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Cyber Threats Children Face Online

Cyber Threats Children Face Online

There are various threats to children in cyber space, including child pornography, sexual grooming, sexual harassment and cyberbullying . Most children are unaware of these problems and realize that they have been victimized by a cybercriminal only when the damage has been done. On the other hand, parents either have inadequate information about need and the means through which they can safeguard their children on the internet or may have little time or resources or training to ensure they adopt steps to safeguard their children on the internet. The Global Youth On-Line Behavior Survey conducted by Microsoft declares that 53% of the children between age 8-17 in India have become victims of cyber bullying. Most cyber bullying cases were arising out of social media and encounters on Facebook comprised of 60% of these cases. Mobile phones and on-line chat rooms were second and third comprised of the remaining 40% cases . Moreover,many social network sites do not use or deploy age verification mechanism as a result of which children create fake profiles and are able to access adult content.

Child pornography

By virtue of the I.T. (Amendment) Act, 2008 Section 67B now expressly prohibits child pornography with imprisonment of upto 5 years and fine which may extend to 10 lacs.

According to Section 67B of IT Act,2000, if any person publishes or transmits material depicting children in sexually explicit acts in electronic form or creates images text, collects, seeks, downloads, advertises, promotes or distributes content that depicts children in obscene or in sexually explicit manner, such person is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend upto five years and imposes fine which may extend upto Rs.10.00 Lacs. The said Section also provides that if any person entices children into on-line relationship with one or more children for sexually explicit acts or in a manner that can offend a reasonable adult, or facilitates abusing children online or records in electronic form own abuse or that of others relating to sexual explicit act with children, such act is punishable on first conviction with imprisonment for a term which may extend upto five years and fine upto Rs.10.00 Lacs. In the event of second conviction, it is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend upto 7 years and a fine which may extend upto Rs.10.00 Lacs. For the purposes of this Section 'child' means a person who has not completed the age of 18 years.

Sexual predators and cyber grooming

Cyber criminals target children often through social media or other means for sexual gratification or record inappropriate content which they can commercially exploit both online and offline. They initiate conversation with a child and gradually groom the child for sexual exploitation purposes. According to McAfee's Tween & Technology Report 2013, 72% kids in Kolkata use desktops to do their homework ( 70% nationally). Though fewer children in kolkatta (60%) use Facebook (70% nationally), 92% of them share pictures on FB against 88% nationally. 26% have strangers on their friends' list against 16% nationally. 36% have chatted with strangers. While Facebook is the most popular (70% have FB profiles), children are also communicating over Skype (44%) and Twitter (27%). 70% were introduced to Facebook by parents. The report indicates online predators are on the look out for potential kids who can be lured into grooming and pornography.

Obscenity online

At times misleading website names could lead a child to read an obscene material unknowingly or such websites which are age inappropriate could crop up on its own in the form of popup ads to distract a child. A recent survey points out while 56% of Indian parents are concerned about their children being misguided online, 42% of Indian parents (of between 4 to 8 year old children) apprehend their children may be exposed to adult content.

Child Sex Tourism

Another growing abuse against children in India is the child sex tourism. Children are exploited by foreign tourists coming to India and also by Indian tourists. The crime often involves illegal activities adopted by Hotel and travel Agencies which encourages child prostitution and also child pornography

Cyber bullying

Children who use internet often become victims of cyber bullying. This term denotes an act or series of acts directed at harassing or harming a child's psychology, confidence or morale. In case a stranger is accepted as a member by a child in his/her social network, the stranger could be a cyber criminal who could bully or harass a child by making unwarranted comments or pokes or posting objectionable contents in order to bully a child. Cyber bullying is also possible where another child or adult (who is known to a child) commits mischievous acts using social media or other means of online communication, in order to bully the victim child.

Case Study - Cyber Bullying Case

The Gurgaon Police issued notice to ManavRachna International School in Sector 46 in connection with a Cyber Bulling case wherein a student uploaded an objectionable video in a social networking site. The video contained an incident where a class IX student was beaten up by his classmates in school and the video was uploaded in the Face Book account of one of the students. This form of cyberbullying is now commonly known as 'Happy Slapping'.


Misuse of mobile phones or internet is also seen in cases where use of SMS or web services such as WhatsApp is being used to send obscene messages or video clips instantly.Such cyber criminals often conceal their true identity, age and gender to cheat vulnerable children.The cybercriminals (who may even be known to children) entice children to create their own 'selfies' , that is own nude pictures and mail or sms them instantly.

Photo morphing

Photo Morphing means altering digital images so that a person is shown in an embarrassing situation. A lot of children receive their images in a morphed manner containing sexually explicit content. This is done to harm a child's self esteem and cause undue harassment to him by circulating these illegally on social media and other platforms either for commercial exploitation or cyberbullying or sexual gratification purposes

Cyber Stalking

This is a widely prevalent cybercrime that poses a risk to children online. Any one can conceal his/their true identity or use fake names to start a conversation with a child online or use the available information about the child such as their email address to send them harassing or intimidating content online.

Case Study - Kidnapping and Murder of Adnan planned through contact via Social Media

In 2007, a 16 year old boy from Bombay called Adnan Patrawala was allegedly kidnapped by few friends who impersonated as a girl on social networking site Orkut.com. These friends allegedly contacted Adnan on Orkut by posing as a girl (unknown to Adnan) and set up an offline meeting to meet him. Later, when he went to the location they had decided to meet, he was kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded Rs.2.00 crores. When they learnt that police was investigating the matter they murdered Adnan.

Addiction to on-line gambling

There are certain websites that target and entice children into online gambling. This could be addictive and be also illegal in certain jurisdictions such as India. Such sites could have criminal objectives to also illegally collect personal data or financial information from gullible children

Enticing children into drugs or other illegal activity

There are fraudsters and criminals who are targeting children online and enticing them into gambling, moneylaundering and even introducing them to drugs and other illegal activity.


It is a financial crime where cyber criminals could send emails to children or adults to extract personal sensitive information such as credit card details or net-banking details and harm them by making unauthorized debits to the victim's account causing wrongful loss to him


This technique is used to introduce malicious code in a system or it is used to take the user to fake sites where hacker can steal their personal information. In order to protect oneself while making purchase online we must use a https website which is a secured website with adequate safeguards for making online payments.

Malware infected files breaching privacy of children

Cyber criminals are using more sophisticated tools to commit cyber crimes. They are using new mechanisms to defraud children by use of technical tools, software and malware, particularly in Social networking websites. They conceal their true identity by spoofing (i.e concealing true identity and garbing a fake identity) and hiding their IP addresses, infecting the systems by introducing viruses, Trojans, key loggers (spyware) or trigger software which open a web cam unauthorisedly.

Pass word attack

When a cyber criminal makes attempts to hack a user account or pass-word, this is termed as Brute Force Attack. This can lead to compromise of a social network account or email address or other online account of a person. It is advisable to use complex Alpha Numeric Pass-words and change these Passwords from time to time to ensure their integrity.Use of OTP (One Time Password) or cryptographic authentication can strengthen password protection.

Identity theft

Identity theft means stealing another person's identity /Password and/or hijacking their online account to post or send humiliating pictures or other illegal content. This can also be used to create fake profiles on Social networks .

Email spamming is a common cybercrime.Spamming me to send unsolicited mails to someone and in most cases it disguises the real origin of a message. It may be specifically directed at a child to intimidate him with offensive, disturbing or menacing content.


A recent phenomenon on the internet is a deliberate circulation of e-books that can be downloaded for free by children. These free e-books are available on diverse topics of academic interests to children but may contain malware and infect their systems without any signs of warning that the systems have been hacked or certain data has been extracted from their system by a cyber-criminal.