and published by groups and individuals. A vlog is a blog in
which users post video along with their commentary. Moblogs – or mobile
blogs – use new Internet publishing capacities on mobile phones. Blogs also
allow users and readers to comment on news articles and express their own
2.1 How can I set up my own blog?
Many sites offer tools for creating and publishing content as a blog. Take a
look at http://www.blogger.com/start which provides tools for blogging and
moblogging. This site gives step-by-step instructions to help you create an
account, name your blog and choose an appropriate template to get you
started. You can then compose, add or edit content from a central webpage
using the user-friendly tools provided. Images and hyperlinks will make your
blog more interesting. Most services that allow you to create a blog also
describes how you do it.
If you want your Weblog to be interactive, make sure you choose a tool that
has a built-in commenting feature so you can invite others to discuss your
posts. Visitors to your blog can then comment on content by clicking on a
comments link at the end of each entry.
2.2 What are the risks if I set up my own blog?
One of the risks related to having your own blog is the temptation to reveal
personal information that could be disseminated throughout the Internet and
used against you, for instance Identity theft or being contacted by strangers
with bad intentions. It is always a good idea to use a nickname to protect your
Remember that everyone has the right to privacy. If you are planning to post
information (including images) about someone else, you must obtain their
Another risk is breach of copyright. You should never use material (e.g. text,
music, video) or a blog design from other people’s sites without their
permission. Further information is available about copyright laws in the
“Copyright” section of this FAQ.
Be careful never to include offensive, racist or harassing material or content
which might be illegal (gambling, pornography etc.) on your blog.
For more information about how to blog safely:
2.3 What can I do if I find my personal information on
another person's blog?
Publishing personal information about other people is an infringement to their
right to privacy. Before publishing personal information about other people,
you should always send them the information you plan to publish in order to
get their permission.
If anyone publishes personal information about you on a blog, contact them
immediately to ask them to delete the offending information. Blog sites
usually provide a contact address. If not, you could contact the blog provider
to request that action be taken. Don’t post a comment about the unwanted
content except as a last resort, as this would make the problem bigger by
possibly drawing even more attention to the unwanted information about you.
2.4 What should I do about undesirable or illegal comments
posted on my blog?
When you are choosing your blog software, make sure that you will be able to
delete any comments that you consider unsuitable. If someone persists in
putting up offensive comments, contact the blog provider. Some blog software
sends the blog owner an email each time a comment is posted. If you check
your mailbox regularly, this is a very useful alert system which would enable
you to get rid of unwanted comments rapidly.
If anyone informs you that you have personal or offensive information on your
blog, check it out immediately and take the necessary steps (e.g. delete the
data). You don’t want to be prosecuted for defamation or breach of copyright.
2.5 Can I limit the amount of people who have access to my
Many blog software providers enable you to make parts of, or even your
entire, blog accessible only to people who have the password, that is to those
you have chosen to see your blog. If you want to exchange more personal
information, such as family or holiday photos on your blog it is a good idea to
protect your blog with a password. Remember to ask the persons you give
your password to not to give the password away to others.
You can avoid that major search engines such as Google lead to your blog in
search results by creating a special file that tells these search engines to
ignore your domain. For more information:
2.6 Where can I find out more about safe blogging?
Your national Safer Internet contact point can provide advice and further
Blog providers also give tips. Check your provider’s website for general advice
to find out what special features are offered by their blogging tool.
Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) has an online guide for bloggers which
gives specific advice about keeping a blog anonymous.
Bullying and Cyber bullying
3.1 What is bullying?
Bullying is aggressive and harassing behaviour that is intentional, repeated
over time, and involves an imbalance of power or strength. A child who is
being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself.
Bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over
another person. Some of the ways a bully bullies other people are by: calling
them names, saying or writing nasty things about them, leaving them out of
activities, not talking to them, threatening them, making them feel
uncomfortable or scared, taking or damaging their things, hitting or kicking
them, or making them do things they don't want to do.
3.2 How does it occur?
Situations of bullying between children and adolescents may occur in very
diverse forms. They sometimes take the form of fights and aggressions, but
are also frequently accompanied by different types of intimidation such as:
Verbal intimidations: insults, name-calling, spreading rumours,
Psychological intimidations: threats to cause the victim fear or
to obtain something, like money, or simply to force the victim
to do things that he/she does not want to.
Physical aggressions: fights and beatings, destruction of
personal materials, and small thefts.
Social isolation preventing the person to participate in certain
activities, or ignoring his/her presence.
3.3 Is bullying part of growing up?
Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young
people to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can make young
people feel lonely, unhappy and frightened, and is a serious problem. It
makes them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them.
They lose confidence in themselves and may not want to go to school any
more. This might lead to academic failure amongst other problems. In
addition, continuous, constant and severe bullying has led to terrible
consequences such as the suicide of children in some European countries.
3.4 What is racist bullying?
Racist bullying occurs when people are picked on and harassed because of
their race, culture or religious faith. In these cases, racist name-calling and
the use of stereotyped phrases are very common.
3.5 What is cyber bullying?
Bullying in many cases take place at school, in the playground or at other
arenas that children and young people use. However, as more and more
children use Internet and mobile phones, the bullying is also carried into these
arenas. This type of bullying is called cyber bullying and it adds and additional
strain on the children that experience it. It can take place throughout the
whole day, also when the child is at home, and it is in many cases invisible for
the parents or other adults who could help.
The behaviours involved can include:
Sending mean text, e-mail, or instant messages;
Posting nasty pictures or messages about others in blogs,
profiles, home pages or on Web sites;
Using someone else's user name to spread rumours or lies
about someone (stolen identity);
Abusive verbal messages.
Sometimes abusive mobile phone text messages are sent through websites
using the names and phone numbers of people who have nothing to do with
the message but who were blamed for it.
Another technique used by cyber bullies includes setting up websites to target
certain people by inviting others to post hate messages.
3.6 Where can parents and children go for help?
Bullying is often a problem connected to school life, but because of the use of
Internet and mobile phones, cyber bullying can take place at all times. The
school has a responsibility to deal with bullying and take it seriously. It can
therefore be a good idea to contact the school, talk to the teacher or a social
worker at school.
There are several initiatives in European countries and abroad to provide the
victims of bullying and their families with different types of support and
assistance. In many countries, the Child Ombudsmann also has a
responsibility to deal with bullying and can direct you in the right direction for
In Spain, PROTEGELES, a child welfare NGO has launched a helpline where
victims and their family are individually supported by professionals and are
given directions on how to proceed in each particular situation. PROTEGELES
also serves as a moderator between the family and the schools and advises
families on when it is necessary to take their action further (reporting to the
Police or to the Child Ombudsman). For more information visit the website
In the UK, the registered charity Bullying Online offers help and advice to
victims of bullying, their parents and school. For more information visit their
website at http://www.bullying.co.uk/.
In Scotland, the Anti-Bullying Network was established by the Scottish
Executive in 1999 so that teachers, parents and young people could share
ideas about how bullying should be tackled. Their website is very helpful:
In the USA the Department of Health and Human Services has a very helpful
website with practical information for parents, students and teachers on
bullying and its consequences both for the victims and the perpetrators. For
more information visit http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.
In Sweden, Friends.se is an NGO that aims at preventing bullying. They offer
lectures to schools and work together with national partners to create visibility
about the consequences of bullying and the possible ways to stop it.
Illegal content - Child sexual abuse material
4.1 What is illegal content?
What constitutes illegal online content varies according to national legal
definitions. In most European countries online distribution of child sexual
abuse material (commonly referred to as child pornography) is illegal. As a
minimum child sexual abuse material constitutes an image showing a person
who is a child and who is engaged in or is depicted as being engaged in
explicit sexual activity. The material constitute documentation of sexual
abuse, and is seen as evidence material by law enforcement.
In addition, in some countries knowingly possessing child abuse material is
also a criminal offence and sometimes the legislation includes material that is
computer generated or altered images (morphed) and cartoon characters.
The Council of Europe in its Cybercrime Convention from 2001 gives the
The term “child pornography” shall include pornographic material that visually
1. a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct;
2. a person appearing to be a minor engaged in sexually explicit
3. realistic images representing a minor engaged in sexually
4.2 What is the difference between "child pornography"
and adult pornography?
Adult pornography depicts two adults engaging in sexual activity, and the act
is in most cases voluntary by the two persons. In contrast to this, what is
commonly referred to as child pornography is, in fact, the depiction of a
criminal act where a child is the victim of sexual abuse. For the child
involved, the circulation of the documentation of the abusive situation on the
Internet, where thousands of people can see it, means that he or she is
violated over and over again.
Adult pornography has different legal definitions and different levels of
acceptability in different countries. The minimum defines pornography as a
picture (video, dvd, audio, text) that shows a person who is an adult and who
is engaged in or is depicted as being engaged in explicit sexual activity. Across
Europe most people agree that access to certain material, such as adult
pornographic material, might affect the physical and mental development of
minors and should be allowed only for adults.
4.3 What is a paedophile ring?
A paedophile ring is a group of persons working together across the Internet
in different countries and jurisdictions to collect and distribute child sexual
abuse material for their own gratification. In some cases, the network also
share expertise and plan for and commit sexual offences against children.
4.4 How do paedophile rings use the Internet?
The Internet has become a major factor in the development of paedophile
rings world-wide and convictions in the United States and in the United
Kingdom have shown that the Internet is being widely used by members of
such rings, both to share experience and to traffic in child sexual abuse
The dissemination of child abuse material is causing major concern to all
agencies, national, regional and international, that are engaged in the
protection of minors. As the paedophile rings increasingly use advanced
telecommunications technologies, making use of encryption and code names,
they have become more and more difficult to uncover. International
cooperation of law enforcement agencies and other relevant actors, such as
ISPs and credit card companies is vital in order to fight this criminal activity.
4.5 Are there other forms of sexual abuse related to
Internet, mobile phones and other electronic communication technologies
have certain features which make them easy to use for adults who want to
target children for sexual abuse.
The technologies allow children to communicate anonymously; they can create
their own websites or take part in social network with their own profiles.
Internet and mobile phones are also arenas where children and young people
in many cases communicate without the supervision of parents or other
As a result, offenders can easily get into contact with children online. The
process when a person befriends a child with the intention of meeting him or
her for sexual abuse is commonly referred to as "grooming". Grooming takes
place in all arenas children use, but the term is mostly used for the process
taking place in the online environment.
For more information about online grooming, see FAQs on social networking.
4.6 Where can I report child abuse material or other illegal
content or activity on the Internet?
If you come across a website or activity on the Internet you suspect to be
illegal, don't ignore it - make a report to your national hotline. The INHOPE
network of hotlines focuses on the fight against illegal content on the Internet,
in particular child sexual abuse material.
The INHOPE hotlines allow you to send a report to them, and they will pass it
on to the appropriate body for action: the police or another hotline if the
site/material is hosted in one of the other countries of the network.
Users can easily access all INHOPE hotlines through INHOPE’s website at
www.inhope.org. Click on REPORT ILLEGAL CONTENT/CLICK HERE, choose the
country where you live, click on the link and fill in any details you have using
the online form provided by the national hotline.
If your country is not listed, but you think you know where the website is
hosted, report to the hotline in that country instead. Or report to any of the
4.7 What is a hotline?
The hotlines in the INHOPE network provide a mechanism for receiving
complaints/reports from the public about alleged illegal content and/or use of
the Internet. They must have effective transparent procedures for dealing with
complaints/reports and they must have the support of government, industry,
law enforcement, and Internet users in the countries of operation.
