A recent discussion in ConnectSafely.org that illustrates what's still missing in best-practice guidance: dealing with the third-party code and hacks that, increasingly, are jeopardizing users' computers (and maybe sometimes their relationships with their parents!). This exchange also illustrates how parents' tech illiteracy can widen the parent-child digital divide referred to in the Byron report (see Part 1 last week). Parents need to know that the links and inappropriate content and messages they sometimes see in their children's profiles and blogs aren't necessarily created and shared by their kids….
The mother, "WorriedMum," posted this in the forum:
"I am writing this because yesterday I have seen on my 13-year-old son's Hi5 page. Under the 'about me' section there is a link to [a site called] 'sexplaycam' with a picture of a naked woman. I went to the site and saw that you have to register to become a member of, now I am worried my son has joined this site. I asked my son if he'd put the link there and he said he had no idea it was there and went on his profile and deleted it. I know it is awful, but I am still suspicious. I also have Hi5, and the 'about me' parts, etc., can only be filled in by the person who owns the profile, right? But he swears he didn't know it was there and it must have been put there by someone else. So anyone out there with technical knowledge, please tell me if this kind of thing is possible."
We forwarded this question to our contact at Hi5, who explained:
"This was a spam attack on Hi5 members. A hacker inserted malicious code into profiles that either were 'phished' for email and password or clicked a link on a spam profile. We patched the vulnerability last Wednesday and will be cleaning out the innocent member profiles."
WorriedMum's response: "Thank you so much everyone for your help. I'm sure you can understand that at first it looked very bad to me, but I didn't want to accuse my son or tell him off before I was sure. Good thing I didn't now. Thanks again."