Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Warning: Social Networking Tied to Recent Kidnapping

May 2011

We have talked to you before about monitoring what your kids post on Facebook or check in location software like Foursquare to protect them from cyberstalking and child predators.  Well now, we have news tonight of a recent attempted kidnapping where police believe that the kid’s social networking activities made him a target.

It is a parent’s worst nightmare, your child does not come home on time or arrives home late saying someone tried to follow them home, or worse, they go missing.  This horrible scenario happened to a security experts 20 year old son.

Eugene Kaspersky is a legend in the security field.  His son Vanya, also known as “Ivan” is 20 years old and was kidnapped on his way to work.  The overall story is terrible but it has a happy ending – Ivan is alive and home safe and sound.  When police started investigating, they and his Dad, Eugene, believe that the kidnappers were tracking his son using social networking.

The kidnappers were actively using social networks, gleaning ever detail possible about their potential victims and mapping out their daily routines.  They used this information to plan their crimes, including kidnapping Ivan.

We know that sometimes young people lie about their ages online but since the age they type in is all we have to work with, conside these statistics from

Over 46% of Facebook users are UNDER 25

Roughly 1 in 5 of every Facebook account belongs to someone UNDER 17 years old. did a recent study and said that over 1/5 of 16-24  year olds admit they don’t know all the people they share their information with on social networks.

Here are 4 tips to start the conversation with your kid, to hopefully avoid a situation like this in your family:

1. DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS:  Tell kids to assume that strangers on the internet can read posts only intended for close friends.  With that in mind, don’t post you daily routine any place online.
2. GEOCODING:  Every time your kid posts a photo with geocodes they are broadcasting where they have been which makes it easier to map out routines.
3. LOCATION CHECK IN SERVICES:  Your kids might think it is fun to be Mayor of Starbucks but talk to them about the dangers of linking their social networking and location check in services together creating a more complete picture of their routines
4. PRIVACY CHECK:  Check all settings, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses that show on internet profiles.

Now, for our word of the week, it is:
TETWRIST:  It’s a techie term for that sore wrist you get after playing an addictive game.  The term first started when the game TETRIS first hit the cell phone gaming scene calling it a TETWRIST but now can apply to games like FruitNinja, AngryBirds, Doodle Jump and any other addictive games!

To read about what happened in the Dad’s own words, go to Eugene Kaspersky’s Facebook page at: has great resources for kids and families.  They provide tips and even games to test your online know how.  A great place to start to reinforce safety lessons for kids and adults.
Kaspersky Lab has an educational program at:
If you want to see how social media and networks are changing the way we think, act and react, check out the infographics at:

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