In addition to these requirements, to be a member of INHOPE, a hotline must
co-operate with other members in exchanging information about illegal
content, share their expertise, make a commitment to maintain confidentiality
and respect the procedures of other members.
There is probably a hotline in your country if you wish to report illegal content,
just visit INHOPE’s website at www.inhope.org.
E-commerce / Phishing / Identity theft
5.1 What are untrustworthy commercial websites?
Untrustworthy websites will have one or more of the following characteristics:
they do not exercise their duties as contractual partner, e.g.
they may not deliver purchased goods
they misuse your personal data
they misuse payment information (such as credit card data)
Commercial websites may also offer services to children that are unwanted or
illegal (gambling, pornography etc.).
Quite often, such websites have their origin in countries where there is not a
good legal framework to ban such activities.
5.2 How can I recognise trustworthy commercial websites?
First of all, well known and well established companies are most likely as
trustworthy online as in “real” life.
Other criteria that help to recognise reputable commercial websites:
clear identification of company with name of the company,
address, telephone number, contact person etc.
terms of contract are easily accessible and transparent
the product’s features and conditions of guarantee are clearly
defined and easily accessible
the product price includes all additional costs
a secure payment method is offered
orders are confirmed with e-mail
consumers have a clearly defined right of withdrawal
time of delivery is specified
in case of a problem, it tends to be easier to handle it with
online shops located in the consumers’ country.
5.3 How can I recognise secure payment methods?
Trustworthy commercial websites conduct transactions only through “secure
electronic transaction” means. So it is very important that when you enter
your payment information (e.g. credit card data), you always check that the
address of the website you are visiting starts with “https://” and not with
“http://”. In that way you will know whether or not the website provides
5.4 How can I avoid risks at online auctions?
The main problem with online auctions is advance payment. If your
contracting party receives money but does not deliver, it is very difficult to get
back the transferred money.
The best solution is to use trusted services which are offered by online
5.5 What is Identity Theft (Fraud)?
We speak about identify theft when personal details have been stolen and are
used illegally. In most cases identify theft happens through the method of
phishing or pharming.
5.6 How can someone steal my personal data? - The
Pharming is a form of domain name fraud that results in users believing they
are on a genuine site with the correct URL, when they are in fact diverted to a
fake website. When the users starts conducting a transaction on that site,
which in most cases involves the insertion of personal data, account codes, or
credit card details the third parties behind the fake website can easily grab the
victim’s data and use it for their own benefit.
5.7 How can someone steal my personal data? - The
Phishing is the practice of tricking a user into giving away personal
information into a fake form on the Internet. Such an activity will allow a
cracker to steel or falsify the victim’s information or/and gain illegal access to
his/her data such as personal accounts, subscriptions, e-mails, PIN codes,
TAN codes, etc.
For example, the user receives an email which looks as if it comes from their
bank. This informs about security ‘holes’ in the banking system, and asks
them to kindly log into a special website (which again seems to come from the
bank itself) and insert their user IDs, passwords, e-banking information etc. It
is important to remember that no bank would ask for personal information
about its clients through e-mail or other Internet activities.
5.8 What do I do if I find out that someone has stolen my
You may become a victim of identity theft if you have lost or someone has
stolen important personal identity documents, such as passport, credit cards
or drivers license, or if expected documents from the bank do not arrive.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of identity theft, get hold of your
credit file from a credit reference register, and read it carefully. If you think
that the identity theft involves use of a credit card or other plastic card, take
contact with the financial institution concerned to get their advice. You should
also contact your local police office to report all the stolen documents and
report the case to them. If you suspect that your mail has been redirected,
contact the post office.
As precautionary principles, keep your plastic cards, personal documents,
passwords and PIN codes safe and do not give away personal information
6.1 What is file sharing?
File sharing is the sharing or exchange of files between people using
computers connected to the Internet. The term covers both the making
available of the file (uploading), for instance on a file sharing service such as
Kaaza, MLDOnkey and BitTorrent, and the downloading of a file from the
Internet to a computer.
In principle, sharing any type of file is considered file sharing, including text
files, computer programmes, pictures, music, and films etc. The term does not
distinguish between distribution of files created by the sharer himself and files
created by others. It is important to distinguish between files you have
copyright to, because you created them yourself, and files to which others
have copyright - copyright legislation grants different rights to creators of
files and users of these files. Not all file sharing is illegal. In recent years the
term “file sharing” has been associated with illegal sharing and piracy.
6.2 Is file sharing the same as Peer-to-peer (P2P)
A peer-to-peer network allows people to share files that are stored on their
personal computers with others that are connected to the network. It is only
one of several ways files are shared on the Internet. Many peer-to-peer
providers offer anonymity, and therefore they have often been associated with
illegal file sharing.
Peer-to-peer services and peer-to-peer technology are increasingly being used
by the film and movie industry in legitimate online content services.
6.3 What is Copyright?
Copyright is an exclusive right for authors to distribute, reproduce and make
their works available to the public. Its purpose is to allow creators to make a
living from their creativity and copyright provides them with a tool to control
the use of their work. There are certain exceptions to the exclusive right that
allow users of protected works to make a limited amount of copies for private
use, make copies against a fee for use in schools etc. Before the Internet,
making copies of pages in a book for private use was in most countries
considered legal. The extent of this right to make private copies and share
them with friends and a larger audience in the digital environment is in
essence what the debate on file sharing is all about.
6.4 Is file sharing illegal?
File sharing is not illegal if it involves sharing your own files that you yourself
have created. Therefore you can share photos from your last holiday with your
friends and family, but uploading and downloading music and films without
prior permission from the rights holder is illegal in most countries in Europe
and in most other countries in the world. Where the boundaries are between
legal and illegal file sharing must, however, be determined by the copyright
law of each individual state - even within the EU. There are, for example,
differences between the copyright law of France and the UK that allow for the
exchange of files in France that are not permitted in the UK. As a rule of
thumb, however, consider file sharing of music and films illegal. The reference
to film and music in this case is made because most questions arise on the
legality of the sharing of these types of files.
