National news on stalking and grooming creates call for better personal security

News by Dan Raywood

Stories in the national news this week have brought personal security to the forefront of people's minds.

Stories in the national news this week have brought personal security to the forefront of people's minds.

Peter Chapman reportedly lured a 17-year-old girl to a secluded location where she was kidnapped, gagged, raped and murdered after meeting him via Facebook, while another story told of a stalker who hijacked his ex-girlfriend's cell phone for three years.

John Colley, managing director of (ISC)2, claimed that the internet is being used in new ways by young people, and they are taking risks in a world where their parents and teachers are ill-equipped to guide them.

He said: "Children are only just beginning to understand how to protect themselves online, while their parents are struggling to develop the right instincts. There is a wealth of good content available for schools, including the new Zip it Block it Flag it campaign launched last month from the government, along with volunteer efforts such as our Safe and Secure Online program

"Unfortunately, whether schools take advantage of this is voluntary and usually on the initiative of classroom teachers, not even the headteacher. The result is that there are too many gaps in the awareness across the country. This task must be tackled on a more systemic level. We need to get past the 'awareness program' phase, children from first stages should not only be learning to use the computers, and online resources but how to use them safely. We learnt about safety in the science lab. The dynamic here is the same."

Commenting on the mobile phone stalking case, Chris Wysopal, CTO of Veracode, warned that there are greater threats lurking beyond spyware intentionally installed by someone you know.

He said: "The more insidious story is that a user could easily download an application innocently - a game, a social media app, or a banking or shopping app - that subsequently installs similar spyware."

He claimed that 'innocent' downloading is exactly why application providers and app stores need to provide independent proof that their software does not behave inappropriately or have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malware.

"Unfortunately, many consumers have a false sense of security, assuming that everything in official app stores must be trustworthy. That simply isn't the case," said Wysopal.

"The industry should use examples like these to hold application providers' feet to the fire so we don't allow what's happened to the PC to happen on cell phones."


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