Malware is just a step-away when children click on games, free shoes, Justin Bieber videos or gift cards offered on social networks. Hackers use social engineering techniques to exploit kids’ curiosity and easily convince them to click on appealing surveys and videos. These may expose computers to malware, which grabs sensitive information and sends it to a remote machine controlled by cyber criminals.
Kids could also be lured to click on a malware-infected link if they try to install applications to check out their profile or photo visitors. With children keeping in touch with friends they rarely see over the school holidays, activity on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks increases. So does the danger of clicking on a malicious link unwittingly distributed by a friend.
Animated toolbars, free games, free movies, and free music that children search out on the internet can also lead to spyware, a type of malware that collects personal information from the device without the users’ knowledge. This could have serious consequences, particularly if it’s a shared device where parents store important data.
Android malware is another danger for children this summer and usually spreads in rogue applications that pose as legitimate. Depending on their age, children are most tempted to click on free or cracked malicious editions of the most popular Android games.
Identity Theft is another danger for kids on the Internet this summer. With an increasing number of kids shopping online and paying with their parents’ credit cards, phishing websites can easily persuade kids to send credentials directly into attackers’ hands. With the stolen data, phishers can empty bank accounts in seconds.
Though they only represent two per cent of all phishing websites, the sites that most capable of tempting children host games. The most targeted brands are Habbo, Blizzard, World of Warcraft, and Runescape, according to Bitdefender Labs.
Here are a few tips to keep kids safe online:
- Talk to them about the main risks and consequences of using webcams, sharing personal information on chat rooms, social networks, and Instant Messenger, clicking on junk e-mails, unknown links or attachments.
- Establish a regular, security-themed family gathering to learn together about malware, identity theft, cyber-bullying, cyber-baiting (when children provoke teachers to the breaking point, record the incident, then post it online), online sex predators, and social networking dangers.
- Block inappropriate content with filtering software before kids see it. Monitor the websites children visit by checking the history feature on your browser or installing parental control software.
- To keep track of your children and protect your computer, use antivirus software that includes parental control features. The software allows parents to receive extensive reports on their children’s Facebook activity, restrict web access to certain hours, protect them from real-world threats with GPS tracking, and more.
- Do not let the child use the home PC with administrative privileges. This way, they can’t install applications on the machine, minimizing the risk of running infected or pirated applications.
- Keep your Flash and Java distributions up to date, as children’s favorite destination, casual online games intensively use these technologies which are easy to exploit.