6.5 Can my son or daughter go to jail for illegal file
Even though file sharing of blockbuster films or the latest MTV hit is illegal, a
jail sentence is not likely to be the legal consequence of either the uploading
or downloading of these files. In most cases, courts will make sure that the
sharer economically compensates for the estimated loss/value. Large scale
illegal file sharing can, however, lead to criminal procedures and result in jail
sentences depending on the volume of files shared, the profit motive involved
etc. As pointed out above, copyright laws are different in different countries.
So are the consequences of infringement. Even in the EU where copyright and
the enforcement of copyright is harmonised to a certain extent, infringements
are not necessarily dealt with in the same manner.
6.6 If I should advise my children, what are the
alternatives to illegal file sharing?
Advise your children to use one of the many legitimate services like Itunes
and others if they want to download music to their computer. As a rule of
thumb, they should not share files with others unless explicitly permitted by
the rights holder.
6.7 Where can I learn more about file sharing and
Many organisations provide extensive information about copyright and file
sharing. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some organisations and sites
providing useful information:
• EU: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/copyright/index_en.htm
• WIPO: http://www.wipo.int/enforcement/en/
• IFPI: http://www.ifpi.org/
• Motion Picture Association (US): http://www.mpaa.org/piracy_AndLaw.asp
Parental control: Filtering, Labels
In order to make sure that children use online technologies in a safe way, a
combination of different measures can empower both parents and children;
supervision of the child/young person in ways to use the technology safely,
installing technical filters and helping the children to evaluate and judge online
material go hand in hand.
7.1 What is a filter?
Filter systems are applications regulating access to information or services on
the Internet according to defined criteria. They can be installed on the user's
PC, on a central Internet computer belonging to an institution (e.g. on a proxy
server in a school) or on the computers of an Internet access provider and
trigger a variety of different reactions: They can warn against problematic
websites, record the user's path through the Internet in detail, block
incriminated sites or even turn off a computer altogether.
7.2 What is the main task of a filter?
The most important task of filters for the protection of minors is to provide a
reliable barrier preventing access to content that the parents see as
inappropriate or harmful, dangerous or morally damaging to the development
of minors. Ideally, at the same time, content suitable for children and young
people should not be affected.
Filtering in the context of parental control also concerns outgoing streams, for
instance to avoid that young children disclose their names, address, school
name or parents’ credit card number. This type of filtering is particularly
important for young users and there is free software (freeware) available to
deal exclusively with that issue, like http://www.free-
7.3 How do filters work?
Filters are based on some principles:
Positive lists only permit access to content suitable for children, which an
editorial team has inspected and selected. Negative lists block all content,
which a manual inspection has classified as relevant to the protection of
In this method, algorithms decide whether the content can be accessed or
not. The simplest method for automated evaluation of the typical features of a
website is keyword blocking. This blocks all websites containing specific
forbidden words. "More intelligent" filter systems evaluate different typical
features of websites (e.g. statistical analysis of the full text for a website) in
order to categorise them automatically. The best automatic classification tools
do not use only text analysis but includes also image analysis, for instance
detecting a predominance of skin texture in an image to detect pornographic
Self-classification by the provider
With this solution every content provider marks his websites with a virtual
content classification label. Software installed on the user's computer reads
the label and decides whether or not to display the content based on the
7.4 What are labels?
It can be difficult to tell if a site is safe for children or not. In an attempt to
make it easier for parents to choose which sites are safe to use, some content
providers and regulators have created labels that can give a hint towards this.
Labelling is also one precondition for effective filtering. It can be done by
users or by providers or automatic (see above: How do filters work). Sites are
labelled in order to protect minors, increase public trust and use of online
transactions, and also to comply with legal standards. When labelling website
content (by editorial or provider), a code is written into the webpage html
code, thereby detailing its contents so that the page can be rated. This rating
– which in most cases is invisible on the page itself, details the nature of the
content and is detected by filtering mechanisms, which will subsequently
either block or load the page.
7.5 What kind of filters are available?
Recommended lists with content suitable for
So-called "walled gardens" or "white lists" are lists of selected content, which
only permit the user to surf to these selected websites.
Blacklists of Internet addresses with content
relevant to the protection of minors
Filter systems based on blacklists take the opposite approach. They permit
access to all Internet content and attempt to filter out morally damaging or
dangerous content. However, editing the entire Internet is impossible, so the
blacklisting of Internet content will probably never catch up with
developments in Internet content
Blocking websites according to a list of forbidden
The simplest filter systems block Internet content using a list of forbidden
words. These keyword lists are easy to produce and simple to maintain, but
some websites providing unwanted content make sure that they do not make
reference to words common in the black lists.
Filtering based on automatically classified
The second generation of automatic classification systems evaluate the
complete text contained in a website. They use statistical methods familiar,
for instance from spam filters.
Self-classification by the providers
Providers use a list of questions to describe what can be seen on their
websites (e.g. naked breasts, killing of people). This description is inserted
into the source code for the website or saved on the web server in a
standardised form so that filter systems can evaluate the classification and
block all content, which does not conform to the user's settings. Currently the
effectiveness of the filters using labelling is still very low because only a few
providers have taken the trouble to classify their pages themselves.
Combinations of filtering methods
The basic approaches to filtering are now combined in many ways in order to
increase their effectiveness but also to permit age-differentiated access.
7.6 What are recommendable filter programmes?
At the moment, it is impossible to recommend one specific filter for the
protection of minors because no programme of this type has proved its
effectiveness under comparable conditions.
Since no reliable benchmark figures relating to the effectiveness of filter
systems and no uniform standards or test procedures exist the European
Commission is carrying out a study for "an objective evaluation of filtering
software and services currently available on the market, independent of the
seller or provider and conducted by experts" (www.sip-bench.org).
7.7 What can I do until good filters are developed?
The filtering of Internet content can support parents and teachers in the
media education of children and young people, but it cannot be counted on
alone, as filters cannot deal with for instance children's and young people's
use of online communication services. Educational supervision from schools
and at home is more important than technological barriers as it is most likely
to contribute to the education of young people, and therefore empower them
to use online technologies like Internet and mobiles safely.
Most children and young people in Europe own mobile phones. For parents,
giving their children mobile phones is in many cases seen as an advantage –
they can more easily get in touch with their children, and their children can
get in touch with them, should it be necessary. As children become youth,
communicating with friends becomes more and more important.
Young people use mobile phones for talking, sending text messages (SMS),
taking and sending photos, playing games etc. Although their use of mobile
phones gives them great opportunities, there are also certain risks associated
with mobile phone use. For a parent, the most important thing to remember is
to talk to your child about their use of the mobiles, possibilities and how they
see and deal with the risks.
Below you will find information about:
Costs and costly services
Accessing harmful content
Communicating with potential abusers
Use of cameraphone
8.1 What can I do to limit mobile phone costs?
Certain mobile services can be expensive, such as MMS, mobile phone chats
and premium rate services/premium SMS (ring tones, logo services etc),
which have additional costs in comparison to normal SMS. In some cases,
users of premium rate services have been automatically ordering a
subscription without realising it, and the mobile phone bill increases to much
more than normal phone bills. Premium rate services can usually be stopped
by sending a STOP message to the service number. If this does not help,
contact the service provider.
Using pre-paid mobile phone cards or special offers from mobile phone
providers that limit your mobile costs to a predefined maximum per month
can help keep the costs down. However, a combination subscription, where it
is possible to get detailed print-outs of the communication in case of
emergency, is recommended.
Avoid letting other people use your mobile, other in emergency cases, and
only if you are present. Never leave your mobile unattended, and don't borrow
it to friends.
8.2 Accessing harmful content and access to Internet
More and more mobile phones have full Internet access and children and
young people use stationary Internet connections and mobile phones in a
dynamic manner. Therefore, the same safety measures as for using the
Internet become important for using mobile phones (protection of personal
data, harmful content, consumer protection, gaming etc.).
Children and young people use the mobiles in a very private manner and it
can be difficult for parents to keep informed about their children’s using
habits. Contact your mobile phone operator to find out if there are age
verification or filter systems available, and talk to your children about the
risks concerning using Internet and mobile phones.
8.3 Bullying and communicating with potential abusers
Mobile phones are used for bullying and harassment, as well as by individuals
with a sexual interest in children who use mobile and online technologies to
identify and target potential victims (grooming).
Above you find more information about Bullying and Cyber Bullying.
For more information about how persons use Internet and mobile phones to
befriend children, see under Social networking.
8.4 Tips for children
Don't borrow your mobile to others, and don't give away your
Do not send personal information such as where you live, your
MSN address etc to anyone.
If you receive messages that you don't like, that are
threatening or uncomfortable, save the evidence and talk to
If you feel harassed or bullied, talk to your parents or
someone you trust – they can help you, and there is no reason
to suffer alone.
Don't arrange meeting with people you only met online – if
you do, bring your parent or another adult you trust, and
always meet in a public place with many people.
If you are harassed, feel threatened or uncomfortable with any
communication, do not delete the messages you get, but save
them and show them to an adult you trust.
8.5 Tips for parents
Discuss cyberbullying and contact with strangers with your
Be aware of signs that your child is target of bullying or abuse
(e.g., emotional upset; avoidance of friends, school, activities;
decline in grades, subtle comments that reflect disturbed
online or in-person relationships).
Do not restrict mobile phone use as a reaction to cyberbullying
or contact with persons with bad intentions, it is important to
let the child know that you are there in case they need advice
and support in an uncomfortable situation.
Contact a school counsellor, the bully’s parents, the phone
company or, if cyberbullying appears to be a crime, contact
Change your child’s mobile phone number.
8.6 What do I have to take into account when using a
mobile phone camera?
Many children and young people have mobile phones with camera, and like to
take and send images to friends or publish them on the Internet.
When publishing pictures, be aware of the following aspects:
If you send an image to someone else or post an image online,
remember that once they are published you loose control over
the image. The image may be stored forever, and used in
contexts other than those originally intended.
An image posted online might be seen by a lot of people, also
people you didn't intend to show the image to, for instance a
Images posted online makes it easier for you to be contacted
by strangers and people you meet in the online environment.
If you take pictures of others, or want to publish an image of
another person online, ask the person first! Don’t publish
online or send images that can harm other people.
Online Gaming and Gambling
9.1 Gaming and online gaming
"Gaming" is a container term for 'the act of playing electronic games'. It is
mostly used to designate an above average interest.
Some electronic games can be played by more than one player, sharing the
same play area. The players then either create teams that play against each
other, or simply see which single player is the best. Multiplayer games can be
played through computers linked locally, or over the Internet. Popular online
genres are Action (Counter-Strike), Role-Playing (World of Warcraft and
Second Life) and strategy (Civilization).
9.2 Gambling and online gambling
Gambling is a several thousand years old activity. One bets money or other
valuables on the outcome of some event, either an external one, or one within
the gambler's control. One can for example bet on who wins a football match,
a horse race, or on whether you win or lose a game of Backgammon. If the
financial part is removed, the activity is transformed into games playing.
Regular gambling involves gathering two or more persons for the exchange of
bets and if applicable, the bet-able activity itself, either physically or through
a proxy server, somewhat like a traditional bookmaker. The Internet has
made this activity a lot easier, whether it is for regular betting, or poker,
backgammon or chess games - one doesn't have to physically meet. For
example, the poker game can be played through a shared electronic interface,
displayed on every player's computer screen in real-time.
