Cybertip.ca, the national tip line for reporting online sexual exploitation of children, says they have seen an 88% increase in reports of online exploitation, including sextortion, since the pandemic began.
We live in an era where almost every child has access to a smart phone or tablet, making sexting and sextortion a huge risk for all children. How can we educate and implement tools to protect kids from online predators and keep them safe?
What is Sextortion?
Essentially, sextortion is blackmail. It is when someone online threatens to send sexual content of you to others if you don’t pay them, provide more sexual images or videos, or perform sexual acts.
It usually begins as a normal online conversation. Predators typically disguise themselves as youth and targets their victims in common places to initiate conversation such as social media, the chat section of games, and comments sections on YouTube videos. Once the offender has successfully gained the trust of the child on a public chat room, they then invite them to a more private platform where they can be easily coerced into sexual solicitation.
These predators are master manipulators that prey on children’s vulnerabilities in order to fill their needs to feel loved and understood. Once a bond is formed, predators will slowly begin engaging in sexual conversations and sexually explicit content with a goal to obtain a nude picture or video from their victim in order to leverage more material and exploit them.
Before, parents had to worry about their children being abducted by a stranger at a park or in a mall. Now, predators have found an even easier way to sexually abuse children – the internet.
It is important that parents and teens are aware of sextortion scams and know how to recognize these threats. Far too often we’ve heard stories of children being scammed by cybercriminals posing as young girls or boys sharing intimate images and then threatening to make the photo public. Here are 5 common ways predators blackmail:
- Posing as a younger person: Predators often pretend to be the same age or slightly older than their victim in order to gain their trust. This typically leads to flirting and manipulating the victim into exchanging nude images of each other.
- Claiming to have hacked their device: Predators will pretend to have hacked a child’s device, claiming that they have found compromising images of them on there. They then use this opportunity to extort them by demanding money or more sexually explicit content.
- Click bait: Links that read “You’re in this video!” or “I can’t believe you did this!” usually result in a username and password in order to view the content. This results in giving predators access to personal information including accounts, messages, pictures and more.
- Fake agents: Predators will contact children, claiming to be modelling agents. They promise children an opportunity to get into the industry with a chance of becoming famous. They then ask for promiscuous photos of the child in order to “build their portfolio,” resulting in blackmail.
- Promising gifts: Teens and tweens will often get an email or message offering them a free gift. Once the link has been clicked, it downloads malware onto the device allowing for predators to steal files, access their camera and more.
How can Netsweeper Help?
Netsweeper’s solutions provide categorization for all content that ensures detection of new and emerging safeguarding threats, contains analytics and reporting tools that provide insight for child safety, uses filtering technology that monitors internet traffic on devices, and more! Schedule a free demo with our solution experts to see how our software solutions can keep children safe.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact these resources: