May 8, 2014

Trooper warns of online perils

PLATTSBURGH — In the age of smart phones, iPods and tablets, more and more young people have the ability to take photos and post them to the Internet.

Even Nintendo DS hand-held gaming systems, which are often purchased for elementary-school children, have cameras and WiFi connectivity.

And the average age of children posting naked photos of themselves online is 12, according to Investigator Robert Marciniak of the State Police Troop B Computer Crime Unit.

“That is completely unacceptable,” he told attendees of the recent forum, “Keeping Them Safe: Drugs, Bullies & Social Media,” at Plattsburgh High School, where he sought to educate parents and teens about the perils of the Internet.

In addition, Marciniak noted, once something is posted online, others have the opportunity to save and share it, allowing it to live on even after the original post is deleted.

“That picture is never going to go away,” he said.


People should also be mindful of other personal information they put on the Internet, Marciniak continued.

While it’s unlikely that individuals would share their online-banking password on Facebook or Twitter, people often have their maiden names attached to their social-media accounts and share information such as their current city and pets’ names.

These types of personal facts, Marciniak noted, are often the answers to security questions needed to access private accounts.

“There’s a lot of stuff on there, believe it or not, that can be used against you,” he said.

Social-media users also commonly share their vacation plans with the world, Marciniak added, posting everything from when they are leaving home and how long they will be gone to photos of themselves in distant lands.

At that point, all one needs to do is consult for a vacationer’s home address, he said, and “they can rob you blind.”

That’s not to say people shouldn’t post travel photos online, the investigator noted, “but do it after.”

In 2012, about 2.4 billion people went online, and even if only 1 percent of them had ill intentions, Marciniak added, “you’ve got 24 million people out there that want to do something bad.”

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