9.3 What is the difference between gaming and gambling?
Gaming and gambling are two fundamentally different activities. While
gaming has a non-real approach, with fictional ties to the physical world,
gambling involves the risk of financial loss or gain.
9.4 What are the problems with online gaming?
A lot of research has gone into finding links between playing games and
violent behaviour. The results are not clear – it seems that other social factors
have much more influence on an individual's actions.
Gaming triggers the physiological release of adrenaline, which might cause a
short term behavioural change, estimated at approximately one hour. It is
therefore important that a gamer gives him- or herself some time to wind
down before going to sleep, otherwise sleep patterns might be disturbed,
resulting in general physical problems.
Physically, standard gaming is a somewhat static activity. Gamers should
therefore take regular breaks, move around, get enough nutrients and fluids,
There are indications that the addiction to online games might be a problem
for some gamers. However, research shows that this seldom comes from
playing itself, but rather the online social network that exists within the game
world. The online networks might help boost self esteem, and particularly for
people with a low self esteem to start with, it can enable them to form
relationships with the persons around them. On the other hand, there is a real
risk of players spending so much time on the game that it severly affects the
rest of one's life.
Most online games feature some form of inter-player communication.
Therefore, some of the risks associated with chat and social networking may
apply to games as well, such as bullying, harassment and grooming.
Although the purpose of gaming is not to bet money, many of the online
games make it an asset to buy certain things – money, furniture, clothes,
weapons etc. which may be bought through for instance mobile phones.
Some might also find some of the games' topics, descriptions and depictions
problematic or offensive. To aid parents in making purchase decisions for their
children, the PEGI rating and labelling system has been established. For more
information on this, see separate topic, or visit www.pegi.info.
9.5 What are the problems with gambling?
There are two main problematic issues concerned with online gambling: the
risk of financial loss and addiction.
There is nobody stopping you from gambling away one's savings, house,
inheritance, spouse and dog when gambling online. This is to some degree
connected to the issue of gambling addiction, where it becomes impossible for
a person to stop betting more money, in the hope that just one more round
will win it all back. Unlike gaming, where the fun of the experience is the main
draw, with gambling it is always about the money. Addiction to gambling is a
known psychological phenomenon, with treatment programmes available in
Additionally, there are the risks connected with giving out credit details online,
as well as the health and time issues mentioned above, connected to sitting
still in front of a computer screen for long periods of time.
Playing games is one of the main activities of children who use Internet and
mobile phones. In most cases, the games are harmless and do not cost
money to participate in. It can nevertheless be an idea to follow what the
children are doing online:
Talk to your child about how he/she plays the games, and
what they experience and how they perceive the games that
If you register that your child uses a lot of time online, and
shows signs not to be happy (e.g., emotional upset; avoidance
of friends, school, activities; decline in grades, subtle
comments), it is important to talk to the child about what is
Keep track of your credit card and how much money the child
uses on mobile phones.
If you suspect that your child is addicted to games or
gambling, many countries offer treatment programmes.
9.7 Is there a way to know if I buy the appropriate online
game for my children?
A widely used rating system is the Pan-European Game Information, short
PEGI. Designed to ensure that minors are not exposed to games that are
unsuitable for their particular age group, the system is supported by the
major console manufacturers, including PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo, as
well as by publishers and developers of interactive games throughout Europe.
PEGI applies to products distributed in many European countries. Most games
have pictograms on their game covers, showing the rate of the game
according to age and/or content.
9.8 What kinds of rating descriptors can be found on a
Within the scope of PEGI there are 2 types of pictograms that are relevant age
categories and content descriptors.
a) Age categories: The PEGI age ratings are 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+, 18+. They
indicate whether the games contain elements that are considered harmful to
children and minors. The PEGI rating does not focus on the level of difficulty
of a game. A game rated 3+ is considered harmless but may be too complex
for a 3-year old to play.
It is important to note that the PEGI ratings are not designed as traditional
“age limits”, but purely as parental guidance. The final responsibility still lies
in the hands of the parents.
b) Content descriptors: These are icons, displayed on the back of the game
box, that describe the type of content to be found in the game. Depending on
the type of game, there may be up to six such descriptors for violence, bad
language, fear, sex, drugs, and discrimination. The intensity of the content is
appropriate to the age rating of the game.
The combination of age rating and game descriptors allows parents and those
purchasing games for children to ensure that the game they purchase is
appropriate to the age of the intended player.
For more information please consult the FAQ of the PEGI rating system at:
10.1 What is privacy?
Privacy concerns the ability of an individual to keep his/her lives and personal
affairs out of public view, or to control the flow of information about
him/herself. It is sometimes related to anonymity and can be seen as an
aspect of security.
In the online environment, children and young people communicate with
others, they make blogs and home pages, and engage on social networking
sites. In many cases, they publish personal information about themselves with
the perception that this can really only be seen by the persons they want to
Privacy also concerns how much information companies and agencies gather
about a person, and how they use it in other situations than the ones the
person has allowed it to.
10.2 How can I protect my privacy when going online?
You can protect your privacy by never publishing online personal information
about yourself such as your real name, address, telephone number, name of
your school or information concerning friends and family.
When chatting, use a nickname, and avoid getting personal, if you don’t
physically know the person(s) you are chatting with.
When entering websites that ask for where personal information, check the
sites first in order to be sure that they are trustworthy, and, before sending
your information, ask why it is needed. In all cases, consult the ‘Terms and
Conditions’ and/or the “Privacy Statement” of the company operating that
10.3 What can I do, if my mobile phone is stolen? How can
I prevent the thieves from using my mobile phone?
If your mobile phone is stolen, it is possible to stop thieves from using your
mobile phone. Your phone has a unique identification number, called IMEI.
You can find your phone’s IMEI by pressing *#06# on your mobile phone.
