Safer Internet Day Video Fails to Educate Kids

By Gabriela Vatu / February 6, 2018

Safer Internet Day is here and the organizations taking care of bringing awareness to the public about the threats everyone faces online are actually using misleading data. First off, this initiative is laudable because everyone needs to be more aware of what is and what isn't a risk online. But when you run such a campaign, it's vital that you offer credible information.

An informative video that's simply a British version of an animation released as part of the Australian Price of Piracy campaign ended up being used for this day. The thing is, while the video does present the various types of malware out there, it strongly focuses on how dangerous pirate sites are, and not much else. The truth is that kids can run into malware if they click on ads placed on pirate sites, or if they download pirated software, but to say that this is the only way this can happen is a mistake that can put them in danger.

TorrentFreak points out that one of the erroneous statements in the video is that the number one way to infect a device is via illegal pirate sites. When they prodded further, they were directed to a working paper from 2014 that states that 97% of illegal streaming websites contain malware. That data actually comes from another unpublished study that mentions, as a highlight, that pirate sites, not just streaming sites are dangerous.

Then, the study continues presenting a completely different data set. Out of 30 researched pirate sites, 90% of them contained malware or potentially unwanted programmes, they say. Since "unwanted programmes" also includes the always-popular pop-up ads, the malware density can be just about anywhere on a sliding scale from zero to 90%.

The bottom line is that the video that's trying to teach kids about malware, fails to do so. It simply tells them to stay away from the big bad pirate sites, but nothing about the risks of infection with dangerous malware that comes from tapping on the wrong links, from opening emails from an unknown source, from not checking they're on a secure website, and so on.

This is a missed opportunity to actually teach kids the right things about malware and how to stay safe. There's no denying torrent sites can be dangerous, but they're far from being the only threats out there.

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