Write down the number you see on your phone’s screen, and keep it in a safe
place. If you phone is stolen, report your SIM number (i.e. your phone
number) together with the IMEI to your mobile phone company. The company
will immediately cancel the SIM card, and the thieves will not be able to call
from your mobile phone and charge your bill.
10.4 If a classmate or friend asks for my password to an
Internet or mobile service, shall I give it out?
No. Do not give your password to him/her - because you are responsible for
any activity he or she may carry out in your name, and it can be traced back
to you if he/she misuses the service.
In general, you should never give out your password. If you believe that
somebody found out your password, you should immediately change it.
Always try to have a password that nobody else would be able to guess. For
example, avoid your name, names of your family members, close friends,
birthdays, your pet’s name, etc.
10.5 Am I invisible on the Internet, or can I be discovered?
You are not invisible on the Internet, even if it feels like it. All Internet users
always leave evidence, the so-called “cybertrails” (like footprints), when they
go online. This is actually good: if people commit crimes on the Internet, the
police or other competent authorities can trace this evidence, and catch them.
10.6 I want to take a picture of a friend with my mobile
phone or digital camera and upload it on the Internet. Can I
If you want to take a picture of a friend, family member, classmate etc., first
you have to ask the person for permission to do so. Nevertheless, never
upload such a picture on the Internet, but keep it safely, and only for your
own personal use. Remember that as soon as you send a picture on the
Internet or another mobile phone, it stops of being private and you cannot
control where this picture will end up.
10.7 If a commercial company asks for my personal
information to send me some advertising material or to let
me participate in a lottery, what shall I do?
First of all, be sure that the company is to be trusted. There is nothing wrong
in receiving advertising material or in taking part in a lottery or contest etc.
i.e. how it intends to use your data, and if it explicitly states that your data
will be kept confidential and not handed out to third parties.
Ask your parents if it is ok to send someone your personal information and,
only if they allow you to, give out your information, and let them make the
10.8 An online friend has asked me to send a picture of
myself. What shall I do?
Sending pictures to online friends is not a good idea. Never
send a picture of yourself to somebody you met online or that
you don’t know in person.
A picture of yourself will make it possible for your online friend
to find you more easily in the real world. Also, remember that
a digital photo can be kept forever. If an online friend has your
picture, you could one day find it somewhere on the Internet,
and it might look different than the original.
Always remember: as soon as you publish a picture on the
Internet or send it to another person, it stops being private
and you cannot control where and by whom it will be used
Racism on the Internet
Sites with a racist and hate content are common in the online environment.
The legislations of such sites vary across Europe. For children and young
people, such sites can inspire them to bully others and the sites in many cases
give wrong information about historical facts. Many of these sites also look
trustworthy by first glance, and are made that way precisely to misinform.
11.1 What are the legal grounds for stopping racism in
Although the legislation around Europe concerning racism varies, some
overarching principles exist.
Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms states that the human rights and
fundamental freedoms set forth in the Convention cannot be subject to any
discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national
minority, property, birth or other status.
Council of Europe Cyber Crime Convention -
In the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning the
criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through
computer systems, hate speech is defined in the following way: “racist and
xenophobic material” means any written material, any image or any other
representation of ideas or theories, which advocates, promotes or incites
hatred, discrimination or violence, against any individual or group of
individuals, based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, as well
as religion if used as a pretext for any of these factors.
Council of Europe Directive of June 29 2000.
In addition, the Council of Europe Directive on the June 29 2000 was adopted,
with the objective of applying the principle of equal treatment in the European
Union States regardless of the person’s racial or ethnical origin, the Council of
Europe Directive of the 29th of June 2000 was adopted. This Directive
combats discrimination based in the racial and ethnical origins. It completes
and enforces the existing national legislations since it gives a common
definition of what is illegal discrimination.
This Directive prohibits all discrimination on grounds of race and ethnical
origin. Such discrimination might be expressed in a worse treatment to the
affected person or any other disposition, criteria or practice that might be
neutral at first sight but that might lead to unfavourable consequences for a
determined person or group of people. On the other hand, it obliges Member
States to guarantee equality in treatment regarding the access to jobs,
training, education, work conditions, participation in professional
organizations, protection and social security, the access to goods and services
and their provision.
11.2 What is the impact of the Internet on racist and
The use of the Internet to spread racist, anti-Semitic and other hostile
propaganda is increasing throughout the world. The targets of hate may vary
from place to place, but no country is immune to the problem, and a single
website is often managed across different borders.
There are growing concerns that Internet hate may incite violence and lead to
physical hate crimes.
Even where it is difficult to establish a direct causal link, there is no doubt that
the Internet can be used to foster a climate of hostility against certain groups,
as well as for fundraising and attracting sympathizers.
11.3 Where can European Internet users report material
related to racism and xenophobia?
The INHOPE network of hotlines focuses its main line of work in the
eradication of illegal content on the Internet. In many of its member hotlines’
countries racist and xenophobic Internet content is considered illegal and
therefore these hotlines receive reports of such content. www.inhope.org
In addition to the INHOPE network of hotlines a group called the International
Network Against Cyber Hate (INHACH) receives complaints of content dealing
with racist and xenophobic material on the Internet. Users may report by
sending an e-mail to email@example.com or they can enter INACH’s website
at http://www.inach.net/ and report directly to one of its members.
12.1 What is Spam?
Spam e-mails are unwanted e-mails or SMS messages that are distributed in a
The term “unwanted” is very subjective, typical examples are e-mails or SMS
messages with content that is related to pornography, pharmaceuticals,
dubious financial transactions etc. In most cases spam is distributed with the
intention to trick people into using money and giving away personal
Not all mass messages are spam: in some cases trustworthy companies or
private users send mass e-mails. National laws give various definitions as to
precisely when unwanted e-mail is defined as Spam. Ask your national
awareness node for further details: Safer Internet project site.
12.2 Are there technical solutions that can protect me from
The most important tools against Spam are “Spam filters”. You can activate
them in your e-mail programme and your e-mail provider usually offers anti-
Spam options as well. Contact your e-mail provider for detailed information.
Spam filters can never work accurately, some might judge e-mails as spam
even though they are not unwanted or they might not recognise e-mails as
Spam for one reason or another.
12.3 How can I take precautions against receiving spam?
Be careful with publishing your e-mail address online or registering your e-
mail address or mobile phone number in online resources/services. If possible,
avoid that your e-mail address appears on websites. You can “mask” your e-
mail address on websites so that programmes which search automatically for
addresses are not able to recognize them. You can use an image with your e-
mail address instead of text or you can write “john dot public at xy dot com“
instead of “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Use two e-mail addresses: One for communication with friends, colleagues
etc, the other for entries in public forums, guest books, registrations etc. If
you receive too much spam in your second address you can delete it and
register a new one. For this purpose you can use free mail services, such as
Hotmail or Yahoo!
Never answer Spam e-mails (to complain etc) - this confirms to the people
sending you spam that your e-mail address is valid, and they will send you
13.1 What is Malware?
Malware is malicious software encompassing viruses, worms and Trojan
horses amongst other programming components.
13.2 What is a Virus?
A virus is a programme that normally attaches itself to another programme or
data file in order to spread and reproduce itself without the knowledge of the
user. Normally a virus enters your computer through a spam e-mail which has
attachments (pictures or files). A virus can damage files or create unwanted
behaviour of your computer.
13.3 What is a Worm?
A worm is a virus that reproduces by replicating itself across a network of
computer systems. A worm can harm a network, can consume tremendous
bandwith, and can shut a computer down.
13.4 What is a Trojan Horse?
It is a programme that appears to be working properly but actually causes
damage in some form. It is called a Trojan horse because it can enter your
computer through operations considered harmless, for example, through a
game, or even through a virus tracking programme, and then trick the user by
hiding the underlying activity. In general, Trojan horses cannot multiply
themselves as viruses do.
13.5 What is a difference between a virus and a worm?
The main difference between a virus and a worm is that a virus can not
replicate itself like a worm, and it only affects the computer it has invaded.
A worm acts autonomously, and uses a computer network in order to multiply
itself and to send copies of itself to other systems.
13.6 What is Spyware?
It is a programme that can be secretly attached to files you download from
the Internet. As soon as it is downloaded it installs itself in your PC without
your knowledge, and starts to monitor your Internet activity. The monitored
information is then transmitted to a third party, in most cases to companies
which are interested in forming your personal profile. Later on, it will start
sending you advertising or other information.
13.7 How can I prevent malware from entering my PC?
It is important not to open any e-mails which come from senders you don’t
know. Many of those e-mails have luring titles like “You have won in a lottery”
or “Happy birthday, I have a present for you” and so on. Never open any
attachments coming with such e-mails, as this might cause the programme to
install a virus or a worm in your PC.
Install an antivirus software on your PC. This will protect your computer
against viruses and other malware threats.
You can also install a firewall, which will keep watch on all files that go in and
out of your computer.
Try to avoid suspicious websites, and if you accidentally enter one which
seems strange, leave it immediately. If pop-up windows alert you or ask you
to agree to anything, immediately close them and never click on any button
13.8 What is an Anti-virus software?
This is software used to protect a computer against viruses or other malware
threats. The software is installed on your PC and checks all files on your
computer as well as files attached in incoming e-mails against viruses. If it
finds viruses it immediately informs you and, in most cases, it quarantines /
cleans the infected files.
An antivirus software needs to be regularly updated, and can also be used for
security such as content or website filtering.
For some examples see the following links: Norton, AVG, McAfee
13.9 I have a dialup connection and used the Internet for a
couple of hours only but I got a huge bill at the end. Why?
What can I do? - Dialers
This happened because, without your knowledge, a so-called dialer stopped
your local Internet connection with your ISP provider and redirected the
connection to an international line with (in most cases) tremendous billing
costs. This normally happens when a user visits an untrustworthy website with
suspicious content, or with erotic content.
If you have a dialup connection you can contact your telecom company and
ask the operators to lock the line for being able to call international numbers.
In this way, you will prevent a dialer to re-direct you to an ISP somewhere
else in the world.
13.10 What is a firewall?
A device or software designed to prevent or stop unauthorised people from
accessing your computer via the Internet without permission. A firewall
controls all the files that go in and out of your computer. If there is a
suspicious file, it will take care of it for you and your computer is safe.
13.11 What is a hacker?
A hacker is a person who, without permission, gains illegal access to a
computer system and its data, but without having intention of causing any
13.12 What is cracker?
A cracker is a person who, without permission, gains illegal access to a
computer system and its data, with the intention of causing financial or other
damage, and/or stealing information.
13.13 Which methods do crackers use?
Crackers normally insert viruses or other kinds of programmes which contain
special codes into target systems, with the intention of causing severe
damage to the attacked system. In most cases, such code is:
A Trojan horse, hidden in other programmes or files, which
seem to be harmless.
A worm, which is not hidden in other files, but is sent through
network security holes that have been spotted.
A logical bomb, which is an idle code component within a
bigger programme, activates itself on a certain date or event.
13.14 What is the difference between a hacker and a
Normally, hackers see their activity as a challenge and a pleasure in entering
a highly secure computer system, and they don’t intend to cause any damage.
Many times hackers enter a system (for example a banking or a government
system) to reveal security holes. If they achieve their purpose, they inform
the respective organisation about their success, hoping for financial benefits.
On the other hand, crackers try to illegally enter a computer system in order
to steal data, or to cause damage to the information found in the system’s
archives. For example, as soon as they get hold of a credit card number, they
use it for their benefit.